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Nontoxic alternatives to common household products

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Contents

Credit and Disclaimer[edit]

Tracie Schulz originally crafted the following material on a rather large poster. Thank you Tracie for your time invested in making the original poster thorough and artistic. The, "Introduction and How to use sections were written by Michael Padget.

All information in this, "Non-toxic Alternatives," compilation are gathered from sources sited at the end of the document. Information displayed on this website page is intended for educational use only. Neither the authors nor CCAT take responsibility for the validity of the following information. Use at your own discretion and with common sense.

Introduction[edit]

"Next to nothing is currently known about the human toxic effects of almost 80 percent of the more than 48,000 chemicals listed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency," says Debra Lynn Dadd in a book called, "Nontoxic, Natural, & Earthwise," (page 7). The need for a practical reference for safe cleaning methods is obvious from Dadd’s statement. Non-toxic Alternatives to Common Household Products is a compilation from various alternative methods to risky chemical products.

There are two main reasons for using Non-toxic alternatives, your personal health and the problematic effects of toxic chemicals to the environment. According to Debra Lynn Dadd, "Every year 5 to 10 million household poisonings are reported as the result of accidental exposure to toxic products in the home." Health related problems caused by synthetic and toxic product range from mild nausea to death.

Commercially produced toxic household products are disastrous to the environment. Waste is inherent from resource gathering stages, use in the home and disposal of toxic chemicals. The contamination of ground waters, landfill problems, transportation pollution and animal species are the result. Often times the environment takes many years to recover from the pollution.

On the following page figure 1 indicates a cycle of chemical cleaning products in the environment. The diagram begins with a resource gathered from nature. Next the resource is refined into a product, stored and shelved at a market. From the market consumers purchase and use the product. The material left over after consumption is the waste product. Notice that energy is required to produce, refine, dispose, and transport for each part of the cycle.

There are alternatives and benefits to common household products that are safe for humans and the environment too. One great benefit of natural products is that they break down compositionally in soil and water. Cleaners can often times be made and disposed of right in or around the home. The Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT) has examples of alternative disposal systems. Bacteria in the CCAT grey water system and garden have proven to break down non-toxic products effectively. Over all, natural products make sense for both people and the environment.

How to use this Encyclopedia[edit]

This document is a compilation of information that is organized in three ways for each household cleaner topic. First, there is a section on Common Harmful Ingredients and Health Hazards to common commercial ingredients. The second section is Homemade Alternatives with instructions for how to use. The third section is Non-toxic Commercial Alternatives noting where to get environmentally friendly products. Index

Ammonia and All-purpose Cleaners[edit]

Common Harmful ingredients and Health Hazards[edit]


  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Artificial dyes-highly carcinogenic, easily absorbed through skin
  • Detergents-responsible for more household poisoning than any other substance
  • Fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

Any combination of:

  • Baking soda-absorbs odors and chemicals, mild abrasive
  • Borax-disinfects, deodorizes, inhibits molds, mild abrasive
  • Lemon juice or vinegar-to cut grease
  • Washing soda-cuts grease for tough jobs (Do not use Arm and Hammer because it is scented and contains other chemical additives.)
  • Vegetable oil based sap, like Lifeline

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Heavenly Horsetail all-purpose Cleaner, Natural Lifestyle Supplies, 16 Lookout Drive, Asheville, NC, 28804.
  • Natural Bodycare Citrus Organic Cleaner, Earth Herbs, 40 North Fir Street, Ventura, CA, 93001. ($1 catalog)
  • Life Tree Liquid Home Soap
  • Dr. Bronner’s SAL Suds

Basin, Tub, and Tile Cleaners[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Detergents-responsible for more household poisoning than any other substance
  • Fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Aerosol Propellants- can cause lung irritation, cancer, heart problems, central nervous system depression, headaches, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation
  • Ethanol-can cause central nervous system depression, impaired motor coordination, stupor shock, hypothermia, possible death

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Baking soda- with a little Lifeline or other vegetable oil based liquid soap
  • For more stubborn stains, scrub with lemon slices or ends dipped in baking soda or borax.
  • For really stubborn stains, leave lemons and scouring agent on stains overnight. Lemons and Borax have a bleaching affect.
  • Steam - boil some water in a kettle and manually blow the steam onto the tiles or ceramic surface. Use a sponge that will not scratch, or a tissue paper that is coarse in structure. This takes away many types of normal grease stains, also from stoves and counter tops.

