True or false – a few months ago, before I started the bi-weekly cleaning of our bathrooms, I said “I’d rather be giving birth.” The answer is true. While I realize that’s dramatic, that’s how much I hate these types of chores. But I still clean because the alternative is worse. Over the years, our family has moved from a paper towel and harsh cleaner routine (think Fantastik and the like) to more sustainable options. Here are a few of the items I’ve successfully swapped:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you don’t need paper towels! If it makes you more comfortable, keep a stash somewhere in your home for emergencies like dog accidents or similar. But you don’t need to have them sitting on your counter, because that allows for mindless and excess use. My loved stack of tea towels work just as well. When I clean, I employ little microfiber cloths that I found at my local TJ Maxx. They’re not ideal – the microfibers release plastic when being washed – but still better than lots of needless trash. Not to mention that paper towels actually use a lot of water and energy to be produced, plus the cost of trees. We can do better!
For hand soap and surfaces, I like Dr Bronner’s castile soap. Our family found that DB has been much gentler and less irritating on our hands than even the “organic” brands. No more red chaffing and dry skin! This discovery saved us during the height of Covid when everyone was constantly hand washing. It also works pretty well for cleaning my house – some people prefer Sal’s Suds (which is the more “detergent” version) – and I like knowing that my home and kitchen countertops aren’t covered with toxic chemicals. If you want to avoid plastic packaging, you can also buy the bar soap version and melt it in a crockpot. Or you can make your own! For dishwasher detergent, these pods are my current favorite.
For my stove, I like using Bon Ami (the nerd in me loves that it’s called “good friend”). The ingredients are pretty simple but effective. I ultimately want to move towards less packaging, but this product is good in a pinch. If you want to make more of your own detergents, try Clean Mama. She has all types of recipes, such as oven paste (it works – I’ve tried it!) and simple glass cleaner.
Obviously bulk filling your cleaners is the best choice but it’s helpful to have some back-up options for when you can’t get to the store. I’ll have more time this summer and plan to stock-up as much as possible. Yes, it’s a little more expensive than buying what’s on sale at the supermarket but I save money in other ways. For example, as mentioned, I no longer buy paper towels!
Anything I’m missing here? What do you like? Share with us! – Rachel
PS Totally off topic, but did you hear this exciting news?