Katy Beskow shares her favourite eco-friendly cleaning hacks to save you time and money, as well as the planet.
It’s time to make the switch from costly cleaning chemicals to planet-friendly green products (which you will already have tucked away in a store cupboard).
These simple eco-friendly cleaning hacks are easy to implement and will save you time, money and the planet too!
1. Use repurposed rags
Single-use kitchen roll is expensive, often bleached during production, and is non-recyclable.
Cut up old, unwanted T-shirts or pyjamas into practical size cloths to use instead of kitchen roll. They are perfect for mopping up spills, and can be laundered easily to reuse again.
If you’re in the market for new, washable kitchen cloths, this repurposing hack will also save you purchasing brand new items.
2. Swap fabric softener for essential oils
Did you know that many commercial fabric conditioners and softeners contain animal ingredients, including animal fat?
Alongside this, these products contain synthetic perfumes, optical brighteners, and preservatives, as well as being packaged in plastic.
Add 3-4 drops of your favourite essential oil into the conditioner drawer of your washing machine for a natural, vegan, and planet-friendly fragrance for your laundry (and they won’t clog up your washing machine).
Try lavender, orange or lemon oil for a scent sensation – naturally.
Ditch non-vegan fabric softeners for essential oils to add a natural fragrance to your laundry. Photo © Margarita Serenko via Adobe Stock
3. Freshen up your home naturally
If you rely on plug-in air fresheners and aerosol sprays to hide bad smells in the home, it’s time to rethink this polluting practice.
Open your windows as frequently as possible to allow a natural flow of fresh air into your living spaces, remove condensation, and invigorate your mind.
For quick bursts of natural fragrance, mix some essential oils with water and spray into the air (avoiding soft furnishings as it can cause staining). Opt for naturally scented, vegan candles, or use an electric oil diffuser to freshen up your space.
Open your windows to allow fresh air to flow into your home and remove condensation. Photo © Photo Sesaon via Adobe Stock
4. Remove stains and odours with lemons
Blender jugs can get discoloured and retain strong odours that you don’t want transferred to your next recipe. To remove odours and staining, half-fill the jug with hot water and the juice of one (unwaxed) lemon, and securely place on the lid.
Blitz for one or two minutes before discarding the water and rinsing in cool water. Stained food containers and tubs can also be treated with hot water and lemon juice – leave to stand for 30 minutes before rinsing.
5. Clean your fridge with bicarbonate of soda
You’ve wiped the fridge shelves, unpacked the groceries, and boxed up meal-prepped suppers. But within a couple of days, there’s a nasty pong lingering in the fridge. Even the cleanest fridge can get smelly quickly.
Fill a ramekin or small bowl with bicarbonate of soda and place in the fridge, and the powder absorbs unpleasant smells.
The bicarb keeps working for about two months (label the bowl with the date), so change within this time to keep the fridge fresh.
Absorb unpleasant smells by placing a ramekin or small bowl with bicarbonate of soda in your fridge. Photo © ThamKC via Adobe Stock
6. Reuse jars for storage
Well done for repurposing those glass jam jars – there’s always something that needs storage! Pesky jar labels and glue can be a struggle to remove, but don’t be deterred. Soak the jars in warm water until the paper label can be wiped off, then dry off the jar.
Use a cloth to rub in some coconut oil, and rub to remove the residual sticky glue with minimal effort.
Coconut oil can also be used to buff up stainless steel cooker hoods, taps and appliances (and makes a wonderful intensive hand cream at the end of your cleaning session).
7. Clean your sponges
Dishwashing and cleaning sponges used throughout the home can harbour bacteria, which then get spread onto other surfaces.
Soak a sponge in hot water for 10 minutes, and carefully drain, then (ensuring the sponge has no metal wires or pieces) blast in the microwave for about 2 minutes to kill bacteria.
Dishwasher-safe silicone sponges can be bought online and in-home supply stores, so you can keep them hygienically clean by running them through the dishwasher.
Remove bacteria from sponges by blasting them in the microwave for 2 minutes. Photo © ALEXEY via Adobe Stock
8. Get sparkling glass with vinegar
The oldest cleaning tricks are often the best, including this one that has been passed down through generations.
To get windows, mirrors and glass screens sparkling clean, simply mix up equal parts of white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle, spritz onto the area and wipe clean with sheets of scrunched up newspaper.
Leave the expensive bottle of all-purpose cleaner on the supermarket shelf, and create dazzling shine with a traditional, highly-effective method.
9. Use sparkling water on stains
Before reaching for a chemical stain remover for clothes, place the freshly stained garment into a bowl of sparkling water.
The bubbles can gently remove the stain, without spoiling the item. For more stubborn stains, or for carpets or upholstered furniture, sprinkle with some bicarbonate of soda before gently rubbing in some sparkling water.
Pat the area with a clean cloth to lift the stain. (Test a small area first, just in case it causes any fabric damage.)
The bubbles in sparkling water can help to gently remove stains. Photo © Rainer Fuhrmann via Adobe Stock
For less time and effort spent cleaning, less specialist products, and less home-induced stress in general, declutter your home.
This includes clearing work surfaces in the kitchen and bathrooms, particularly where grime can grow, and ditching dust-collecting items that are not frequently used.
Donate or sell unwanted items, to make your home into an intentional, clutter-free space.
Want to reduce single-use plastics and harmful chemicals in your home? Discover our favourite eco-friendly vegan cleaning products.
Featured image: Helin Loik-Tomson via Getty Images