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Incorporate Zero Waste Practices Into Your Cleaning Routine

March 5, 2024

Incorporate Zero Waste Practices Into Your Cleaning Routine

Why go zero waste with cleaning?

Going zero waste with cleaning is better for the environment and your health. Many conventional cleaning products contain toxic chemicals that get washed down the drain and pollute waterways. They can also release volatile organic compounds that contribute to indoor air pollution. Adopting zero waste cleaning practices reduces your environmental footprint and exposure to harmful chemicals.

Start with the basics – vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap

You can make effective cleaners from just a few simple ingredients:

  • White vinegar – cuts through grease, removes hard water deposits, disinfects
  • Baking soda – scours and deodorizes
  • Castile soap – lifts dirt, cuts grease, and emulsifies

Together, these three basics can tackle most cleaning tasks. Distilled white vinegar and baking soda also neutralize each other, making them ideal for drain cleaning.

Use real soap, not detergent

Detergents are synthetic surfactants that can contain irritating chemicals. Castile soap is made from plant-based oils like olive, coconut or jojoba. It’s versatile for cleaning floors, counters, bathrooms, laundry, dishes, and more. Purchase castile soap in bulk to reduce packaging.

Opt for simple DIY cleaners

Many cleaning products just contain water, soap, and essential oils. You can easily make these yourself:

  • All-purpose cleaner – Mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 10-15 drops essential oil in 1 quart water
  • Glass cleaner – Mix 2 cups water, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 15 drops essential oil
  • Scrubbing cleanser – Mix 2 cups baking soda with 10-15 drops essential oil

Replace disposable products

Swap paper towels and disposable wipes for reusable cloths and sponges. Old clothing and textiles make great cleaning rags. Look for cloths made from durable hemp or cotton.

Dispose of sponges regularly to prevent bacterial growth. Consider Swedish dishcloths – highly absorbent cellulose cloths that are compostable.

Use eco-friendly scrubbers

Plastic scrubbers shed tiny particles. Switch to natural materials:

  • Loofah – Dried, fibrous interior of luffa gourds
  • Coconut coir – Fibrous coconut husk material
  • Sea sponges – Natural ocean sponges sustainably harvested

Let scrubs air dry between uses to prevent mildew.

Choose non-toxic cleaning tools

Skip plastic bottles and accessories which end up in landfills. Try these zero waste tools:

  • Reusable spray bottles made of glass or stainless steel
  • Mops and brooms with natural fiber heads and wooden handles
  • Microfiber cloths that are washable and long-lasting
  • Steel or silicone scrub brushes and pot scrapers

Use the power of steam

Steam cleaners use only tap water to generate hot, high-pressure steam. This natural steam can sanitize, degrease, and clean without any chemicals. Look for multipurpose models that convert into handheld steam cleaners.

Make your own cleaning products

DIY cleaners are often cheaper, gentler, and generate less packaging waste. Try making:

  • All-purpose spray – Mix 1 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 15 drops essential oil
  • Foaming bathroom cleaner – Mix 1/2 cup baking soda, 2 tbsp liquid castile soap, and 5 drops essential oil
  • Scouring powder – Mix 1 cup baking soda and 5 drops essential oil

Read labels and know ingredient concerns

Watch out for these problematic ingredients in conventional cleaning products:

  • Quaternary ammonium compounds – Asthma and reproductive issues
  • Phosphates – Waterway pollution
  • Sodium hypochlorite (bleach) – Respiratory and skin irritant
  • Formaldehyde – Carcinogen and sensitizer
  • Synthetic fragrances – Hormone disruptor and irritant

Stick to cleaners with short ingredient lists that you recognize. Unnecessary additives just mean more ways for chemicals to enter your home and environment.

Start small and build better habits

Transitioning to zero waste cleaning takes time. Start by switching just a few products, then phase in more as old supplies run out. Concentrate on high-use areas like the kitchen and bathroom. Building better cleaning habits takes perseverance, but the payoff for your health and environment makes it worthwhile.

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