Cleaning can be a daunting task- there’s always something to be wiped, scrubbed, or swept- and it can seem even more daunting when you try to do it in an environmentally friendly way.
Traditional cleaning products come chocked full of chemicals that can contribute to smog, air pollution, and a host of health issues. They also come packaged in plastic, and it’s almost impossible to find any cleaning products in-store that aren’t detrimental to the environment- and if you do find them, they’re probably relatively expensive.
So, if you’re looking to be environmentally friendly in your cleaning routine without breaking the bank, you’re going to have to make your cleaners yourself.
Cleaning your whole home with DIY solutions can be done with just a few ingredients: bar castile soap, washing soda, baking soda, vinegar, salt, vodka, and essential oils. All of these ingredients are eco-friendly, and can probably be purchased with little to no waste. Read on to see how you can utilize these ingredients to clean everything in your home.
Instead of buying a traditional, brightly colored dish soap, whip up your own batch using these three simple ingredients.
3 tbsp grated bar soap (organic castile soap works well)
1 tsp washing soda
2 cups water
Optional: add 10–20 drops of essentials oils after it has set for added scent (we recommend lemon)
1. Add grated bar soap and water to a space pan.
2. Heat the mixture until the soap has dissolved, and turn off heat.
3. Leave mixture to set for at least 2 hours.
4. If the mixture sets too hard, give it a whisk and it should loosen up.
5. Optionally, stir in essential oils.
6. Transfer to a washing up liquid dispenser.
7. Use with warm water and wash dishes as normal.
Use this dish soap with a bamboo dish brush for a fully zero waste routine.
KITCHEN COUNTERS, WINDOWS, MIRRORS, AND VIRTUALLY ALL OTHER SURFACES:
If you go to the store, you’re probably going to encounter a separate cleaner for every surface in your home- mirrors, windows, counters, etc. Truth is, you can clean most surfaces in your home with this simple, all-purpose cleaner that’s made with two ingredients: water and vinegar (or vodka). Simply add an equal ratio of the two to a spray bottle and clean away. You can add essential oils or diffuse the mixture with citrus peels or rosemary for some pleasant aromas. Spray the mixture on any surface you need to clean and wipe with a reusable cloth. Just don’t use this cleaner on granite countertops- we suggest you clean those using dish soap and warm water.
SHOWERS, TUBS, TOILETS, OVEN TOPS, STAINED TILES:
For hard to clean areas, you need something more for scrubbing than a simple cleaning spray. Using three simple ingredients, you can whip up a deep cleaning powder that’s good for these tough areas.
½ cup of baking soda
¼ cup of salt (un-iodized)
¼ cup of washing soda
Combine the ingredients in a jar. Use in combination with your all-purpose cleaning spray.
Vacuuming does wonders in keeping carpets tidy, but you will still have to deep clean them every now and again using a carpet cleaner.
1 cup of white vinegar
2 cups of water
2 teaspoons of salt
Optional: Essential oils
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, spray liberally on your carpet, allow it to dry, and then vacuum.
To remove stains, try rubbing a combination of salt and white vinegar on the stains.
HARDWOOD FLOORS AND TILE:
Simply sweep your hardwood floors and use this simple recipe to get clean floors.
1/2 cup white vinegar
One gallon of warm water
Combine the ingredients in a bucket. Submerge a mop in the solution, wring it until damp (not dripping), and mop as normal.
You can also use this solution on tiles.
To freshen up your clothes and linens you can use a simple 1:1 mixture of water and vodka as needed. As the vodka evaporates, it will leave your linens smelling fresh. You can also use this spray to freshen up your carpets or add essential oils to make an air freshener.
To actually wash your clothes, you can use a DIY laundry detergent.
1 bar of castile soap (grated)
1 cup of baking soda
1 cup of washing soda
Essential oils (optional)
Add 1–2 tablespoons to the bottom of the washer, wash with cold water (to save energy), and then hang dry (to save even more energy). You can also add ¼ cup of white vinegar to your washer as a fabric softener.
If your whites need freshening up, presoak them in a 1:4 ratio of baking soda and warm water for no more than 8 hours before washing as normal.
To remove stains, use this trusty chart to guide you in the right direction (courtesy of Paris to Go):
is the blog manager for Zero Waste Club, combining her love for writing with her passion for all things environmental sustainability. She is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is studying journalism, environmental studies, and food studies in hopes of building a career in environmental activism. You can find her on Instagram as @kaylaguilliams.