Clothing & Cosmetics  > Dont Be Cruel To Be Clean


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals


Most household cleaning products made by major manufacturers are not only tested on animals, but are ecologically antagonistic as well. Caustic ingredients -- including phosphates, chlorine, dyes, and perfumes -- in many laundry detergents, bleaches, spray cleaners, and other common products poison rivers, streams, and lakes, endangering fishes and aquatic plants. Lots of people are unable to tolerate these chemicals on their skin or in the air.


Many cruelty-free household cleaning products are composed of natural, environmentally friendly ingredients -- like citrus oils and extracts, aloe vera, coconut oil, baking soda, and plant and herb extracts -- that won't hurt the animals or you, are fully biodegradable, and are at least as effective as their animal-tested counterparts. Look for cruelty-free products in local health food stores.


A surprising number of nontoxic, effective alternatives to commercial products are already in your cupboards. Here are some helpful household hints:


Water Softener


1/4 cup vinegar in final rinse.


Oil Stain Remover


White chalk rubbed into stain before wash.


Glass Cleaner


White vinegar and water or rubbing alcohol and water. Or whip with a damp cloth or sponge sprinkled with dry baking soda, rinse with water, and dry with a soft towel.


Copper Cleaner


Paste of lemon juice, salt, and flour, or vinegar and salt.


Household Cleaner


3 tbsp. baking soda mixed into 1 qt. warm water.


Stainless Steel Polish


Baking soda or mineral oil for shining; vinegar for removing spots.


Toilet Bowl Cleaner




Coffee/Wine Stain Remover


Club Soda.


Mildew Remover


Lemon juice and salt or white vinegar and salt.


Drain Opener


Prevent clogging by flushing drain weekly with boiling water. If clogged, pour ½ cup baking soda followed by ½ cup vinegar down drain.


Furniture Polish


3 parts olive oil and 1 part vinegar or 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice. Rub with a soft cloth.




Earth Times -- April 1996

General notes and safety precautions


The mixing of cleaning or other chemicals can be quite hazardous and is never recommended without following product label instructions.

The recipes below are effective and safe when mixed in the quantities indicated.


Washing soda and T.S.P. are the most caustic of the cleaners on this list. Store them with special care in cabinets out of the reach of children. Use them only when diluted and wear latex gloves.


Label cleaning mixtures clearly. Never put them into old food containers or store them near foods.


If you do use chlorine cleaners or bleach, DO NOT mix them with ammonia, acids, or any other cleaning products. A deadly gas is produced!


Look for cleaners that do only what you want done. If you do use a laundry detergent, glass cleaner, or other cleaning product, avoid ones that say they have a "Plus," which is usually added bleach, fabric softeners, or surfactant.


Avoid Using Use More Often


Aerosols Pump sprays


Chemical drain Plunger, or metal


Openers Snake


Gasoline Water-based


(as degreaser) degreaser


Moth balls Cedar chips or herbal sachets


No-pest strips Fly paper


Rust remover Steel wool


All-purpose Household Cleaner


Add I teaspoon liquid soap and I teaspoon T.S.P. to I quart warm water.


This solution can be used for a multitude of cleaning jobs including counter tops and walls. Look for new eco-friendly brands.


Chlorine Bleach


Use a hydrogen peroxide based


Degreaser (engine and tool)


Use a water-based cleaner, well diluted, in place of kerosene, turpentine, and commercial engine degreaser. Look for "nonflammable," "nontoxic," "store at temperatures above freezing" as label clues to water-based products.


Degreaser (Kitchen)


Add 2 tablespoons tsp. to 1 gallon hot water.


Use a nonchlorinated scouring powder with abrasive scouring pad or fine steel wool. Look for "BCD" the first degreasing product to receive a "Green Seal" certification.





Rarely, if ever, needed in households. If you must, add l oz. chlorine bleach to 1 gallon water for inanimate surfaces. Keep out of the reach of children.


Fabric Softener


Use natural fibers to reduce your need for fabric softeners.


Floor Cleaner


Vinyl Floors: Add ½ cup vinegar to 1 gallon water.


Wood floors: Damp mop with mild liquid soap.


Furniture Polish


Not essential. Simply wipe clean with a slightly damp cloth. If you do polish, use mineral oil.


Oven cleaner


Add either 2 tablespoons of baking soda or T.S.P. or washing soda to 1 gallon of water and scrub with very fine steel wool. Wear gloves and rinse well. For very baked on spots, try scrubbing with pumice (available at hardware stores).


As a last resort, use an aerosol oven cleaner that says "No caustic fumes."


Glass Cleaner


Add to a spray bottle: ½ teaspoon liquid soap, 3 tablespoons vinegar and 2 cups water. For very dirty windows, add more soap.


Laundry Detergents


Best: Use laundry soap in place of detergents and use ½ cup washing soda as a softener (available in laundry section). Look for new eco-friendly brands. Use detergents with no added bleaches or softeners.


Mildew cleaner


For mild cases, scrub with baking soda. In more sever cases, scrub with T.S.P. and do not rinse of except in food areas.


Scouring powder


Use baking soda or a nonchlorinated commercial scouring powder.


Spot removers


All work best when applied to fresh stains. Try one of the following solutions:


All purpose: make a paste of water and baking soda or washing soda. Soak the stain and let dry prior to washing as usual. Check for color fastness first.


Blood: Pour 3% hydrogen peroxide solution directly on the stain, before rinsing with water. Then wash as usual.


Ink: Apply a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar; allow it to dry. Then wash as usual.


Toilet bowl cleaner


Scrub with nonchlorinated scouring powder and a stiff brush. For removal of hard water deposits, pour in vinegar or a commercial citric acid-based toilet bowl cleaner. Allow to sit several hours or overnight, then scrub.


Tub/Tile Cleaners


Use nonchlorinated scouring powder or baking soda.


Air Freshening Tips


Leave open boxes of baking soda in refrigerators, closets, and bathrooms.


Use flowers, herbs, and spices to add subtle fragrances to indoor air.