University of Florida

Helping at Home:
Use Less Toxic Alternatives

Using alternative products instead of toxic substances drastically reduces the presence of toxics in stormwater and receiving waters.

What are some eco-friendly alternatives to hazardous waste products?


Less Toxic Alternative

Air freshener

Simmer cinnamon and cloves

Aluminum spot remover

2 tablespoons cream of tartar + 1 quart hot water


Red chili powder at point of entry



Brass polish

Worcestershire sauce

Car battery corrosion

Baking soda + water, carbonated soft drinks

Chrome polish

Apple cider vinegar, baby oil to polish

Cleaners: general household

Baking soda

Coffee cup stain remover

Moist salt

Coffee pot stain


Copper cleaner

Lemon juice + salt

Decal remover

Soak in white vinegar

Dish detergent: grease cutter

1/2 cup baking soda + usual amount of liquid detergent

Drain cleaner

Plunger followed by 1/2 cup baking soda + 1/2 cup of vinegar + 2 quarts boiling water


Compost and vermicompost

Fiberglass stain remover

Baking soda paste

Fleas on pets

Gradually add brewers yeast to pet's diet


Well-watered pot of basil

Furniture polish

1 tablespoon lemon oil in 1 pint of mineral oil

Garbage disposal deodorizers

Used lemons

Grease fire

Douse with baking soda

Grease removal

Borax on damp cloth

Hand cleaner: paint/grease

Baby oil

Ink spot remover

Cold water + 1 tablespoon cream of tartar + 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Insects on plants

Soapy water on leaves, then rinse

Laundry detergent

Basic soap

Linoleum floor cleaner

1 cup white vinegar + 2 gallons water

Mildew remover

Equal parts of vinegar and salt

Mosquito repellent

Burn citronella candles or citronella oil

Moth repellent

Cedar chips enclosed in cotton sachets

Nematode repellent

Plant marigolds

Oil stain remover

White chalk rubbed into stain before laundering

Oven cleaner

2 tablespoons liquid soap + 2 tablespoons borax with warm water

Paint; oil based/ stain/spray

Water-based, non-aerosol paints

Paint brush softener

Hot vinegar

Perspiration spot remover

Baking soda

Pet odor remover

Cider vinegar

Porcelain stain remover

Baking soda

Refrigerator deodorizer

Open box baking soda

Roach repellent

Chopped bay leaves and cucumber skins

Rug/carpet cleaner

Club soda

Rust removal (clothing)

Lemon juice + salt + sunlight

Rusty bolt/nut removal

Carbonated beverage

Scorch mark removal

Grated onion

Scouring powder

Baking soda

Shaving cream

Brush and shaving soap

Shoe polish

Banana peel

Silver polish

1 quart warm water + 1 tablespoon baking soda + a piece of aluminum foil + 1 tablespoon salt in a glass dish; soak silver, rinse, dry

Slug and snail repellent

Onion and marigold plants

Spot remover

Club soda, lemon juice or salt

Stainless steel polish

Mineral oil

Toilet bowl cleaner

Paste of borax + lemon juice

Tub and tile cleaner

1/4 cup of baking soda + 1/2 cup white vinegar + warm water

Upholstery spot removal

Club soda

Water mark removal


Water softener

1/4 cup vinegar

Wine stain remover


Window cleaner

2 tablespoons vinegar in 1 quart warm water

Wood polish

3 parts olive oil + 1 part white vinegar; almond or olive oil (interior unvarnished wood only)

Marigolds can repel nematodes.

More Information