Whether you love cleaning or not, we’ve compiled some zero waste cleaning hacks for you that not only help get rid of grime and mustiness but, are also environmentally friendly and non-toxic for you, your families and visitors.
We have compiled our best recipes we’ve tried and tested, you may remember our all purpose surface spray – we’ve finally found the best combinations and balance that work for us and you’ll hopefully love. The perfect solution to avoid ‘hinch’ levels of cleaning products.
Recipes included and in order are:
- Soda Crystals Recipe
- Washing Up Liquid
- Dishwasher Powder
- Laundry Powder
- Fabric Freshener Spray
Most ingredients can be bought in bulk, cardboard or glass. Common ingredients used are:
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Bicarbonate of Soda
- Soda Crystals
- Castille Soap bar / Traditional Olive Oil soap bar / Ordinary Soap Bar
- Citric Acid – for hard water areas
- Sea Salt
- Essential Oils (optional) or infused vinegar will work too
For ingredients like Soda Crystals, we couldn’t find any that weren’t in plastic bags (yet) so we’ve also included instructions on how to make your own.
Please note when using essential oils to be extremely careful with them and only use a few drops if any
You’ll also need:
- Spray bottles (old ones that are properly washed out and dried well will work too, just be extremely careful not to mix vinegar with certain chemicals, like bleach)
- Airtight containers
- Bottles and/or Jars.
Soda Crystals recipe
A few recipes you may find ask for soda crystals (also known as washing soda) and if you can’t find any plastic free soda crystals. The only things you’ll need are:
- Bicarbonate of Soda
- Baking Tray
Yes, it’s really this simple – sprinkle your bicarbonate of soda onto the baking tray and put the tray into the oven at 200C or gas mark 6 and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the powder turns a slightly grey, dull colour.
The powder should have a grain rather than powder texture.
That’s you now got washing soda. Store in a container somewhere that won’t get damp and it’ll come in really handy.
Washing up liquid
If you don’t want to use a bar of soap for washing dishes this is for you.
Similar to the DIY Liquid soap recipe – This is a great one if you don’t have a shop you can refill from or simply want to try out making your own washing up liquid try this recipe.
This has been tried and tested several times after failures using other recipes found online and this worked best for us – if it doesn’t work for you, tweak it until you find the right balance for your cleaning.
What you’ll need:
- Bottle/Jar to store your soap in – feel free to use your old washing up liquid bottle!
- 1 tablespoon of Bicarbonate of Soda OR 1 tablespoon of Soda Crystals (also known as washing soda) OR 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts
- 3 Tablespoons of grated Castille Soap OR Traditional Olive oil soap
- 3 mugs of water
- Optional – essential oils – we would only recommend around 3 drops max if any, as you don’t want to taste the scent on your dishes and glasses
- Pour your water into the pot/pan over a low to medium heat
- Add the grated soap to the pot 1 tablespoon at a time until melted and then add the others (one by one)
- Be careful not to let the water get too hot
- Once all melted, remove from the heat add in your bicarbonate of soda (or alternatives), let it cool and pour into your bottle or jar
- Leave the soap mix overnight at room temperature
- Pour your essential oil drops (smell the mix after a few drops each time until you get your preferred balance*) into the soap
- Close the bottle/lid and shake well
You can use most other soap bars grated down too but just be careful in case it solidifies as you’ll need to shake it up lots to get it liquefied or heat it up and shake it to avoid this. Also don’t make a huge batch either as the same can happen as it’s not used up quick enough and it’s difficult to get back to the original from a big congealed gelatinous state (trust us – lesson learned).
If you end up with streaks or residue don’t pour the washing liquid into the sink or basin (try reducing the amount used first) instead use a cloth to clean the dishes or pour some of the soap onto the brush and rinse the dishes well afterwards.
*When putting essential oils into your mix, make sure it’s subtle enough that it won’t leave a taste on your dishes as it’s just to add a little ‘something’
If you’ve got a dishwasher instead of having to wash everything by hand (not jealous at all…) then we have a hack for you. Dishwashers actually use less water than washing by hand so not as unfriendly to the environment as some may think!
Luckily in Scotland we’ve generally got very soft water so not much is needed for this recipe, although we do have a hard water recipe addition too just in case you want to pass on this zero waste dishwasher hack.
What you’ll need:
- 1 mug Bicarbonate of Soda
- 1 mug Dishwasher salt/Soda Crystals/Washing Soda
- 1 mug Citric Acid (optional for dirtier/’baked in’ dishes and hard water areas)
- 1/2 mug Sea Salt (optional for dirtier/’baked in’ dishes and hard water areas)
- Airtight container
Mix together and that’s you got your own dishwasher powder – use a tablespoon of the mix in your detergent dispenser to wash.
For a rinse aid simply use white vinegar – your dishes and glass will sparkle with no streaks.
To clean your dishwasher – this will prolong it’s life – pour soda crystals or washing soda into the detergent dispenser and put on the highest temperature while it’s empty. Halfway through the cycle pour in a mug of white vinegar and let the cycle finish. Who knew vinegar and soda crystals could clean so much?
For washing your clothes it’s just as easy to be zero waste here and still get lovely clean clothes using your own zero waste homemade powder.
- 1 bar of grated – Castille Soap OR 1 Traditional Olive Oil Soap bar OR 1 bar of your ordinary soap
- 1 mug of Bicarbonate of Soda
- 1 mug of Soda Crystals or Washing Soda
- 5 drops (maximum) of your preferred Essential Oil (optional)
- Airtight Container/Jar
Simply mix all of the ingredients together and store in an airtight container so it doesn’t get damp.
To use, simply use 1-2 tablespoons of the mix, 3 if the load is extra dirty and add to the drawer, alternatively you can put the mix directly into your washing machine to make sure the mix dissolves (preferred option if using more than 1 tablespoon). It’s best to use this mix at a 40 degree or above cycle to wash properly and dissolve the powder mix well. If you use a fabric softener – white vinegar to the rescue again – use 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar in the drawer.
To clean your washing machine and keep it in tip top condition, pour a mug of soda crystals into the empty drum, along with some white vinegar in the softener section of the drawer to rinse and put on the hottest setting your machine goes to.
Fabric Freshener Spray
Say goodbye to really toxic sprays on your curtains, clothes, carpet and furniture! This is really simple and actually works.
What you’ll need is:
- Spray bottle
- Water – fill up bottle halfway
- Witch Hazel OR Distilled White Vinegar OR Gin OR Vodka – filling the rest of the spray bottle up
- 5 drops of your preferred Essential Oil (optional – you can also use infused vinegar with citrus peel scraps)
If using the alcohol options please only use clear, ordinary versions and the smell evaporates, so don’t worry.
To use; simply mix well, spray the desired amount and leave to dry. Store the bottle somewhere cool and dark when finished.
For carpets and fabric furniture – Instead of spraying anything, you can also sprinkle bicarbonate of soda onto affected areas, leave for half an hour to an hour and then hoover.