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single use swaps for cleaning

My Favourite Low Waste Cleaning Swaps

Last week on the blog, I talked about recycling – the good and the bad. Not only do we produce too much garbage, but there’s also WAY too much recycling produced to be able to turn it all into new products. There are piles and piles of recycling sitting waiting to be repurposed, and if the recycling doesn’t actually get recycled, then we’ve essentially got a landfill of plastic. And with news of Bulk Barn and many other retailers refusing reusables until COVID-19 is gone, we need to think of some alternatives that will help us reduce our single-use plastic so here are my favourite low waste cleaning swaps.

So today I’m sharing some of my favourite single use plastic `cleaning swaps. Instead of purchasing a single use plastic bottle, there are alternatives that we can use to reduce the amount of recycling that leaves our home. Save the recycling for items that don’t have an easy reusable solution and try some of these swaps in your home. If you try any of them, please share!


Disinfectant is all the rage right now with COVID-19 spreading, and disinfectants with 70% alcohol in them are effective for killing the virus. There are tons of disinfectants that you can buy but most come in small plastic bottles. You can also make your own very easily and put it in a spray bottle that you will use over and over again! All you need is rubbing alcohol. Grab a clean spray bottle (I use colour coded based on what’s going in them so green is always for disinfecting). Pour 1 cup of water & 1 cup of rubbing alcohol into your spray bottle. Add 25 drops of tea tree oil (tea tree oil has fantastic antiviral & antibacterial properties as well) and that’s it! Spray your surface and let it sit on the surface for a minute or so to kill all the germs before wiping. I also spray a cloth and wipe my phone with this at the end of the day to disinfect it.

DIY disinfectant

Make sure you get your rubbing alcohol in bulk to reduce the amount of single-use plastic. Many zero-waste stores have rubbing alcohol that you can pour into your own jars. Or if you don’t have somewhere to get this, purchase a large quantity of it so you don’t have as many bottles to dispose of.

Check out Clean My Space for tons of DIY cleaning product recipes. She has all purpose cleaners, tile and tub scrubbers, glass cleaners and more. And almost everything is made with just a few ingredients. I have a different coloured spray bottle for each one and use them over and over again.

Shampoo & Conditioner

I’ve been using shampoo & conditioner bars for at almost 9 months now and I LOVE them. I use the ones from Unwrapped Life – the shampoo bar suds up really well and comes in different varieties for different hair types. Plus they smell amazing! I’ve heard great things about the Lush bars too. And don’t let the price tag scare you, while they are a little bit more expensive than some drug store shampoos, the little bars last! Mine last for a few months. Plus you get get great sales from Unwrapped Life when they sell off their “bumped and bruised” ones at 40% off.

Shampoo & conditioner bars


While this swap isn’t totally zero-waste and isn’t a cleaning product, I had to include it because of the health benefits of using an aluminum free, natural deodorant. I use Canadian made No Pong which comes in a recyclable metal tin (but  could totally be reused to pack small jewelry for a trip or store small craft supplies). It smells amazing and doesn’t leave your armpits clogged with chemicals so while you do still sweat, it won’t smell.

Natural deodorant options

Dishwasher cleaner

Instead of the pods that come in plastic bins and are wrapped in plastic (yes it dissolves but puts micro plastics into our water), try these zero waste tabs by EarthLove. They can be found in many refill stores and come in a brown paper bag. Pop them in your dishwasher, just like the other pods. Did you know that using your dishwasher typically saves water over hand washing them as long as your dishwasher is full? EarthLove also has toilet bowl cleaner tablets.

zero waste dishwasher tablets

Laundry Detergent

Instead of the plastic jugs of laundry detergent, I now use these laundry detergent strips by Tru Earth. They are ultra concentrated strips of detergent and because they are so lightweight, their eco-footprint is much smaller than liquid and powder detergents due to transportation. It also saves millions of plastic bottles from entering the landfill. The other thing I love about Tru Earth, is that’s a subscription model. I get new detergent strips shipped to me every 3 months. They have multiple options depending on how much laundry you do but  you’ll never have to shop for detergent again.

Laundry detergent strips

So those are 5 ways to reduce the amount of single use items you use during your cleaning routines. These low waste cleaning swaps are so easy you can make them the next time you run out of one of these things!

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