Everyone needs to clean house every once in a while (most of us on a regular basis). But while cleaning makes the space around you look nice, some of the tools and methods used are surprisingly unsustainable.
However, they don’t have to be. We’ve gathered a few helpful green cleaning tips and tricks that can help you keep your home looking great and reduce your impact on the world around you.
From switching out the cleaners you use to spicing up your decorating, there are a ton of ways you can practice eco-friendly cleaning.
5 tips for eco-friendly cleaning
1. Use a paper towel alternative
Paper towels might be one of the most wasteful products we clean with. By the time the paper becomes a towel, the fibres are too small and lack the quality required to be recycled.
Even if they were recyclable, we use them to wipe up spills and spritz them with cleaning chemicals, which means they can end up contaminating an entire batch of recyclable materials. If you’re looking to up your green cleaning game, replacing paper towels is a great place to start.
As a paper-towel alternative, repurpose old cloths, sheets, and towels. You can cut a towel or a sheet into smaller sections and use the material as cleaning rags. You can also buy reusable, washable bamboo-fibre cloths. Not only does this help cut paper towel waste down, but because these materials are washable, you can cut your cleaning costs down.
2. Make DIY green cleaning products
While paper towels are big offenders in non-green cleaning practices, what chemicals you use also make an impact. Here are a few natural green cleaning products you can use or create.
It’s important to note that you should make sure to double-check that you can use the following natural cleaning products on the surfaces you want to clean in your house without damaging the surfaces.
Lemons have antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which makes them a great cleaning agent.
You can combine them with salt to get an extra polish out of your stainless steel and copper cookware. You can also set a lemon peel or two in vinegar for a few days to create a natural all-purpose cleaner that you dilute with water.
Another exceptional cleaner in the kitchen (and beyond) is vinegar. Used with water, you can do some green window cleaning, get bad smells out of clothing, or scrub grout and floors—though because of the acidity of vinegar you’ll want to double check whether or not it’s OK to use on your flooring. Alone it can help remove mould, scum and mildew from your bathroom and kitchen sinks.
Most of us have baking soda on hand, which comes in quite handy if you’re focused on doing a deep green clean of your home. It can be sprinkled on a grimy surface and left to sit before it’s scrubbed off gently.
Combined with water, baking soda can help remove mould and scrub residue from dirty pots. You can also stick an open box in the fridge to get rid of any bad smells (but don’t forget to change it every few weeks) or mix it with water to remove the smell of sour milk from containers. Or you can sprinkle it on the top of a stinky trash can, on carpets with a foul odour or use it to remove bad smells from hard-to-clean fabric. It can even be used in your laundry.
Baking soda and vinegar can be combined in your toilet bowl to create a fizzling green cleaning product. Or you can combine it with water and make a paste that can be left overnight in your oven and scraped off (gently) in the morning.
Used coffee grounds make for a great cleaning scrub for hard-to-clean surfaces because they are abrasive. They can be used to clean things like the sink or polish your dinnerware, but note that they can leave a brown stain, so avoid using them on particularly porous surfaces.
3. Repurpose what you can
Chances are there are plenty of things you no longer use in your house that you’re itching to get rid of. But repurposing certain things can be a budget-friendly way to decorate and organize your home, plus it’s planet-friendly!
While there are copious ways to repurpose most of the things in your home, let’s focus on a few items you’d normally probably throw out as it relates to cleaning and organizing the space around you.
We mentioned earlier that instead of throwing out old towels, sheets and other fabric items, you can consider cutting them up and using them as rags to reduce or eliminate your paper towel usage. You can also use old items like socks as dusters or cleaning gloves, and instead of throwing a used toothbrush out, you can use it as a scrubbing tool for smaller messes.
On the organizational side of things, old shoeboxes, Amazon packaging or even an empty tissue paper box can be reused as storage bins. Try cutting off the top of a tissue paper box and storing envelope-style packages of taco mix and spices. Bigger boxes can be used as large storage bins, and you might even consider storing some of your freshly made cleaning supplies under the counter in one.
Finally, you can get some decorative storage out of repurposed items like jars or containers. Mason jars, in particular, make for trendy cups, decorative holders, or even a pen jar on your desk. Old pasta jars can be used to package a jar salad or store dry food in the cupboard.
4. Invest in plant life
Plant parenting is very on-trend, especially considering many of us spent the last year making our homes into peaceful hideaways since there was nowhere else to go. Plants make for great roommates. They bring a room to life without being imposing or requiring a ton of extra work.
But they’re not just pretty to look at – there are some serious benefits of keeping household plants. One big non-aesthetic benefit of having plant life in your home is that they have the ability to improve your mood, positively affecting your overall mental health.
Certain plants also act as natural air filters, removing harmful pollutants from the air in your home caused by things like carpets, furnishings, and mould. Plants like the Garden Mum, Dracaena, Spider Plant, and Bamboo Palms help to improve the overall air quality so you can live and breathe better.
5. Ditch store-bought air fresheners
Store-bought air fresheners smell great, especially right after you’ve cleaned the house. But most of them are packed with unnatural additives that reduce your overall air quality. Likewise, many scented candles are made with chemicals, like formaldehyde and alcohol, that can be harmful over a long period of time.
If you want to achieve a delectable after-cleaning smell, try using something natural. Boiling a pot of cinnamon sticks or lemon wedges can give you a natural scent. Or you can use dried homemade potpourri or essential oils to achieve a fresh smell.
A sustainable step forward
We all have to clean, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be eco-conscious while doing so. By switching out less eco-friendly methods and tools, you can help make the world a slightly better place.
Focus on using green cleaning products and reducing waste, so when you clean you’re not only getting rid of the clutter and grime, but you can feel better about how you’re doing it.