Less Toxic Alternatives to Household Chemicals

Why to Use Alternatives

One way to reduce the toxic materials introduced into our environment is to use less toxic alternatives in the first place. If it says "Danger" on the product's warning label, it is one of the most hazardous products. The terms "Warning" or "Caution" indicate less hazardous products. Those products that don't have any of these words on the label are the least hazardous.

Research and industrial use have shown that the products and/or methods below can be used in place of their more toxic counterparts. It is important to remember that many of the products mentioned are still considered chemicals, and should be treated as such.

Household Cleaners

Baking soda, borax, trisodium phosphate (TSP), and vinegar are chemicals that can be used in place of more toxic cleaners and scouring powders. Though they do adequately clean soiled areas, they do not qualify as a disinfectant.

Also consider using:
  • D-Limonene (citrus oil) as a solvent and cleaner
  • Hydrogen peroxide as a bleach

Window Cleaners
Vinegar or lemon juice and water can be used as a substitute for window cleaners.

Drain Cleaner

Before reaching for chemicals, try a mechanical method such as a plunger, snake, or hose-end bladder


Barriers and traps are physical methods to stop infestations. Caulk holes and cracks to keep insects out of the home. Strategically placed ant / roach traps reduce the need for spraying of chemicals on your property. Soap and water sprayed on insects can kill some pests, and Diatomaceous earth and boric acid can be placed in trouble areas to reduce infestation.

Additional Information

For other suggestions, please visit the California Department of Toxic Substance Control.