My kitchen deep-cleans often left me wasting a lot of plastic bags, paper, and plastic containers. It got me wondering how I could make my cleaning routines less wasteful, but my research was disappointing.
Scientists are developing new ways to recycle plastic, but it’s not an Earth-friendly material right now, and cleaning supplies use a lot of it. Solutions like disinfecting sprays and soaps are comprised largely of water, which also makes those products heavier and harder to ship efficiently. Excessive packaging is another contributing factor, as are harmful chemicals that can end up in the water supply (or you). Add in the risk of microplastic shedding and a gazillion greenwashed Instagram ads, and it can be difficult to know how to start making your routine more sustainable.
Below are some of my favorite cleaning products that try to be more eco-friendly. They won’t feel too different from what you’re already using and are relatively affordable.
Updated April 2021: We’ve refreshed this guide with newer products.
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There are several cleaning-solution makers offering general-use products you’d typically buy in spray bottles. All of the brands mentioned here are eco-friendly in various ways, whether it’s from offering refills, using green ingredients, or shipping without plastic. Go with whichever fits your cleaning style, budget, and aesthetic goals—because, yes, they’re all nice to look at.
★ Supernatural Starter Set (Our Top Pick): Supernatural’s $75 Starter Set is pricey, but you get what you pay for. The glass spray bottles are hefty (in a good way), and the silicone bottoms keep the bottles in place on your shelf. The nozzles don’t clog or get jammed, and the best part is the scents. The concentrate vials (also glass) contain blends of essential oils designed for windows + mirrors, counters + granite, bath + tile, and wood + floors. The products smell amazing—like fresh botanicals, not artificial or chemical like other cleaning solutions. This set is the only one I’ve continued to purchase refills for.Blueland Concentrated Cleaner Kit (Best Value): Blueland’s cheap refills come in the form of dissolvable tablets. You’ll get a few recyclable acrylic “Forever Bottles” by purchasing a $39 starter kit. Refills include hand soap, bathroom cleaner, glass + mirror cleaner, and multipurpose cleaner. They all smell great and work well.Branch Basics Concentrated Cleaner Kit (Most Versatile): The $69 starter kit gets you a 34-ounce bottle of sustainable concentrated cleaning solution, plus spray bottles with fill lines for easy dilution and a tub of Oxygen Boost powder. You’ll get enough concentrate for three bottles each of all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and foaming wash, plus a 64-load laundry bottle. The unscented concentrate is powerful and made from simple ingredients.Grove Concentrated Cleaner Kit (Best Looking): Grove’s cleaning concentrates are available in a three-pack for $10. You’ll get all-purpose, glass, and tub + tile cleaners. Dump the contents into 16-ounce bottles (also on Grove’s site) and fill the rest of the bottle with water. I like the glass cleaner in particular, which works better than Windex. (It smells nicer too.)Seventh Generation Free & Clear All-Purpose Cleaner (Best for Sensitive Households): This $4 biobased product isn’t sold in concentrates, but I’m including it here because I didn’t try anything else like it. It has no fragrance and no color. It almost feels like you’re cleaning with water. If you’re really sensitive to fragrances, to the point where “lightly scented” still gives you a headache, this is what you’re looking for.
Marley’s Monsters Unpaper Towels.
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