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Zero Waste Journey: Cutting Down on Cleaning Waste

March 5, 2024

Zero Waste Journey: Cutting Down on Cleaning Waste


As I have embarked on my zero waste journey, I have realized that cleaning products generate a significant amount of plastic waste. From empty spray bottles to used wipes and paper towels, keeping my home clean often resulted in additional garbage. However, I have discovered several simple swaps and homemade solutions that have dramatically reduced the amount of cleaning waste I produce. In this article, I will share the steps I have taken to cut down on cleaning waste.

Reducing Disposable Wipes and Paper Towels

Disposable wipes and paper towels are incredibly wasteful. I used to go through several rolls of paper towels each week! To reduce this waste:

Reusable Cloths and Rags

  • I purchased microfiber cloths, cotton rags, and unused t-shirts to use in place of paper towels and cleaning wipes.
  • I designated cloths for different purposes like dishes, surfaces, dusting, etc. using different colors or patterns. This prevents cross-contamination.
  • I wash the cloths with my regular laundry.

Spray Cleaners

  • For a quick cleaning spray, I fill an old spray bottle with white vinegar or a mix of vinegar, water, and essential oils. The acidity in vinegar disinfects surfaces.
  • I also make spray cleaners out of castile soap diluted in water. A drop of tea tree, eucalyptus, or lavender oil adds disinfecting properties.

Low-Waste Tools and Containers

Many cleaning tools and containers are designed to be tossed after use. Here are some reusable options:


  • Instead of disposable mop pads, I use a microfiber mop head that can be washed and reused.
  • I also love old cotton t-shirts tied onto a mop base. T-shirts mop up spills and dust efficiently.


  • I purchased a sturdy plastic bucket to hold cleaning solutions instead of repeatedly buying disposable bottles.


  • Reusable silicone sponges replace single-use plastic sponges. They last for years and can be sanitized in boiling water or the dishwasher.

Storage Containers

  • For DIY cleaning products, I use glass jars and spray bottles that can be endlessly refilled and reused. I label ingredients on the containers with a permanent marker.

Homemade Zero Waste Cleaning Solutions

With some simple ingredients, I have been able to make highly effective DIY cleaners in reusable containers:

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • Water
  • 10-15 Drops essential oil (optional)

Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle. The baking soda acts as a gentle scrubber and the vinegar disinfects. Shake before each use.

Drain Cleaner

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2 cups boiling water

Pour the baking soda down the drain first, followed by the vinegar. Let fizz for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with boiling water. The reaction breaks down grime and clears clogs.

Wood Polish

  • 1 part olive oil
  • 1 part lemon juice

Mix ingredients and apply a small amount to wood surfaces with a cloth. Wipe away any excess. The acidity in the lemon brightens wood while the oil conditions.


Transitioning to zero waste cleaning has required some adjustments but ultimately saves money and reduces plastic waste. Simple habit changes like using rags and homemade cleaners have been highly effective in cutting down my cleaning waste. With a little creativity, we can find green solutions for every cleaning need!

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