The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Cleaning

A Drop in the Ocean Tacoma Zero Waste Sustainable Living Blog The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Spring Cleaning
Listen to the audio of this post here:

This post first appeared in our weekly
Make Waves Mondays email series on May 10, 2021.

Hello, friend!
 I hope that you’ve had a lovely week, wherever you are today. I accidentally took last Friday off and spent all day hanging out with a close friend, and it was one of the best things I could have done for my week. Sometimes you just need a little mental health day, ya know?

What did you do this week that brought you joy? I really want to know. Comment below and let me know!

A couple weeks ago I shared on my Instagram stories that I’ve been DEEP in spring cleaning mode, and asked if anyone else was feeling the same. So many of you felt the same! It’s that time of year, apparently. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, it’s like straight out of Snow White. Time to clean!

So this week, I wanted to share some of my favorite zero waste spring cleaning tips and tools to keep our homes, our bodies, and our planet clean.

My Go-To Tools

All-Purpose Cleaner Concentrate

Our refillable all-purpose cleaner concentrate is always my go-to cleaning solution. I use it in my bathroom, I use it in the kitchen, I use it on my desk - everything. The concentrate means less emissions with shipping (lightweight), and it lasts foreverrrr. Plus it smells devine.

A Drop in the Ocean Tacoma Zero Waste Sustainable Living Shop Refillable All-Purpose Cleaner Concentrate

Microfiber Cloths + Microfiber Catching Bag

Here’s a tool I’ve never talked about on this platform before. 

Microfiber cloths.

I started cleaning with microfiber cloths instead of paper towels long before I discovered zero waste. They’re so versatile and because they’re inexpensive, I feel comfortable using them for things I wouldn’t want to use nicer towels on.

However, microfiber cloths are made of plastic, and they shed fibers into our waterways in the wash. There’s not a ton of research on the effects of these plastic microfibers yet - and we also have to remember that EVERYTHING sheds microfibers, not just plastic materials - but it’s still not something I’d like to contribute to Mama Earth.

So, a few years ago I invested in a Guppyfriend washing bag. It’s a large bag for washing synthetic materials in (especially things like microfiber cloths and fleece jackets), so when the fibers shed they are caught in the bag instead of going into our water systems.

There’s also something called a Coraball, which I haven’t tried, and microfiber filters you can install on your washing machine.

These aren’t perfect solutions, as they don’t catch all of the fibers, but one thing I really like about using the Guppyfriend is that it not only catches fibers, but it also prevents fibers from shedding in the first place, by reducing the friction on the items in the bag in the wash.

So, ya know, pros and cons with microfiber cloths, as with everything else in life.

Swedish Dishcloths

Like I said, I like to use microfiber cloths for some...grosser...things. *ahem* toilets and cat messes *ahem*

But for EVERYTHING else, my go-to is Swedish dishcloths. I use them for washing dishes, for cleaning up the kitchen, for wiping down my bathroom sink, for dusting - basically anything.

They’re the real MVP. Basically what you’d get if a paper towel and a sponge had a baby.

Ya know those paper towel commercials where they spill an obscene amount of something and then zoom in close on that paper towel cleaning up the spill?

Yeah, paper towels got NOTHIN’ on Swedish dishcloths. Nothin’.

P.S. We just got a new collection of Swedish dishcloths in, inspired by our ocean conservation partner and Baja EcoWarrior Retreat host, Vermilion Sea Institute. I’m in love. 😍

A Drop in the Ocean Tacoma Zero Waste Sustainable Living Shop Swedish Dishcloths

Castile Soap, Baking Soda, Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide

I’m lumping all of these together because they all work together to make some of the BEST cleaning solutions around. Baking soda and vinegar is one of my favorite combos on the planet, and castile soap and hydrogen peroxide are just unbeatable.

Keep reading for one of my all-time favorite cleaning hacks with these :)

(Quick note - baking soda and vinegar cancel each other out, so they aren't an effective cleaning solution, but they're great for soaking things that need a little extra umph, such as caring for stainless steel safety razors!)

Toilet Cleaner Bombs

Can I tell you a secret, my friend?

