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Safer Cleaning At Home

General information

Protect your family from harsh chemicals by making your own household cleaning products using these simple ingredients:

  • Lemon
  • Liquid soap free of antibacterial, Triclosan, and fragrance
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3% solution)
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Scrub brush

Air Freshener:

  • Leave open boxes of baking soda in the refrigerator, closet or bathroom. 
  • Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of trash cans.
  • Simmer water with cinnamon sticks, orange peel, or cloves.
  • Insert cloves into a fresh orange.
  • Keep your home and closets clean and well-ventilated.

All Purpose Cleaner

  • Mix (Triclosan free) liquid soap with water.
  • Mix liquid soap with 1 tablespoon of baking soda, lemon juice, and water.
  • Fill a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar, 1 part water, and add some lemon juice to create a fresh and natural scent.

Carpet Deodorizers

Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet (option to add 30 drops lavender oil to 2 cups baking soda). Let it set overnight, or for as long as possible. Vacuum.

Carpet, Rug, and Upholstery Cleaner

Mix 1 quart warm water, 1 tablespoon of mild liquid soap, 2 tablespoons baking soda, and add a squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar. Apply a damp cloth or sponge and rub gently. Wipe with a clean cloth and allow to dry.


Use mild, biodegradable detergents. Look for naturally derived or glycerin-based soaps.

Drain Opener

Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by 1/2 a cup of vinegar. Wait 15 minutes, then pour 2 quarts of boiling water down the drain.

Glass Cleaner

Mix 1 quart water, 1/2 cup of white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a spray bottle. Shake to blend. Spray surfaces and rub with a clean, soft, lint free cloth or newspaper.

Hand Soap

Use plain soap, free of fragrances, dye, and color.

Kitchen: Countertop, Floor, & Appliances

  • Use soapy water or soapy water mixed with vinegar.
  • Combine 1 part vinegar with 1 part water into a spray bottle.


  • To kill mold, mix 2 tablespoons of tea tree oil into 2 cups of water and apply with a sponge. Dry thoroughly.
  • Reduce moisture. If a surface is damp, mold can grow. Spores circulate in the air and cannot be eliminated.
  • Let vinegar sit on the mold. Clean with soapy water. Dry thoroughly or mold may return.
  • To clean mildew from a shower curtain, machine wash with a 1/2 cup of soap and a 1/2 cup of baking soda, then add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  • Go to for moisture and mold reduction tips. 


Mix 2 tablespoons of liquid soap, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 quart of warm water. Apply to oven and leave on for 20 minutes, then scrub.


Combine 1 cup of baking soda with 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid soap and mix. Using a squeeze-top bottle, let sit on grout for 5 minutes or scrub immediately. Rinse well with water.

Toilet Bowl

  • Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl and sprinkle with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide (3% solution), then brush.
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) can also be used as a disinfectant.

Wood Furniture & Floor Polish

  • Mix 2 parts vegetable oil to 1 part lemon juice. Rub mixture in and let sit for 5 minutes. Polish with a soft cloth.
  • Oil soap is also an effective, safe option.

Related Content


Household Hazardous Waste


Household hazardous waste events (HHW) may be canceled due to poor air quality.

As of June 4th, 2020 only HHW events in San Mateo have resumed. HHW events in additional locations will resume when all safety protocols for both staff and the public can be put in place.