The only 6 Items you need for Zero Waste Cleaning

There was a time when my home was filled with cleaning products each for a different purpose. One stronger than the next to ensure that all the grease was cut, the clothes without stains, and everything full of chemicals that would kill any kind of mold or mildew possible. A spray for this, a liquid cleaner for that. It was hard to keep up.

I started reading online about more natural cleaning to find some better solutions to these chores. I’m a person who doesn’t like to take too much medication unless it is absolutely necessary. Who always had a bottle of apple cider vinegar because it basically solves all medical problems (rashes, infections, etc.) and is also delicious on salads.

So, why was I comfortable using these thing in my home? The truth is, I was not.

What I found from my research and talking to my mom, was there are just a few items that I need at home to solve all my cleaning needs. They are natural and inexpensive and you really don’t need a different spray for each room of your house and type of cleaning.

White vinegar

The base of many great cleaning products if distilled white vinegar. I haven’t been able to find it in bulk (but maybe you can), so I buy the largest container to produce the minimal amount of waste. Due to the long shelf life of white vinegar you never have to worry about it going bad.

Vinegar can solve the majority of your cleaning needs but remember this it is a acid so be cautious about using it on natural stones, wood, and metal. Vinegar is not going to do all the work for you like more abrasive cleaners. You’ll have to put a bit of elbow grease into your cleaning to remove stains, soap build up, etc. I use it as a general cleaner mixing 2 part vinegar, 1 part water, and lemon peels in a glass spray bottle. (Be sure to label your bottles so you remember what is inside, I use a piece of electrical tape an a Sharpie.)

DO NOT use vinegar to clean: DO use vinegar to clean:

  • Natural stones (granite, marble, etc.)
  • Wood
  • Stainless steel (knives, pots, etc.)
  • Porcelain and tile
  • Copper, brass, and pewter
  • Appliances (except inside an iron!)
  • Shower fixtures
  • Windows, mirrors, and other glass
  • Garbage bins and containers
  • Vinyl or other synthetic materials
  • Soften used paint brushes
  • Your hair

There are so many fabulous uses for vinegar I cannot even list them all here!

Baking soda

The second most important cleaning tool is Baking Soda. It has so many purposes, freshening your fridge and freezer, deodorant, scrubbing agent, cleaning drains, etc. I use a combination of my vinegar spray and baking soda to clean all the surfaces of our bathroom and kitchen.

When combined with vinegar it is the perfect drain cleaner. To unclog your drain, put 1 part vinegar and 1 part baking soda down the drain and wait for the bubbling to subside. (Can take 15 – 30 minutes.) They boil a full pot of water and pour it all down the drain. Try your faucet. If the water still doesn’t go down or goes down slowly, repeat the process until your drain is unblocked.

To clean your tub, apply baking soda to a vegetable sponge. Dampen your tub and start working away on those water stains. It’s a bonus bicep workout. 😉

Sodium percarbonate

A tool very similar to baking soda is sodium percarbonate. It is a stain fighter and can be used in your laundry to replace bleach. Use any quantity that you wish based on your cleaning needs. You can use it to pre soak stained garments or added to your laundry cycle.

And if you have some at home, sodium percarbonate can do the same function as baking soda for unclogging your drains.


Lemons and their peels are another great acid for cleaning. The peels can be used to improve the scent of your homemade cleaning products and the lemon itself make a great cleaner. Lemon juice is perfect for cleaning meats and vegetables, but also for cleaning rust off of kitchen utensils, cleaning the microwave, cleaning your cutting board and chopping block and even polishing copper pots.

To clean the microwave: mix the juice of 1 lemon and and a ½ cup of water in a microwave safe dish, with the remains of the lemon. Place in the microwave and set it for 3 minutes on high. Let the cup and mixture stand for 3 – 5 minutes because removing them to let the steam do its job. Remove the container and wipe down the microwave with a natural cleaning cloth. And et voila! Clean microwave.

To clean copper pots and cutting boards: cut your lemon in half and grab some table salt. Fill the open side of the lemon with table salt and get to scrubbing. That’s it! Vinegar could also be used but it is less acidic than a lemon and might not cut all of the tarnish from your pot.

And remember after cleaning with lemons, if they are still in a good state use the peels for your cleaning products and compost the rest!

Castile soap

I honestly got tired of buying a different kind of soap for each purpose in my home. Is it really necessary to have a different soap for my hand than for my body or even for my dishes? The answer is absolutely not.

A pure castile soap can be used for anything and everything. Add a little water if you want to dilute it or use as is. It serves for cleaning your dishes, hands, body, etc. If you want to improve the smell, add a few drops of essential oils. Personally I keep it scent free to make it hypoallergenic.

It can even be used as a dog shampoo. So skip the overly expensive cleaners from the pet shop.


We mentioned salt above to help in your scrubbing needs. But did you know salt can also be used to brighten colors in your laundry and remove wine stains?

If you spill wine on clothes or even your carpet cover the stain completely with salt. The salt with absorb the wine. All that’s left is to vacuum it up and stain is gone. Let the salt sit until the stain is completely removed for the best results.

If you have a cloth item, place it in a salt bath overnight to get the stain out. Treat the stain first with salt on top, then place it in hot water with more salt dissolved in.

Bonus: the sun

Sunlight is one of the best disinfectants available to us. Hanging your clothes in the best way to give it a natural bleaching. You can also use it to disinfect stinky tennis shoes. I use it for cleaning my climbing shoes.

What other natural cleaning products do you use? Let me know in the comments.

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