Green Cleaning: 10 Simple Habits

Friendships are defined not by what you buy for the other person, but by how you act towards them.  Therefore, it stands to reason that being environmentally friendly has more to do with our attitudes and habits of environmental stewardship than it has to do with the Seventh Generation or Method products we choose to purchase.  Here are 10 simple green cleaning habits that have made a difference in my home life:

Shoes Off – Take your shoes off at the door.  Your shoes track in dust, dirt, puddle drops and a host of potential carpet stains.  If you and your family get in the habit of taking your shoes off at the door, you will reduce the amount of dirtiness that you track into the house, so you will need to clean your floors less often.  In our apartment, we don’t ask our guests to remove their shoes, but we have a basket of fuzzy socks and slippers at the front door, and most guests slip into something more comfortable without even asking.

Use a Broom – Looking for the cheapest way to pick that dust and dirt off the floor?  Sell that Swiffer at the next garage sale, and stick to your handy broom, the original picker-upper.  A dust pan has one-time packaging (if any) and creates no ongoing trash or bills.  Those convenient one-time-use Swiffer cloths can’t claim the same.

Get Essential – Freshen the air each time you go to the bathroom, with this handy trick.  When you get out a new roll of toilet paper, place a few drops of your favorite essential oil in the cardboard tube of the toilet paper.  This will release the scent of the oil each time the paper is used.  You can purchase essential oils online and from many grocery stores or specialty markets.  We purchase our oils from blossomfarm.com. *

Hang it Out to Dry – Overusing your dryer can be one of the biggest culprits of a high energy bill.  Get into the habit of using a clothes drying rack, and in the summer consider hanging all your clean clothes and towels outside to dry.  Here is one of my favorite how-tos from Instructables.com on how to streamline your line-drying experience.

Re-use Bath Towels – Let your bath towels dry between showers and use them several times, instead of washing them after each use.  You’re clean when you get out of the shower, so your towels never get all that dirty; they just need a chance to dry.  If you have limited towel rods, install hooks on the back of your bathroom door.

Use Cloth Napkins – Not only to cloth napkins last longer than paper ones, they look and feel much nicer.  When dinner guests come over for the first time, I sometimes catch them picking up their napkin with a smile that says, “Wow! I thought only fancy people used these.”  Not so, my friend!  Cloth napkins are cheap and easy to find, and there are all kinds of styles available to suit any table arrangement.  We freshen the napkins when guests are over, but when it’s just the two of us, we re-use the same napkins for several days, something I would never do with paper napkins.  Mr. Wetzel and I prefer color plaids that we picked up from World Market, but I have also found many great options on Etsy.  Shop around and see what you can find.

Rags Are Riches – Do you have old T-shirts and socks?  Do you wonder what you’ll do with those tattered sheets and towels?  Turn them into rags, and leave your paper towels in the dust.  I find that cloth absorbs spills better than paper, anyways; and not only does this give you a use for otherwise useless items, you’ll save a bountiful bundle on cleaning supplies.

Scrape Those Plates – Most of the water and energy I have wasted on dish cleaning happens when food has been allowed to crust on the plate or bowl in question.  After dinner, if you don’t have time to run the dishwasher or fill a sink with suds, at least scrape the plates into the trash and wipe the food off your pots and pans.  This will save you a lot of elbow grease in the long run.  In the event that you forget, soak that crummy dish instead of throwing your shoulder out trying to get it spotless.

Grocery Trash Bags – We all have the best of intentions when it comes to remembering our reusable grocery bags, and we all fall short.  Save your paper or plastic bags, and use them at home as trash bags in the bathrooms and bedrooms.  We stock our recycling in a paper bag under the sink, and we use the largest plastic bags for dumping the kitty litter.

Reuse Ziploc Bags – Buy a sharpie.  Keep it in the kitchen.  When you pull out a ziploc bag or other storage bag, write “Cheese” or “Muffins” or whatever you are using it for on the bag.  When you’re done, run some soapy water through it and rinse it, then keep the old bags in a drawer.  Next time you need a bag, reuse the old ones first.  There’s no need to toss most of these handy containers.

What green cleaning habits do you have to share?

By ekwetzel
2010-01-24

* I found this tip in The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier.  Here is a link to Karyn’s blog.

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48 Responses to Green Cleaning: 10 Simple Habits

  1. Jenna Jones 01/24/2010 at 1:07 PM #

    Vinegar and baking soda can clean just about any surface in the bathroom or kitchen.

  2. Molly Morris 01/25/2010 at 9:56 PM #

    I love that essential oils on the toilet paper rolls tip!

    When it rains or snows here in Indiana, we save the long, skinny bags that the newspaper comes in to clean the litter box. It’s no greener than reusing grocery bags as you suggested, but they’re the perfect size for the job. When we wind up with an overabundance of plastic grocery bags, we take them to the local grocery store where there’s a box up front to recycle them.

