LOW-TOXIN ZERO WASTE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY HOME CLEANING

GOALS

–    Reduce exposure to toxins that could affect the health of your family.
–    Reduce your impact on the environment (your carbon footprint).
RULE OF THUMB FOR HOUSEHOLD CLEANING
–    Use natural products, with a history of success. Avoid cleaners with chlorine or ammonia.
–    Avoid disposable wet wipes or Swiffer-style mop pads. They are not biodegradable, should never be flushed, and cause “fatbergs” that clog sewer systems.
–    Buy ingredients “unpackaged” (in bulk [en vrac]) with your own reusable containers whenever possible. The store Day by Day exists all across France and sells all of their products in bulk.
–    While glass packaging is theoretically better, glass is heavier than plastic, causing greater greenhouse gas emissions during transit. Opt for vinegar in hard plastic recyclable containers, or buy it in bulk.
–    Avoid products packaged in plastic bags (opt for brown paper bags or cardboard boxes).
ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS
–    White distilled vinegar.Vinegar disinfects and can kill many bacteria including salmonella, but it cannot kill ecoli. Vinegar is acidic, so never mix it with bleach, hydrogen peroxide or Castile soap.
–    Liquid Castile soap [savon de Castille] can replace vinegar as a cleaning agent in areas with soft water. However, this soap does not have the same disinfecting power of vinegar.
–    Baking soda [bicarbonate desoude], ideally purchased in a recyclable brown paper bag
–    Savon de Marseille (without palm oil [sans huile de palme], since that contributes to deforestation: check these lists of other names for palm oil in English, and in French.)
–    Lemons, ideally organic.
–    Cornstarch [maïzena]
–    Hydrogen peroxide at 3% [eau oxygénée = peroxyde de l’hydrogèneà 3%].
CLEANING TOOLS IN SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS
–    Natural and fair trade rubber gloves (in France, you can find these at the Bio stores).
–    Any spray bottle you already have (or a glass spray bottle, found at the Trésorerie in the 10th).
–    Natural sponge alternatives, in organic or sustainably sourced materials, such as bamboo, linen, hemp, or natural wood fibers (often called “cellulose”).
–    Reusable cleaning cloths and rags to replace paper towels. It is best to make them from old t-shirts, towels and cloth you already have in your home, or to buy them second hand. If you must, you can buy new ones made out of sustainable materials.
–    Wooden handle brushes with natural bristles (one rounded bottle brush, and one with a flat replaceable head for cleaning pots and pans).
–    Steel scourer for scrubbing stainless steel pots and pans. Opt for a hard-steel one like this that will last for many years.
Areas & Objects to Clean
–    Couch        Sprinkle on baking soda, then vacuum it up after 30 minutes (monthly).
–    Clogged drains        Use a metal snake [furetdéboucheur] to get out the clog. This can be used over and over again. Then, let vinegar and baking soda sit in the pipe for 30 minutes before pouring boiling water down the drain.
–    Cutting board        Lemon juice is antibacterial and will disinfect the board. To seal a wooden board, combine ½ teaspoon of both beeswax and olive oil.
–    Dishwasher        Run a normal cycle with 1 cup of vinegar to deodorize and clean.
–    Mattress        Sprinkle baking soda on, then vacuum it up after 30 minutes (monthly).
–    Oven        A soft baking soda scrub. Allow to sit before rinsing.
–    Oven tray cleaner    ¼ cup baking soda in a glass bowl and add hydrogen peroxide until it makes a paste. Rub it on the stain/grease with a sponge or cloth. Rinse.
–    Rug        Sprinkle baking soda on, then vacuum it up after 30 minutes (monthly)
–    Shower head        To get the built-up residue off of the shower head, tie a plastic bag of vinegar around it with a tie wrap, and let it soak over night.
–    Sponge        Boil in water.
–    Tiles        Baking soda and water.
–    Toilet bowl        Pour in ½ liter of vinegar; let it sit for several hours (or a whole day), then scrub before flushing. For dark build up, repeat until the white returns.
–    Washing machine    Run a hot cycle with 50 cl of vinegar to deodorize and clean.
–    Windows        Diluted lemon juice or vinegar. Dry with old newspapers.
Stains & Nuisances to Remove
–    Blood        Vinegar, water, carbonated water
–    Chocolate        Vinegar, water, soap
–    Coffee/tea        Vinegar, soap (& water)
–    Cosmetics        Vinegar, baking soda, bread
–    Crayon        Olive oil
–    Dirt        Paste of cornstarch & vinegar. Or baking soda, rinse, then soak in vinegar, then scrub with soap. For white cloth: lemon juice and let soak in the sun.
–    Dust        Wipe with a lint-free flour sack
–    Grass        Vinegar, baking soda
–    Grease        Vinegar with lemon juice. Or cornstarch paste, then soap (& water).
–    Ink        Milk, vinegar
–    Mold        (See the “Mold Eradication” document)
–    Paint        Salt, vinegar
–    Perspiration        Mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide: use and then rinse with water before adding the clothing to the wash. Or baking soda, vinegar, water.
–    Red wine        White wine
–    Sauce        Vinegar
–    Vinaigrette        Vinegar
*Soap = either palm-oil-free savon de Marseille or palm-oil-free Castile soap

Compiled by Tammy Sas-Mayaux for the AAWE Environmental Task Force. Sources: Ariana of Paris-To-Go.com, Bea Johnson of ZeroWasteHome.com , and WomensVoices.org