Skip to main content Skip to site navigation

Safer Cleaning At Home

General information

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

  • Lemon
  • Antibacterial, Triclosan, and fragrance free soap
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Scrub brush
  • 3% hyrdogen peroxide
  • Borax

Air Freshener:

  • Leave open boxes of baking soda in the refrigerator, closet or bathroom. 
  • Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of trash cans

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 1/2 part vinegar, 1/2 part water, and add some lemon juice to create a fresh and natural scent.

Carpet Deodorizers

Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet. 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, 1 tablespoon of Borax, 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 1/2 part vinegar with 1/2 part water into a spray bottle.


  • To prevent or kill mold mix 2 tablespoons of tea tree oil into 2 cups of water and apply with a sponge.
  • Let vinegar sit on the mold. Clean with soapy water.
  • 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.


  • Bon Ami is an effective and safe option.
  • Mix 2 tablespoons of liquid soap, 2 tablespoons of Borax, and 1 quart of warm water. Leave on the oven for 20 minutes then scrub with a non-chlorinated scouring powder.


  • Combine 3 cups of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water and scrub into the grout.
  • Rinse well with water.

Toilet Bowl

  • Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl and sprinkle with vinegar. Let sit for half an hour, then brush.
  • Mix 1/2 cup Borax with 1 gallon of warm water and use as a disinfectant and stain remover.
  • Hyrdogen peroxide (3% solution) can also be used as a disinfectant.
  • Wood Furniture & Floor Polish

  • Mix 2 parts vegetable oil to one part lemon juice. Rub mixture in and let sit for 5 minutes. Polish with a soft cloth.
  • Oil soap is also a great safer option.

Related Content


Household Hazardous Waste

IMPORTANT NOTICE: All Household Hazardous Waste events have been canceled for the duration of the Health Officer’s Order and for some additional time once the Order is lifted.

San Mateo County’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program helps residents reuse, recycle, or responsibly manage residential hazardous waste for free. County residents may drop-off a full range of HHW at collection events year-round every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (except major holiday weekends).