Spring is here and now calls the time for some extra deep cleaning. Is it also time for you to sort out your zero-waste and environmentally-friendly cleaning routine?
We generally believe that keeping our homes clean and sparkly means ensuring they are hygienic and germ-free environments to live in. However, to achieve this we are filling our homes with hazardous chemicals that are dangerous to our health and that of our environment. Not to mention all the plastic containers that we throw away monthly and the cost involved in buying them all.
If you aspire to run a zero-waste household, sustainable household products that produce little to zero waste are key to accomplishing your goal.
All the products mentioned in this post are sold on our website. There is some overlap between what the products are used for and it is through trial and error that you will figure out what works best for your home and budget.
There are three cleaning staples that every household should have: vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice. They are super affordable and can clean your house from top to toe. If you love leaving a fresh smell behind as you clean, consider adding some essential oils. Here are some ideas and tips on how you could use these three products in your home cleaning routine.
Vinegar isn't only useful for cooking. As an acid, it also makes a great cleaner and natural disinfectant. The acidic nature of vinegar is so powerful it can dissolve mineral deposits, dirt, grease, and grime. It's also strong enough to kill bacteria.
How to use:
- Vinegar poured directly onto a cloth or diluted with water will clean the bath, toilet, sink, countertops, stovetop, fridge and appliances, as well as windows, mirrors and floors. Vinegar will also break down soap scum and hard water stains on tiles and fixtures, and break down lime scale.
- Do not use on marble surfaces. Dilute 1:1 with water for tiles, to prevent the acid eating at the grout.
- Vinegar can be added to your laundry machine as a natural softener.
- Keep vinegar (neat or diluted 1:1) in a spray bottle for handy use on most surfaces.
As a base, bicarbonate of soda dissolves organic compounds like dirt and grease. In addition, the mineral structure of bicarb provides a gentle abrasive to clean without leaving scratches behind, even on shiny surfaces. Bicarb is also a natural deodoriser - as a base, it absorbs and neutralises smells, which are usually acidic by nature.
How to use:
- Make an all-purpose cleaning scrub: sprinkle bicarb in the the bath or sink or onto countertops, stovetops, tiles, fridge and appliances. Moisten slightly and rub with a cloth, brush or sponge. Alternatively, mix 1:1 with water to form a paste and use a cloth to rub onto surfaces.
- As a slightly abrasive scourer: sprinkle bicarb on your pots and pans, moisten, leave and scrub. Sprinkle in your oven and wet with a spray bottle of water, leave and repeat and then scrub.
- Absorb unwanted smells: place some bicarb in a jar in the back of your fridge, sprinkle and leave bicarb in flasks, plastic containers or your rubbish bin or sprinkle bicarb down your kitchen drain, followed by hot water.
- Keep some bicarb (or a mix of bicarb and salt) in a flour shaker or an empty spice shaker to make it easy to sprinkle onto surfaces.
How to use vinegar and bicarb together:
We’ve all witnessed the fizzy science experiment when bicarb (a base) and vinegar (an acid) react. This reaction works well to dissolve particles, lift stains and limescale. Sprinkle half a cup of bicarb into toilet bowls, shower floors or drains, then pour 1 cup vinegar over it. Do not premix bicarb and vinegar as the reaction is what cleans - once they react they neutralise each other and are ineffective cleaners.
Lemons possess antiseptic and antibacterial properties and are a natural deodoriser. In short: lemons are a great green cleaner!
How to use:
- Lemon juice, neat or diluted 1:1 can be used to clean surfaces all around the home.
- Use lemon juice to clean inside the fridge, leaving it smelling wonderfully fresh.
- Add a few lemon, orange, or any citrus fruit peels to your bottle of vinegar to create a powerful and fresh smelling citrus cleaner. The more peels you add and the longer you leave them in the vinegar, the stronger the infusion will be. You can use your citrus vinegar instead of ordinary vinegar for all your cleaning jobs. You can use it to clean stove tops, your microwave and other small appliances.
