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Create a Cleaner, Safer House with DIY Cleaners

  • 7/17/2015 5:59:00 AM
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Sure, that spray cleaner can cut through grease and grime quickly. But did you know it might be a household hazardous material? Household hazardous materials (HHMs) are found in nearly every home, under sinks, and in closets, basements and garages. They may make chores easier, but they could also pose a threat to your family’s health, safety and the environment if used or disposed improperly.

But it’s easy to make your own cleaners right at home that are safer for your family. They’re even less expensive than traditional cleaners, so you can use the recipes below to create your own cleaners. Then take those leftover HHMs to a nearby Regional Collection Center for safe disposal.

Clean cutting boards or counter top 
Hydrogen peroxide isn’t just for cleaning out scratches and scrapes – you can disinfect your cutting boards and countertops, too. Avoid illnesses from bacteria, like salmonella, by pouring hydrogen peroxide on the cutting board after you’ve washed it in hot soapy water. To clean counters and eating surfaces, wipe with a rag dampened with peroxide. Or, put the peroxide in a spray bottle – just make sure it’s a dark bottle. Light will break down hydrogen peroxide, making it ineffective.

Toilet bowl cleaner 
Not every toilet bowl cleaner needs to be an unnatural shade of green or blue. Head for a box of baking soda instead. Sprinkle the baking soda inside the bowl and add a few drops of dish soap to the bowl. Follow up with a good scrubbing with the toilet bowl brush and rinse. You can also clean off the outside surfaces of the toilet with a rag sprinkled with baking soda.

Tub and sink cleaner 
Baking soda’s a great cleaner for the sink, tub and all porcelain fixtures. Send the scouring powder off to the RCC and let the baking soda go to work. Sprinkle the soda on the sink or tub, and then scrub with a wet rag. For extra cleaning power, add castile soap to the rag. Rinse well to avoid leaving a film.

Sanitize the bathroom with hydrogen peroxide 
The bathroom might feel like the grossest room in the house, but that doesn’t mean you need extra harsh chemicals to clean it. After you’ve cleaned with the baking soda recipes above, sanitize your sink and toilet (and eliminate odors, too) with a simple mixture of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water – just put it in a spray bottle to make it easy to use. Wipe down with a clean rag for germ-free surfaces.

Window and mirror cleaner 
For crystal clear windows and mirrors, put a quarter cup of vinegar in a spray bottle and fill to the top with water. Spray on the surface and wipe off with old sheets of newspaper, a cotton cloth or another lint-free rag.

Always remember to avoid mixing these cleaners with other cleaning products and to keep all cleaning products out of the reach of children and pets. As with any cleaning product, always test in an inconspicuous area first.

Learn more about household hazardous materials, and get ideas for a greener home on Pinterest on our Earth Day Every Day and In Your Own Backyard boards.

Recipes courtesy of

DIY toilet bowl cleaner | Iowa DNR
DIY toilet bowl cleaner
DIY tub and sink cleaner | Iowa DNR
DIY tub and sink cleaner
DIY kitchen sanitizer | Iowa DNR 
DIY kitchen sanitizer
DIY glass cleaner | Iowa DNR
DIY glass cleaner
DIY bathroom sanitizer | Iowa DNR
DIY bathroom sanitizer