Alternatives to Conventional Products

There are natural and safer materials available to use in place of conventional products which may contain hazardous chemicals.

  • Air Freshener - Simmer cloves and cinnamon in boiling water. Leave opened box of baking soda in room. Set out a dish of vinegar. Spray a very diluted solution of essential oils of your choice.
  • Ant Control - Mix two tablespoons boric acid, two tablespoons sugar and one cup water. Soak paper towels, place on dishes, and set out for ants. Pour a line of cream of tartar where ants enter. Put a light coating of petroleum jelly around the base of your pet's feeding dish to keep ants out.
  • Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner - Clean stains immediately with club soda. Sprinkle cornstarch on rug and vacuum. Use soap-based, non-aerosol rug shampoo.
  • Chrome Cleaner - Use baking soda and a dry cloth.
  • Drain Opener - Use a plunger or mechanical snake. Pour half cup washing soda into drain, and then pour two cups boiling water into drain. Flush drain weekly with boiling water.
  • Flea and Tick Repellent - Scatter pine needles, fennel, rue or rosemary on pet's bed. Feed pet brewer's yeast, vitamin B or garlic tablets.
  • Furniture Polish - Mix two parts vegetable oil and one part lemon juice. Apply, rub in and wipe clean.
  • Insect Spray for Plants - Blend six cloves crushed garlic, one minced onion, one tablespoon dried hot pepper and one tablespoon pure soap in one gallon hot water. Let sit one to two days; strain and use. Another alternative is to lightly spray a diluted solution of neem oil on infected plants.
  • Laundry Pre-soak - Make paste of baking soda and water; apply to dirty spots.
  • Metal Cleaner - Make paste of salt, vinegar and flour. Start with a half cup of salt, add enough vinegar to dissolve, add flour to create a damp paste.
  • Mothballs - Sew dried lavender or cedar chips into small cloth bags and place with clothes.
  • Multipurpose Cleaner - Mix half cup ammonia, 1/3 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda in one gallon of warm water.
  • Porcelain Cleaner - Make paste from baking soda and water; apply to stain, let set, rub clean, rinse.
  • Septic System Cleaner - Use professional service every two to three years. Chemical treatments don't work; some can actually harm your system.
  • Silver Polish - Soak silver in a quart warm water containing one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt and a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Window Cleaner - Use half cup vinegar in one gallon of warm water with lemon juice and dry soft cloth. Use newspaper to dry glass.

Quick Contact Numbers

Division Number
Solid Waste 410-326-0210
Public Works Main Line  410-535-2204 or 410-535-2205