Honestly, before starting my zero waste journey, I didn’t think about how many ‘every day’ items produce waste. I also didn’t think about ways I could replace harsh chemical cleansers with more natural options.
The harsh cleaner in a plastic bottle was ‘just what we used’ – why would I question it?
Well, I’m glad I did, because I’ve since began to look more critically at the cleaning products I use. And though I haven’t stopped using the ‘before’ products completely, I am happy with the cleansers I’ve since switched.
And since I know I’m nowhere near the only new zero waster out there, I thought I’d share 2 more zero waste recipes to replace store bought items. (If you missed the first article, check it out here!)
- Hand Soap
- Soap Nuts
I’m going to admit that this one… I’m kind of dumb for not realizing. This recipe involves the ever-amazing soap nuts. You know, the little nuts that naturally produce soap you can use to wash your clothes?
Yeah, apparently, that soap they produce can also be used to wash your hands! Shocker, I know. But it took me an embarrassingly long time to put two and two together. If it’s good enough to wash my clothes (and reusable pads), it should be able to clean my hands!
Though I’d like to blame society for this one, (why are there so many different soap products if they all do the same thing, anyway?) I’ve been an adult long enough I should’ve realized this.
Thankfully, the second best time to do something is today (the first being yesterday), so just like with veganism, now that I know, I can’t un-know.
To make the hand soap, all you gotta do is bring some soap nuts to a boil in a pot of water (depending on the size of the batch, use the same amount you would in your laundry, which is typically about 5), then once it’s boiling immediately turn off the heat and let them continue to sit in the water for about 20 minutes.
Once done, you can either fish the nuts out of the water, or you can mash them up and then strain the liquid into a hand soap bottle. If you don’t like the scent of soap nuts (it can be pretty… specific) you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the mix.
Most recipes I’ve seen to make this hand soap say to use a foaming hand soap container, but just like with using DIY toothpaste, that’s more for feel than affect. The soap will work just fine in a non-foaming container. You may need to make it more often (foaming soap containers supposedly use less product than non-foam), but since you can buy soap nuts in bulk, it really shouldn’t make that big of a difference.
2. Surface Cleaner
- Lemon Juice
This cleaner is another amazing recipe. Just like how baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean almost everything, this recipe can be used to clean basically everything else.
Like most of these zero waste recipes, all you need to make this cleaner is an empty bottle to mix the ingredients in. Pour the vinegar and water into the bottle in a 1:1 ratio, then add either 1-2 Tbsp of lemon juice, or the rind from half a lemon.
If you’re using lemon rind, you’ll want to let the mixture sit for a while to give the rind time to infuse with the vinegar and water (about 30 min), if you’re using juice, you should be able to start using it right away.
This cleaner can be used to clean glass, counter tops, floors, etc. I was originally going to call this all purpose cleaner, but there are some things you won’t want to use this on. For example, if you have porous items (like a couch or favourite chair), the lemon juice + vinegar might leave unwanted spots, or possibly leech the colour out of the item.
This is due to the lemon and vinegar’s natural acidity – which is actually the reason you can use it to lighten your hair!
If however you don’t care about spots or fading colour, then you can go ahead and use it on whatever you want.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Like this article? Check out more zero waste tips here!