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If you want to reduce your impact on the environment while ensuring your home is still sparkling clean, the answer is to make some green cleaning swaps. It might seem daunting if you’re accustomed to using the same tried-and-tested commercial cleaning products, but we’ve made it easy by breaking it down product by product.
The best part is you probably already have a lot of these ingredients in your pantry or cupboard.
Baking Soda For Toilet Cleaner
“Simply sprinkle baking soda into the toilet bowl then clean with a toilet bowl brush,” she says. “Flush when you’re done to get yourself a sparkling clean toilet. Most toilet bowl cleaners have a bunch of chemicals in them but baking soda is a much cheaper, eco-friendly and non-toxic option.”
Baking Soda And Salt For Oven Cleaner
An unbeatable oven cleaner paste consists of a 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt and a little water. Just add the water in at very small amounts until you have the right consistency. Cover the entire oven with the mixture and leave it overnight. The next day, scrub and wipe clean with a damp cloth.
Baking Soda For Carpet Cleaner
Rab also uses baking soda to clean carpets, as it cleans and gets rid of any lingering odors.
“Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on a carpet and let it sit for at least half an hour,” she says. “The longer, the better! Then simply run the vacuum over the carpet.”
If your carpets just need a quick freshen-up, a mixture of baking soda and your favorite essential oil is all you need. Shake together four tablespoons of baking soda and 10 drops of oil and shake over your carpet. Leave it for up to 30 mins before vacuuming.
Castile Soap For Floor Cleaner
Castile soap can work wonders on your floors. Add about 1/8 to 1/4 cup to a bucket of hot water for mopping, or, even easier, use a Castile soap spray and mop up with a microfiber mop. However, don’t use Castile soap on waxed wood floors as it will break down the wax.
Vinegar For Multi-Purpose Bathroom Cleaner
Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, president of Service Master by Zaba, a residential cleaning company in Chicago, says many natural cleaners are just as effective as their synthetic chemical counterparts. Instead of bleach or ammonia, she suggests making a vinegar-based all-purpose spray that cleans and sanitizes most surfaces, windows and porcelain.
“Make sure the solution is mixed correctly and heavy on the vinegar side,” she says. “In a spray bottle mix equal parts of vinegar and water, then add a few drops of lemon essential oil or a few lemon peels to make it smell fresher.”
Lemon Juice And Table Salt For Brass Cleaner
Any brass items in your home will benefit from lemon juice and table salt. Simply dampen your sponge with lemon juice, then sprinkle on a little salt. Lightly rub it over the brass surface before rinsing thoroughly with water and drying with a clean, soft cloth.
Swedish Cloth For Paper Towels
Mary Savoca, co-founder and buyer at Ash & Rose, a boutique that advocates a low-waste lifestyle, recommends using Swedish Cloths instead of paper towels and sponges.
“They’re a cross between a sponge and a dish towel … think of them as paper towels that you can wash and reuse over and over again for at least six months,” she explains. “Plus, they’re lint-free, sustainable, biodegradable and compostable.”
Reusable Glass Bottles
Most commercial cleaning products come in plastic bottles, which in itself isn’t an environmentally friendly choice. Most plastic bottles take at least 450 years to biodegrade – if they biodegrade at all. They never will if they’re made with Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), for example.
So if you make your own cleaning solutions, don’t add to the plastic problem. A reusable glass bottle lasts forever and is easily recycled if you do want to get rid of it.
Laundry Egg For Laundry Detergent
Beth McCallum from Oh So Spotless is always looking for, researching and testing eco-friendly alternatives.
“In my own home, our cleaning routine is very eco-friendly,” she says. One of her top swaps is to use a laundry egg instead of laundry detergent. Laundry eggs clean via mineral pellets and thus don’t use liquid, powder or pod detergents. They generally last several years.
“Of course, you can find eco-friendly liquid and powder detergents, but the packaging is still often an issue,” she says. “That’s why I recommend a laundry egg. You can reuse these up to 500 times depending on the brand, and they’re still incredible at cleaning clothes and removing stains.”
Vinegar And Rubbing Alcohol For Window Cleaner
For sparkling clean windows, mix two cups water, 1/2 cup white or cider vinegar and 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (70% concentration). Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use it to clean your windows and mirrors. If you want a fresh scent, add a couple of drops of orange essential oil.
White Vinegar And Baking Soda For Stain Remover
McCallum swears by a natural stain remover for any accidents you have.
“Mix together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, a squeeze of Castile (or any liquid) soap and 2 cups of water,” she says. “Give it a good shake and keep in a spray bottle to use whenever you have a tough stain on your clothes or the carpet.”
Hydrogen Peroxide For Bleach
McCallum recommends a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide as a safe alternative to bleach.
“One instance I recommend using it for is for cleaning carpets,” she says. “Mix together 12 ounces of water, two ounces of hydrogen peroxide and if you want, five drops of your favorite essential oil. Pour a generous amount onto the stain, let it sit for a while and then use a soft brush to scrub the area. Rinse the area afterward.”
Aluminum Foil For Fabric Softener
Another of McCallum’s top tips it to make aluminum foil part of your laundry routine and cut out the harsh chemicals dryer sheets and fabric softeners are often full of.
“This may seem like a bit of a random one, but it can help you cut out dryer sheets and fabric softener,” she says. “Scrunch up a baseball-sized bit of aluminum foil and toss it into the dryer with your wet clothes. It will keep them soft and fluffy and minimize static.”
