In the wake of a time where we've all been extremely focused on staying clean and healthy, it's safe to say we're experiencing "Spring Cleaning" on an entirely new level. More homes and businesses work to keep their homes and stores clean and sanitized, and many retailers are sold out of traditional cleaning products. Yet this begs the question: are there healthier more eco-friendly alternatives?
Switching to eco-friendly options for cleaning can sometimes feel daunting. Many people are skeptical of the effectiveness of natural products or feel they are overpriced. I have even heard people say they love the smell of bleach because that is how they know something is really clean!
However, there are many eco-friendly alternatives to everyday cleaning supplies that are effective and easy to switch for. One obvious benefit of using eco-friendly options is because of environmental benefits. Eco-friendly cleaning cuts down on waste in your home, helps deter chemicals in our water supplies, and creates a more sustainable home.
There's positive effects on your own health that are also important to note. Using eco-friendly cleaners helps maintain a healthy microbiome which aids the immune system and your overall health. (That’s just a fancy way to say that it helps keep the good germs in your home while getting rid of the bad).
Here are 5 easy tips to help you get started in making simple eco-friendly cleaning swaps in your home:
1. Make the switch from paper towels to reusable fabrics and recycled napkins
I’ll admit, this was a tip I had heard many times over that I thought my family just would not be able to handle. With little ones running about and lots of messes to clean up, paper towels were super convenient. But with an average of 13 billion pounds of paper towels used per year in the United States alone, I figured it was time to try an alternative. There are many tutorials on Pinterest on how to make your own reusable paper towels, but I found buying some pretty recycled sari napkins from GlobeIn for meals, and cotton washcloths for messes and spills, does the trick just fine. Once we got into the habit of washing them regularly, we found the transition to be very smooth.
2. Make your own cleaning solutions
Creating your own cleaning solutions is very simple and cost-effective. Vinegar and essential oils are great for general cleaning, as well as cleaning towels and linens as it helps get rid of any mildew. Hydrogen peroxide is more than just a good first aid kit essential. It is a cheap disinfectant that can be used for sanitizing surfaces and cleaning toilets.
Reusable cleaning towels can be made by cutting up strips of old T-shirts and placing them in a jar with 1 cup distilled water, ½ cup rubbing alcohol, and 1 tablespoon castile soap. Castile soap is gentle and versatile as well— check out this guide on all the amazing things you can do with it!
3. Invest in sustainable brands
If you’re not the DIY type, you can order many eco-friendly options for cleaning. Often companies have accompanying reusable glass jars, reduced plastic containers, and gentle cleansers. A favorite at Brightly is the brand Grove, where you can find everything from coconut fiber scrubbers, European dish towels, compostable surface wipes, and probiotic cleaning sprays.
4. Swap out dryer sheets for wool dryer balls
One eco-friendly cleaning swap that is often overlooked are wool dryer balls. Wool dryer balls help cut down on drying time for your clothes by 10-15%, which reduces the amount of energy needed. It also naturally fluffs your clothes and helps reduce wrinkles. The best thing about them is that they will last for years and significantly cut down on the use of dryer sheets, which are laden with chemicals that your clothes (and skin) can do without.
5. Re-using items
Sometimes to be eco-friendly you have to be a little creative. As we strive to find ways to repurpose items, sometimes we forget about how to reuse items in cleaning. As mentioned before, reducing one-use items like paper towels goes a long way. Cutting old T-shirts for cleaning cloths is popular too.
My grandmother taught me a trick to make windows shine: vinegar and newspaper (just make sure there is not a lot of color ink, stick to black and white). It leaves streak-free windows and is eco-friendly. That newspaper can then be used to line your flower beds to keep weeds away (vinegar helps kill the weeds too).
These are just five simple ways to start using eco-friendly options at home. Check out our other posts for tips on 5 ways to live everyday sustainably, zero waste, and composting ( so sustainable!). Simple steps lead to big changes, and we hope these tips inspire you to make small changes toward an eco-friendly home. Share with us your tips and swap favorites below!
Disclaimer: this article is not intended to replace the CDC's guidelines on disinfecting surfaces for COVID-19. We encourage our readers to conduct their own research on the cleaning options they feel best suit their needs and follow CDC guidelines.