We know you’re buried under loads of laundry, piles of dishes, and floors that haven’t been mopped in who knows how long. Housekeeping is probably your least favorite topic of conversation these days, but someone’s gotta do it! So when it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do the chores, keep these eco-friendly tips in mind. While living a greener lifestyle does not happen overnight, we can all take small steps to lighten our footprint. These swaps are not only beneficial for the environment, they’ll save you money in the long run!
1. Swap: Dryer Balls For Dryer Sheets.
Have you joined the ranks of people who LOVE their dryer balls? Instead of single-use dryer sheets, that are often filled with toxins and synthetic fragrances, wool dryer balls work to eliminate static, soften your clothes, banish wrinkles, and reduce drying time. They’ll last for 1,000+ loads of laundry, so you can save a good chunk of change while keeping traditional dryer sheets out of the landfill. (PS: For more ideas on how to use your dryer balls, be sure to check out this article.)
2. Swap: Concentrated Laundry Detergent For Regular Detergent.
It’s a fact: Kids = laundry, and lots of it! Instead of traditional detergent, opt for the concentrated kind. These formulas are made without extra water and filler ingredients, so a small amount of concentrate goes a loooong way (psst: be sure to always follow the measurement guidelines so you don’t pour too much!). Concentrated detergent comes in smaller containers, but delivers more loads of laundry. '
3. Swap: Cleaning Concentrates For Single-Use Cleaning Spray.
Another great way to keep tabs on your plastic usage? Use cleaning concentrates! Look for companies that offer refillable options for their various cleaning lines. You keep the same container forever (spray bottle, soap dispenser, etc.) and use the company’s concentrated solution every time you need a refill. Genius, right? Bye, bye single-use plastics!
4. Swap: Cleaning Rags For Paper Towels.
We know, we know. Paper towels are a parent’s best friend. While super convenient, there is a more eco-friendly way to clean up your spills and messes: reusable cleaning cloths and rags. You probably have everything you need to make a big ol’ batch of them right now. Cut up old t-shirts, burp cloths, and towels and keep a stash in the kitchen. For a fun challenge, hide your roll of paper towels for a week and encourage your family to clean anything and everything with reusable rags. You might never go back!
5. Swap: Essential Oils For Synthetic Air Fresheners.
Babies (and their poopy diapers) are smelly. And while it’s tempting to mask the odor with a plug-in scent or a bottle of air freshener, there is a better alternative -- one that doesn’t involve plastic use or synthetic fragrances. Diffuse essential oils (lemon, peppermint, or lavender are perfect choices!), or make a DIY air freshener spray (6 TBS Distilled Water + 2 TBS Witch Hazel + 20 drops of your fav essential oils). Better yet? Open the windows to get rid of the stale indoor air. It’s that simple!
6. Swap: Recyclable Cleaning Tools For Plastic Ones.
If you use plastic cleaning tools like a toilet brush or broom pan, that’s OK (most of us do!). Just use and re-use what you have until it’s TRULY ineffective. When it’s time to replace them, recycle what you can, then opt for tools made from natural or recyclable materials - like wood, bamboo or metal. Your new supplies will last waaay longer, plus it’s nice knowing there’s a payoff for the planet (and your wallet).
7. Swap: Baking Soda + Vinegar For Chemical Drain Cleaner.
This old-school duo is so legit that even the folks at Liquid-Plumr salute its ability to clear clogs. If your sink isn’t clearing as quickly as it could, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, then follow it with a cup of heated vinegar. Wait about 10 minutes, then flush the drain with a pot of boiling water. You can even use this solution on a monthly basis, or as often as needed, to prevent clogging.
8. Swap: Ketchup (!!!) For Silver Polish.
Yup, you heard us right: It’s time to put that orphaned packet in your junk drawer to work. Grimy brass, copper and silver are no match for ketchup’s acidic tomato and vinegar. Rub the condiment on with a cloth, let it sit for 10 minutes (timed, if you please, since you don’t want to damage your metal pieces), then rinse and buff back to a cheery shine.
9. Swap: Old Toothbrushes For Q-Tips.
Before you grab a Q-Tip to clean those small, awkward areas in the house, reach for your old toothbrush instead! Those teeny tiny bristles are good for more than just your pearly whites. Repurpose your old toothbrush and use it to clean things like grout, window tracks, and any hard-to-reach spot that needs some polishing. If you’d like to wash your toothbrush before putting it to work, just give it a gentle scrub with warm soapy water. Tada!
10. Swap: Baking Soda + Vinegar For Oven Cleaner.
This dynamic duo returns! This time, baking soda and vinegar use their magical powers to clean your oven (a task that most people put off for years because it’s simply the worst!). After removing your oven racks, mix ½ cup of baking soda with ½ cup of water to make a paste. Wearing rubber gloves, spread the paste all over the interior of the oven and let it sit for 12 hours. Wipe it all off with a damp cloth then spray white vinegar on the inside of the oven (this is the fun part, where any leftover baking soda will foam and loosen up). Wipe off the remaining solution with another damp rag and allow it to dry. Prepare to be amazed at your squeaky clean oven!
11. Swap: Old Coffee Grounds For Abrasive Cleaner.Even your daily cup of joe can contribute to your green cleaning regimen! Coffee grounds are abrasive and can help remove buildup on hard-to-clean surfaces. They may even help sanitize due to their antibacterial and antiviral properties. Use them to scour your sink, polish your cookware or clean your grill. Just be careful not to use them on any kind of porous material, as they can cause brown stains.
12. Tip: The ONLY Way to Get Pee Stains Out of A Mattress.
At some point, every single parent in the universe will have a potty-stained mattress to deal with. For a simple solution, mix 8 oz of 3% hydrogen peroxide + 3 TBS baking soda + 1 drop dish soap. You can put this solution in a spray bottle (just don’t shake it too vigorously or it could clog the sprayer!) or just apply it with a cloth. Spray or rub the stained areas of the mattress with this solution (really lay it on thick!) and step away. The stain should disappear within 5-10 minutes, but if it doesn’t, just re-apply until it’s gone. After the mattress dries, vacuum or wipe off any baking soda film that remains. Incredible, right? You’re welcome!
We hope this inspires you to clean up your cleaning routine. What are your favorite green cleaning tips, tricks, and swaps? Please share them in the comments below!