The Essential Zero Waste Cleaning Supplies List

It can be tempting to collect things around the house for those “just in case” moments, which usually means lots of cleaning supplies shoved in the back of cupboards. The truth is though, we don’t need nearly as many products and chemicals as the aisles in grocery stores lead us to believe. Cleaning can be simple and green!


For each area of your home there are a variety of cleaning products out there that can do the job. I’ve compiled this list though by only selecting one item (even if I have used and may have recommended a variety in the past) and recommending only my ultimate favorites. If you’re looking to simplify your cleaning routine and want a straightforward guide, this list is for you!



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Doing the Laundry

There are so many different options for washing your clothes (and I've compiled a list of quite a few) but if I had to pick just the simplest routine with my favorites, it'd be these three cleaning supplies.


1. Laundry Detergent Strips

Although I love the idea of making my own laundry detergent from horse chestnuts every year, these little laundry detergent strips really are quite genius! I originally reviewed them for a company last fall but have fallen in love with them ever since. They are fragrance free, low suds, and can be used in any kind of washer.


2. Drying Rack

A drying rack is honestly a must have if you want to cut down your carbon footprint related to cleaning. Even though hanging your laundry up to dry will add one more step, its worth it!


3. Dryer Balls

Dryer sheets are honestly one of the silliest products that have been invented. They are something we have been conditioned to think is necessary, primarily because of the scent they provide. Clothes aren't clean unless they smell like Winter Sunshine, right? Wrong. Dryer balls are scentless and cut down on drying time by helping move around the clothing. They reduce static and pick up a good portion of the lint. If you insist on having your clothing smell like something other than clothing after it's cleaned, you can add a few drops of essential oil on the dryer balls before placing them inside.



Doing the Dishes


1. Dish Soap Block

Instead of using liquid dish soap, a dish soap block is a way cheaper and zero waste solution. Just like using a bar of hand soap, rub your towel or sponge on the top of the block to create suds and then wash your dishes. By using a solid bar of soap, you avoid the plastic bottle and use up to 7 times less soap in the process!


2. Dishwasher Pods

For those of you with dishwashers, I highly recommend the Dropps Dishwasher Pods. They come in cardboard containers (and can be purchased without the box at Scoop Marketplace). The casing is made from biodegradable cellophane and come in a lovely lemon scent.


3. Dish Towels

If it were up to me, I'd just be using cloth dish towels to wash the counters and hand washing dishes. But I've lived with my partner long enough to know that he needs a sponge - like, he won't do the dishes if there isn't a sponge. So we purchase a plant based sponge from our grocery store and use it until it's falling apart. In any other case though, I'd recommend purchasing some simple cloth towels and calling that enough.



Cleaning the Rest of the House


1. Vinegar + Baking Soda

For four years I used baking soda and vinegar to clean my entire house. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and very cheap. When washing out the toilet bowl or bathtub, I'd sprinkle some baking soda in there as well to help get off any extra grime. For lightly clogged sinks, try pouring hot water or vinegar down it with baking soda to help break things loose. Now my partner (and no, I'm not trying to throw him under the bus!) is very sensitive to the smell of vinegar so we've been looking for a new option. Most likely we will end up buying concentrated BioKleen all-purpose cleaner from Public Goods and Services in Seattle, which they offer refill options for.


2. Paperless Paper Towels (a.k.a. cotton towels!)

It's really time we ditched the paper towels in our kitchen, because they waste so many trees and waste so much money! Paper towels can easily be replaced by any type of cotton towel that you have around, or you can purchase sets of Unpaper Towels in various patterns.


3. Secondhand Broom + Dustpan

Honestly you shouldn't go out a buy a brand new wooden or bamboo broom just because you have a plastic one. It is actually much more sustainable for you to keep using your plastic one until it is absolutely destroyed! If you do find yourself without a broom, I recommend visiting secondhand stores first to pick up a used one. You can find them on Craigslist and through Buy Nothing as well.


4. Reusable Swiffer Mop Pads

Although it is tempting to use Swiffer pads to mop your floor, you can easily replace them with a reusable alternative! Simply hook a cotton towel on the bottom of your mop instead! There are also reusable swiffer pads marketed online to fit over various mop heads. Instead of throwing out the pad then, you simply take the cloth off and wash it.


5. Wood Toilet Brush

As I said for the broom and dustpan above, it isn't worth your money or the resources to buy a brand new bamboo toilet brush just because your old one is plastic. Use that cleaning tool until it is literally falling apart. Only then should you look into a wood one!

What zero waste cleaning supplies do you use?