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • See all-purpose cleaners listed above.

Bleach[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Artificial dyes-highly carcinogenic, easily absorbed through skin
  • Detergents-responsible for more household poisoning than any other substance
  • Fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Chlorine-can cause pain and inflammation of mouth, throat and stomach, and erosion of mucous membranes, irritation to eyes, rashes, dizziness, vomiting, severe respiratory tract irritation
  • Lye, fluorescent brighteners

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Use a water softener or Water Conditioner that prevents mineral deposits and soap sum from accumulating on fabrics making them look dingy. Then you won’t need bleach. (See also suggestions under Spot Removers)
  • To clean laundry of accumulated mineral deposits or soap film-use a Water Softener (Listed below). Run through the wash cycle with greater amount of softener and no soap or detergent.

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Ecover Alternative Bleach with out Chlorine.
  • Winter White Powdered Bleach, from Mountain Fresh, P.O. Box 40516, Grand Junction, CO, 81504. (303) 434-8434

Dishwashing Soap[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Artificial dyes-highly carcinogenic, easily absorbed through skin
  • Detergents-responsible for more household poisoning than any other substance
  • Fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Ethanol-can cause central nervous system depression, impaired motor coordination, stupor shock, hypothermia, possible death
  • Chlorine-can cause pain and inflammation of mouth, throat and stomach, and erosion of mucous membranes, irritation to eyes, rashes, dizziness, vomiting, severe respiratory tract irritation

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Sodium Hexametaphosphate (High in salt so not good for Grey Water Systems) "Probably the best substance you could use in your dishwasher" says Debra Lynn Dadd. Na12 (PO4) 6 cuts grease, leaving dishes spotless and acts as a scale inhibitor actually cleaning the dishwasher. Avoid dishwashing liquids in dishwashers because bubbles can clog the drain inhibiting water-spraying action.

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Plain liquid soap for hand washing dishes (i.e. Lifeline or Ecover).
  • Ecover Dishwashing Machine Powder, (Mercantile Food Company)
  • ‘Destain’ Automatic Dish Machine Compound, from Cal Ben Soap Company, 9828 Pearmain street, Oakland, CA, 946043. (Free catalog on recycled paper and they have dish liquid for hand washing dishes.)

Disinfectants[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Artificial dyes-highly carcinogenic, easily absorbed through skin
  • Fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Ethanol-can cause central nervous system depression, impaired motor coordination, stupor shock, hypothermia, and possible death
  • Chlorine-can cause pain and inflammation of mouth, throat and stomach, and erosion of mucous membranes, irritation to eyes, rashes, dizziness, vomiting, severe respiratory tract irritation
  • Cresol-affects the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and spleen, which can be fatal.
  • Phenol-suspected human carcinogen. Can also cause skin eruptions, vomiting, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and death.
  • Formaldehyde-suspected human carcinogen. Long term exposure can cause allergic sensitization. May contribute in sudden infant death syndrome.

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Hot water kills bacteria. To disinfect dishes, soak washed dishes in water too hot to touch for a few minutes.
    1. Keep things dry. (Bacteria, mold, and mildew cannot live without dampness.)
  • Borax deodorizes and disinfects. (1/2 cup, to 1-gallon water satisfied a hospital’s germicidal requirements.)

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • The suggestions listed above are simple and effective to use.

