10 Tips to Make Your Cleaning Routine More Eco-Friendly

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Taking pride in your home is important, and one way to do that is making sure it's always nice and clean. Whether you're doing a complete deep cleaning from top to bottom or are just doing a quick pick-up before your friends come over for movie night, the products you choose for home cleaning are very important. They can affect your breathing, your health and even the environment.

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You might think your house is clean because you just cleaned the toilets with bleach and mopped the floor with floral-scented cleaner, but if you just doused it in chemical cleaners, your home is actually swirling with toxic chemicals and fumes that could actually do more harm than good. Making the switch to all-natural green cleaning products can help you clean and disinfect your house without leaving you and your loved ones to breathe in harmful ingredients. You can also prevent adding to the trash that is routinely being sent to the landfill due to single-use items, like dryer sheets, disposable dusting cloths and paper towels.

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Take your spring cleaning routine to the next level with a few simple swaps. You don't have to run to the store and splurge on new cleaners. You probably already have ingredients in your pantry to make your own all-natural cleaning products. Things like white vinegar, baking soda and citrus peels are basically all you need to make a slew of eco-friendly cleaning products. Here are 10 cleaning tips to make your routine more eco-friendly.

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1. Ditch the Single-Use Items

One big way to make your cleaning routine more eco-friendly is by reducing your use of things that can only be used once before being thrown away. Yes, it can be scary to venture away from your favorite products, but reusable ones can work just as well. Ditching single-use items will keep things out of the landfill and save you money at the same time.

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One easy and simple swap is switching out your fabric softener sheets for a set of wool dryer balls. These dryer balls will fluff your clothes and prevent wrinkles just like fabric softener sheets, but you'll only have to purchase them one time instead of on a regular basis. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the dryer balls to infuse your clothes with all-natural fragrance.

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2. Repurpose Old Socks

Before you get rid of that old pair of socks, stop and repurpose them into cleaning rags. Just slip your hand inside and get to dusting. A sock rag is great for dusting things like horizontal blinds and ceiling fans since you'll be able to hold on to the dust instead of having it fall all over the floor like it would if you were using paper towels.

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Just spray a bit of your favorite all-natural cleaning product directly onto the sock and wipe off the dust. Shake the sock over the garbage can periodically to dispose of any loose dust particles before getting back to work. Wash the used socks like you normally would and place them on top of your rag stash because they'll quickly become your favorite ones to use.

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3. Make Your Own Cleaning Solution

Instead of going out and buying a bunch of all-natural cleaning products, make your own. This can be done with ingredients you probably already have at your house, and if you don't have them, they are easy and inexpensive to obtain.

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All you need to make your own natural all-purpose cleaner is white vinegar, water and your favorite essentials oils. Combine equal parts vinegar and water and then pour all the ingredients into a spray bottle. Just be careful when using the cleanser on stone countertops since it can be too abrasive. Otherwise, you should be able to use the all-purpose cleaner on anything in your house, from your stainless steel appliances to your sinks, tubs and even your floors.

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4. Use Citrus Peels to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Is there a lingering stench in your kitchen that you just can't eliminate? It might be coming from your garbage disposal. Don't worry; it's easy to fix. All you'll need are a few pieces of fruit. Next time you peel a juicy orange for a snack or cut lemons for lemonade, don't be so quick to toss the peels and rinds into the trash. Instead, save them and toss them in the garbage disposal.

The citrus scraps will help you easily clean the garbage disposal. The blades of your garbage disposal will cut through the peels, and you'll instantly be greeted with a delightful citrus scent. For especially stinky garbage disposals, you can also add a few pieces of ice to the mix. The ice will clean any gunk off the blades while also helping to keep them sharp.

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5. Say Goodbye to Paper Towels

You may think that those rolls of paper towels you buy every week are an essential part of your cleaning routine, but it's actually something you can easily swap out for reusable microfiber cloths. You might think a few rolls of paper towels isn't a big deal, but it takes about 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water to make 1 ton of paper towels.

Not only is it better for the environment but it will save you money too. This simple swap is a great way to upgrade your eco-friendly cleaning routine. If you just can't imagine cleaning your house with anything besides paper towels, there are even reusable cloths that come on a roll just like paper towels. That makes the switch a no-brainer.

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6. Make Infused Vinegar

White vinegar is one of the best all-natural cleaning products there is, but the smell might not be everyone's favorite. There is an easy fix for that. Simply make your own DIY scented vinegar that will leave your house smelling clean and fresh all day long.

Whether you prefer a rosemary, orange, lemon or pine-scented vinegar, they're all easy to make, and each has special cleaning abilities. Orange-infused vinegar is great for cleaning grease in the kitchen, while the lemon-scented one is perfect for cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms. The pine-scented one is ideal for wood floors, and rosemary is great for any room in the house. Make a bottle of each one and you'll be able to clean your whole house with all-natural ingredients that will make you feel good about your choices.

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7. Purify the Air Naturally

Things like air freshener sprays, scented candles and plug-ins might make your house smell nice, but they all release toxic chemicals into the air of your home every time you use them. They all contain phthalates — chemicals that can cause damage to your kidneys, liver and your entire nervous system.

Go the eco-friendly route and purify and freshen your air the natural way by adding potted plants to your home. Potted plants are a great way to brighten your home and to help remove lingering toxins and odors without adding more. You'll love looking at and caring for your new leafy friends, and your lungs will thank you for ditching the toxic fragrances.

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8. Banish the Bleach

If you're trying to switch to a green cleaning routine, there are chemicals that you're going to have to cut out of your supplies, like bleach. Bleach releases toxic fumes and can cause extreme irritation to the skin and eyes when touched.

So, the next time your favorite white T-shirt has a stain on it, don't bother reaching for the bleach. Hang-dry your clothes instead and let the sun do all the work. The sun is a natural bleach and will not only help remove stains but will also reduce wrinkles. Line-drying will even make your clothes last longer since it's gentler on your clothes than the dryer.

Bleach contains a ton of harmful chemicals that can cause serious respiratory problems, and dryers use a lot of energy. Line-drying your clothing is better for the environment and will leave your clothes fresh and clean. Once you start line-drying your clothes, you'll never go back.

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9. Invest in High-Quality Essential Oils

If you look on the back of nearly any product, you'll see the term "fragrance" listed among the ingredients. This is often an artificial chemical mixture that is harmful to your body when inhaled. Make the switch to an all-natural alternative and you'll never have to worry about what you're breathing in ever again.

Essential oils are a natural way to add fragrance to nearly anything, and they come in a variety of different scents, like lavender, eucalyptus and mint. Add a few drops of your favorite one to things like your all-purpose vinegar cleaning spray, wool dryer balls, baking soda scrub and everything in between. Since essential oils are safe and they smell great, you'll always be confident in your home's air quality.

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10. Use Baking Soda to Scrub Away Grime

There are some places in the house, like the bathroom, where you might feel like you just need the power of a chemical cleaner to cut through the grime, but all-natural products can be just as effective. One of the best green cleaning products can probably be found in your kitchen cabinets already: baking soda.

Baking soda is another ingredient that is harmless and does a great job at scrubbing away dirt and stains. Pour a few scoops of baking soda directly into your toilet bowl and scrub it with the toilet brush like you normally would. Add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil to the bowl for a refreshing scent. You'll be shocked at what a good job the baking soda paste does at leaving your toilet bowl sparkling clean.

Baking soda can also be used to scrub the grout, the sink and the inside of the bathtub. Just be sure to give everything a good rinse so you're not left with any grit.

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