Zero Waste Cleaning Tips: Use What You Have | Make Something New
Hi, I’m Sandy Green, owner of the Athens, Georgia based cleaning company Lady To Lady Clean. I’ve been following Jessie of Tiny Yellow Bungalow for a while now, and have had the pleasure of learning a lot about zero waste and eco friendly living. One thing I know that Jessie and I agree on is that you should use your resources to the best of your ability.
I’ve seen Jessie post about how to start living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle and how that looks through the lens of zero waste habits. The most important thing with zero waste cleaning is the same as with the zero waste lifestyle: use what you already have first. This lifestyle does not have to be only accessible to people who live in communities with great bulk shopping stores. It can be accessible no matter where you live.
I’d like to start by giving you zero waste cleaning tips around the house. I’m going to break down these cleaning tips into two sections: using what you already have at home and making something new. I’ll get into some fun stuff like zero waste dupes and recipes you can make at home! Let’s get started!
Zero Waste Bathroom Cleaning Tips
Use What You Have
Some of us might have some not so eco friendly items around the house. And that’s okay. Rather than dumping them out, let’s put them to use and then buy smarter in the future. One of my favorite tricks is working with toilet bowl cleaner on grout. If you’re eager to get rid of a chemical heavy, single use plastic container of gel based toilet bowl cleaner (the kind with the oddly shaped spout), use it on your grout. The gel will have some real staying power and help you get rid of the dirt and grime with a few scrubs after that.
Make Something New
One of my favorite dupes for those harsh and abrasive chemicals are two things: citric acid and baking soda. Citric acid is totally safe and plant based. You can find both citric acid and baking soda online and at bulk stores. It does not have any scent to it. All you need to do is sprinkle a little around the area you want to clean, like a tub or a sink, spray some water, and scrub a dub! For a little extra kick, sprinkle baking soda everywhere, spray some simple soapy water over top, let it sit for a bit, and then toss on some vinegar. Let the cleaners work for you. Allowing them to sit for 5-15 minutes depending on how dirty the area is will save you a lot of elbow grease.
Another great tip is to have a good brush. How many times do we end up buying something we see at the grocery store and it just doesn’t cut it? Reusing toothbrushes is a great idea for some not so difficult areas. However, when it comes to grout and odd corners, you want a long lasting brush. The Funginator is my favorite brush! It’s made in Germany and is designed to be ergonomic and long lasting. Honestly, it’s hard to believe how long this brush lasts. We have used one in multiple homes a day in my cleaning company and it has lasted two years. Two years doesn’t sound like that long, but for personal use only, this would be a 20+ year investment.
Zero Waste Kitchen Cleaning Tips
Use What You Have
A lot of us have stainless steel appliances. While they are gorgeous and sleek, we know that they can really hold on to some kiddo hand prints, doggy noses, and who knows what else! Stainless steel is actually highly porous. Think of it like wood. It has a grain to it and absorbs more than you probably think. Save your money on stainless steel cleaner, grab some vodka or gin from the bar, and wipe it down in the direction of the grain of the stainless steel. Why vodka and gin? It’s a great plant based and zero waste solution. They come in glass bottles, they sanitize effectively, and of course they are made from plants. Using isopropyl alcohol is also a great alternative solution. However, in the times of coronavirus, it can be a little harder to find, and it is always packaged in plastic. If you do have some spare isopropyl alcohol lying around, any spray bottle from a soon-to-be recycled spray bottle will screw on perfectly to any size bottle of isopropyl alcohol.
Once you clean your stainless steel, it’s also stripped. You’ll want to add back some shine. All you need is a little oil. You can use any kind of oil you have around the house: olive oil, mineral oil, grapeseed oil, whatever you want that is a traditionally safe kitchen item. Use a non-shedding rag. My favorite is to cut up an old t-shirt to use as a rag. Add about a 2-4cm diameter of oil, rub it around in the cloth, and be prepared to be amazed. Just as you cleaned the appliance exterior with alcohol, you now replenish with oil. Wipe with the grain. Use the cloth to remove any excess. The appliance will not have an oily residue. This not only makes your appliances look brand new, it also acts as a buffer to superficial scratches. Also, if your kiddo leaves a hand print, take a fresh cut up t-shirt, and simply dry wipe it clean.
Make Something New
A great all purpose cleaner for your kitchen is easier to make than you think. Start with any spray bottle. Jessie has a glass spray bottle for sale in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow shop! Add 2-3 squirts of your favorite liquid soap. My favorite is Sal’s Suds or Seventh Generation’s Free and Clear dish soaps. Now add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (optional!). Even if you’re not using one of the soaps I mentioned, you can use any liquid soap. Now slowly add warm water. Give it a shake. This is a perfect all purpose cleaner that is truly all purpose. Apart from suede or varnished wood, you can use this on anything else you might have in your kitchen: cabinets, tables, chairs, counter tops, etc.
The soap element here is also a great way to break down coronavirus. The coronavirus shell is fat soluble and will go away with a soap based cleaner. To add an extra layer of protection on top of that, you can disinfect after cleaning. By using the trick I mentioned before of any clear alcohol (vodka, everclear, isopropyl), simply dab some on a rag OR spray it directly onto a surface. It’ll shine right up and be disinfected as well. Don’t worry, your house won’t smell like alcohol, it dissipates in the air rapidly. This is why I prefer it over vinegar.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read through these eco friendly cleaning tips. For more information about my company which also happens to produce its own line of plastic free, plant based cleaners, you can find me here at Lady to Lady Clean. If you’d like more tips and tricks for other areas of your home, I’d be happy to offer a zero waste cleaning blog post part two. I am looking forward to reading your comments and helping!