CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia, 908-527-4419
Tina Casey, 908-527-4346


Money Savers for Do-It-Yourself Fans


Elizabeth, NJ – As do-it-yourself season approaches, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is offering tips and free resources that save money while avoiding harmful chemicals in and around the home.

General Cleaning: No need for expensive cleansers with irritating fumes. Plain vinegar, diluted with warm water, handles most jobs. For streak-free windows, dry with newspaper. A sprinkle of baking soda adds natural scrubbing power when needed.

Car Washing: Plain water is fine for routine washes. To save water, use a bucket and sponge instead of a hose. For more intensive cleaning, avoid harsh detergents that pollute our streams and rivers. Try one of the new eco-safe products instead.

Painting and refinishing: Using leftovers is the most budget-friendly approach. You can mix new colors or swap with neighbors. If you need fresh supplies, buy only what you can use, and ask your paint dealer about new products that contain less volatile organic compounds. These are the harsh chemicals that produce unhealthy fumes.

Repaving Driveways and Patios: Instead of blacktop, look into low-maintenance, permeable paving blocks or mats. They help prevent flooding, and they don’t need periodic sealant that contains harmful chemicals. They also help cut summer cooling bills because they absorb less heat around the home.

Yard Care: If your lawn is the right size for a push-mower, try one. They cost practically nothing to maintain and they don’t fill the neighborhood with harmful fumes. You can also downsize a lawn by installing a rain garden. Rain gardens are colorful, easy-care beds that need little or no watering, fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. To get free expert guidance, call the Union County Master Gardeners, 908-654-9852.

Disposing of Leftovers: Many do-it-yourself products can’t be disposed in household trash or poured down drains. Used motor oil, oil-based paints, aerosol cans, and batteries are some common examples.

Union County will take used motor oil and many other special household wastes, including electronic goods and automobile tires. For details and collection points, visit This service is free to Union County households.

Leftover latex paint should not be poured down drains. Use or give away when possible. Otherwise, let it dry within the can, then secure the lid and put in household trash.

For more budget-friendly green tips and information, visit