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A Guide to Plastic Free Cleaning
Everything you need to know about cleaning the plastic free way
At Life Before Plastic, we are passionate about reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans and landfills, and we are even more excited to share our knowledge with you so that you can begin (or improve) on your journey to a plastic-free lifestyle. A great first step in this process is to begin with cleaning products that are plastic-free.
You may have some questions about how to find these products or why this lifestyle may be perfect for you. We are here to answer all your questions to help you lead an enriching and sustainable life for both yourself and the environment.
So, let’s get started with some valuable questions.
Do eco-friendly cleaning products work?
There is a natural skepticism about eco-friendly cleaning products and whether or not they clean dirt and bacteria more efficiently than standard cleaning chemicals. These chemicals found in standard cleaning product are extremely harsh and toxic for your body; that’s why we wear rubber gloves and sometimes even a mask when we use them! How strange is that? Shouldn’t we just use ingredients that aren’t toxic to our bodies when we handle them?
Most eco-friendly cleaning products use natural or environmentally safe ingredients as a base such as white or apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, essential oils, or lemons. These ingredients work just as effectively at disinfecting and cleaning as their conventionally-produced counterparts.
Are plastic-free cleaning products more expensive?
As you transition into an eco-friendly lifestyle, you may find that some products are more expensive. This could include organic produce, sustainably-made clothing, or certain environmentally friendly household products. Now, this is a very important thing to remember: while you may find some (not all) products that have a higher price than their unsustainable alternative, these products are designed to last longer, be reusable, and save you money in the long run.
Plastic products are cheaply made and therefore have a lower price, tricking you into believing that you are saving money when actually, you will have to buy that same product two or three times more often than the sustainable or plastic-free counterpart. You can find very good quality plastic-free cleaning products that last longer than whatever mass-produced cleaner that you were using before.
You can even try your own experiment with a plastic version of a cleaner that you currently own; keep track of how long that cleaner lasts, and when it finally runs out, go out and treat yourself to a plastic-free version of it and compare how long that one lasts. This may help you become more aware of how long your cleaning items actually last and help you switch over to cleaning products that are plastic-free instead!
What are the best products to clean plastic-free ?
Here's a selection of our favourite cleaning products that are both eco-friendly and plastic free.
- Made from cellulose and cotton, compostable sponges can be washed in the laundry, used until they fall apart, and then composted! Plastic sponges should be thrown out every 1-2 weeks to maintain hygiene standards, and a year’s worth of these sponges will take 52,000 years to decompose in a landfill! While these are slightly pricier than plastic sponges, you can reuse them over and over again after washing to disinfect them. Incredible, right?
- Cleaning powders are amazing because they are compact, plastic-free, and give you the ability to create a custom concentration for your need. You can find cleaning powders for toilets, floors, or laundry. We like to use powders because you can use a small amount of water to create a high potency cleaning solution for tough stains or grime, or you can mix a little bit in a large bucket with water for an everyday cleaning solution.
- A cleaning bar is a cost-effective plastic-free cleaning product because you can use it for multiple cleaning purposes. The bar is compact, long-lasting, and inexpensive which makes it one of our favourite cleaning products. Cleaning bars can be used as a surface cleaner, for washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and as a fabric softener. Finding a single product that can be used as several different cleaning solutions is a great way to save money and time and reduce the amount of plastic that you purchase.
- Time to say goodbye to those icky plastic washing up brushes! We especially love a wooden washing up brush because when the bristles get old and bent, you can detach the head and buy a new one, rather than purchasing an entirely new brush. This saved unnecessary waste, ensuring your kitchen is as zero waste as possible.
- Gone are the days when we needed a plastic cleaner for each cleaning task such as glass, bathroom, surface, and multipurpose. Now, you can take one of your old cleaning bottles and purchase these plastic-free cleaning pods! Choose whichever cleaner you need, pop it into your cleaner bottle, and add lukewarm water. The pod is dissolvable in water and for only £1.49, it is much cheaper to buy these pods instead of a new cleaner with a bunch of new plastic every month.
- I’m not lying when I say that cotton unpaper towels are complete lifesavers. When cleaning up spills or messes, I used to always grab the single-use paper towels. While paper towels are biodegradable, they still come in a plastic-wrapped design and contribute to a large amount of waste. That’s why we wanted to find an alternative that was made of sustainable materials.
One other thing to mention is that sometimes people will mistakenly switch to microfibre cloths in an attempt to stop using paper towels, but these are actually made of plastic. A good intention is spoiled by a lack of knowledge. However, these unpaper towels are made from birdseye cotton which is super absorbent and completely plastic-free!
- Another great alternative to plastic sponges are recyclable kitchen scourers. You can find these made from steel or from coconut fibres. They are really useful for cleaning tough grime from your pots, pans, or floors. Pairing these scourers with your compostable sponges will keep your kitchen sparkly clean and plastic-free.
It can be a little overwhelming to transition to a zero-waste or plastic-free lifestyle, but we believe that a great way to start is by taking small steps. Take a look at your household one room at a time, and ask yourself, “is there a way that I can find this same product that is produced more ethically?”
We find that using eco-friendly and plastic-free cleaning products gives us joy when we engage in cleaning activities (and we all need some joy when we're stuck cleaning...) because we know that we are doing it with a clean conscience and a happy heart.
Where are you in your journey to a plastic-free life? Share with us in the comments below!