Here at Environment911, we love making our own cleaning products. It’s easy, cheap and safer for you and those who live in your home. Plus, it cuts down on single-use plastic spray bottles and aerosol canister waste.
However, conventional cleaning also uses many other single-use items. Think: Sponges, paper towel and trash bags.
If you’re ready to make the switch to greener, low-waste home cleaning, we’ve assembled the toolkit you’ll need to get started into one tidy list.
Ingredients for DIY Cleaning Recipes
Vinegar is a by-product of plant fermentation and contains 5 to 10% acetic acid which is an effective solution for breaking down grease and mold while hindering the growth of some bacteria.
In the home, you can use vinegar to wipe clean stainless-steel surfaces. Or, mix it with equal parts water to create a glass and mirror cleaner.
Add fresh-squeezed lemon to a vinegar and water blend to make an all-purpose surface sanitizer. (Note: Do not use vinegar on natural stone surfaces or tile surfaces with exposed grout.)
Castile soap is considered natural as it’s made of plant oil. It’s named for a region in Spain because traditionally, it was made from olive oil. Today you can find Castile soap derived from coconut, hemp and sunflower oil. (Take special care to avoid palm oil unless you can be sure it was sustainably harvested.)
Diluted Castile soap is extremely versatile and can be used for cleaning home and body.
Baking soda, aka sodium bicarbonate, causes dirt and grease to dissolve in water, yielding a mildly abrasive cleaner that’s great for stain removal and breaking down tough grime. It also neutralizes acids and bases, meaning it eliminates odors, rather than just covering them up.
Sprinkle baking soda into a toilet bowl or mix with Castile soap and water to blend an all-purpose scouring paste.
Add essential oils to DIY household cleaners for scent and, depending on the active ingredient, microbial properties. Lemon, orange, lavender and tea tree are all great options that are generally easy and safe to work with. Add them to a baking soda scouring paste or Castile soap all-purpose cleaner—if the soap isn't already scented.
Tools for Low-Waste Cleaning
Skip the conventional dish sponge which is often chemically dyed, contributes to microplastic leaching (which can reach the ocean and then enter the food chain), and is made of synthetics which are not biodegradable. Also, some sponge manufacturers boast “microbial protection” which translates to an added coating of chemicals. (Ew.) For gentle, non-abrasive cleaning, we like cellulose sponges which are made from wood fibres. Note: It’s important to purchase cellulose sponges with care to ensure no polyesters are hiding in the filling.
For grime that demands a tougher scrub, we like a stiff-bristle brush made of bamboo.
Store DIY household cleaners in amber-coloured glass spray bottles. A set of three 500-ml bottles will be enough to get started. Affix with a label and record the date the mixture was blended.
A funnel assists in reducing spillage when pouring liquids through the narrow neck of a reusable glass spray bottle.
Reusable or DIY paper towel
Paper towels are a cleaning guilty indulgence but you're just as well-off using newspaper to clean glass and mirrors. That said, fewer households receive a daily or even weekly newspaper, and digital subscriptions are more environmentally friendly. Use old flannel sheets to DIY your own rags or invest in a set of UNpaper towels, made by Marleys Monsters.
Since you'll be making better use of rags and cloths for cleaning, you'll want an eco-friendly laundry detergent. Tru Earth Eco-Strips are ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, biodegradable cleaning power packed into a tiny, pre-measured strip of liquidless laundry detergent that you just toss in the wash. Plus, they come in a plastic-free compostable cardboard sleeve.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Ingredient Shopping List