  3. ekwetzel 01/27/2010 at 5:42 PM #

    Jenna – I used your baking soda and vinegar solution on some tough stovetop yuckiness last night. Worked? Like a charm!

  4. Garland Banfield 03/19/2010 at 5:22 PM #

    I am new to blogging, so I feel like I am in the “just taking notes” phase. But when I do find a blog topic I like, I do comment because I genuinely like what has been said or the information was helpful to me. I am officially linked to your blog now, so I will be checking in often! Thanks for all the great advice.

  5. ekwetzel 03/22/2010 at 10:02 PM #

    Garland: thanks for the comments.

  6. Jennifer 02/06/2012 at 1:12 PM #

    I use microfiber cloths to do most of my cleaning. Just one cleans my picture window, and I loop it over the window spray to use again and again. I clean my stove top with one, no chemicals except water, and it comes perfectly clean, no matter how baked on it is. Using one makes cleaning the bathroom a breeze. Everything just wipes away. Also great for wiping the film off the inside of my windshield – just keep one in the door pocket, and stop the glare from the sun while you are sitting at a stoplight. Also makes wiping the kitchen counters and microwave a breeze. Fast and easy, and you only need water. And my poor elbow doesn’t ache anymore from using “elbow grease”. Thanks for the great tip on essential oil on the toilet paper roll. I’ll start doing that today!

  7. jean 03/16/2012 at 11:29 AM #

    great saving with the micro-cloths ????? what do you do with them after you used them –
    bathroom one ( especially ) would need disinfecting ? – same applies to the kitchen if it was used to clean up chicken cutting board + the counter , ETC – unless you have a HUGE board — i could go on – i won’t – DID YOU EVERY TRY TO FIGURE OUT THE COST OF CLEANING THESE CLOTHS AFTER THEY WERE USED // THAT IS – COMPARED TO USING PAPER TOWELS ???? my opinion . for all it’s worth == be careful of what you use to clean with

    • Laura E. 04/06/2012 at 10:32 AM #

      Well, the cloths take up very little space in the washing machine, so they fit just fine in a load of clothes you were already going to be washing. You aren’t using any water or soap you weren’t already going to be using. So you save buying them multiple times as well as saving using something once and sending it to the landfill.

  8. spinndiva 03/17/2012 at 10:06 PM #

    Hello!

    Read your article and had to share a few things I do:
    I use vinegar in my wash, instead of fabric softener. I try to use soap nuts for the laundry, but they are rather a bit on the expensive side and I can’t always afford them.
    I use wool dryer balls when I use the dryer. It gets the towels super nice and soft and helps with the static electricity during the winter months (my house is too small to hang anything inside).
    I use vinegar to clean a lot of stuff in my house, like the coffee pot and coffee maker.
    I use the empty essential oil bottles to freshen the closets and drawers. :)

  9. Audra J 03/25/2012 at 8:23 PM #

    I use cardboard toilet paper tubes to keep my electrical cords tidy. I just coil them neatly and slip the tube over and it makes appliances (curling irons, hair dryers…) much easier to manage and tangles are never an issue. Now that I know about the EO technique mentioned above, they will smell nice too!

  10. Rose :: FineCraftGuild.com 03/26/2012 at 12:37 AM #

    fun to realize live like this. we have been doing these for so long now, I’d forgotten that it’s special. how about ….

    want another eco-green tip: cold water in the washing machine….

  11. Carole M. 04/15/2012 at 7:09 AM #

    Those rags of all varieties can be used on the Swiffer head, too. I love how it makes good contact with the floor, but I don’t throw away money and pads this way. A quick spritz with water makes it really pick up the dry fluff.

    • Tina 09/12/2012 at 9:55 AM #

      Hahaha! And to think I was the ony “cheap skate” using other rags on the end of my Swiffer! I’ve been doing that since they first came out, because I very quickly realized how expensive it was going to be.

      On another cheap skate note…. I have a “Liebman Freedom Spray” trigger-spray mop, and I LOVE it, because I don’t have to buy expensive pre-mixed refills. I mix any kind I like, and usually use just vinegar and water. Cheap as can be, and eco friendly. Then I just throw an old wash cloth on the floor, set the Libman on top of it, and the super strong grippers hold it in place. It’s awesome. I picked mine up at Walmart for about 18 bucks, which would have been only 6 of the pre-mixed refills!

      Just thought I’d share….

  12. Ashley 05/21/2012 at 3:37 PM #

    With high efficiency washers and with making your own laundry soap it’s much easier to use a reusable mopping pad and rags is by far the cheapest and greenest mopping and cleaning method.

  13. Janet 06/07/2012 at 8:46 PM #

    all good ideas but HGTV magazine stated this month that zip lock bags really cannot be sterilized therefore the germs remain in them and should be used for food only once. But non food items allows multi uses.

    • ekwetzel 07/27/2012 at 2:43 PM #

      Good to know!

