Greener Cleaning: 8 Tool-Related Tips To Keep In Mind

Wood tools in kitchen - Greener cleaning

We previously wrote about reducing the amount of chemicals you use to clean your home, and using more natural solutions instead. In addition to this, it’s important to consider the tools you clean with, too.

As a disclaimer, it’s also important to note that we’re not suggesting you throw away all of your plastic or otherwise “non-green” cleaning tools, because that’s wasteful. However, when it comes to replacing these tools after they’ve come to the end of their lifespan, there are some strategies (as outlined below) that you can keep in mind in order to help yourself make better choices.

Swap out Paper Towels

Instead of buying paper towels, keep old kitchen or bathroom towels and cut them into smaller sizes. While old towels are often more absorbent, another excellent source of fabric would be old clothing. If you have old clothes (such as T-shirts) that aren’t in great shape for donation, cut them up into rags. This saves them from the landfill, and also saves you from having to use paper products like towels or tissues—win-win!

You can use your newly created rags for cleaning and wiping up all kinds of messes, and then just chuck them into the wash. I keep a stack of rags under my kitchen sink and in my laundry room for easy access, and when I’m done cleaning, I just toss them into my laundry hamper.

If you’re buying new cleaning cloths, aim to find some that are made of bamboo. That’s right—bamboo can be used to create linens, including dishcloths. Cotton is another decent alternative, although it’s a less sustainable material than bamboo, due to the way it’s farmed.

Try to avoid microfiber cloths, if you can. While those who use them tend to love them, microfibers get washed down the drain each time a cloth is rinsed or washed, and these are impossible to filter from our waterways (similar to microplastics). It’s OK to keep using these cloths if you already have them, but it’s best to wash them sparingly—try to use them for dry tasks such as dusting or polishing instead. Either way, using any cloth is much better than wasting lots and lots of paper towels!

Choose Bamboo or Wood

Dish brushes, mops, brooms, Swiffers and more are all made with plastic handles and bristles. Thankfully, many of these things last for quite a long time, and if you currently own any plastic cleaning tools, we encourage you to continue using them for as long as they remain useful. This’ll save them from sitting in a landfill, where they’ll be unable to decompose for thousands of years. Many of these can even have the heads switched out, and the handles can be reused with different heads.

Ideally, when it comes time to replace these tools, the best choice would be (yet again!) bamboo. Bamboo is a highly sustainable material because it grows very quickly, without the need for pesticides or fertilizers that contain harmful chemicals.

Another option would be wood. It’s not as sustainable as bamboo, since it doesn’t grow as quickly, but it comes with the advantage of decomposing much better than plastic. It’s also important to pay attention to what the bristles of your cleaning tools are made of—most importantly, make sure they’re not made of plastic.

Make Use of Glass Bottles

Glass spray bottles - Greener cleaning

Glass is another material that’s infinitely recyclable, and it can also be repurposed in many ways. You might choose to find glass spray bottles to put homemade green cleaning solutions in, or use a repurposed glass jar to soak a rag with a solution before you wipe down surfaces. An extra-large glass jar or container can even be used to house pre-soaked cleaning rags (sort of like homemade Lysol or Clorox wipes!).

If you have plastic spray bottles, however, don’t throw them away. They’ll be much more useful in your home than they would be while polluting a landfill. If you have any store-bought cleaning solutions, it’s also a good idea to keep the plastic spray bottles they’ve come in and reuse them.

Consider a More Durable Bucket

It’s always better to continue using the existing plastic bucket you already have in your home, instead of getting a new one. If that one should no longer be useable, though, consider investing in a stainless steel or aluminum bucket. Those two materials are extremely durable, and can also be recycled if they deteriorate or otherwise lose their usefulness.

Get Some “Green” Gloves

There are also green options when it comes to your dishwashing gloves! Biodegradable latex, nitrile and rubber options are available. While you don’t necessarily need gloves to protect your hands from irritants while you’re using homemade greener cleaning solutions, gloves can keep your hands from drying out due to their exposure to water and other substances that may promote dryness.

Replace Classic Sponges With Greener Alternatives

Classic sponges are made of plastics, and people tend to discard them quite often since they get smelly and fill up with dirt and bacteria. Fortunately, there are quite a few greener alternatives to these cleaning tools:

  • Wool can be used to crochet dishcloths and sponges.
  • Copper scrubbers are recyclable and hold on to less bacteria than plastic ones.
  • Dish brushes made from bamboo or wood (with natural fibers for bristles) are another excellent alternative. There are also bottle-cleaning brushes made with bamboo, metal and natural bristles.

Modify Your Swiffer

If you own a Swiffer stick, you can avoid purchasing the disposable cloth refills on a regular basis and use cloth rags instead. Simply cut them down to the appropriate size so that they’ll fit your stick, and fold them up to tuck them into the fabric holders that’ll keep them securely attached to the stick.

Use a Bagless Vacuum Cleaner

As technology becomes more and more advanced, it seems that newer vacuums can do just about everything these days!

While I’m not about to suggest that you shell out a bunch of your hard-earned money on a fancy new vacuum, one thing that everyone can consider is to try to aim for a vacuum that doesn’t require filter bags. Not only will this save you the cost of having to buy the bags, but it’ll also mean that less of these bags will be sitting in landfills, unable to decompose.

Instead, find a canister vacuum that you can simply empty, and consider emptying it into the backyard if you’ve just picked up some dirt and dust, or even hairballs. Small wildlife such as birds and squirrels love to use hairballs to make nests.

For more information on green cleaning, visit Green Cleaning At Home: 11 Alternatives To Common Household Cleaners»

image 1: Unsplash; image 2: Unsplash

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