Four Easy Ways to Clean Your Home Without Harming the Environment
Creating natural DIY glass cleaners and using reusable paper towels are two of our favorite tips.
Is there a better feeling than walking through your home after a deep clean? Well, maybe. It's when you're able to clean and organize the messiest parts of your home without leaving a blemish on the environment. But becoming an eco-conscious homeowner isn't an overnight task-it's a slow-and-steady process that extends beyond your daily chores.
Making your cleaning routine low-impact all starts with being mindful about the materials you're using. One way to do it: Relying less on single-use products. Here are a few easy and eco-safe substitutes.
Reach for Natural, DIY Cleaners
You'll want to keep these five basic yet hard-working household items on hand at all times: distilled white vinegar, castile soap (or any mild dish soap), baking soda, coarse salt, and lemon juice. With these ingredients, you can create a few household cleaners of your own. If you'd like to add a touch of fragrance to DIY cleaners, add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice. Place a few spray bottles of all-purpose and glass cleaners in areas where you do frequent spot-cleans, like in the powder room and the upstairs bath.
Harness the Power of Lemon Juice
Lemons have wide-ranging cleaning benefits. The juice's citric acid can break down stains just as well as commercial cleaners, minus the toxicity. Freshly-squeezed lemon juice is also naturally antibacterial and eliminates lingering odors in tough spots like the kitchen sink disposal—making it a great DIY all-purpose cleaner. Our favorite natural cleaning tip puts the citrus' juice to work cleaning wooden cutting boards, a notoriously stubborn surface. Simply slice a lemon in half and cover it in salt before scrubbing the surface of your board.
Use Paper Towels Wisely
It's tempting to rip off a new paper towel for every little spill, but Grandma was onto something when she reached for reusable cloth rags. Having a few linens in each "danger" zone-the kitchen, living room, dens, and the dining area-can help you dry up water spills or wipe away everyday smudges without creating extra waste.
Martha Stewart Living's Editor-in-Chief, Elizabeth Graves, swears by If You Care reusable paper towels. Each roll is made of cellulose, unbleached cotton, and salt, and does the work of 18 traditional paper towels when you use a single sheet each week.
Filter Other Fabrics
The plastic bags, soda rings, and straws that wind up in the ocean are just the trash we can see. Invisible microfibers from synthetic clothing can end up in our water sources and can be potentially harmful to animals, too. A 2016 study from the University of California at Santa Barbara found that a fleece jacket releases 1.17 grams of its fuzzy material with every wash.
The key to stopping that debris from leaving the washroom-and making its way into our landfills and natural environments-is a smart invention that allows fabrics to be filtered before washing them. Zip polyester, acrylic, and nylon clothing pieces into a laundry bag that can trap the wayward fibers. Patagonia's Guppyfriend is a good example: You can simply clean away the debris after fibers build up in the bag, just as you would a lint trap. Another alternative is the Cora Ball, which also works by collecting debris while your clothes are being washed.