One of the most common questions I get is about cleaning products. It can be hard to understand and decipher claims, greenwashing and all the options out there! In an era with no regulations on the word “natural” it is hard to determine fact from fiction.
One of the most simple options is baking soda and vinegar. You can use these to clean pretty much everything in your home and can easily find it in bulk. Castile soap is also great to have on hand as it can be diluted with water or mixed with baking soda to provide extra cleaning power. There are countless recipes online. For the most part I dilute ¼ part vinegar to ¾ part water in a spray bottle and use it as an all purpose cleaner. If you don’t love the vinegar smell you can add some essential oils. I use baking soda for scrubbing and castile soap for cleaning up anything super dirty or oily. (Castile soap and vinegar don’t mix so make sure to avoid using them together!)
Another Zero Waste cleaning must-have is a stainless steel scrubby. (Yep, one of those cheap $2 scrubbies will do great.) These clean my electric stove top unlike anything else out there. It takes me no more than 5 minutes to clean my stove and it gets GROSS. Get the scrubby wet, scrub away and wipe clean with a towel. Done. (I don’t believe you can use them on electric or coated cook-tops- check your oven manual first) They also work great on pots and pans and last for years. Some are even dishwasher safe so you can clean them easily when they start getting gross.
Sponges can harbor a lot of bacteria and don’t always break down. There are a number of compostable sponges out there- just make sure to replace them regularly. Sponges can be super helpful for using along with baking soda to get extra scrubbing action.
Many local health food stores have refillable cleaning products as well. You buy a bottle of product and can refill it from their bulk bottle whenever you need more cleaning products! If your store doesn’t have one consider asking the manager about it.
Another great option is a highly concentrated cleaning product that can be diluted as needed. Juniper Seed Mercantile, and Sal Suds, among others online have products like this. I also keep hearing about Branch Basics from other bloggers but haven’t tried it out myself yet. These concentrated products will clean many things with different dilutions and last a very long time. Typically one bottle will make a couple gallons of cleaning products! Plus you only need the one bottle for all your cleaning needs.
What do you use to clean with? Would you like to switch to something more natural that creates less waste?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and 4 year old son. She enjoys spending time in the mountains, studying about essential oils, natural remedies and herbs, as well as upcycling/ DIY projects. Olivia’s family made the move last year towards becoming a Zero Waste household. They have gotten down to one bathroom sized trashcan a month of garbage but hope to be totally Zero Waste by the end of 2015.
Like this? Check out the rest of our Waste Less and Be Green in 2015 series for more tips!