Drain Openers[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Sulfur compounds-can cause fatal allergic anaphylactic shock and asthma attacks, has mutagenic affects on viruses, bacteria, and yeast, and can act synergistically with carcinogens to increase their potency.
  • Petroleum Distillates

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Prevention by using a drain strainer and by never pouring greases down your drain. Use a, ‘grease container’ for re-use or disposal.
  • 1/2 cup baking soda + vinegar in drainpipe for 1 minute. Rinse with hot water.
  • 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide in drain. Wait for a few minutes and then plunge. (Repeat plunging and rinsing if necessary)

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Sells Actina produces digestive organisms that liquefy grease and waste solids and reduces or eliminates odors. For drains, pipes, and septic tanks. (This product will usually work when nothing else has) From Medina Agricultural Products Company, P.O. Box 309, Hordo TX, 78861.

Fabric Softeners[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Artificial dyes-highly carcinogenic, easily absorbed through skin
  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Aerosol Propellants- can cause lung irritation, cancer, heart problems, central nervous system depression, headaches, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • 1 cup white vinegar into final rinse to make natural fiber fabric softener.
  • "Fabric softeners are designed to reduce static cling in synthetic fabrics and are unnecessary with natural fabrics." From, Nontoxic, Natural, and Earthwise, by Debra Lynne Dadd.

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Ecover Fabric Conditioner, from Karen’s Nontoxic Products, 1839 Dr. Jack Road, Conowingo, MD, 21918. (301) 378-4621 (free catalog)
  • Allen’s Naturally Anti-Static Concentrated Fabric softener from Allen’s Naturally, P.O. Box 514, Farmington, MI 48332. (313) 453-5410 (free catalog)

Furniture and Floor Polish[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Aerosol Propellants- can cause lung irritation, cancer, heart problems, central nervous system depression, headaches, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation
  • Nitrobenzene-can cause bluish skin, shallow breathing, vomiting, and death.
  • Acrylic and polystyrene plastics- out gases or sometimes releases undetectable petroleum fumes (especially when heated).

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Use a mixture of two parts olive oil or other vegetable oil and one part lemon juice or vinegar. Apply a thin coat and then polish with a soft cloth.
  • For water spots, mix 10 drops lemon oil in 2 cups Vodka. Rub with soft-cloth damp with this mixture. Dry immediately.

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Ecover Floor Soap from Karen’s Nontoxic Products.
  • Livos Floor and Furniture Waxes

Glass Cleaners[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Artificial dyes-highly carcinogenic, easily absorbed through skin
  • Aerosol Propellants- can cause lung irritation, cancer, heart problems, central nervous system depression, headaches, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation (Glass cleaners are harmful if swallowed and injurious to eyes and skin.)

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • 1/4-2cups vinegar +2 cups water+1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil based liquid soap (i.e. Lifeline) Apply with a soft cloth or spray bottle. Use only enough to dampen surface. Use newspaper to wipe clean without streaks or lint.

Laundry Detergent[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Detergents-responsible for more household poisoning than any other substance
  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Ethanol-can cause central nervous system depression, impaired motor coordination, stupor shock, hypothermia, possible death
  • Phenol-suspected human carcinogen can also cause skin eruptions, vomiting, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and death.
  • Naphthalene-suspected human carcinogen and can cause skin irritation, headache, confusion, nausea, vomiting, urinary irritation, and lead to death.

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Use plain or powdered soap.

Mold and Mildew Cleaners[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Phenol-suspected human carcinogen can also cause skin eruptions, vomiting, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and death.
  • Formaldehyde-suspected human carcinogen. Long term exposure can cause allergic sensitization. May contribute in sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Pentachlorophenol-carcinogenic. Can also cause death, central nervous system depression, dizziness, nausea, and loss of appetite and liver damage.
  • Kerosene-intoxication, burning in chest, headache, ringing in ears, nausea, weakness, disorientation, convulsions, coma, burning in mouth throat, and stomach, vomiting diarrhea, drowsiness, low grade fever and death.
  • (Pentachlorophenol)

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Prevention: Mold thrives in damp, dark areas so the best preventive is to create dry, light spaces and to become aware of moisture traps (i.e. damp, hanging towels without circulation). Become especially aware of bath and kitchen areas without much air circulation (i.e. behind furniture against walls).
  • Mix Borax or vinegar with water in a spray bottle. Spray on and wipe mold off. Borax inhibits mold growth as well.

