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


Author: John

John Mueller is a freelance author and technical editor. He has writing in his blood, having produced 99 books and over 600 articles to date. The topics range from networking to artificial intelligence and from database management to heads-down programming. Some of his current books include a Web security book, discussions of how to manage big data using data science, a Windows command -line reference, and a book that shows how to build your own custom PC. His technical editing skills have helped over more than 67 authors refine the content of their manuscripts. John has provided technical editing services to both Data Based Advisor and Coast Compute magazines. He has also contributed articles to magazines such as Software Quality Connection, DevSource, InformIT, SQL Server Professional, Visual C++ Developer, Hard Core Visual Basic, asp.netPRO, Software Test and Performance, and Visual Basic Developer. Be sure to read John’s blog at When John isn’t working at the computer, you can find him outside in the garden, cutting wood, or generally enjoying nature. John also likes making wine and knitting. When not occupied with anything else, he makes glycerin soap and candles, which comes in handy for gift baskets. You can reach John on the Internet at John is also setting up a website at Feel free to take a look and make suggestions on how he can improve it.