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Refill and Reuse: Sustainable Ways to Buy Cleaning Products

March 5, 2024

Refill and Reuse: Sustainable Ways to Buy Cleaning Products


The cleaning products we use every day – things like laundry detergent, dish soap, all-purpose cleaners, etc – generate a massive amount of plastic waste. The good news is there are a growing number of sustainable options that allow us to refill and reuse cleaning product containers, rather than throwing them away. In this article, I’ll discuss why refillable and reusable cleaning products are better for the environment, explain the different options available, and provide tips for getting started.

Why Refill and Reuse?

There are two main reasons why refillable and reusable cleaning products are more sustainable than conventional options:

Reducing Plastic Waste

Most cleaning products are packaged in single-use plastic bottles or containers. The United States alone discards around 50 billion plastic water bottles per year, and cleaning product bottles contribute greatly to this waste stream. By switching to refillable containers and reusable bottles, we can significantly cut down on the amount of plastic waste generated.

Lower Carbon Footprint

Reusing containers cuts down on the energy and resources required to manufacture new bottles and transport cleaning products from the factory to the store. Concentrated cleaning product refills also require less packaging and space to ship. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with cleaning product manufacturing and transportation.

Refillable Cleaning Product Options

There are a few different ways consumers can buy refillable, reusable cleaning products:

Refill Stations at Grocery Stores

A growing number of grocery stores now offer refill stations for certain cleaning products, including laundry detergent, dish soap, and all-purpose cleaners. To use them, I simply bring clean empty bottles to the store and use the refill station to fill them with my desired product. This allows me to reuse my bottles dozens of times!

Refill Cleaning Product Delivery Services

Online companies like Cleancult and Blueland sell concentrated cleaning product refills that are delivered directly to my door. When the refills run out, the companies collect the empty packaging and send new refills. This subscription-based model is convenient and reduces waste.

DIY Cleaning Product Refills

I can also make my own DIY cleaning products using ingredients like Castile soap, baking soda, vinegar and essential oils. Then I reuse and refill spray bottles, jars and other containers. This “ultrazero” waste option gives me full control over ingredients.

Bulk Refills at Co-ops and Zero Waste Stores

Some natural food co-ops and zero waste stores offer cleaning product refills in bulk. I bring my own containers and fill them with the amount of laundry detergent, dish soap, etc that I need. This cuts down on packaging.

Tips for Getting Started

Switching to reusable, refillable cleaning products is easy with a little preparation:

  • Take inventory – Check under my sinks and take note of which cleaning products I use most. Look for options that come in reusable packaging or offer refills.

  • Get the right bottles – Collect or purchase reusable bottles and jars for storing refills. Match sizes to the products I buy most. Glass and stainless steel containers are durable and last for years.

  • Buy reusable accessories – Invest in washable sponges, scrub brushes, microfiber cloths and other tools so I don’t have to use as many paper towels.

  • Learn proper cleaning methods – Vinegar, baking soda, Castile soap and other natural cleaners work differently than conventional products. Learn how to use them effectively.

  • Join a refill service – Sign up for a cleaning product refill delivery service to conveniently get refills shipped to my door.

  • Find refill stations – Search online to see if stores in my area offer refill stations. This makes refilling cleaning products easy.

The Bottom Line

Refilling and reusing cleaning product containers is one of the most effective ways for households to reduce waste and plastic pollution. And it’s becoming much easier with the growth of refill stations, delivery services, bulk purchasing options and DIY recipes. By making a few simple changes to how I buy and use cleaning products, I can make a positive impact on the environment.

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