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • For extreme cases see TSP on page 15.


Moth Balls and Repellants[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Paradichlorobenzene- "Avoid prolonged breathing of vapor or repeated contact with skin," is the warning on the product, yet the odor permeates any place they are used.

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Store items (clean) in airtight containers with edges sealed (tape).
  • Make Herbal Moth Bags. Instructions in CCAT files under, "Non-Toxic Household Products."

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Hummer Nature Works sells a variety of styles of moth repellents, which are made from dead wood fallen due to weather or disease.

(Free catalog from Reagan Wells Canyon, Box 122, Uvalde, TX, 778801. (512) 232-6167

Oven Cleaner[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Detergents-responsible for more household poisoning than any other substance
  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Aerosol Propellants- can cause lung irritation, cancer, heart problems, central nervous system depression, headaches, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Use 2 tablespoons vegetable based liquid soap (i.e. Lifeline) + 2 teaspoons borax mixed thoroughly in 2-3 cups warm water. Solution can be applied with a spray bottle if dissolved really well and with eye protection. Apply and let sit for 20 minutes. Then scrub with steel wool and baking soda, borax, Bon Ami, or pumice for the extra baked-on grime. Wear gloves for this job since the borax can be irritating to the skin.

Rug and Upholstery Shampoos[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Detergents-responsible for more household poisoning than any other substance
  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Aerosol Propellants- can cause lung irritation, cancer, heart problems, central nervous system depression, headaches, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation
  • Glass cleaners are harmful if swallowed and injurious to eyes and skin. (Ethanol)
  • Naphthalene-suspected human carcinogen and can cause skin irritation, headache, confusion, nausea, vomiting, urinary irritation, and lead to death.
  • Perchloroethyleme-carcinogenic. Can cause central nervous system depression, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, disorientation, and liver damage.

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • To deodorize: Sprinkle generously with baking soda. Leave on 30 minutes to overnight (for serious odors). Then vacuum. Repeat if needed.
  • For stains: Blood- sponge with cold water and dry with towel. Repeat till gone.
  • Grease and oil: cover with cornstarch, let sit for 1 hour, and then vacuum.
  • Soot: cover generously with salt. Then sweep up carefully.
  • Urine: rinse with warm water. Then apply solution of three tablespoons white vinegar + 1 teaspoon liquid soap. Let sit 15 minutes. Rinse and dry with a towel.

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • AFM-T38 Carpet Shampoo from AFM Enterprises, 1140 Stacy Court, Riverside, CA, 92507. (free catalog)


Scouring Powder[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Detergents-responsible for more household poisoning than any other substance
  • Aerosol Propellants- can cause lung irritation, cancer, heart problems, central nervous system depression, headaches, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation Glass cleaners are harmful if swallowed and injurious to eyes and skin. (Ethanol and artificial dyes)
  • Chlorine-can cause pain and inflammation of mouth, throat and stomach, and erosion of mucous membranes, irritation to eyes, rashes, dizziness, vomiting, severe respiratory tract irritation
  • (May also contain tale, which can be contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos.)

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • See suggestions listed under Basin, Tub, and Tile Cleaners
  • Pumice removes stains and polishes

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Bon Ami Cleaning Powder

Shoe Polish[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Aerosol Propellants- can cause lung irritation, cancer, heart problems, central nervous system depression, headaches, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation Glass cleaners are harmful if swallowed and injurious to eyes and skin. (Ethanol and artificial dyes)
  • Ethanol-can cause central nervous system depression, impaired motor coordination, stupor shock, hypothermia, possible death
  • Nitrobenzene-can cause bluish skin, shallow breathing, vomiting, and death.
  • Perchloroethyleme-carcinogenic Can cause central nervous system depression, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, disorientation, and liver damage.
  • Mythyene chloride-suspected human carcinogen, mutagenic.
  • Trichloroethylene- suspected human carcinogen, mutagenic.
  • Xylene-can cause nausea, vomiting, cough, headaches, giddiness, vertigo, ringing in ears, can fusion, coma death.

