DEEP: Household Alternatives for Reducing Toxic Products in Your Home

Household Alternatives for
Reducing Toxic Products in Your Home

There are alternatives to toxic products for every room in the house. Select a room to see what you can do to have a home that is healthier for you, your family, your pets and the environment.
 

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Living Room
Bedroom
Lawn and Garden

Are you interested in using products around your home that are safer for your family and the environment than many commercially available cleaners? You are not alone.

Hazardous chemicals can often be found in common household products such as drain cleaners, floor-care products, oven cleaners, window sprays, bathroom cleaners, furniture and metal polishes, pesticides and laundry products.

You can learn to avoid these chemicals by reading the labels. Those labeled Danger or Poison are typically the most hazardous. Others may be labeled Caution or Warning because they are skin or eye irritants. Near these signal words will be a phrase that describes the nature of the hazard, such as "vapors harmful" or "extremely flammable".

Most products have environmentally friendly alternatives that are effective, less costly, and much safer for people, pets, and the natural world. Some are now available in stores, or you may also choose to make your own "green cleaners". Try these alternatives for some of the products you currently use or if you have other alternatives that work for you, please e-mail them to us. Other green home ideas.

Frequently Asked Questions about avoiding toxics at home and switching to green alternatives:

How can I learn more about what's toxic?
Check out our new presentation Toxics in Your Home? for a basic overview of what you should avoid and better alternatives. 
So what else should I know about environmentally friendly alternatives? 

Be aware that some of the products may take longer to clean effectively or get rid of pests. You may have to let the product sit on the surface for longer than usual, apply more than once, or use more elbow grease. But by making your own products, you can save money and reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals that your family is exposed to. Be sure to label any containers carefully and store them out of the reach of children.

How can I make my own green cleaning products?
 
Follow our recipes for making simple, but effective cleaning products from items you probably have at home right now, like baking soda and white vinegar. You can find most of the ingredients at you grocery store or on the internet. (Also available in Spanish.)
Where can I find the other recipes for home-made cleaning products?
 
There are many books you can reference (e.g. Better Basics For the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond) or the Care2 website (search on "green cleaning"). The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) has tested, DIY alternatives to toxic household cleaners.
I prefer to buy my cleaning products. How do I know which ones are really "green"?
 
Don't just accept something as "green" just because the label says so. Look for ones that are certified by Green Seal or Design for the Environment (DfE).
What can I do with unwanted hazardous products?

Hazardous products should not be disposed of in the trash, flushed down the toilet or sink drains, or poured into storm drains or onto the ground. If you have any hazardous products in your house and do not wish to use them up, bring them to a local household hazardous waste collection. View a list of collection days in your community.

How can I bring this information to my community?
 
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Office of Pollution Prevention developed an exhibit that showcases empty containers listing toxic or hazardous ingredients against the backdrop of a sink and workbench. Alternative products, both store-bought and homemade, are also part of the display. If you interested in having this exhibit at an event in your town, please contact Judy Prill at 860-424-3694.

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 on November 2014