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This guest blog post was written by Lily Cameron of Wild Minimalist— a lifestyle brand highlighting low-waste essentials to help families and individuals reduce plastic waste. Lily is also the author of Simply Sustainable— a new hardcover book that shows readers how to gradually transition away from plastic waste and curate a minimal, inviting home in the process.

We’re in the full swing of spring! Flowers are blooming, strawberries and fresh peas are popping up at farmers’ markets, and our homes are ready for a thorough spring clean. Many of us have been led to believe that we need an arsenal of cleaning supplies to keep our homes spic and span, from disposable wipes to single-use mop pads and dozens of chemical-filled sprays. These products are not only disposable and wasteful, they can expose our family to harmful chemicals and contaminate our water supply when they’re washed down the drain. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural, affordable and effective ways to clean our homes from top to bottom. You can achieve a sparkling clean home with supplies and methods that are so sustainable and easy, you may find yourself looking for excuses to tidy (no promises).

Image by Nicole Morrison @nicolemorrisonphoto

1. DIY All Purpose Spray. You can replace the majority of conventional cleaning sprays with one simple household ingredient—white vinegar. Mix up an easy all-purpose cleaner with 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water in a spray bottle (the measurements don’t have to be exact). You can also add optional essential oils like a lavender and eucalyptus for a fresh, natural scent. This all-purpose spray can be used on windows and mirrors, stainless steel, grout and tile, refrigerators, stoves and toilets. Avoid using vinegar on granite or marble surfaces since acid can etch these sensitive stones. Instead, mix a teaspoon of castile soap with water in a spray bottle or use a cleaning rag with hot water. 

Image by Nicole Morrison @nicolemorrisonphoto

2. Ditch Paper Towels. When you run out of your last roll of paper towels, consider switching to reusable cleaning cloths. They’re more absorbent and durable than paper towels, and you can toss them in the washing machine when you’re done. Flour sack towels, cotton, bamboo and hemp cloths all work great for cleaning up messes, but you can easily make your own rags by cutting up old towels, t-shirts and bedsheets. Try to avoid microfiber cloths—they’re made from plastic fibers that can get washed into the ocean. 

Try Swedish Dish Cloths by Dropps

3. Try Natural Brushes. For extra scrubbing power, try wood cleaning brushes with natural bristles. They work great for cleaning up stubborn grime and messes, but unlike conventional plastic brushes and sponges, they can be composted at the end of life. Always try to reuse what you already have before buying something new—a wood pot brush is great for cleaning dishes, and it can also be used to scrub surfaces around your home. Also, don’t forget your old toothbrush! The small bristles are perfect for cleaning nooks and crannies and it’s a great way to give your toothbrush a new life. 

Image by Aubrie Pick @aubriepick for Simply Sustainable

4. Declutter, Responsibly. Spring is the perfect time to declutter your home and get rid of any broken items. Instead of donating unwanted, damaged items to local thrift shops or tossing them in the trash, try locating a drop-off site for hard-to-recycle materials like stained or torn clothing, dirty old sneakers, broken electronics and more. Textiles in any condition can be recycled at H&M, athletic sneakers can be recycled at Nike stores (and turned into new Nike products!) and damaged electronics can be dropped off at Best Buy. 

5. Start Composting. We’ve all heard that composting food scraps is a good way to reduce methane gas in landfills and help protect the environment, but did you know there are a number of other items around your home that you can compost? Vacuum contents, broom sweepings and dust bunnies can be composted after any inorganic materials are removed, but if you’re vacuuming a synthetic rug, you’ll want to keep tossing the contents in the trash. You can also compost dryer lint (from natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo, wool and hemp only), dead bugs, feathers, dead flowers and plant trimmings, paper towels (unless it was used with a chemical cleaner) and fireplace ash (from untreated wood only). 


To learn more natural cleaning tips, and other low-waste swaps for your home, check out Simply Sustainable by Lily Cameron.

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