A clean-looking home doesn’t always mean a healthy home. Many store-bought cleaners are harmful and full of toxic chemicals that you and your family breathe in long after the cleaning is done. Even though they clean the dirt away, your home might even be less healthy than when you started. Luckily, our Healthy Home Experts have tips to keep your home both clean and healthy with non-toxic cleaning techniques that are often much cheaper than toxic products. Below are some tips from our Healthy Homes experts on toxic-free ways to keep your house clean.

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All-Purpose Cleaner (for spots on linoleum, tile and woodwork)


  • Murphy’s Liquid Soap
  1. Squeeze a drop of soap on a wet Easy-wipe
  2. Rub the area to be cleaned briskly. An Easy-wipe will last longer and create less waste than a sponge or paper towels. 


  • Place a small open block or container of baking soda inside the refrigerator to eliminate bad odors

Air Freshener

  • Place small containers of baking soda around your home to absorb bad odors.

Carpet Freshener


  1. Sprinkle small amounts of baking soda on the carpet.
  2. Let it set for an hour
  3. Vacuum the baking soda up – do not use on wet carpet!

Tub And Sink


  • Baking soda
  • Murphy’s Liquid Soap
  1. Sprinkle it on porcelain fixtures and rub with a wet rag.
  2. Add a little soap to the rag for more cleaning power.
  3. Rinse well to avoid leaving a hazy film



  • Baking Soda
  • Boiling Water
  • Vinegar
  • Fresh Lemon
  1. This recipe will free minor clogs. Treat your drains on a regular basis to prevent future clogs.
  2. Pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain first.
  3. Pour half a cup of vinegar into the drain.
  4. Let it fizz for a few minutes.
  5. Then pour one to two quarts of boiling water into the drain.
  6. Repeat if needed. If the clog is stubborn, use a plunger. If very stubborn, use a mechanical snake. Avoid letting fats, oils or grease into the drain to prevent clogs.

To keep drains smelling good, grind thin lemon slices in the garbage disposal. If you do not have a garbage disposal, squeeze the lemon juice into each drain.



  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Scrubbing pads
  1. Mix one cup of baking soda with enough water to make a paste.
  2. Apply to oven surfaces and let stand a little while.
  3. Use the scouring pad for scrubbing most surfaces.
  4. A spatula or bread knife is effective to scrape off large food deposits.

This recipe will require extra scrubbing. Clean up spills in the oven after each use or spot clean it regularly. Do not use this on self cleaning ovens. 

Other Helpful Tips

  • Use the spray bottle to hold a mixture of vinegar and water for quick clean-ups in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Spray the bathtub, shower walls and curtain with vinegar and water to reduce or eliminate mold and soap scum.
  • Keep different colored gloves in the kitchen and bathroom for use only in those areas to avoid spreading germs.

BloodLead event Sept 9 2014 240Last week we partnered with San Diego's Home Safe Home program and the La Maestra Family Clinic to offer blood-lead tests to children and pregnant women.

After spending weeks canvassing the community, educating community members on the importance of lead-poisoning prevention and recruiting families for our free blood-lead testing event, our event turned out to be a fantastic success. We tested more than 100 children and spread awareness about the hazards of lead poisoning and tips for prevention.

BloodLead event Sept 9 2014 234Did you know 75 percent of homes built before 1979 contain some lead-based paint? Lead is most commonly found on exterior-painted surfaces, interior woodwork, doors and windows. EHC recommends children get a blood-lead test every year until age six to prevent blood-lead poisoning.

During the testing, children would often ask, “Why are you doing this?” Engaging in these important conversations about lead poisoning with children as well as parents goes a long way toward fulfilling EHC's goals of awareness and prevention. Get more information about the hazards of lead here, and stay tuned for our next community blood-lead testing event. 
BloodLead event Sept 9 2014 319







safe-routes-to-school-planning-ehcI never thought stop signs would mean so much in my life. Last week I joined the community of Old Town National City in celebrating the inauguration of a safe route to school on Coolidge Avenue. We have been working with residents, the City of National City and other stakeholders to improve the quality of life for almost 10 years; the completion of the Safe Routes to School Program along Coolidge Ave is one of many great things to come to Old Town.

On Thursday, August 14th, the community convened on 16th and Coolidge Avenue and walked together to Kimball Elementary. You could safe-routes-to-school-bike-rack-ehcfeel the joy, pride and sense of accomplishment with every step; the city had heard the community voice and listened. Residents confirmed how proud they were to have been involved in the planning process.

