Cleaning Substitute

I’ve received a number of positive comments about the Using a Bleach Substitute post I provided a little over a month ago. The bleach substitute is somewhat potent and there are some negative issues with paracetic acid (although, far fewer than when using bleach). The main reason to use the bleach substitute is as an antibacterial. You use it on surfaces that you must keep bacteria free and are subject to contamination from various sources. The actual amount of paracetic acid in the bleach substitute I provided is quite small, but still, any amount does present hazards, so one of the most commonly asked questions is whether there is an alternative.

You can create a simple relatively non-toxic cleaner using 2 cups of water, 2 tsp of borax, and 2 tsp of white vinegar. However, enough borax (a naturally occurring mineral) will still cause some level of respiratory problems. Theoretically, you could eat enough of it to cause a number of negative symptoms or even cause death, but you’d have to eat quite a lot of it. In fact, borax is used as a food preservative in many countries (albeit, not in the United States). Borax is relatively benign as far as cleaning agents are concerned, but you must still treat it with respect.

This cleaning agent can be kept in a spray bottle beneath the sink because the amount of problematic agents is so small. You’ll find that it does an admirable job of cleaning surfaces and won’t cause any damage to metal surfaces. However, you’ll have to deal with the after effects of the vinegar smell, which does go away relatively fast. Some people recommend using essential oils to control the smell. However, if you add 6 or 7 drops of essential oil to the mixture, it may smell better, but now you have to consider the toxicity of the essential oil. If you choose to add an essential oil, make sure that you obtain a pure oil from a non-toxic source such as peppermint or orange.

Never mix the bleach substitute that I told you about with this cleaning substitute. In fact, mixing cleaners of any sort can cause all sorts of woe (up to and including death). Just as you would never mix bleach with ammonia (the resulting gas will kill you), you shouldn’t mix anything else unless you have a recipe for doing so. Let me know if you have any other questions regarding cleaning substitutes at