I imagine that this post will be updated time and time
again. I hope so. As I started to inventory the cleaning products in our home and reflect on the journey we've been on, I can see how hard it might seem to make alternative choices from your typical plastic container filled with chemicals that we've been programmed to believe help keep our homes clean. Our supermarket aisles are filled with plastics that are filled with toxic chemicals. As a lifelong marketeer, it hurts to read the promises on these bottles - and the bargains they require you to make for the health of your family.
My guess is that if you are here, you're already starting to learn why plastic packaging and toxic cleaning chemicals are not only harmful to our environment, but they are harmful to us as people. Especially if you are immunocompromised, if you're pregnant or if you have children.
There are alternatives, and with this blog I want to share some of the alternatives that I've made or bought. My goal is to reduce reduce reduce. No plastic and No toxin is sometimes unattainable, depending on your needs. But you don't have to approach this an an all-or-nothing endeavor. Every step you make to reduce your plastic footprint helps our environment, our drinking water and the overall ecology in our oceans. Every step you make to eliminate toxic chemicals helps your household immediately, while having positive downstream impact to the ecology of your community.
I'm going to organize this post into low impact brands and DIY, with a final call for what is missing. Read on...
There are a lot of new, wonderful brands on the market whose ambition is to reduce our plastic and toxin footprint. I just love these brands and have tried many. All of the brands below are committed to reducing both toxins and plastics. You will feel good spending money with them.
I will promise that the brands below are equivalent if not cheaper than what you'll find in the supermarket. The trick is that you decide what works for you and invest in the dispensers to make the long-term ROI worth it.
Blueland. What I love about Blueland is that they've created an innovative effervescent tablet (sort of like a European vitamin) that when added to water, makes the intended product. It's packaged in paper, so there is literally ZERO plastic associated. They offer foaming hand soap, glass, bathroom, multi-purpose and dish/laundry detergent. They sell reusable dispensers that are attractive and heavy duty (although my son recently shattered the hand soap container). I subscribe regularly to this brand.
Branch Basics. What I love about Branch Basics is that their product can be used for multiple purposes: multi-purpose, glass, laundry, floor, etc. It comes concentrated in a large plastic bottle and can be diluted to make dozens of bottles of these cleaning products. One thing that I have found challenging is getting the dilution just right, which has sometimes resulted in a filmy versus clean feeling floor. The price point might seem like a lot, but once you do the math on dilution, it is actually very affordable.
Grove Collaborative. Grove offers a number of cleaning products, some that are heavy plastic and others not. The product that I love is their concentrated floor cleaner. While it comes in a tiny plastic tube, it's really affordable and low-plastic.
Ingredients Matter. This laundry detergent is fabulous. It is all natural powder, and packaged in paper / cardboard. I can only find it at Target, so please let me know if you can find it anywhere else!
Why not Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyers? You'll notice that I did not include brands that are known for being non-toxic, like Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. That's because they are decidedly not low/no plastic. And to me, that matters.
I have a few DIY recipes that are just as good, if not better, than what you can find in the store or from one of the low-impact brands. They might not have the most pleasing scent, and that is what essential oils are for. I encourage you to experiment.
Multi-purpose cleaner: equal parts vinegar and water. Optional, add a drop of castille soap and 10 drops of essential oil. This will clean your surfaces, glass and floors. If you have wood floors, it will not leave them with a shine, so I might recommend the Grove cleaner above. This honestly does all of the work you need, and ultra-cheap.
Bathroom abrasive: Anytime you need to remove soap scum or toilet scum, baking soda is your friend. You need an abrasive to remove the scum, with a little bit of elbow grease
Disinfectant: I rarely use a disinfectant other than soap, but when needed, I will use 1 part bleach to 10 parts water for the bathroom deep clean or to disinfect our butcher block.
Dryer Sheets: Instead of dryer sheets, use three wool balls with some optional essential oils to make your clothes smell wonderful.
Old-school duster: While the swiffer is a wonderful invention, it's highly wasteful. What is wrong with a reusable duster? I love the options from Grove Collaborative.
The one cleaning product that I cannot find a low-plastic alternative is dish detergent. Not dishwasher detergent, because there are a lot of low-toxin, cardboard-packaged alternatives, but the liquid detergent that you use for hand washing.
In addition to dishwasher detergent, what other alternatives, DIY or brands do you love?