Little girl cleaningTime to freshen up the house for spring! De-clutter? Check. Scour the bathroom tile? Grumble check.

In your cleaning zeal, you may also want to check that you’re following the safest practices to protect your kids from toxins and potential poisonings. After all, cleaning products are the second most ingested substance by kids younger than 5, according to the Poison Control Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“Kids are curious and aren't always aware of the dangers of cleaning products,” says Jeanette D. Trella, PharmD, managing director of the Poison Control Center at CHOP. “Having chemical based products in the home can be a recipe for disaster, but If you choose to use them, be sure to keep them in their original containers and locked up from the little ones.”

The best way to prevent poisonings caused by household cleaning products? Consider using non-toxic alternatives you can make yourself; they can be just as effective as commercial products and far less dangerous in the event of an accidental ingestion. Bonus: Using homemade cleaning products can save you money, too!  

Try these recipes for safe cleaning product alternatives provided by the team at CHOP’s Poison Control Center.

In the kitchen

  • Oven cleaner. Sprinkle water and a layer of baking soda in the oven. Rub gently with very fine steel wool. Then, wipe away grime and grease with a sponge; rinse the sponge and wipe again.

  • Glass and window cleaner. In a large container, mix 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 gallon of warm water. Pour solution into a spray bottle and spritz as needed on glass surfaces and windows.

  • Drain cleaner. Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain. Add 1 cup of white vinegar and cover the drain. Wait a few minutes, then flush with a kettle of boiling water.

  • All-purpose cleaner. Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. You can also put baking soda directly onto a damp sponge. Baking soda will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

In the bathroom

  • Toilet bowl scrub. Sprinkle baking soda into the toilet bowl, add vinegar, and scour with a toilet brush.

  • Tub and tile cleaner. Sprinkle baking soda as a scouring powder onto surfaces. Put full strength vinegar on a sponge then scrub surfaces to clean.

  • Lime and mineral deposit remover. Hard lime deposits around faucets can be softened for easy removal. Just cover the deposits with vinegar-soaked paper towels. Leave the paper towels on for about one hour before cleaning. Leaves chrome clean and shiny.

In the living room

  • Furniture polish. In a spray bottle, mix 3 parts olive oil and 1 part white vinegar; apply with a clean, soft cloth.

  • No-wax linoleum floor cleaner. Mix 1 cup white vinegar and 1 gallon of warm water, then mop over floors.

  • Carpet cleaner. Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the entire carpet; wait 15 minutes, then vacuum.

Contributed by: Jeanette D. Trella, PharmD, BCPPS