February 11, 2010

Zero Waste Cleaning and Laundry

An alternative guide to your cleaning disposables

- House cleaning agents:
castile soap
(bulk), a magic gentle natural soap, that can be used on floors, kitchen sink, dishes, hands, dog, body, hair…
homemade all purpose cleaner
(see recipes) for the weekly house cleaningbaking soda in a Parmesan shaker (1.99 unpackaged at cost plus) for scrubbing jobs
hydrogen peroxide
for mildew (use sparingly since it’s not available in bulk)

- House cleaning tools:
metal scrubby, it works wonders on stainless if used in the direction of the grain
loofah, natural brush, or a homemade scrubby knitted out of sisal twine for light scrubbing (loofah is a veggie, and you can grow your own!)
feather duster for speed dusting
old toothbrush for hard to reach places
microfiber cloths for every thing else (counters, floor, fridge, mirrors, etc…)

- Floors: Sweep with a natural boar bristle broom and wash with a wet microfiber mop and a few drops of castile soap. Compost your dust bunnies! We sold our vacuum cleaner: For the better, it saves on energy costs and storage space and we do not miss buying accessories or repair pieces.
- Windows: Microfiber cloths are great, just add water… no window cleaner needed

- Un-washable messes: Use un-donatable clothing items made into rags to clean up wax/auto grease/glue/caulk (use sparingly since they end up in the landfill!)

- Dishwasher: 2 options for the detergent (liquid in bulk from Rainbow or powder in a recyclable cardboard box such as Seventh Generation) and white vinegar as a rinsing aid

- Air: Let plants absorb toxins and clean your air. I do not like to have objects sitting on the floor since they make floor cleaning more painful, but I have found a vertical wall planter that is ideal (picture above).

- Laundry: Wash once a week only (to save time and dryer energy costs) with eco-friendly detergent (the one that has worked best for us is powder from a recyclable cardboard box such as Seventh Generation), using cold water cycles as much as possible. Savon-de-Marseille, dishwasher detergent, lemon or hydrogen peroxide work great on stains.

- Drying: Dry on a line when possible. If you use a dryer, compost the dryer lint and forgo dryer sheets (you should not be wearing synthetic static clothes anyways). I personally have not found the heavily packaged, but reusable, dryer balls to be very effective.

-Ironing: Iron very few things only (for us it's men’s dress shirts, dinner napkins and handkerchiefs), use a homemade starch in a stainless spray bottle (see recipes).

-Dry Cleaning/shirt laundering: Find a dry cleaner that has joined the sustainable world (Clean Look in Mill Valley for example). One that offers a reusable garment bag or nothing instead of plastic. And please do not settle for compostable bags, they are a real greenwashing ersatz.

Ready, Set, Clean Green!