    • RC 10/01/2012 at 5:11 AM #

      wouldn’t a lot of people be sick if that were the case? Everyone I know does this same ziplock trick of reusing them and all of us are healthy, alive and kicking…

      All of the westernized countries are becoming OVERLY cautious…

    • Susan 10/29/2012 at 8:00 PM #

      For freezing purposes I always put the food into a ziplock sandwich bag and then place it into a freezer bag. When I take stuff out of the freezer I stick the empty freezer bag over a spatula to dry out (if necessary) and reuse another day. This way I only purchase one box of freezer bags a year on average and there’s no concern about germs.

  14. karen 07/19/2012 at 4:20 AM #

    I love these tips! I wanted to make you aware, though, that your oil in the tp tube image has been lifted by another blogger with no credit given to you and posted on her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=421737194536247&set=a.315506275159340.73650.313496135360354&type=3&theater

    As a blogger myself I know I would want at least some sort of credit if someone shared my tip AND photo so I thought I’d give you the heads up in case you want to make contact.

    • ekwetzel 07/27/2012 at 2:40 PM #

      ^_^ Thank you for the heads up.

  15. Deandre Mierzwiak 07/25/2012 at 12:11 AM #

    I always prefer to use cotton bath towels because they are warmer and usually their texture is much better than synthetic bath towels.`:.”.

    Kind thanks
    http://www.caramoantourpackage.com“>

    • ekwetzel 07/27/2012 at 2:40 PM #

      Thanks for the tip. I prefer cotton, as well!

  16. 4k 08/01/2012 at 1:08 AM #

    Thanks for all the great advice.

  17. Debbie 08/16/2012 at 5:12 AM #

    Love microfiber cloths. Just be sure to NOT use any fabric softener in the washer or dryer. Will ruin the cloths.

  18. Marta 08/21/2012 at 2:47 AM #

    hahhaha!!!oh, Americans!

  19. Terese @ www.thecountrybasket.com 09/20/2012 at 1:16 PM #

    Tried rose oil on my toilet paper roll, it works great and smells so nice even several days later! Three drops seems about perfect for the amount of scent I like. I payed less than $4 for my bottle, and I expect it to last a year. It doesn’t take much! Thanks for the suggestion!

  20. Maria 10/16/2012 at 1:00 PM #

    We re-use most of our Ziploc bags and when they are used up; we clean and dry them and recycle at our local grocery store. Most stores now have a plastic bag recycling drop in the front of the store. Check with your store, mine will take grocery bags, clean/dry ziplocs, package shrink wrap, ect.

  21. Chellie 10/25/2012 at 8:04 PM #

    Loved all the awesome ideas! I was a single mom of 2
    for 11 yrs and broke most of the time, my best cheapola
    discovery came from reusing all of the baby wipe tubs for things
    Like crayons, Barbie clothes etc, hair bows, cars, etc. my
    Favorite were the ones that looked like Legos because the were
    Stackable! I still have some and use them, and my babies are
    19 & 15 :)

  22. Rashidah 01/04/2013 at 9:28 PM #

    I reuse the plastic container salads come in for storage. My favorite are the large clear, plastic covers that you get when you purchase a large sheet cake to help organize a pantry.

  23. Maria Smith 01/22/2013 at 6:05 PM #

    Oh Lord, I have the re-usable grocery bags but I ALWAYS forget them at home. I have started using green cleaning products, and recently a green
    cleaning
    service to help sometimes.

  24. Florence Baggett 03/11/2013 at 4:06 AM #

    Towels are one of the most significant toiletry items we need. They are a rather multi-purpose piece of fabric that one uses for a number of things everyday. A bath towel is typically 30 inches wide and 60 inches long. It is made of various fabrics and sizes and even shapes. The popular science fiction book The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy had a very special place for towels in the plot – anyone who has read that book, or seen the movie adapted from it, must never have looked at a towel in the same way again! Bath towels help us dry ourselves after a bath. However, many a time we do not give much thought to what kind of a towel we should pick for ourselves. This is rather surprising because a bath towel comes in contact with our most delicate body parts as well, and hence they should be selected with as much care as while picking lingerie for yourself. Find out here, the important considerations of buying a bath towel.”

    My current blog site
    <'http://www.caramoantourpackage.com

  25. Julie C 04/24/2013 at 9:52 PM #

    Thank you for these great tips! I did incorporate one on my pinterest adventure blog. I did link back to you for the great idea on adding essential oils to toliet paper roll. Thanks again! Look forward to reading more of your blog!

  26. Debbie 01/27/2014 at 5:47 AM #

    I’m truly enjoying the design and laout of your site. It’s
    a very easy on thee eyes which makers it much more pleasant foor me
    to come here and visit more often. Did you
    hire out a developer to create your theme? Exceptional work!

    • ekwetzel 01/27/2014 at 1:17 PM #

      Oh thank you! ^_^ I’m actually doing all the redesign myself. It’s not my area of expertise, tho, so it’s slow going and definitely still a work in progress! I appreciate your feedback!

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