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The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Cleaning

March 5, 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Cleaning

Why Go Zero Waste?

Going zero waste means reducing the amount of waste you produce as much as possible. This includes trash of course, but also extends to wasted energy, time, food, and other resources. There are many benefits to living a zero waste lifestyle:

  • Reducing your environmental impact: Less waste means less trash in landfills and less plastic pollution. Going zero waste is one of the most effective ways to lower your carbon footprint.

  • Saving money: Buying less and reusing more saves money in the long run. Making your own cleaners, toiletries, and other household items is very cost effective.

  • Living more intentionally: Zero waste encourages mindfulness about what you buy and consume. It helps identify excess and live more purposefully.

  • Improving health: Many zero waste swaps eliminate exposure to toxic chemicals found in conventional cleaners, personal care products, and food packaging.

  • Feeling empowered: Taking small steps each day toward reducing waste is empowering and can spur larger positive change.

Sustainable Cleaning Supplies

Conventional cleaning products often contain many synthetic, toxic chemicals that get rinsed down the drain. Cleaning green with DIY cleaners and sustainable products is better for your health and the planet. Here are some of the best zero waste cleaning supply swaps:

DIY Cleaning Solutions

  • Baking soda – Scouring powder, deodorizer, stain remover
  • White vinegar – Disinfectant, degreaser, window/glass cleaner
  • Lemon juice – Stain remover, adds fresh scent
  • Castile soap – All-purpose cleaner, floor cleaner
  • Hydrogen peroxide – Disinfectant, stain remover
  • Essential oils – Natural antibacterial, antimicrobial, and scent

Reusable Tools

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Sponges and scrub brushes
  • Buckets, spray bottles, and other containers

Sustainable Products

  • Unpaper towels instead of paper towels
  • Wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets
  • Soap nuts for laundry instead of detergent
  • Safety razors instead of disposable razors

Making Your Own Cleaning Products

With just a few simple ingredients, you can make effective DIY cleaners for pennies on the dollar compared to conventional cleaners. Here are recipes for some of the handiest homemade solutions:

All-Purpose Cleaner


  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 1 part water
  • 5-10 drops essential oil (optional for scent)


  1. Combine ingredients in a spray bottle.
  2. Shake well before each use.
  3. Spray directly on surface and wipe clean with a cloth.

Uses: Counters, tables, appliances, sinks, mirrors, windows.

Disinfectant Cleaner


  • 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 teaspoon castile soap
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray on surface and let sit for several minutes.
  3. Wipe away.

Uses: Sanitizing and disinfecting counters, toilets, doorknobs.

DIY Scrubbing Powder


  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup castile soap
  • 10 drops essential oil (optional)


  1. Mix baking soda and castile soap.
  2. Add essential oil if desired.
  3. Sprinkle and scrub onto surfaces.

Uses: Tubs, sinks, tile, grout, cookware.

Sustainable Cleaning Habits

Cleaning green goes beyond just the products. It’s also important to adopt habits that reduce waste and energy use:

  • Use microfiber cloths – They clean better with just water, reducing need for cleaners.

  • Vacuum and dust regularly – This prevents build up that requires harsh chemicals to remove.

  • Open windows often – Fresh air helps keep indoor air quality high.

  • Clean as you go – Quick wipedowns prevent big messes from accumulating.

  • Wash laundry in cold water – Saves energy and allows detergent to work better.

  • Air dry dishes – Skip the dishwasher’s drying cycle to conserve energy.

  • Look for multifunctional products – Vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap have many uses.

Sample Zero Waste Cleaning Schedule

Integrating sustainable habits into a routine helps maintain a zero waste home. Here is an example schedule:


  • Quick tidy of surfaces
  • Spot clean mirrors and counters
  • Sweep kitchen floor
  • Wash dishes and air dry


  • Dust furniture
  • Clean bathroom sinks and toilet
  • Sweep and mop floors
  • Sanitize doorknobs and light switches
  • Launder towels and rags


  • Scrub kitchen cabinets and stove
  • Deep clean the refrigerator
  • Disinfect trash and recycling bins
  • Clean windows and screens
  • Wash curtains and bedding

As Needed

  • Scrub tile, grout, and bathtub
  • Shampoo upholstery and carpets
  • Descale appliances
  • Dust ceiling fans and baseboards

Making Zero Waste Cleaning Work

Here are some top tips to help you succeed with zero waste cleaning:

  • Start small – Trying to overhaul everything at once is overwhelming. Focus first on swapping one or two convenient changes like all-purpose spray.

  • Use up existing products first – Finish up conventional cleaners before making your own to reduce waste.

  • Store cleaners in reusable containers – Old glass jars or spray bottles work great for DIY solutions. Label them clearly.

  • Transition slowly – Test out DIY cleaners and find recipes you like. Tweak them as needed.

  • Troubleshoot issues – If a homemade cleaner isn’t working well, try adjusting the recipe or technique.

  • Automate tasks – Put recurring chores like wiping counters on the calendar so you don’t forget.

  • Revisit as needed – Review your system periodically and adjust to improve efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Going zero waste with cleaning is an easy way to tread lighter on the planet. With some simple swaps and DIY solutions, you can have an effective cleaning routine that’s better for your health and the environment. Focus on small changes over time until sustainable habits feel natural. Your effort makes a difference!

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