Cover your mom's eyes -- we're about to reveal the four classic cleaning products you never have to use again!
I had an epiphany recently. Sure, it was cleaning-related, but an epiphany nonetheless. I noticed that several of my go-to cleaning products
have been m.i.a. from my shopping list. I was out of stock and I hadn't even realized it.
And what's most surprising is that once upon a time, I thought I'd need these cleaning essentials for the rest of my life
! I mean, my mom has always used them. Your mom most likely has too.These are everyday cleaning tools you pretty much take for granted - the things you stock up on or buy in bulk from big-box stores like BJ's
But these products are now gone from my cleaning caddy, and guess what? I don't miss them. I've found that using the greener alternative for each of these products is just as effective -- plus it's better for the environment and easier on my wallet.
So, without further ado, here are the four cleaning "essentials" you never need to buy again.
1. KITCHEN SPONGE
These kitchen standbys provide the perfect environment for germs and bacteria to thrive. In fact, kitchen sponges are among the biggest germ magnets
in the entire house -- even sponges that claim to be anti-microbial. So I'm a dishcloth
convert -- particularly cotton dishcloths with a highly absorbent waffle weave. Unlike sponges, dishcloths are easy to wash and sanitize. I have a few on hand and just toss them in the wash weekly with my tea towels and microfiber cloths, so I never need to replace them. (Contrary to some published reports, dishwashers are not designed to clean and sanitize soft, spongy objects like kitchen sponges.) I love not needing to plunk down a few dollars on a replacement sponge every couple weeks.Aside from the sanitary factor, dishcloths allow you to feel the dirt with your fingers and apply more pressure to remove it.
2. DRYER SHEETS
Standard dryer sheets coat fabric with a thin layer of a chemical softening agent, which helps them feel soft to the touch and reduces static cling. I now use wool dryer balls
, which are completely natural and chemical-free. Four wool dryer balls tossed in the dryer with a load gives my clothes that nice bounce. Plus, they're reusable, so I don't have to spend money on boxes of disposable dryer sheets anymore. Granted, dryer balls are not cheap, but they pay for themselves over time. (Or you can make your own dryer balls
!) As a bonus, wool dryer balls actually help my clothes dry about 30% faster (a benefit that dryer sheets don't offer). So I'm saving money at the laundromat, and
I'm saving energy.
3. PAPER TOWELS
Of all the cleaning products I ditched for good, I was most skeptical about getting rid of paper towels. What about spills?, I thought. I'm a klutzy person so it seemed unfathomable to make it through even one week without a roll of Bounty. But I stocked up on a half-dozen reusable, non-linting cleaning cloths
instead. With the first spill, I found they are much more absorbent than a paper towel. This little cloth cleaned up a big soda spill. At first, I had my last roll of paper towels around just in case I encountered a sticky situation -- like peanut butter. But I've found that I always seem to have some paper napkins around from a take-out delivery (if you just toss these napkins out with the trash, stop! Hang on to them for emergencies). For liquid spills, reusable cloths work even better than paper towels and can be tossed into the laundry with the towels. I love knowing that I'm saving so much paper and waste by using these cloths. I'm definitely saving money, too. And no, I didn't invent this idea. This is one of those ares in which our grandmothers were green before our era of convenience. They were washing their cleaning rags rather than picking up a $4 roll of paper towels. I guess some traditions should never go out of style.
4. GLASS CLEANER
Once upon a time, I thought that specialty cleaner -- you know, that ubiquitous blue stuff -- was a must-have for your cleaning caddy. Years ago, I learned that many cleaning experts don't opt for a window or glass cleaner to make their windows and glass shine. It turns out that a simple few squirts of dishsoap in a bucket of warm water makes the best solution for cleaning windows
and glass. (Others swear by white vinegar.) And, since you've ditched your paper towels, use newspaper to buff glass to a shiny finish -- it won't leave lint or streaks behind.
Trust me, I was a doubter at first. But using the green alternatives exclusively for just a few months made me a believer. Give it a shot; you've got nothing to lose -- except, perhaps, part of your carbon footprint.