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Wear suede shoes, or textile shoes which do not need to be polished.
  • Use the inside of a banana peel and then buff.

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Livos Snado, a leather polish made from natural waxes, plant oils, and pigments. From Livos Plant Chemistry. See "Paints" for address.

Silver Polish and Other Metal Cleaners[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Ethanol-can cause central nervous system depression, impaired motor coordination, stupor shock, hypothermia, possible death
  • Sulfur compounds-can cause fatal allergic anaphylactic shock and asthma attacks, has mutagenic affects on viruses, bacteria, and yeast, and can act synergistically with carcinogens to increase their potency.

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Silver: Cover in water containing strips of aluminum foil or other aluminum objects and salt or baking soda. Let soak or boil 2-3 minutes. Rinse, dry, and polish.
  • Gold: Luke warm, soapy water, or toothpaste and use a soft brush. Dry with cotton cloth. Polish with chamois clothe.
  • Chrome: Rub wet surface with newspaper or wipe with soft cloth dipped in diluted vinegar. (Homemade note: spots remove better when tended to quickly.)

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Natural Silver Polish, by Nitron Industries. (This product uses natural enzymes and no ammonia.) P.O. Box 1449, Fayetteville, AR, 72702 (800) 835-0123 (free catalog)

Spot Removers[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Chlorine-can cause pain and inflammation of mouth, throat and stomach, and erosion of mucous membranes, irritation to eyes, rashes, dizziness, vomiting, severe respiratory tract irritation
  • Naphthalene-suspected human carcinogen and can cause skin irritation, headache, confusion, nausea, vomiting, urinary irritation, and lead to death.
  • Perchloroethyleme-carcinogenic Can cause central nervous system depression, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, disorientation, and liver damage.
  • Trichloroethylene- suspected human carcinogen, mutagenic.
  • Benzene-carcinogenic. Can cause dizziness, disorientation, fatigue, loss of appetite, and drunken behavior.
  • Toluene-nervous system and mental changes, irritability, damage to liver and kidneys.

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Blood: soak in cold water. To bleach stains out of whites, soak in solution of, 1/4-cup borax to 2 cups cold water. Then wash as usual in cold water. (Homemade Note: Spots remove better when tended to quickly.)
  • Fruit and Fruit Juices- keep a small bottle of seltzer water in fridge. Add cold seltzer on stain and allow for soaking in. It will usually lift off. Let dry. Repeat if necessary.
  • Oil or Grease-cover stain with baking soda, cornmeal, cornstarch, or a paste of cornstarch and water. Give it time to dry. Then brush off lightly.
  • Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives
  • Granny’s Soil Away Spot Remover, From Granny’s Old Fashioned Products, P.O. Box 256, Arcada, CA 91066, (818) 577-1825. (Free catalog.)

Water Softeners[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Homemade Alternatives
  • Water softeners amend, "hard," calcium and magnesium rich water to prevent soap scum on laundry and in basins. Any salt will convert, "hard" mineral ions to, "soft" sodium ions that dissolve in water.
  • 1/4-1 cup of sodium hexametaphosphate works best or borax (or baking soda).

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Aqua Purge Magnetic Water System, from Bricker’s Organic Farm, 824-K Sandbar Ferry Rd., Augusta, GA 30901. ((404) 922-0661 (free catalog)
  • Care Free Water Conditioner, with out chemicals or slats, from Care Free Water Products, Santa Ana, CA.

Toilet Paper and Facial Tissue[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Artificial dyes-highly carcinogenic, easily absorbed through skin
  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Formaldehyde- is a suspected human carcinogen. Long term exposure can cause allergic sensitization. May contribute in sudden infant death syndrome. (And dioxin likely to be present as a result of the bleaching process.)