I’m very Type A, I need my spaces tidy and clean, but I also really hate cleaning my bathroom. Like, hate it.

I’ve legit looked into how much it would cost to pay someone to clean only my teeny tiny bathroom for me.

But these zero waste toilet cleaner bombs...holy moly.

I won't exaggerate and say I look forward to cleaning the loo now, but I don't dread it anymore. Just drop one in the bowl, let it fizz, give 'er a quick scrub with the brush, and flush.

Yeah, I'm game for that.

A Drop in the Ocean Tacoma Zero Waste Sustainable Living Shop Toilet Cleaner Bombs

My Favorite Cleaning Hacks

Declutter Sustainably

I wrote this blog post at the height of the Tidying Up! With Marie Kondo craze on Netflix. For some reason I still don’t understand, the zero waste community was up in arms about the show.

So, I decided to write down all my own thoughts on the show, on the KonMari method, and on how to declutter and part ways with the things that no longer spark joy - sustainably.

Spring is a time to refresh. And that also usually means decluttering and purging. So if you’re in that boat right now, check out the post, and leave a comment on it if there are any resources I’ve missed in it!

Oh hey and while you’re on a declutter spree, don’t forget to declutter your email inbox, too.

Sustainable Spring Fashion

Spring cleaning usually comes hand-in-hand with at least a partial new spring wardrobe.

While I’m always on board for a new adorable romper, it’s important to remember that our clothes have a footprint - and it’s deeply intertwined with human rights, social justice, and environmental sustainability.

So before you splurge on some new spring styles, check out our blog post on why sustainable fashion matters, and how we can reduce our fashion footprint.

Also, go follow our Sustainable + Ethical Fashion Pinterest board for more inspo and resources - both for finding sustainable clothes and what to do with our old clothes. One of my personal faves is this post from Style Considered - especially Tip #9!

Laundry Day

Speaking of clothes, remember to wash your laundry on cold, hang dry as much as you can, and always use a natural laundry detergent. Plus clean your lint trap so that when you do use your dryer, it's more efficient! It’s good for your wallet and for the planet :)

A Drop in the Ocean Tacoma Zero Waste Sustainable Living Blog Why You Should Hang Dry Your Laundry

Just a Little at a Time

Some days I’ll get DEEP in cleaning mode. Most days I’m not. Instead, I’m all about cleaning one thing at a time. Maybe it’s cleaning out my fridge. Maybe it’s vacuuming my bedroom. Maybe it’s dusting the living room.

Whatever it is, usually I’ll clean one piece of one room at a time. This way, my apartment stays [mostly] clean and tidy, and I’m not spending an entire day with a spray bottle.

When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes?

This is a tip my mom taught me yearssss ago. You don’t need a fancy makeup brush cleaner!

Squirt a little bit of liquid shampoo in the palm of your hand, wet your brush, and swirl in the shampoo. Rinse and repeat until the water runs clear and leave to dry overnight.

Viola! Clean makeup brushes, sans waste.

A Drop in the Ocean Tacoma Zero Waste Sustainable Living Shop Refillable Liquid Castile Soap

The Best Bathtub Cleaner Around

How frustrating is it to scrub and scrub and scrub the bathtub or the floor of our shower only to collapse back onto the bathroom floor in defeat that we can’t quite get it to sparkle?! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there so many times before.

Something about a tub just makes it a nightmare to clean.

So when I first discovered Kathryn Kellogg of Going Zero Waste’s DIY tub scrub recipe, I was ready to try anything.

But OH MY GOODNESS, my friend - I’ve never used anything so wonderful in my life. Seriously. It’s just baking soda, castile soap, and hydrogen peroxide, but it’s seriously MAGICAL.

Definitely go check it out and save it for later! It’s life-changing, I’m telling ya.

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Bathtub Cleaning Trick

Did I miss anything, friend? What are your favorite spring cleaning hacks? Drop a comment below and share with us!


Vendor Spotlight: Swedish Dishcloths with Rosie and Karen of Potluck Press

1 comment

  • Laura

    Thank you so very much for sharing all this knowledge with us. I will definitely use your recommendations

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