Sustainable and Affordable Home Cleaning Guide
There are two things almost everyone can agree on: they hate cleaning and the climate crisis. Not only can harsh cleaning products lead to adverse health consequences, they also contribute to air pollution, water contamination, and waste.
We’ve curated our favorite tips on how to make your cleaning routine more environmentally friendly.
Homemade Cleaning Solutions
The most environmentally friendly and cost-effective cleaning products are more than likely sitting in your pantry already. This list of holy grail ingredients can easily be turned into natural, environmentally friendly cleaning products that can tackle any mess. Did we mention they’re cheaper than store-bought cleaners?
- White Vinegar
- The antiseptic properties in white vinegar make it a great natural disinfectant and cleaning ingredient. For example, get rid of hard water stains by soaking a cloth in vinegar, letting it sit on the stain for at least two hours, and then scrubbing it clean.
- Baking soda
- Baking soda is great for absorbing unwanted odors from carpets or furniture. It also forms an effective cleaning paste when mixed with water. Mix it with vinegar and the fizzy mixture is great for clearing drains.
- Castile Soap
- When undiluted, this olive oil-derived soap is non-toxic and sulfate free. While great in combination with baking soda or vinegar, castile soap and hot water are a great floor cleaner, dish cleaner or all-purpose cleaner.
- The antiseptic properties in lemon juice is a natural degreaser and can replace disinfectant wipes on a simple cloth or rag. Try cleaning your microwave by juicing lemons in a microwave-safe bowl of water, heat it for five minutes, let it sit for another five, and then wipe away grease.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a disinfectant and biodegradable multi-purpose cleaner. Add half a cup to your toilet bowl, wait thirty minutes, and then clean. Just be aware – hydrogen peroxide is an effective non-toxic alternative to bleach and can whiten colors in just the same way. Also, don't mix with ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice as it produces a dangerous corrosive acid.
Before tossing your orange peel or mango skins in the trash, use your food scraps as an addition to your homemade cleaning supplies. Not only can you reduce food waste, but you can also save money on cleaning products.
For example, 2-3 cups of citrus rinds or fruit skins can create a multi-purpose enzyme cleaner. Adding old citrus discards to white vinegar and letting them sit for a week and get an all-purpose cleaner. If DIY cleaning solutions aren’t for you, check out products like Veles, a circular cleaning product produced almost entirely from food waste.
Just as coffee cups, grocery bags, and cutlery have accessible alternatives, there are many recyclable, reusable and plastic-free household cleaning products.
If you have access to a zero waste or bulk store, buy reusable bottles and refill them with cleaning solutions. This is a great way to minimize packaging waste – and can be less expensive than conventional cleaners.
For cleaning tools, try to repurpose what you already have before buying anything new. Repurpose old clothes and dish towels as cleaning rags. Reuse old toothbrushes as scrub brushes.
When it is time to buy new cleaning products, these are great green replacements:
- Stock up on glass bottles to refill.
- Swap paper towels with compostable dish cloths.
- Use biodegradable and plastic-free brushes.
- Replace your regular laundry detergent with biodegradable detergent strips, soap berry nuts or eco-friendly detergent pods.
- Given the harmful micro-plastics your laundry can expel into wastewater and ultimately the environment, check out the Guppyfriend laundry bag or a microfiber-catching laundry ball.
Zero Waste Stores
If you don’t have the time or energy to make all your cleaners from scratch, there is an increasing number of online zero waste shops with sustainable household cleaning products. Blueland, for example, has a whole line of waste-free cleaning products. Here are some of our other favorites:
- Wild Clean
- Life Without Plastic
- Rebel Green
- The Unscented Company
To make sure any cleaner you buy lives up to your standards, check out the Environmental Working Group’s searchable guide of cleaners that evaluates environmental and health impacts.
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