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Mullein leaves provide great TP in natural environments and where they are abundant.
  • Cotton handkerchiefs can be used instead of paper facial tissue
  • Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives
  • Toilet paper and facial tissue of 100% recycled paper without bleaches or dioxins from, 2nd Opinion, P.O. Box 69046, Portland, OR 97201. (free catalog) (800) 979-6922
  • TP and tissues 100% recycled without inks, dyes, or fragrances from C.A.R.E., Ashdun Industries, Fort Lee, NJ.
  • TP and tissues 100% post consumer recycled paper by Envision


Menstrual Pads and Tampons[edit]

See also: Menstrual pads.

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Very Strong synthetic fragrances-headaches, all types of nervous system symptoms
  • Formaldehyde- is a suspected human carcinogen. Long term exposure can cause allergic sensitization. May contribute in sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Acrylic and polystyrene plastics- out gases or sometimes releases undetectable petroleum fumes (especially when heated).
  • (Bleached paper in pads contains dioxin, and perfumes in deodorant pads, which can cause allergic reactions.)

Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • You can make your own reusable cloth pads. See pattern in CCAT files under, "Nontoxic Household Alternatives," or in Hygieia, by Jeani ne Parva page 15-16
  • Instead of tampons, use small, soft sea sponges with silk thread or dental floss tied to it and allow them to sit in water for 1 minute. In between use, soak overnight in white vinegar and water, allowing to air dry. Store in a dry place. Sterilize before each period.

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • All cotton, washable menstrual pads made by women in Ozark Mountains, "Arco Iris," from Ponca, AR 72670.
  • New Cycle by mail, P.O. Box 3248, Santa Rosa, CA 95402. (free catalog) (707) 571-2036

Paint, Paint Remover, Finishes, and Caulk[edit]

Common Harmful Ingredients and their Health Hazards[edit]

  • Ammonia-irritant to eyes and respiratory tract
  • Aerosol Propellants- can cause lung irritation, cancer, heart problems, central nervous system depression, headaches, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation Glass cleaners are harmful if swallowed and injurious to eyes and skin. (Ethanol and artificial dyes)
  • Ethanol-can cause central nervous system depression, impaired motor coordination, stupor shock, hypothermia, possible death
  • Phenol-suspected human carcinogen can also cause skin eruptions, vomiting, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and death.
  • Formaldehyde- is a suspected human carcinogen. Long term exposure can cause allergic sensitization. May contribute in sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Acrylic and polystyrene plastics- out gases or sometimes releases undetectable petroleum fumes (especially when heated).
  • Pentachlorophenol-carcinogenic. Can also cause death, central nervous system depression, dizziness, nausea, and loss of appetite and liver damage.
  • Kerosene-intoxication, burning in chest, headache, ringing in ears, nausea, weakness, disorientation, convulsions, coma, burning in mouth throat, and stomach, vomiting diarrhea, drowsiness, low grade fever and death.
  • (Pentachlorophenol)
  • Trichloroethylene- suspected human carcinogen, mutagenic.
  • Xylene-can cause nausea, vomiting, cough, headaches, giddiness, vertigo, ringing in ears, can fusion, coma death.
  • Toluene-nervous system and mental changes, irritability, damage to liver and kidneys.
  • Lead-symptoms of lead poisoning include pain and cramps, nausea and vomiting, headaches, insomnia, depression, and lethargy. Has been found to produce permanent neuro/psychological defects, and behavior disorders in children. In high doses, can cause brain damage, nervous systems disorders, and death.
  • "A John Hopkins University study fount that over 300 toxic chemicals and 150 carcinogens may be present in paint."


Homemade Alternatives[edit]

  • Colored interior white wash paint-stir 5# hydrated lime into 1 gallon of water and let sit overnight. Next morning, add powdered, nontoxic pigment until you reach a darker shade than desired (Paint will dry lighter). In 2 quarts warm water dissolve 11/2 pounds salt and add to lime mixture. Stir thoroughly and continue to stir every 10 minutes while applying. Makes about 2 1/2 gallons. Store in a tightly sealed container.
  • Colored exterior white wash paint-follow the same directions as above except dissolve 11/2 pounds of salt and 1 pound alum in 3 quarts of water. Add to lime and heat on stove. In another pit, melt 1 pound of tallow. When both are hot, stir together and apply while still hot. Makes 3 gallons. Apply white wash in very thin coats to damp surface.
  • One recipe for Milk Paint-Pour just enough hot water in instant nonfat dry milk to reconstitute it into a smooth syrup. Add powdered pigment in small amounts until you reach desired shade. Apply several coats to raw wood.
  • For cleaning brushes- Mix 1 pound TSP in 1 quart of hot water. Press and soak bristles in solution. (Rinse thoroughly) Or simmer covered in white vinegar for 5 minutes. Then wash with soap and warm water.
  • For more information, refer to Bibliography below, especially; Nontoxic, Natural, and Earthwise

