There are so many benefits to a natural cleaning routine. Not only is it much safer for your health and for using around little ones, but the natural, biodegradable ingredients and eco-friendly packaging are far less damaging to the environment. Cleaning your home with natural products can also be more affordable and just as effective as cleaning with chemicals.
To help you remove all those harmful chemicals and unnecessary plastics from your home I've put together some really simple natural cleaning tips along with a list of my favourite eco-friendly cleaning tools. Luckily, with just a few basic changes it's easy to go toxin-free.
Natural Cleaning Tips for Beginners:
If you want to give natural cleaning a go but aren’t quite sure where to begin, these simple, everyday cleaning tips will give you a few pointers on how to get started with removing toxic chemicals from your home. Remember that you don’t need to change everything at once and that by making small changes every now and then, you can move towards a more natural cleaning routine that’s better for you and the planet.
- Opt for eco-friendly cleaning tools like compostable sponges, bamboo cloths and natural bristled brushes in place of plastic-based sponges and microfibre cloths that will end up in landfill. If you’re just starting out with zero-waste alternatives, I’ve listed some of the most useful natural cleaning tools in the last section of this post.
- Read the labels of your cleaning products carefully to avoid hidden chemical ingredients with varying levels of toxicity - they are often disguised under alternative scientific names. You’ll find a list of some of the most harmful chemicals to avoid in my first post on natural cleaning.
- The best way to avoid chemicals completely is to make your own natural cleaning products so you can be sure exactly what goes into them. I’ve shared a few of my favourite homemade cleaning recipes in the final part in this series.
- Remember to keep hold of any old glass jars or reusable spray bottles if you want to have a go at making your own natural cleaning products so you can refill them with your homemade versions.
- If you don’t have time to make your own cleaning products, you can wash out your old containers and refill them at a zero-waste store to save on plastic. They usually stock plenty of natural cleaning alternatives and you can buy in bulk.
Natural Cleaning Tips for the Home
- Swap bottles of washing up liquid for a solid dishwashing block made from natural ingredients. They last a really long time and usually come and with minimal packaging.
- Make your own all-purpose cleaning spray using castile soap or white vinegar as a base. It’s one of the easiest natural cleaning swaps you can make and can be used on a variety of surfaces throughout your home. It will also save you money on your weekly shopping bill.
- Ditch the disposable cleaning wipes. Not only are they made with chemical ingredients, but they often contain plastic since they're woven from a blend of cotton and polyester. Natural, reusable alternatives like our bamboo cleaning wipes make a much better option as they are biodegradable and won't end up in landfill.
- Make a basic soft-scrub to clean your bathtub and porcelain sinks using 2 parts baking soda to 1 part water and a few drops of lemon essential oil.
- Aerosol and plug-in air fresheners are made with artificial fragrances that contain harmful ingredients like parabens and phthalates. Switch to natural alternatives that are made using botanical ingredients. Soy candles, reed diffusers and room sprays scented with 100% natural essential oils are a great replacement as they’re free from harmful toxins. You'll find plenty of options for natural home fragrances on the store.
Natural Cleaning Tips for Laundry
- Choose an eco-wash that runs at 30°C when doing your laundry. It will minimise water and energy use and you can pre-treat any stubborn stains with a natural stain remover like baking soda or white vinegar to avoid the need for strong chemicals and intensive wash cycles.
- Be wary of chemical ingredients in your laundry products. Even detergents labelled ‘green’ and ‘organic’ have been shown to contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which can be damaging to health. Look for non-toxic laundry detergents with eco-friendly ingredients and sustainable packaging. Better still, have a go at making this homemade laundry liquid.
- Use a Guppyfriend laundry bag to catch the tiny plastic microfibres that escape from your washing machine when laundering synthetic fabrics. Nylon and polyester items shed millions of microscopic fibres that leach into rivers and other natural water systems where they contribute to water pollution and can enter the food chain.
- Choose a natural fabric conditioner that's free from synthetic fragrances and plasticisers. White vinegar infused with citrus peels will leave your clothes smelling fresh without the need for chemicals, or you can try this natural DIY fabric softener recipe.
- Hang your washing to dry naturally outdoors using bamboo or stainless-steel pegs which are long-lasting but still biodegradable. Try to avoid using the tumble dryer whenever possible and steer clear of fragranced dryer sheets.
Eco-friendly Cleaning Tools:
It’s so easy to switch to eco-friendly cleaning tools. They look great and you don’t need to feel guilty about throwing them out when they’re no longer useful. But if you’re wondering which tools are up to the job, here are five of the most useful natural cleaning tools that I use on a weekly basis.
Synthetic sponges need replacing so often that we sometimes think of them as disposable but, since they’re made from oil-based plastic and can be difficult to recycle, they inevitably end up in landfill. Plastic-free, reusable sponges like our compostable dish sponges are a great alternative for natural cleaning. These ones are made from 100% biodegradable materials and have a really absorbent, spongey core so they’re perfect for any odd cleaning jobs around the kitchen or bathroom. The non-scratch, cotton mesh provides a little extra elbow grease for any particularly tough tasks and they’re suitable for use with non-stick pans. You can also pop them in your laundry to refresh anytime.
Cellulose dishcloths, also known as Swedish dishcloths, are a type of plant-based sponge made from wood pulp. They’re 100% biodegradable, incredibly absorbent and act somewhere between a dish washing sponge and a paper towel so they're great for wiping down surfaces or outdoor furniture. Cellulose dishcloths also dry very quickly so they don’t sit harbouring germs or developing any unpleasant smells.
Non-scratch, bamboo cleaning cloths are a much gentler option for delicate surfaces and make a great replacement for microfibre cloths. As far as natural cleaning tools go, these multipurpose bamboo wipes are one of my favourites as they’re really handy for wiping down kitchen surfaces, polishing wooden furniture or buffing the bathroom mirrors. They’re super soft and highly absorbent so they won’t leave streaks or annoying bits of lint behind like regular cotton cloths, and they don’t shed microplastic fibres. Bamboo is also an incredibly sustainable fibre since it’s a fast-growing plant that requires very little water, pesticides and land resources.
Sometimes you need a good scrub with a heavy-duty brush to get your home perfectly clean. Choose natural brushes with a wooden handle and biodegradable bristles for the most eco-friendly options. A short handled scrubbing brush is ideal for greasy pots and pans and makes light work of removing labels from glass jars. Old toothbrushes are also useful for cleaning bathroom grouting or fiddley sink fixtures, and if you’re reusing any glass storage bottles, you may want to keep a few natural bottle brushes on hand to get the insides spotless.
One of the biggest problems with paper towels is the use of virgin materials for such a disposable product, but paper towels are also manufactured using harsh chemicals such as chlorine. Luckily, reusable cloths like our organic cotton unpaper towels are perfect for mopping up spills, and you can use them to make your own eco-friendly wet-wipes. These ones have a waffled surface which makes them even more absorbent.
If you’re not familiar with a coconut scrubber, it’s basically a plastic-free scouring pad made from natural coconut fibre, and it’s excellent for removing limescale and soap scum from the shower! I use these coconut scrub pads from Safix. They’re 100% biodegradable, last several months and can be thrown in your home compost once they’re no longer useful.
For More Natural Cleaning Tips & DIY Recipes
I hope you've enjoyed these natural cleaning tips for the home. As you can see, it's really easy to go chemical-free with just a few simple swaps and some eco-friendly cleaning tools. If you'd like to know more about natural cleaning or maybe have a go at making your own natural cleaning products, you'll find some simple, homemade recipes in the third and final part of my natural cleaning guide.