Cleaning Without Plastic
Many, many cleaning products are in plastic packaging. Shock, right?
You buy a cleaning detergent to wipe your kitchen sides, and once it’s empty you throw it away. And then go and buy a new one.
Seems like a waste and a never ending circle of buying, using and chucking away.
But fear not, as ever, there are solutions to this little cleaning dilemma!
From making your own, to eco-friendly alternatives there is a solution for you that will make it possible for your journey of cutting down on plastic.
We understand that not everyone will have the time to make their own cleaning detergents and that’s absolutely fine.
There are other options out there and they don’t have to cost you more. We present to you, the 5 solutions and available options to you…
This post contains some affiliate links. If you make a purchase, Toucan Dream may earn an affiliate commission.
Solution 1 – Make Your Own Cleaning Products
It is the CHEAPEST and most NATURAL way to clean. If you’re on a budget and trying to live more naturally, this option might be the one you’ve been looking for.
As long as you have some lemons, soda and white/distilled vinegar there are some great alternatives to your cleaning detergents you can make.
Our awesome tip to you: vinegar won’t smell great in your kitchen or bathroom, but if you sprinkle a few drops of any essential oil (lavender, peppermint or grapefruit will work great depending on your preference), it will make your surface (and room) smell lovely. Try it!
If you feel that you have the time to do it of course.
Myself and Ben for example – we work full time and find it hard to make the time for making our own cleaning products, although we do love to use vinegar to wash our hob – it makes it so shiny!
We are in the process switching to refillable spray bottles and making our own, while we use up the rest of what we have, but we’re also using Option 2.
Simply because keeping a home tidy and working 9-5 Monday to Friday means our lives can get pretty hectic. But Option 2 is just as good, trust us…
Another great DIY cleaning solution that’s super quick, is castile soap. Ever since I discovered it, I’ve been using it for pretty much every surface and corner. It’s very versatile and you can dilute it with water and some essential oils to spray on surfaces, or you can just dab a bit on a wet cloth and you’re good to go!
It’s unscented which is why we suggest putting essential oils, if you want your spray to smell nice. If you’re not too fussed, use it as it is. You can also buy already fragranced castile soap, bu check the label as the fragrances can be artificial.
Solution 2 – Buying In Bulk
A big bottle of a detergent (5 or 10 litres) is actually not as expensive as you might think!
A big batch of it (they’re also called refills) will last you up to a year (a whole year!!!) depending on how many people live in your house and how often you will need to use it.
A big 5 or 10 litre bottle of washing up liquid is still in a plastic bottle. But, this option still cuts down the plastic you use and reduction is still better than giving up altogether.
It might be difficult to go and live completely zero plastic, but a big bottle of refillable washing up liquid means you are using less plastic packaging.
They vary is price so depending on your budget, here’s a few alternatives for washing up liquid, all purpose cleaning spray and fabric conditioner to get you started with (affiliate links):
Low budget: Fabric conditioner
Mid-range budget: Fabric conditioner
For washing powder, we’d highly recommend soap nuts! You can find out more about them by reading this article and get your hands on some soap nuts through our prepared selection of soap nuts. They are really cost effective and cheap to buy, so really your one and best option here is the cheap option – win win!
Low budget: Washing up liquid
Mid-range budget: Washing up liquid
Low budget: All purpose cleaning
Mid-range budget: All purpose cleaning
Solution 3 – Refills
Local eco-friendly shops very often offer refills – you can take your own container or bottle, and have your shampoo or cleaning products refilled for a small cost (usually the price is per 100 ml).
Have a look if there is a refillable, eco-products shop nearby. If you take your own bottle or container, they will fill it up for you! (or you fill it up yourself)
The cost will vary depending on where you live, on the economy etc. For example, our local shop refills our washing up liquid for just 22p per 100ml which is around $0.29.
Zero waste and eco-friendly products shops will often have a huge variety of cleaning products including beauty products like your shampoo and conditioner.
As long as you remember to keep the bottles, you can stock up on all your essentials, in one shop.
Ecover also offer a search engine on their website, that allows you to find Ecover refill stations near you for washing up liquid which is pretty neat!
Solution 4 – Recycled and/or Biodegradable Packaging
Certain brands have started releasing products that are in plastic-free, often biodegradable or compostable packaging. Or packaging that’s made from 100% recycled plastic.
