Zero Waste Week: Clean Up Your Act

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Look under the sink in most homes and you’ll find a stash of cleaning products. Antiseptic sprays and floor cleaner; bleach and washing powder; furniture polish and window wipes. Cleaning is, ironically, responsible for messing up the planet in a big way.


However, that doesn’t need to be the case. Many classic cleaning methods are far more eco friendly – and cheaper – than buying ready made cleaning products. You probably have most already.

Here are the basics you’ll need to clean most things. Try it for #ZeroWasteWeek – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how effective they are.



From soaking spills instead of using kitchen towel, to wiping away dust or buffing a mirror, newspaper is really handy. It gets a shine like no other on glass, particularly when teamed with vinegar. Afterwards, add it to a compost heap so it can keep on living in compost form.


Remove limescale and stains as well as shining glass. I use the cheapest malt vinegar I can find. You can use stale, vinegared wine too. Add aromatherapy oil if you find the smell off-putting.



Exfoliate stubborn stains away with salt. Form into a sludge with bicarb for extra power. If there are stubborn stains inside the bottom of the bottle, add rice, rough salt and boiling water, seal well and shake hard (NB: Only use boiling water if you’re certain the bottle can take it).

Bicarbonate of Soda

Remove smells from the fridge, use as carpet cleaner and fizz away stains and dirt in all manner of ways. Buy in tubs or boxes, not baking sized packs, to save a fortune.

Lemon Juice

You can use fresh, but I buy bottled lemon juice for ease. It’s a brilliant bleach and clothes-whitener. Just add sunlight for maximum effect. If you use fresh lemon, the peel is great for buffing furniture and leaving it lemon-scented too.


Make wood shine and smell nice.

Washing Soda

This does come in a plastic bag but lasts for ages and replaces countless bottles. Use to wash clothes, the floor, the bathroom and even the oven – dilute less the tougher the job. It’s magical stuff: my partner was sceptical but tried it and is now a huge washing soda advocate.

Put a couple of teaspoons in a spray bottle (use an old cleaning product spray) with added citrus peel and aromatherapy oil plus water, for a multipurpose cleaning spray.


Never underestimate the power of boiling water. Add rubber gloves and elbow grease for ultimate shine.

Adding aromatherapy oils makes your home smell however you want it to. I generally choose mint, rosemary and lavender to freshen the house, or vanilla, orange, clove and pine in winter (cliched but delicious) but choose whichever aromas you like best. Add fresh herbs (bruise them and leave to steep for a couple of hours) as appeals.

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