With only two days left till Christmas, cleaning my house is high on the agenda before my relatives arrive. We have talked a lot in our posts about preventing waste created by presents and food this Christmas, however have you ever stopped to reflect on waste created by cleaning? A few months back when I was cleaning my house and taking note of the products I was using, I realized that ironically while my house was becoming cleaner I was leaving a legacy for landfill – Disposable chux, empty dishwashing liquid bottles, finish dishwashing tablet packets, spray and wipe bottles, duck toilet cleaner bottles…the list and landfill pile was quite extensive. Through embarking on my journey to reduce my household waste, I’ve endeavoured to slowly replace my cleaning items to either homemade or those in reusable packaging. Not only has this process reduced my rubbish generation, reduced toxic fumes in my home and reduced the chemicals I pour down the sink but it has also saved me money.

On Day 23 we are looking at where to purchase or make cleaning products that make your house shine without creating noxious odours or sending needless packaging waste to landfill.

Plastic Free Cleaning Products for purchase

Across Brisbane I have discovered a few places where you can purchase cleaning products without packaging. To name a few: Biome offer a wide-range of plastic free cleaning products and Market Organics allow you to refill cleaning products from their bulk containers. However the price tag for “plastic-free” appeared higher than your average supermarket products. That was until I recently uncovered Rethink in my local area that offer products at reasonable retail prices.


ReThink is an amazing social enterprise that emerged earlier this year in Yeronga, focused on minimising household waste and promoting disability employment. Rethink sell a delightful range of household and personal care products that are locally sourced where possible or made in house.

Rethink have a pop-up shop situated at the Yeronga Community Centre from 9am-12pm every Tuesday and Saturday morning. They also have an online store offering click and collect or delivery in the local area. I was there on Saturday and purchased a beautiful handmade reusable dishcloth (Photo A) and dishwashing liquid in reusable packaging (Photo B). Check out their online store to make 2020 the beginning of a new decade of cleaning without the landfill legacy.

Home-made cleaning products

According to the US National Resource Defence Council, there are over 84,000 industrial chemicals used in household items, only 200 of these chemicals have been tested by the FDA and only 5 have been regulated. Australia reflects a similar story to these US figures. Research has shown that many of the chemicals present in cleaning products hinder brain development and cause cognitive and behavioral disorders, and lower IQs in susceptible children. A neurotoxicity study by Grandjean and Landrigan in 2014 documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants—(Manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers) chemicals commonly found in household products.

Given the unknown toxicity of so many chemicals present in commonly used household products, there is incentive to make your own products to ensure you know what chemicals are entering your house so you can control your indoor air quality and also safeguard our local waterways by not putting toxic chemicals down the sink.

As I started looking into home-made cleaning products – I was in awe of what can be cleaned by the combination of hot water, white vinegar and baking soda. Below is a table of alternative homemade cleaning products

Traditional Cleaning ProductHome-made alternative
Multipurpose cleanerBicarbonate or soda and vinegar; lemon juice with borax paste
BleachBorax or hydrogen peroxide
Scouring powdersBaking soda
Floor cleanerwhite vinegar (1 cup)
Window cleaner1 capful white vinegar in 1.2 L warm water
Head cleanerBaking soda with a brush
Shower cleanerBacking soda with a scouring cloth
Chrome cleaner/polishCider vinegar to clean and baby oil to polish
Aluminium cleaner2 Tsp cream of tartar to 1.3 L hot water
Brass cleanerWorcestershire sauce with equal parts salt, vinegar and water
Copper cleanerLemon juice and salt
Fiberglass stain removerBaking soda paste
Drain openerDisassemble; use plumber's snake; flush with boiling water
Mildew removerMake paste of equal parts lemon juice and salt or vinegar and salt
Interior wood polishHigh quality almond or olive oil

As mentioned by Liz in Day 17, there are a number of great zero-waste resources that have detailed guides, recipes and ways in which you can slowly move towards replacing conventional supermarket cleaning products. Here’s a photo of some of the changes that Liz has made this year, re-using old containers and textiles, purchasing a coconut fibre scrubber and bamboo brush; mixing up two scrappy citrus vinegars, eucalyptus oil, baking soda, vinegar glass solution and soap all purpose cleaner.

Moving towards zero waste cleaning at home!

In particular, to get you started we recommend checking out these two books written by bloggers, that have a detailed section around household cleaning products. Both books are available for hire through the Brisbane City Council library catalogue.

Share with us

Today has only briefly touched on some places to purchase plastic-free cleaning products and some homemade alternatives. We would love to hear your personal tricks for toxic-free cleaning and other places you recommend for purchasing waste-free cleaning goods. Please comment below – we can’t wait to hear your ideas!

Todays feature image comes from Under a Tin Roof and displays natural items that can be used to create alternative toxic-free cleaning products.

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