We even found a Fairy (P&G) washing up liquid that made its bottle from plastics recovered from the oceans, isn’t that just the greatest idea?!
However, it looked like it was just a phase, and since finding these last year in an outlet store, it seems it was just a marketing campaign to raise more awareness on plastic in oceans issue.
Which is great, we’re not criticising it. However, why has it stopped? Couldn’t this be the solution we desperately needed?!
Plastic disappears from oceans and marine life, while it is reused and turned into something useful.
P&G’s only made 320,000 bottles of this great-idea-of-a-bottle. P&G produce thousands of tonnes of plastic packaging every year.
They are in a way, responsible for the mess of plastic in our oceans. Charitable organisations and kind citizens are the ones having to clean up the mess. THEIR mess.
Let’s not get into that, but it’s a thought worth sharing and well, why should we give them our money when they don’t take responsibility for their actions? The effects of the plastic they produce, all responsibility seems to be passed onto the consumer. Leaving us feeling guilty…
The 320,000 bottles they made as a marketing campaign, are indeed just a drop in the ocean.
However, there is some good news.
Ecover’s washing up liquid bottles have done pretty well – their new smaller washing up liquid bottles are now made from 100% recycled plastic! So you don’t have to feel guilty, as it can be recycled afterwards as well. And they’re pretty affordable too with under $2.00 for a bottle that you can get from most supermarkets.
I’m pretty sure we saved the best till last… Although this would be the most convenient and quickest option, it can be on the more expensive side and quite hard to get your hand on.
If you live in the US, there’s a great laundry detergent by Seventh Generation that actually comes in what looks like cardboard – but it’s a bottle!
In the UK, there is an alternative to this, by Mulieres – 70% less plastic and comes in a bottle that’s made from recycled cardboard. That makes it biodegradable and recyclable.
Now that you have your liquids stuff sorted for your cleaning – what are you going to clean your surfaces with?
Solution 5 – Cloths and Sponges
The dish cloths and sponges you have in your kitchen or bathroom right now, is most likely made out of some kind of plastic. Or if it’s made from cotton or some type of fibre pulp, they are still likely to be in plastic packaging, used a few times and once they run out, another batch needs to be purchased.
Your ordinary shop-bought standard dishcloths are made from synthetic materials. Which means they are made from plastic and other types of unnatural, man-made materials.
Your sponge is probably a plastic filled scrubber – are we getting warm?
Your regular dish sponges are also quite harmful to the environment as the little green bits that come off the sponge (the coarse, usually darker side) end up down your drains and straight into the ocean. They aren’t biodegradable and are likely to cause issues to our marine life.
It’s okay, you probably weren’t even aware because as customers, we buy what’s available to us. We don’t question it – until, we do.
There is just no escaping this plastic! It would seem.
There is a way out, honestly…
We have recently found and tested some alternatives for sponges made from Loofah plant and we’re very impressed with them so far. They’re compostable and all natural, no plastic in sight.
They last FAR longer (up to 6 weeks) than regular sponges and they don’t smell as bad. They’re also more cost effective – we used to get through 2-3 sponges regular sponges in 6 weeks and now we only use 1 every 6 weeks.
How about a coconut fibre dish brush? For those tougher dishes naturally.
There are many options for every budget, Amazon is probably the best place to browse for different solutions.
Or if you really want to be super eco-friendly, you can just use an old cotton t-shirt (one that you would throw away anyway) and cut it up into smaller pieces to the size of a regular cloth.
That way you are reusing something that could have ended up at landfill without spending an extra penny.
In Our Humble Conclusion
You guys, there are so many options out there now. All you need is the knowledge – knowing what to buy is the start of the plastic-free and natural journey.
If the high-end and high-quality products are too much for your budget – no worries. Reuse your old clothes as cloths.
You can use vinegar, soda and lemon to clean most surfaces – vinegar works particularly well.
But even the fact that you’re reading this and trying to cut down on your plastic and to live more naturally is a HUGE step!
Give yourself a pat on the back because you are doing something good for the planet and we need more people like you. *virtual high five*
Keep at it! If you have any questions, please feel free to drop us an email or a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!
Peace + love
Aggie + Ben