Household Hazardous Waste

Alternative Cleaning Recipes


Why bother with alternatives?

Many commercial cleaners contain substances that are toxic and can burn skin or eyes on contact. Without proper ventilation, their use can also cause injury from harmful fumes.

  • More than 7 million accidental poisonings occur each year, with more than 75% involving children under the age of 6.  Columbia University
  • A child is accidentally poisoned every 30 seconds at home.  U.S. Poison Control Centers
  • The average American uses about 25 gallons of toxic hazardous chemical products in their home....  A major portion of this can be found in household cleaning products. Joel Shirschorn and Kirsten Oldenburg, 1991
  • Women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than those who work away from home.  A 15-year study concluded it was a direct result of the much higher exposure rate to toxic chemicals in common household products.  Toronto Indoor Air Conference 1990
  • The toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than air pollution.  U.S. EPA 
  • Of chemicals commonly found in homes, 150 have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities.  Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • According to the National Research Council, no toxic information is available for more than 80% of the chemicals in everyday use products.
  • Only 1% of toxins are required to be listed on labels because companies classify their formulas as "trade secrets."  Lorie Dwornich, researcher, educator, 2002

Statistics Source

Thoughtless disposal of hazardous products can have harmful impacts on people and the environment. Disposal in trash, or pouring them down the drain, can disrupt wastewater systems, seriously injure waste handlers, and contaminate drinking water.

What do we mean by non-toxic?

This page offers non-toxic cleaning recipes for a safer home and cleaner environment. Non-toxic cleaners are cleaners that you can use relatively safely, as compared to other commercial cleaning products (which range from fairly safe to extremely dangerous). This does not mean that you can safely eat non-toxic cleaners or spray them in your eyes. Always label your home-made cleaners and keep them out of the reach of children.

These recipes generally work just as well as commercial cleaners and are less expensive. With the use of essential oils, non-toxic cleaners can smell more pleasant than commercial cleaners.

Many of the recipes on this page are mostly from Nontoxic Housecleaning by Amy Kolb Noyes by Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT, 2009.  For more recipes and information on household cleaners, this is an excellent resources well worth reading.

Other Books

Clean and Green, Annie Berthold-Bond. New York: Ceres Press, 1990.

Clean House, Clean Planet, Karen Logan. Gallery Books, 1997.

Nontoxic and Natural: A Guide for Consumers; How to Avoid Dangerous Everyday Products and Buy or Make Safe Ones, Debra Lynn Dadd. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1984.

Choosing the best alternative retail products

The best way to tell if a product is hazardous is to read the label. DANGER indicates the product is extremely hazardous: a taste could be fatal. WARNING and CAUTION signal a somewhat lesser hazard. Select products with a CAUTION label over those with WARNING or DANGER. The best selection is one with no hazards.

There is also "third-party certification" by Green Seal, EPA Safer Choice, and UL Ecologo.



Download our latest brochures:

"NonToxic Housecleaning: Using 3 Ingredients" provides tested nontoxic recipes as well as reasons why we should be switching to nontoxic cleaners.

"Down the Drain" provides a handy list of household toxics and how they should be handled-safe for the drains, into the trash, or save for an HHW collection.