DEEP: Environmental Alternatives for the Bathroom

Household Alternatives - In The Bathroom

{images of bathroom sink, cleaning and toilet}

We use plenty of products in the bathroom to clean and for personal care. Many of them are hazardous to our health and the environment. Fortunately, you can avoid the use of toxic products like chlorine bleach and get the bathroom clean. Ingredients commonly found in the home, like baking soda and vinegar, can produce a more satisfying and healthy result in our cleaning and personal care routines. 

Bathroom Cleaning
Cleaner How to make it
All Purpose Pour 3 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 teaspoon borax, and 2 cups of water into a spray bottle. Shake to dissolve. Then add 1 teaspoon liquid soap (or dishwashing liquid) to the bottle and shake it again. Spray on surface and then wipe clean. For tough dirt, leave cleaner on for a few minutes and then wipe off.
Toilet Bowl

Pour about 1/2 cup borax into the toilet and use a toilet brush to clean the bowl. Squirt vinegar from a squeeze bottle under the rim. For mineral deposits, leave mixture in toilet for at least an hour. Then use the brush again to clean. Use the all-purpose cleaner or liquid soap and a sponge or scrub cloth to clean the seat and outside of the bowl.

Related information

  • Do you use disposable products to clean the bathroom? Read Ask Eartha about disposable wipes in the P2 View Newsletter. Describes the environmental problems associated with disposable wipes and what to use as alternatives.
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines should never be poured in the sink or flushed down the toilet because they pollute our water and harm aquatic life. Find out how to dispose  of them properly.
Sink, Tub and Tile

Sprinkle on baking soda, rub with wet sponge or scrub cloth and rinse. For soap scum deposits, spread liquid soap or clarifying shampoo on the surface and leave it for several hours. The deposits will be softened and then can be easily cleaned away with a scrub cloth or a brush. For mineral deposits, soak a cloth in vinegar and leave it on the deposit for about an hour and then clean off area.

Mold and Mildew Remover

Avoid using chlorine bleach! It contains sodium hypochlorite which can damage skin and lungs. Instead, make a paste of borax and water and put it on the surface to be cleaned. Leave paste on the area for about an hour and then scrub off. Use a fan or keep the window and/or door open when you are taking a shower to prevent moisture build-up. Wash the shower curtain regularly.

Bathroom Odors

Mix 1 cup white vinegar and 20 drops of peppermint essential oil (or a scent of your choice) in a fine-mist spray bottle. Shake well and spray the mixture in the air (away from people or pets).

Additional Resources
  • Care2 has many more tips on cleaning without chemicals and ideas for green living.
  • If you don't want to make your own cleaning products, purchase ones that are healthier for you and better for the environment. Look for ones that are certified by Green Seal or Design for the Environment (DfE).
Personal Care
Shampoo
Add 1 teaspoon  liquid castile soap, 1 teaspoon glycerin or teaspoon oil (such as avocado or jojoba) to 1 cup water. Shake to blend. Massage into hair and rinse.
Rinse Lemon or vinegar rinse removes shampoo residue and balances pH.
Conditioner Massage 2 teaspoons 2 tablespoons plain yogurt throughout hair. Rinse with water.
Baths Use oils for dry skin, herbs for fragrance and relaxation, salt for cleansing and toning, cornstarch to give skin sleekness, or milk (especially powdered) to soften skin.
Cleanser Oatmeal cleans and softens without soap. Wrap in cloth and use as a washcloth.
Buff Pour olive oil in your cupped hand and add a few dashes of salt. Rub over skin, smoothing rough areas, wait 5 minutes and rinse off.  
Hand Lotion

Use a whisk or hand mixer to combine 4 tablespoons bottled mineral water, teaspoon glycerin, teaspoon vegetable oil, and 4 drops of essential oil (scent of your choice).

Mouthwash

Stir 1 tablespoon salt in cup warm water. Add a drop of peppermint oil. Swish the mixture around the mouth, then spit it out. 

Related Info
Personal Care Products
Anti-Bacterial Products (Triclosan)
"Chemical Jeopardy-What is Triclosan" in the P2 View Newsletter describes the environmental and potential health concerns associated with this common ingredient found in many anti-bacterial products.

Disclaimer: The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) maintains the content on this web page to enhance public access to information and facilitate understanding of environmental issues. The  DEEP is not recommending these resources over any others and recognizes these represent only a partial listing of resources on this subject.
 
 
 
Content Last Updated April 2014