Non-Toxic Commercial Alternatives[edit]

  • Auro Products, plant based paint and finishing products that contain no petrochemical ingredients: paints, oil finishes, varnishes, lacquers, glues, floor polishes, adhesives, tile, grout and cleaners. Free estimates (Auro claims to have competitive quality and prices of conventional products.) Coherency Company, P.O. Box 553, Occidental, Ca 95465. (707) 869-0956
  • Old Fashioned Milk Paint, casein based paint for furniture, wood, and walls (may tend to mold in damp places). The Old Fashioned Milk Company, P.O. Box 292, Groton, MA 01450
  • Liveos Products, paints, oil finishes, shellacs, spackles, and art supplies. Generally made from natural ingredients, but paints and some other products may contain a nontoxic petrochemical solvent.
  • Talsto: Linseed Putty, an alternative for culking. It seals cracks, gaps, and leaks around windows and doors. A Livos product. (Free catalog)
  • Livos Plant Chemistry, 1365 Rufina Circle, Santa Fe, NM 87501. (800) 621-2591

Ingredients and Where to Find Them[edit]

  • Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) a mineral. Baking soda is available in bulk or in large (non-recyclable) boxes by Arm and Hammer.
  • Borax (sodium borate) a mineral, which has no fumes and is relatively safe for the environment. The warning indicates that it can be, "irritating to the eyes and skin, harmful if swallowed. Keep out of reach of children." Usually found in the cleaning sections of supermarkets.
  • TSP (trisodium phosphate) is a naturally occurring mineral relatively non-toxic to humans but may be harmful to environment due to phosphates. Purchase at hardware, paint, or variety store.
  • Sodium Hexametaphosphate is as above except, purchase by mail through the Allergy Store, P.O. Box 2555, Sebastopol, CA 95473. (800) 950-6202
  • Alum Powder is a mineral. Keep out of reach of children. For external use only. Available at drug stores.
  • Hydrated Lime is derived from limestone and is a skin irritant. Avoid inhaling dry particles. Available at building supplies stores.
  • Powdered Pigment from a paint store or natural earth pigments from Livos Plant Chemistry, 1365 Rofina Circle, Santa Fe NM, 87501. (800) 621-2591


Bibliography, References and Resources[edit]

  1. Dadd, Debra Lynn, Nontoxic, Natural, & Earthwise, St. Martin’s Press; Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc. Los Angeles, 1990.
  2. Berthold-Bond, Annie, Clean and Green: The Complete Guide to Nontoxic and Environmentally Safe Household Cleaning, Ceres Press; Woodstock NY, 1990.
  3. Good, Clint, and Dadd, Debra Lynn, Healthful Houses: How to Design and Build Your Own, Guaranty Press; Bethesda MD, 1988.
  4. Bower, John, The Healthy House: How to Buy One, How to Cure a "Sick" one, How to Build One.
  5. Pearson, David, The Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious and Ecologically sound Home, Simon and Schuster, New York 1989.
  6. Ludwig, Art, Oasis Greywater Information
  7. Solutions: Arcata’s Environmentally Sound Products Store 928 9th St. Arcata, CA 95521. (707) 822-6972
  8. CCAT files: Look under "Nontoxic Household Products." Also check out the library.

Pre-Appropedia authors and editors[edit]

  • Tracie Schulz
  • Co-authored, Typed, and Edited by Michael Padget December 7, 2001
  • ported to Appropedia by Sendog6913 on March 2, 2008

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