Just two years ago, EHC’s National City Community Action Team audited the Coolidge Avenue using the Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index to identify safety needs and priorities. With this feedback, the city put stop signs at intersections, expanded street corners to slow traffic, created bike lanes and installed bike racks, improvedsafe-routes-to-school-hopscothc-ehc the student pick-up and drop-off area at the school and increase outdoor lighting and shading. 

And on Thursday morning, children and parents alike rejoiced at the improvements along Coolidge Avenue. The completion of this project has brought the community together to ensure their safety walking and biking to school- and the celebratory spirit was contagious.

As we know, the community voice can have a profound impact. The left image below is of the street just one block away from Coolidge Avenue to show what Coolidge looked like before the Safe Routes to School project. On the right is what Coolidge Avenue looks like today. The safe route has crossing pathways, stop signs and defined bike lanes. 



We have much more to do, but for now let us savor our victories and cherish the profound impact of the united community voice in the creation of healthy neighborhoods for all. 

- Carolina Martinez
EHC policy advocate





Can you believe it – it’s already August! You know what that means - Soon the kids head back to school and the days become shorter and cooler. Make the most of the remaining days with a few tips from the Environmental Protection Agency to stay happy, healthy and safe outdoors. bridge

  1. Be sun healthy. Stay in the shade and wear a hat and sunscreen to avoid nasty burns. Remember, the sun is hottest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  2. Save water. Water your lawn only in the early mornings or late evenings and consider watering every two to three days. Keep use to just one inch per week.

  3. Play responsibly. Enjoy all the sand and surf San Diego has to offer, but make sure to be responsible! Swim safely, wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, watch out for pollution, and always pay attention to the lifeguards.lungtest

  4. Be aware of pollution. Pay attention to pollution in your community; Use the EPA’s tool to know where the air, water or land pollution is heaviest in your community and avoid those areas if possible. 

  5. Lower your energy use. Use energy star appliances to lower your energy use and save on your electricity bill.

  6. Stay cool. In the car, stay cool at low speeds by rolling down the windows; stay cool at high speeds by using the AC.

  7. Breathe right. Monitor air quality through apps like AirNow’s Air Quality Index to make sure you aren’t breathing toxic pollution.

Please share these tips with your friends, family and neighbors and enjoy the rest of your summer.

Warm(er) weather, setting our clocks forward an hour, more daylight in the evenings and more pollen in the air: Spring is here. And with spring often comes spring cleaning, a yearly ritual where we revamp our homes by decluttering, dusting and buying every cleaning supply in stock. But many store-bought cleaners are actually harmful and full of toxic chemicals that you and your family breathe in long after the cleaning is done. Set a new tradition in your family with easy, hand-made and toxic-free products.

image (39)With these tips from our Healthy Homes Experts, you don't have to worry about your loved ones breathing toxic chemicals and you can have the cleanest, healthiest home possible. 

  • Buy non-toxic cleaning ingredients. Combinations of vinegar, baking soda, lemon, salt and dish soap can get the job done.
  • Declutter.Clutter makes excellent hiding places for unwanted guests such as mice, roaches and spiders. Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to clear the unnecessary items taking up space in your home. 
  • The kitchen.
    • Kitchens accumulate tremendous grease which becomes a food source for roaches. Mix baking soda, salt and dish soap together to make a great grease-cutting cleaner.
    • Clean the garbage disposal with a cut up lemon, salt and a few ice cubes to get rid of any residue or lingering smell.
    • Eliminate odors from the trash can by pouring baking soda into the can before replacing the plastic trash bag.
  • The bathroom.
    • High humidity in the bathroom causes black spots and mold around the shower area. To prevent this from building up, keep a spray bottle of a water and vinegar solution underneath the sink and spray the infected areas. Another solution is to open the windows (if possible) or keep a ventilation fan on for five to ten minutes after a shower. 
    • Clean the toilet bowl with baking soda instead of bleach.
    • Rub a lemon on water stains in the shower to make them disappear. 
  • The living and dining room.
    • In these rooms, focus on cleaning your windows, furniture, carpet, floors and curtains with a non-toxic solution made of vinegar, dish soap and water mixed in a spray bottle. This solution works like magic with dust around window sills and for removing stains on carpet or furniture.

Happy spring cleaning, everyone!