The space beneath my sink used to look like the majority of households in North America: dishwasher tabs, stove cleaner, floor cleaner, glass cleaner, disinfectant wipes, sprays, bottles, blah blah blah… basically, I had the whole cleaning aisle chillin’ out beneath my sink.
Before zero-waste crept into my life, I was unaware that basically all of my cleaning supplies already exist in my household, in a product that I am already using for something else. Most are also natural products and can pretty much take care of all your cleaning needs. Cheaper. Safer. Simplified.
This baby helps me scrub everything from pots to the tub. Wet the surface and sprinkle some in the sink, tub, or whatever needs scrubbing, and then use a washable cloth to scrub it clean. Works great on my stainless steel cookware too. I have also used it to unclog sinks when mixing with vinegar (I felt like I was doing a volcano experiment).
A non-toxic disinfectant?! Firstly, I’m not all for this sterile environment that commercials let us believe we need: sanitize, sanitize, and if you don’t, you’ll be bacteria-ridden and fall horribly ill! Sure, sanitizing is a good thing, like when cooking with chicken, or if someone has the flu, but wiping down every surface every day is overkill; literally – it also kills the good bacteria that we need to build up our bodies to fight infection naturally.
Vinegar has the same effect of disinfectant wipes/sprays. I mix vinegar with water and some tea tree oil (a natural antiseptic) into a spray bottle and call it a day. This I use for most surfaces and it does not leave a vinegar smell because it is diluted.
I also use vinegar and hot water to wash my floors.
This handy juice has all sorts of uses from disinfecting to polishing. Check out a list here. Since I make hibiscus lemonade and iced tea from time to time, I tend to have lemons around the house anyway, so using them as a cleaning agent is a great way to reuse them. I use lemon and salt to clean my wooden boards, and sometimes I sprinkle some lemon juice on the counters and wipe clean.
When I am finished using them, I put the discards in a jar and pour vinegar on top, making a lemon vinegar cleaner. Smells awesome.
Borax & Washing Soda
Where I live, I can buy these in cardboard boxes. They are often included in homemade cleaners, such dishwashing soap, and this recipe for making dishwasher tabs. I also use Borax and Washing Soda to clean the toilets as well. I keep one box under the sink and just sprinkle some in the bowl (not the tank) when it needs cleaning.
I have very sensitive skin, so my first attempt at making my own detergent was unsuccessful. It was a mix of grated unscented soap, Borax, and washing soda. I’m sure it works for a lot of people, but my skin didn’t like it. Any suggestions? Right now I am using store-bought detergent without scents or additives.
As for my dryer, I hang items on a rack, or use wool dryer balls for big items. The lint can be composted.
I do not use bleach, but if you are so keen, you can substitute a hydrogen peroxide mix or hang items outside in the sun for a natural bleach.
Mirrors & Glass
I found a handy washable cloth that cleans mirrors without streaking the glass. I just have to put a little water on it and it cleans them lovely each time. I’m not sure what type of fabric it is, but it certainly does the trick.
My house is not 100% clean all the time because… well… I hate cleaning! But these items have certainly simplified the process and makes it more doable. I do not have to buy cleaners anymore, as these items are better.
Like I said: cheaper, safer, and simplified.
What are your go-tos?
Thanks for some more good tips.
As for laundry detergent, I use Dizolve (www.mydizolve.com). It’s a made in Canada product (Halifax?), comes in strips of four to a sheet, that you tear off. I strip does one load. It comes in a thin cardboard box that is easy to recycle. PLUS: it’s great for travelling because it’s compact and virtually weightless. Here’s what they say: “Eco-friendliness and sustainability have several dimensions, including: ingredient safety, skin irritation, carbon footprint, plastic waste impact, biodegradability, and more.”
“On balance, we believe Dizolve is one of the most sustainable laundry detergents available today.
Free of added dyes
Free of chlorine bleach
Free of 1,4-dioxane, as certified by independent laboratory tests
Readily biodegradable in accordance with OECD 310D
Hypoallergenic, certified by independent dermatologists
Vegan: no animal-based ingredients or testing on animals by us or our ingredient suppliers”
Sierra Club uses it as a fund-raiser, so when you buy Dizolve a portion of the sales goes to SC.
I like it in my HE washing machine. Cleans clothes very well, even in cold water.
Thanks Sharon! I will try that next – have never heard of it 😊
I have just started using vinegar and water in a spray bottles. My stainless steel hob oven and sink have never been so shiny!!
So simple and so effective!
Excellent list, we are HUGE fans of vinegar as a non-toxic cleaner, especially around kids and pets! We rounded up 25 creative ways to use vinegar here: http://www.bit.ly/away_vinegar. Would love any additions you have!
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