March 1, 2018

Clean Less, Use Water, and other Tips for Zero Waste Cleaning

If you'd rather skip the theory and see some Tips, scroll down once.  My admonitions are quite brief. 

Stop.

Stop cleaning

I don't mean hang up your mop and walk out the door...

...I mean stop, and evaluate your household cleaning.

Are you cleaning too much? 
  • Are you cleaning because you truly enjoy it?
  • Are you cleaning because you have the time to fill?
  • Are you cleaning because your socioeconomic peers expect it?
  • Are you cleaning because you are afraid of the "microbes"?
  • Are you cleaning because your parents "taught me how keep house"?

If it's any combination of these, consider if there is room for you to reduce your cleaning and therefore reduce your environmental impact. 

Image result for cult of domesticity(If you find you don't really clean much as it is, no worries, and please introduce yourself.  We'd probably get along.)

When industrialization took some 19th-century household chores out of the home (soap making, cloth making, that whole, maintaining the hearth thing) Americans collectively 'gasped' and tried to figure what to do about "the women problem" who a) clearly didn't have enough to do (at least the white, middle- and upper-class women) and b) clearly weren't going to go to get a job (especially white, middle-, and upper-class women).  What resulted was a cult of domesticity, where cleaning and child raising were suddenly the very essence of a woman's life...so you'd better get it right!**

I'm asking you not to get it right.  I'm not even asking you to get it wrong.  I'm just asking to you see if there is room for reduction.   


RANDOM TIPS:  Zero Waste Cleaning

  • Dribble water over a countertop stain and let it sit.  It'll probably wipe right off after a few minutes.  
  • Use water to clean your countertops more often than your cleaner.  
  • Same goes for wood floors.
  • Brooms = less waste (energy) than vacuums.
  • Only clean the rooms you spend time in (kitchen, family room, bathrooms); save the rest for overnight guests and parties.    
  • Everyone that gets clothing washed....gets to help with laundry (watch laundry levels drop after a month).
Folding laundry AND wearing dark clothes.  My work is done.
  • Dress the kids in darker clothes.  Lighter clothes have a habit of getting worn only once before getting washed.  Darker clothes are magical.
  • Keep small kitchen appliances in cabinets.  Even your favorite red mixer which you love looking at but collects some serious dust.  Figuratively and literally.
  • Actually, keeping as many things as possible off of horizontal surfaces means less cleaning.
  • Do you clean your kids' room?  Should you be?  What are you trying to teach them? 

Okay, now I'm getting back into theory so I'll stop.  But I did want to get this post out here to remind us while sometimes Zero Waste is about changing your consumption, sometimes it's about changing your habits.


**Admittedly, this is Anglo-centric history.