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  • Writer's pictureAtiqah Nadiah Zailani

Zero Waste Cleaning

Eliminating, substituting and reducing the waste from keeping our homes and surroundings sparkling clean (or just clean enough!)

Cleaning, for one reason or another, has become far more complicated that it really is.

We’ve been convinced that different parts of the house require different products, hence the need to buy a floor cleaner which is different from the wall cleaner which is different from the glass cleaner which is different from…etc

All shapes and sizes (and prices!), but all containing essentially the same thing.

It’s a similar situation with body care as well, where we are marketed soap for the face which is different from soap for the hands which is different from the soap for the feet… when it’s really just soap.

The truth of the matter is this: you can do all the cleaning you ever need to with just a few very natural and easily available ingredients that are not as confusing as the list of chemicals listed on the bottle of a cleaning product.

Acid: Vinegar or Lemon

Vinegar is acidic and makes for a very versatile cleaner. When distilled and mixed with water, it can attack dirt, mildew and bacteria on pretty much every part of your home. Use it to clean the refrigerator, the drain, the dishes, the windows, the toilet, bathtub, shower…etc. Use it as a fabric softener, and even to unclog pipes. There are many ways to use vinegar, and the internet is just full of tips and suggestions - however, make sure to bring it nowhere near stone or marble as the acid will damage them!

One downside of vinegar is the sharp smell that it leaves in its wake - the smell disappears soon enough, but a lot of people find it unbearable. In that case, switch vinegar with lemon juice, which is also acidic. Then bask in the heavenly citrusy smell.

For that delicious citrusy smell. source

Base: Baking Soda or Castile Soap

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a natural ingredient that helps dirt and grease dissolve easily in water for easy cleaning. When not dissolved and in powder form, it can be used as an abrasive for scouring sinks, tubs, pots, tiles and the insides of appliances. Baking soda in powder form can also be used as a deodoriser to take out the funny smells in the house, and to clean your teeth!

Castile soap is made exclusively with vegetable oils (typically olive oils), therefore no animals were harmed in the process of making it. It is a natural, nontoxic and biodegradable soap that you can get in bar or liquid form, and cleans anything you expect a soap would clean, without the chemicals.

Sanitiser: Hydrogen peroxide

This ingredient may sound super scientific and dangerous and toxic, but it is readily found inside the human body and is medically used as an antiseptic on bruises and minor cuts. It can be used as a disinfectant and as a bleaching agent. It can remove stains and mold, and act as a sanitiser where an extra punch of cleanliness is needed (like in the toilet).

Optional: Essential oils

If you are so inclined, you can embellish on the scent and extra properties of your cleaning solution by adding essential oils of your choice. Tea tree oil, peppermint oil and lavender oil, for example, are known for their antibacterial quality, while lemon oil and eucalyptus oil leave a pleasant smell while wiping out germs.


That’s it.

Cleaning supplies fit for a minimalist. source

The above will take care of pretty much all of your cleaning needs - anything more is just unnecessary chemicals that smell horrible and are more than likely not safe. As an added bonus, the above ingredient also tend to come in glass or paper packaging that is easily recyclable or reused!

Beyond that, you will also need just a few tools to help with the cleaning process:

Buy once and use for life

Mop (with repairable or replaceable heads)

Broom (with repairable or replaceable heads)



Spray bottle to contain your DIY cleaning solution

Recycled or recyclable

Rags or microfibre cloths

An old toothbrush for tiles and tight spaces

Steel scrubber

Forget the ads telling you that you need 10 varieties of what is essentially the same thing - make or purchase an all-purpose cleaner and simplify your cleaning routine. Cleaning itself is enough of a chore as it is!



Achievement Award: Eliminate altogether by switching to ingredients you already have in your kitchen: e.g. baking soda, vinegar, lemon and soap. Or have some fun and make your own stuff from scratch!

Points For Effort: Opt for all-purpose cleaners as opposed to multiple, specific cleaners, and choose products with less packaging, or with recyclable containers.

Um, Maybe Not: Don’t want to even think about cleaning? That’s okay, continue as you do, and find some other waste to eliminate! Check out other recommendations here.

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