A common response to the increase in sunshine and fresh spring air is an undeniable desire to purge the heaviness of winter from our homes and make everything feel as clean and new as the budding light-green baby leaves on the trees outside.
Even though spring cleaning can be hard work, there’s something so satisfying about scrubbing away a whole season’s worth (and for some of us, a whole year’s worth) of grime, and making your surroundings sparkle to reflect how you want to step into spring. However we decide to scour and mop and wipe, we should consider how our actions are affecting the environment and our bodies.
In the US, household cleaning products contain more than 60 ingredients with known links to respiratory problems, skin irritation, organ toxicity, and more. Considering all of this, it’s shocking that the US only tests around one percent of cleaning products for safety.
On top of that, a lot of conventional cleaning products are made of single-use or disposable plastic, which ironically dirties up our planet instead of cleaning it up.
Instead of using conventional cleaning chemicals and disposable sponges and cloths, there are better products out there that can help you reduce chemical exposure and waste output.
Use reusable Swedish dishcloths for paper towels
Swedish dishcloths were invented in (you guessed it) Sweden in 1949 by engineer Curt Lindquist. They are squares made of highly absorbent material, they can absorb 20 times their weight in liquid, and are made of plant-based cellulose and cotton.
They are non-abrasive so they can be used on any kind of surface, plus they dry quickly without breeding bacteria or leaving a stinky odor.
Clean them hassle-free by placing them in the top rack of your dishwasher, then wring them out and hang them up to dry. A single cloth will save you 17 rolls of paper towels. Once they do wear out you can snip them up into little pieces and throw them in your compost bin as they’re made from biodegradable FSC-certified cellulose and water-based ink.
Use a biodegradable sponge
A biodegradable sponge is just as good at cleaning as a conventional sponge, just without shedding microfibers down your drain. They’re made from plant material, so you don’t need to worry about polluting the ocean if it flakes while you use it, and, just like the Swedish dishcloth, it can be cut up and composted at the end of its life.
Buy some wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets
Trade-in your single-use scented dryer sheets (which are full of chemicals anyway) with wool dryer balls. These balls will reduce drying time by 20 percent, prevent wrinkles and static, and soften your clothes chemical-free.
While a box of dryer sheets is gone in no time, most wool dryer balls are good for at least 1,000 cycles, which means you won’t have to even think about buying more of them for years, especially if you’re mostly hanging your clothes to dry.
If you can’t find any of these products in your local shops, they are all available at Free The Ocean, along with other eco-friendly household products.