Plastic Free Cleaning
Switching to plastic free, low waste cleaning in the home is simpler than it may first seem.
Change can be daunting, and cleaning products are often ones that once you find products that work, and you like them, you tend to stick with them.
In this blog I will cover simple switches, low/no cost swaps and tips for using some of my favourite products.
Paper Towels. The convenience of pulling a sheet of kitchen roll, wiping away a spill, and throwing the towel in the bin is habitual. There are a couple of reasons to switch to re-usables, firstly, kitchen towels are usually made from trees and depending on the brand you use, may not be from recycled paper. Secondly, they are often wrapped in plastic.
Switching to re-usable kitchen towels means you can wipe, wash and use again, and again, and again.... and you can wrap them round your kitchen towel holder so they are in the same place they have always been!
Tip: if you have old bedding, towels or clothing, you can cut up and re-use for cleaning. I use old cloth for wiping up grease/oil and keep the newer (better looking) ones for cleaning up that doesn't stain.
Washing up. Washing up liquid usually comes in single use plastic bottles - switching to a solid soap bar is a great way to cut single use. I would recommend keeping the bar in a soap dish or small bowl (with a loofa mat or pad to absorb moisture) and using with a dish brush. It is a leap to switch, as we often associate doing the dishes with a basin filled with bubbly water, but the bars work well. If you aren't sure about bars, you can buy refills online from companies such as Splosh, The Bower Collective or you can make your own by grating Marseille Soap into hot water.
Yellow and Green sponges are 100% plastic shed microplastics every time you use them, which end up going down the drain and into water ways. There are lots of alternatives available:
- Wooden Dish Brushes. Available with long handles and replaceable heads, or smaller pot brushes, these are touch on cooked on foods, but don't scratch your pans or dishes. They can be re-used over and over again, rinse well after use, spray with some cleaner and leave to dry.
- Un-scourers. With hessian on one side for tougher cleaning, and cotton on the other, these are the perfect replacement for the dreaded plastic scourer. They can be washed so can be used time and time again. Once they have reached the end of their life, you can chop them up and compost!
- Waffle Cloths. Made with cotton, these versatile cloths can be used as multi-purpose clothes for dishes, or to replace paper towels. As they are made from cotton, they can be washed and re-used, and composted at the end of their life
- Cleaning Refills. Traditional cleaning products are largely water, so as well as the plastic bottle they are in, the transportation cost is higher than small refills. Iron and Velvet are a U.K. based company who's refills are tough working and smell delicious! Available in different scents, and with an anti-bacterial option (and without) there is something for everyone. Simply drop a sachet into a spray bottle (re-use an old plastic one if you have one) add warm water, shake & you are ready to go.
Shower Screens: Of all the cleaning jobs, this is my least favourite! Although having a streak free shower screen is satisfying. I have found mixing white vinegar and dish soap is a winning combination. Mix the vinegar with your liquid (bought or made), spray onto the screen, leave for 20 minutes then wash off with warm water. I use a hessian un-scourer for this to get the tougher parts, then the cotton side for a final rinse.
Mirrors: Glass cleaner refills from Ocean Saver or Iron and Velvet are great on glass. you can re-use an old bottle, pop the sachet in with warm water, mix and use. I find using 'flat' cotton cloths works well, as anything too fluffy can leave small fabric on the glass.
For a low cost, plastic free alternative, white vinegar and newspaper is a great combination! (especially if you don't mind the smell of vinegar)
Toilet: Sprinkle some baking soda into your toilet bowl and leave for 10-20 mins, then add some vinegar before scrubbing. This will leave your bowl clean. Plastic free toilet brushes are also available, these have plant based bristles, so no plastic is shed while you clean.
La Zouch Soaps also do great toilet bombs which are good for cleaning toilets if you want a faster method.
Sink/Bath: Iron and Velvet and Ocean Saver refills are available for bathrooms too. The Iron and Velvet Ylang Ylang bathroom cleaner is my preferred choice, as it works really well and smells incredible (which helps with the vinegar smell too!)
I also use glass cleaner on a dry cloth after cleaning the taps and other handles, as it gives them a lovely polished look!
For cloths, I use old towels that have been cut up, and also the Ecoconut Scourers to cut through soap residue, they are also great for tiles and grout.
Floor cleaners are also available as refills (Iron and Velvet do a Sandalwood one), and mops that are made with natural fibres are a great choice. If you have an old mop, you can usually clip your own cloths to them to hold in place, enabling you to keep using the handle and base without having to buy specific sponges for the mopping.
Dusting, choosing natural fabrics is a better bet than microfibre cloths (made with plastic) and often for dusting, a damp cloth is all that is needed. Check the manufacturers advice, as you may find an all purpose cleaner, heavily diluted will give a bit of an extra oomph over water for surfaces such as window sills, skirting boards etc.
Carpets, rugs and sofas. If you want to freshen up soft furnishing, baking soda is a great way to do this. As a neutral, natural and odour absorbing product, baking soda can be sprinkled onto carpets, rugs and sofas, left for 15 minutes then vacuumed. Note, make sure you keep children and pets away from any surfaces you have covered before you vacuum.
As you can see, there are lots of small changes you can make that can save you money in the long run, as well as reduce the amount of single use product you use for cleaning your home. And, there is 10% off products mentioned in this blog with the code PFCLEAN