- Revive the shine of your pots and pans. Split a lemon, dip half in baking powder, and scour your copper pans and pots using the cut side of the lemon.
- Remove stains from containers. Mix lemon juice with baking soda to make an environmentally friendly paste. Use it to rub out stubborn stains from plastic containers.
- Sanitise your cutting board. Rub a slice of lemon on your cutting board to sanitise.
- Use lemon peels to freshen the air in your kitchen and home. Simmer the peels in water on your stove top for a fragrant, natural air freshener.
You can use the following cleaning ingredients in combination with the budget ingredients. These products are a bit more costly, but will last a long time and get the job done.
Natural Orange All Purpose Cleaning Gel replaces all household cleaning agents in an eco-friendly way. It has a lovely fresh citrus smell and is gentle to your skin.
How to use:
- Use 1 tablespoon (25g) per 5L of warm water, or 1 teaspoon per basin of water. You can also add a bit of gel to a damp cloth to wipe down surfaces.
- Effective for the cleaning of stoves, counters, basins, floors, bathrooms and toilets
This must be one of my all time favourite cleaning essentials. It really works!
Oxygen bleach is a powerful oxidising treatment and safe alternative to using chlorine bleach. Oxygen bleach shifts stains and mould, cleans and disinfects. It can be used for household cleaning or laundry. It does not weaken fabrics nor cause greying or yellowing as chlorine bleach can.
How to use:
- Soak laundry before washing to whiten and brighten or to pre-treat stains.
- Add 1 tablespoon to laundry cycle to boost cleaning power.
- Dilute with warm water for general home cleaning or mix a paste with a small quantity of water to form a powerful cleaning scrub (eg for showers). Leave to act for 15 minutes before wiping or scrubbing.
- Sprinkle in toilet bowl and leave for 15 minutes or more before scrubbing to clean and disinfect.
- Oxygen bleach works well to whiten grout in tiles, clean sinks and drains or even silver tableware and jewellery.
Citric acid is a weak organic acid. It occurs naturally in citrus fruits.
It is used extensively in cleaning products and many DIY cleaning recipes contain citric acid. This is because citric acid is an excellent chelating agent - binding metals by making them soluble. This makes it effective at removing limescale, hard water, stains, calcium deposits, lime and rust. Citric acid also kills bacteria, mould and mildew, making it great for general disinfecting and cleaning.
How to use:
- In the dishwasher, either as part of the dishwashing detergent or as a rinse aid (for rinse aid, combine 100ml boiling water with 2 tablespoons citric acid and let it cool),
- As a toilet and shower cleaner: sprinkle powder in the toilet bowl/shower or dilute in water.
- To remove mineral deposits in kettles or on bathroom fixtures.
- Avoid cleaning natural stone (granite/marble) as acid can cause damage.
Please note: Although considered food safe, breathing in citric acid can cause respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, shortness of breath and a sore throat. Contact with eyes can result in redness and pain, and skin contact may cause redness as well.
Cleaning Brushes and Tools
As great as it is to use a lemon and vinegar solution to clean your home, the tool used to wipe down items matters too! To accomplish a zero waste home, we want to replace all single-use and plastic cleaning tools.
Sponges can be a very useful but problematic tool - most are made of plastic which degrades over time. As the sponge wears and tears, bits of plastic escape down the drain and into the environment. Rather use a dish rag to clean your kitchen or a cleaning cloth. Need a rougher texture to scour pots and pans? Use steel wool or even coarse salt.
Dusting can also easily be accomplished with a cloth rag. A neat trick is to use an old sock worn on your hand.
Opt for natural fibres like hemp or cotton scrubbies and cleaning cloths. There are also a large range of bamboo cleaning brushes available that can be added to the compost once they have reached the end of their lifetime.
Some of this information was sourced from https://www.spotlessliving.info/