Use these eco-friendly tips to start cleaning with safer ingredients, cut down on household waste, and save money in the long run.
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As "green" cleaning becomes increasingly popular, more and more eco-friendly products are lining the shelves at retailers. Not only are they better for the environment, but cleaning products sans harsh chemicals and fragrances are also safer to use around children and pets, as well as anyone in your household with sensitive skin (or a sensitive sniffer). "We know products designed from renewable plant-based ingredients are a sustainable, healthy solution for not only consumers' homes, but for the community and environment outside of it," says Brandi Thomas, spokesperson for the eco-friendly brand Seventh Generation. Plus, swapping single-use products and disposable packaging for reusable alternatives can cut down on your household waste and cost less money in the long run.

If you're ready to dip into the green cleaning movement, try incorporating one or two of these sustainable swaps into your rotation. As you add more eco-friendly habits into your cleaning routine, notice the difference in your household waste, indoor air quality, and overall health of your home. Start with these simple strategies to see how easy it can be to go green with your cleaning routine. 

shelf of cleaning supplies
Credit: Steven McDonald

1. Swap plastic bottles for glass.

Break the cycle of continuously buying plastic bottles by choosing cleaners packaged in reusable containers. You can now find all sorts of cleaning products in glass spray bottles, many of which come with a silicone cover to prevent any slips or tumbles. Not only does this reduce plastic usage and your household's carbon footprint, but it can also cost less over time. Because you only have to pay for the glass container once, any subsequent refills are typically less expensive.

2. Opt for reusable cleaning cloths.

Toss your cleaning cloths into the washing machine rather than the garbage can. Consider using reusable cloth rags to wipe down surfaces in place of paper towels or single-use cleaning wipes. Microfiber cloths work especially well for polishing surfaces and trapping dirt or dust. Plus, they dry quickly, too. After wiping down your surfaces, simply throw the cloth into the washing machine so you can reuse it again and again.

green spray bottle with baking soda
Credit: Steven McDonald

3. Try homemade cleaning solutions.

Leave harsh cleaners behind in favor of solutions you can make at home. For many cleaning jobs, you can use ingredients that are already in your fridge or pantry, such as baking soda, white vinegar, salt, and lemons. For example, try spraying your showerhead periodically with a solution of one part distilled white vinegar and one part water. This homemade cleaning solution can help dissolve limescale deposit buildup and restore shine to your showerhead. 

4. Switch to eco-friendly laundry detergent.

Laundry detergent doesn't need to be a bright color or highly scented to get your clothes clean. For a more sustainable cycle, look for laundry products that are free from artificial fragrances and dyes, as these are often the culprits behind skin irritation and allergies. Additionally, be sure to inspect labels for potentially harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde, phosphates, and dioxane.

scrubbing shower head with green toothbrush
Credit: Jason Donnelly

5. Repurpose old toothbrushes.

Instead of tossing out old toothbrushes, save them for cleaning surfaces around the house. These narrow brushes are great for cleaning hard-to-reach spots, such as the grout lines between tiles and around the edges of tubs and faucets. You can also use toothbrushes for scrubbing rubber soles on shoes, cleaning stubborn dust on air vents, and lifting small stains on rugs or carpets. Just be sure the ones you use for cleaning are well-labeled or stored in a different area than your regular toothbrush.

6. Switch to natural sponges.

Typically made of synthetic materials, most sponges need to be tossed in the garbage when you're done using them. For a more sustainable solution, switch to sponges made from natural, biodegradable materials such as cellulose or cotton fibers. These work just as well as conventional sponges but can be cut up and tossed in with your compost at the end of their lifespan.

blue chambray labeled bins in laundry room shelving
Credit: Laura Moss

7. Substitute dryer sheets for a reusable alternative.

In place of single-use dryer sheets, try throwing wool dryer balls into your laundry routine. This reusable swap helps reduce wrinkles, catches pet hair and lint, and can even dry your clothing faster than dryer sheets. Although they can be pricier than dryer sheets upfront, a single set of dryer balls can last for a few years, so you'll save money over time. Tip: Add a few drops of essential oil to each dryer ball for a fresh boost of scent.

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