Green cleaning is not only better for you, but it’s also good for the environment. From using natural and non-toxic cleaners to switching out single-use products for reusable ones, you can take small and easy steps to get a cleaner home and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Here are nine green cleaning tips to help you tidy up your home.
One of the easiest first steps to more eco-friendly cleaning is to swap out harsh chemical cleaners for greener products. When you’re shopping in stores, be on the lookout for labels such as Green Seal, EcoLogo, Safer Choice, and USDA Bio-Preferred, according to Jessica Ek, Director of Digital Communications at the American Cleaning Institute. “Many products will have a QR Code for Smart Label, where you can get more information on ingredients and sourcing,” Ek says.
If you’re doing your shopping online, Grove Collaborative is a must. The retailer is a one-stop shop for a healthier you and home, from personal care products like face masks and toothpaste to household essentials like multi-purpose cleaners to laundry detergent.
If you’re shopping for green cleaning products, try to avoid excessive packaging. Melissa Lush, co-founder of natural cleaning brand Force of Nature, suggests looking for products that come either without packaging or in packaging that’s 100% recyclable or biodegradable. You can also opt for buying products in bulk, which can also save you money.
Whether the cleaning products you currently have are green or not, you can reuse empty bottles or containers. You can repurpose spray bottles and containers for anything from plant misters to additional storage for other household items.
As for recycling, it’s important to make sure you’re doing it properly. Check in with your local recycling guidelines or centers to see what items are accepted. Another option is to look into recycling programs to help you properly dispose of plastic packaging.
“You can also sign up for TerraCycle, which is a free recycling program funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste,” Lush says.
Speaking of reusing bottles, concentrated cleaners are the perfect way to give your old spray bottles new life. Not only do they take up less storage space, but they typically come in less packaging and reduce the need to go out and buy new cleaning products frequently.
Concentrated cleaners are available for pretty much all of your household needs, from glass cleaners to multi-purpose cleaners. You can buy liquid concentrated cleaner, like this floor cleaner from Grove Collaborative. Or Ethique or Blueland are also solid options.
Ditching single-use paper towels and using reusable cloths or sponges instead can save you money and is better for the environment. You can even repurpose old t-shirts and turn them into cleaning rags. After cleaning, you can easily throw them in the washing machine and reuse them for your next cleaning session.
Instead of buying cleaning supplies, you can raid your kitchen for common products like vinegar and baking soda that can be used to make cleaners at home.
Vinegar is a versatile option that can be used for anything from cleaning keeping ants at bay or making sweet meringues, according to Lush. But whatever cleaning concoction you make, there are some things to watch out for when it comes to using vinegar to clean. Lush advises against using it on some surfaces, like stone countertops, and making sure to rinse off the vinegar to prevent any corrosion.
You’re also going to want to avoid using vinegar when cleaning a clothes iron, dishwasher, electronic screens, hardwood or stone tile flooring, knives, ranges, small appliances, and washing machines, according to Consumer Reports.
Fun fact: Vinegar is also a key ingredient in Force of Nature, an EPA-approved natural cleaner that you can make at home using only salt, water, and vinegar. With the Force of Nature kit, you can create a multipurpose cleaner and disinfectant with three simple ingredients and electricity that you can use in refillable spray bottles. So, not only do you get to play scientist and make your own homemade cleaner, but you can also cut back on single-use plastic.
Baking soda is another multi-functional household item you can use to clean. From removing stubborn odors on clothes to cleaning toothbrushes, there are few things you can’t clean with baking soda.
One of our favorite uses for baking soda is cleaning cookware. According to the American Cleaning Institute, you can soak cookware with baking soda and hot water for 15 to 30 minutes prior to washing to get rid of any stubborn residue. For scorched pans, you can scrub the cookware with baking soda and an abrasive sponge. You can also boil water and baking soda in the pan, remove it from the heat, add dishwashing detergent, allow it to cool, then scrub away any leftovers.
We know and love essential oils as a relaxing way to make your home smell amazing, but that’s not all you can use them for. Essential oils can also be used to make cleaning products, too.
According to Natural Habitat by Vitruvi, you can make an antibacterial multi-surface cleaner with a handful of ingredients in a matter of minutes. All you need is one-fourth cup of white vinegar, one-fourth cup of water, 15 drops of citronella essential oil, 10 drops of ginger essential oil, five drops of lemon essential oil, and a spray bottle. Shake before each use and you have your very own homemade cleaner.
Going green doesn’t only involve what you use to clean but also how you clean. Take laundry, for example. By changing up using cold water instead of warm or hot water, you can be a little more eco-friendly.
“Most of the energy use of cleaning and cleaning products comes from heating the water for washing clothes and dishes. However, with advances in laundry detergent formulation, most clothes can be washed in cold water and get just as clean,” Ek tells Oola. “Just by switching to cold water washing, in one year you could conserve enough energy to power a car to drive over 400 miles.”
Practice makes perfect, and no one is expecting you to go green overnight, so don’t be discouraged if it takes time to adjust to new sustainable habits.
“It’s okay to be inspired by the amazing people who can fit a month's worth of trash in a glass jar,” Lush says. “But, don’t let that stop you from trying new things and doing your best!”
And we totally agree. Here’s to taking small steps to a greener lifestyle.