Wooden Dish Brushes
A dish brush is an essential kitchen utensil for a deep clean. But there are many natural options available to the usual plastic dish brush. Natural, sustainable, biodegradable plastic-free alternatives include wooden dish brushes made from bamboo.
Dishwashing Liquid For Marble Cleaner
Not all cleaning products are suitable for marble and other natural stone surfaces. Acidic cleaners like lemon and vinegar will eat into the stone, but dishwashing detergent is perfectly safe. Mix it with warm water, use a sponge to apply, then rinse thoroughly to remove all residue. Finally, buff it dry with a soft, clean cloth.
To tackle stubborn baked-on grease, you need a scourer. Again, most options are plastic or metal, which aren’t biodegradable and end up in landfill. But natural alternatives are out there, says Mark Wood, CEO of National Pool Fences. He suggests using a coconut scouring pad on your pans and composting it when you’re done with it.
Vinegar For Fabric Softener
Jeanine Duval, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Edelwyn, always strives to use as many eco-friendly products as possible to reduce her ecological footprint.
“When I’m doing the laundry, I started using vinegar as a fabric softener,” she says. “It does the same job, and is much cheaper!”
Citrus Peels For Garbage Disposal Deodorizer
Forget buying a product to get rid of those unpleasant smells coming from your garbage disposal. A much more eco-friendly option – that doesn’t cost a penny – requires collecting the peels the next time you prepare citrus fruit to use in food and beverages. Drop it in your disposal for a fresh scent.
Water And Baking Soda For Grout Cleaner
Water and baking soda is a winner for tackling tough surfaces, like grout. You simply make a paste, then apply onto the grout with an old toothbrush. An unwanted electric toothbrush is particularly effective at getting into hard-to-reach corners around the sink and in the shower.
White Vinegar For Mold And Mildew Remover
To blast mold and mildew, fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and target the affected area. Let it sit for around 30 minutes, then rinse off the area with warm water. For added mold-killing power, you could add a few drops of tea tree oil.
Vinegar And Lemon Juice For Microwave Cleaner
Cleaning your microwave requires no elbow grease whatsoever. Simply put a small cup of vinegar and the juice of a lemon inside the microwave and turn it on for two minutes. Leave the door closed for another minute or so before wiping the inside down with a damp cloth.
Baking Soda And White Vinegar For Drain Cleaner
A blocked drain needs a strong solution, but you don’t have to go for a toxic off-the-shelf products. Simply pour a generous amount of baking soda down your drain, followed by some white vinegar. The reaction between them will break down whatever grease or grime is causing the blockage. Wait about 1o minutes, then pour boiling hot water down the drain to flush everything out.
Essential Oils For Air Freshener
Holly Berrigan, founder of MYSA Natural Wine in Sunderland, Massachusetts, recommends using essential oils instead of chemical air freshener.
“Some of the most troublesome home products are not the ones that first come to mind like bleach or toilet cleaners — it’s actually the air fresheners and products with artificial fragrances that you should first take a look at,” she says. “Because we breathe it, it’s crucial to know what goes into the fresheners and over half of them contain products that are know to be harmful to the lungs.”
Dissolvable Laundry Strips
Dissolvable laundry strips are pre-measured and cut out any mess caused by over-pouring — which also means no waste! All you do is remove the strip from the bag, place it in your washer, then add your clothes and run your regular cycle. According to Tru Earth, 700,000,000 plastic laundry jugs are dumped into landfills across North America every year. By comparison, their zero waste laundry detergent strips come in a plastic-free, compostable cardboard sleeve.
Baking Soda For Bath Scrub
A sprinkle of baking soda is really all you need on dirty parts of your bath. Add warm water, and let mixture start to bubble. After about three minutes, start to scrub and watch those stains disappear. Berrigan suggests adding 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and 15 drops of peppermint essential oil for a really fresh, clean scent.
Compostable Cleaning Sponges
Instead of regular sponges, which are typically full of petrochemical plastics, Wood recommends compostable sponges. EcoVibe Compostable Sponges, made from natural cellulose and loofah, are hygienic, durable and completely biodegradable. And they come wrapped in recyclable paper, not plastic.
Olive Oil For Furniture Polish
Vintage & Specialty Wood recommends using olive oil to care for wooden furniture. All you need is two part olive oil and one part lemon juice, mixed in a small bowl and applied with a clean, dry cloth. However, don’t use vegetable oil or virgin coconut oil — these don’t have the same effect and might even damage the wood.
Lemon And Borax Powder For Heavy-Duty Scrub
Nothing beats lemon and borax powder for rust stains. Cut your lemon in half, then dip it into borax and scrub the affected surface. It’s perfect for rust stains on enamel or porcelain sinks and tubs, but not safe for granite or marble.
Ammonia For Grease Cleaner
Say goodbye to tough grime with a 1/2 cup of ammonia with enough water to fill a one-gallon container. Dip a sponge into the solution and wipe it over your oven racks, stove hood and grill, then rinse with water. If your oven racks and grill grates are especially dirty, soak them in the mixture directly.
Lemon Juice For Chopping Board Cleaner
Lemon juice is the only ingredient you need to keep your chopping boards clean. Chop a lemon in half, then rub it over the surface before wiping clean. To tackle a stubborn stain, squeeze the juice over it and let it work its magic for a few minutes before wiping.