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Expert Tips for Sustainable Cleaning

March 5, 2024

Expert Tips for Sustainable Cleaning

Sustainable cleaning means using cleaning methods and products that are environmentally friendly. As consumers become more eco-conscious, sustainable cleaning is growing in popularity. Here are my top tips for cleaning your home sustainably.

Use plant-based ingredients

Many conventional cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. Sustainable cleaning products use natural, plant-based ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and essential oils. These ingredients get the job done without toxic chemicals.

Some examples of natural cleaning ingredients include:

  • White vinegar – Disinfects and removes grease. Use for cleaning floors, windows, kitchen surfaces and more.

  • Baking soda – Scours and deodorizes. Use for cleaning sinks, tubs, ovens and refrigerators.

  • Lemon juice – Cuts through grease and whitens. Use for cleaning kitchen surfaces, sinks and bathtubs.

  • Essential oils like tea tree, lavender and peppermint – Disinfect and add natural fragrance.

Look for plant-based ingredients when shopping for sustainable cleaning products. Or even better, make your own cleaners at home.

Make your own cleaners

One of the most sustainable ways to clean is to make your own cleaners using simple kitchen ingredients. DIY cleaners are inexpensive, effective and eco-friendly.

Here are some easy homemade cleaner recipes to try:

All-purpose cleaner

  • 1⁄2 cup vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup baking soda
  • Warm water

Mix ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake before use. Spray and wipe clean.

Disinfectant spray

  • 2 cups water
  • 1⁄4 cup vinegar
  • 20 drops tea tree essential oil

Combine in a spray bottle. Spray on surfaces and let sit 5 minutes before wiping.

Oven cleaner

  • 1⁄2 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Water

Mix baking soda and salt with just enough water to form a spreadable paste. Apply paste to oven surfaces. Let sit 20 minutes before wiping clean.

Use reusable cleaning tools

Many cleaning tools like sponges, mops and scrub brushes are single-use and get thrown out frequently. This generates unnecessary waste.

Instead, opt for reusable cleaning tools made of sustainable materials. Some options include:

  • Reusable dish scrubbers made of silicone or plant-based materials
  • Microfiber cloths that can be washed and reused
  • Wood-handled brushes with replaceable heads
  • Cotton mops that can be laundered

Look for quality materials that will last through many uses.

Use concentrated cleaners

Concentrated cleaners contain very concentrated formulas so you can dilute them at home. This allows you to use less packaging overall.

Look for concentrated cleaners that come in tablet form or very small bottles. To use, simply dissolve one tablet in warm water, or dilute a small amount of concentrate in water.

Diluting at home saves packaging and also saves money since the concentrates go farther.

Skip the antibacterial claims

Many conventional cleaners boast antibacterial and disinfecting properties. However, regular cleaning with soap and water removes most germs effectively.

Unless someone in your home is immunocompromised or you are cleaning up a contagious illness, antibacterial cleaners are unnecessary.

Stick to basic cleaners and save the antibacterial claims for situations that truly require disinfection. This avoids overusing harsh chemicals.

Use reusable cleaning cloths

Paper towels generate abundant waste and recycling fibers degrades their quality over time.

Reusable cleaning cloths are a sustainable alternative. Look for reusable wipes made of cotton, microfiber or other washable materials. Or simply use ripped up t-shirt rags.

Wash cloths in hot water regularly to disinfect. Avoid using sponges or rags that stay damp, as this can breed bacteria.

Buy in bulk

Buying cleaning supplies in bulk reduces packaging waste. Fill up a large container of concentrate that can be diluted at home in reusable bottles.

For dry ingredients like baking soda and salt, buy in bulk bags and transfer portions to glass jars for use.

Buy concentrated liquid castile soap in large tins instead of small plastic bottles. Dilute at home in foaming dispensers.

Buying in bulk saves money and cuts down on packaging waste.

Focus on the essentials

You probably don’t need as many specialized cleaners as marketed. For most cleaning tasks, a simple homemade all-purpose cleaner, baking soda and vinegar get the job done.

Before buying more products, see if you can meet your needs with essential basics like:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid castile soap
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Essential oils

Having just a handful of basics on hand prevents over-buying specialized cleaners. Bonus – it saves you money too!

Small changes make a difference

You don’t have to completely overhaul your cleaning routine to make a difference. Start with small steps like having vinegar and baking soda on hand for daily cleaning tasks.

Or challenge yourself to make one DIY cleaner recipe each month. Over time, these little changes add up to a more sustainable cleaning routine.

Focus on areas where you use the most products, like kitchen and bathroom cleaning. Substitute just a couple conventional products for DIY cleaners here.

Small, consistent changes towards sustainability make the biggest long-term impact.

Sustainable cleaning protects the environment, avoids exposure to harsh chemicals, and saves money too. Begin transitioning your home cleaning routine with these simple tips. Soon you’ll be cleaning green without even thinking about it! Let me know if you have any other tips for fellow readers on cleaning sustainably.

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