Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Cleaning products are essentials we all buy on a regular basis, but we rarely talk about their impact on our health and the environment. Many of these conventional cleaners contain harsh chemicals, which can both cause us health problems and damage the environment with pollution.
Thankfully, these chemical cleaners aren’t the only solution – there are some easy and cheap natural zero waste cleaning swaps you can try to clean your home in a cleaner way. Most of these also come much cheaper than the conventional cleaners you’d be using otherwise.
Table of contents
1. White vinegar
A staple ingredient in a zero waste cleaning pantry is white vinegar. It can be used to substitute most surface cleaners and universal sprays you’d buy at the store. Simply dilute with some water and add into a spray bottle. If you find the smell of vinegar unappealing, don’t worry – it won’t stick around on the surfaces. However, if you do want something a little fresher, you can substitute artificial fragrance with a few drops of essential oils.
It’s best to store this DIY cleaner in a glass or metal spray bottle in a cupboard away from direct sunlight, but if you’ve got old cleaner bottles you’d throw away, feel free to reuse them – just make sure they’re properly washed.
2. Baking soda
If your white vinegar spray won’t cut through the grease and grime, baking soda surely will. It’s a wonderful natural and zero waste cleaning option for your sustainable home, as it can be used to substitute some of the harshest chemicals you’ll find in cleaning products.
It can be used in a variety of different ways – from cleaning the toilet to scrubbing the oven. It packs a big cleaning punch, especially when combined with the vinegar spray.
Baking soda is also a fantastic alternative to bleach-based stain removers for your clothes!
3. Natural fibre cloth
Many of us use microfibre cloths even with natural cleaners. However, we often fail to realize these aren’t zero waste. Synthetic materials used to make microfibre cloths are essentially plastic. Whenever this plastic comes into contact with water, it releases microscopic plastic particles – microplastics – into the water stream.
Often, these particles aren’t filtered out at wastewater treatment plants and continue polluting our rivers and oceans.
Natural fibres, such as cotton or bamboo, don’t release any such particles, making for a much better alternative for zero waste cleaning. You can find some fun prints and patterns on stores like Etsy, but you could also simply cut up an old t-shirt or any other piece of clothing you’d otherwise throw away.
If the fibres of the cleaning cloth are fine enough, they’ll also easily substitute polishes for wooden furniture.
You’ll find one of the best natural cleaning alternatives right in the produce aisle. In many ways, it can be used similarly to vinegar – when diluted with water, but without the vinegar smell some people may find unpleasant.
However, aside from that, it’s also the perfect natural and zero waste way to get rid of hard water marks in the shower or elsewhere in the bathroom. For example, to clean water marks on a glass shower door, rub a lemon cut in half on it and wash off with water.
5. Essential oils
Many conventional cleaners use artificial fragrance to cover up the smell of chemicals they use. Mostly, such fragrances aren’t needed in natural cleaning because there are no such chemical smells. However, essential oils provide other benefits aside from a natural way to scent the cleaning products.
If you’re used to using air freshener sprays or dispensers, a simple essential oil diffuser does the job much better – and in a much more natural way. Aside from making your home smell nice, they also have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties!
**Please be sure to talk with a highly qualified aromatherapist before using essential oils. There is a TON of bad information out there on essential oils and we want to make sure our community stays safe! I personally love the facebook group “Using Essential Oils Safely” – here's the link if you want to find a safe space to learn!