Zero Waste Spring Cleaning Pt. 2: Cleaning & Organizing Your Home

Zero Waste Spring Cleaning Pt. 2: Cleaning & Organizing Your Home

Are you looking for tips on organizing and cleaning your home in an eco-friendly way?

As promised, this is the second part of my zero waste spring cleaning. Now that you’ve decluttered your house (and rewarded your hard work with a fun night out or day of some R’n’R), it’s time to move onto organizing and cleaning your home. I hope you are feeling rejuvenated from losing the clutter. If not, just remember that the hardest part is over. With less stuff to contend with, there will be less organizing and then cleaning will be a breeze.

Luckily, zero waste cleaning is not at all complicated, in fact, I’m finding it less complex. The biggest challenge I’ve come across yet is how to organize on an extremely tight budget. The first thing I wanted to do was go out and buy a bunch of glass containers and nifty boxes to stylishly organize my place. But if you are sitting on perfectly usable containers (even if they aren’t cute) like me, it behooves you to just repurpose those. Not only to keep in line with a zero waste lifestyle but for the sake of your wallets too.

In my last post, I mentioned an order that I found works for me when I’m spring cleaning:

  • Declutter
  • Organize
  • Clean

Now these things don’t need to be isolated from each other. I found many times while I’m decluttering I can also be organizing and cleaning the space before putting everything back in the closet or shed. However, for the rest of the house where you live, eat, and play; getting rid of the excess stuff and then organizing what’s left clears the main living spaces so that cleaning can be done easily and quickly.

So let’s roll up our sleeves, put on your favorite dance playlist, and time to start organizing and cleaning!

How to Organize Your Home Room By Room

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

As I stated in my last post, to keep your motivation up you don’t need to do all your organizing and cleaning in one day. If you are feeling overwhelmed by how much there is to do, try to break it up into parts whether that is room by room or project by project. If trying to tackle a room feels daunting, then break it up into a project like your bedroom closet or dresser drawers. It will make the task seem less staggering and once it’s done, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment (which is the best motivator).

Have you picked where to start?

Awesome! Here’s the steps that work for me.

Take Everything Out of the Space

I find that it is best to work with a clean slate so to speak. This gives me the ability look at the space itself and evaluate what I have so that I can make the best use of it. If you haven’t started to declutter then this is also the perfect time to do it. Once you get an actual inventory of what you want to keep, you can begin to make some order out of the chaos.

Group Like Items Together

Once you’ve got a mental inventory of your stuff, you can start to group these items together. Like in the case of my bedroom, I’ve got a pile for shoes, shirts, socks, accessories, bed sheets, pillow cases, etc. This helps me to see what kind of organizing system I’ll need when I divide everything up.

Gather and House the Groups

Now that you’ve got everything in their groups, it’s time to start putting those bins and boxes to use. The trick is to find a method of organization that is both neat and easily accessible. This also doesn’t require going out and buying bins if you have stuff around the house you can use. Shoe and shipping boxes are great for this. And you can beautify them with pretty paper or fabric. Get creative! It doesn’t have to break the bank to make your space pretty.

Also, don’t be afraid to put bins within other bins. I find when it comes to our bedroom closet, it’s easier to put smaller bins inside bigger bins to separate necklaces, hair clips, bobby pins, bracelets, and such. Once everything has an established place, you’ll be more likely to put things back there after you are done using them.

Label and Refill Your Space

Labels aren’t always necessary. But when you’ve got a box of items that aren’t easy to see, labels become invaluable. And you can make them pretty too! You can print out tags, use a label maker, or chalkboard stickers. Have fun with it!

Once you have labeled items and everything is neatly organized, you can begin putting everything back. This part always reminds me of Tetris. I like to first put back anything I use regularly in the most accessible place and then fill in the space around it. If you did a lot of purging, this part should be really easy.

Green House Cleaning

And now you’ve finished organizing, you can move on to cleaning the rest. Of course, you might reverse this order for places like the fridge and closets.

Green house cleaning might seem like it is rather complicated and costly but it is doesn’t have to be. In fact, I found it was even simpler and less costly!

Sure, you could go out and buy all these “green” cleaning products and maybe half of them will work just as well as the ones leaden with chemicals but that will cost you some serious cash. I have found that all you really need in your green cleaning arsenal at home are three ingredients at most: soap, cleaning vinegar, and baking soda (or borax). That’s it! Almost everything you need can be made from these.

Cleaning and Ph

When I first started making soap at home, I ended up learning the fundamentals behind all cleaning products whether they are shampoos or mirror cleaners: acids and bases.

Remember your chemistry class in high school?

Soaps, detergents, and shampoos are typically basic (alkaline) in nature. The reason for this is basic solutions break down fatty and oily soils so that they are easily removed from surfaces. Whereas, acidic solutions, such as toilet bowl cleaners and tub/tile cleaners, are used to break down mineral deposits. So depending on what you are trying to clean will dictate what kind of cleaner you need. Soap, borax, and baking soda are basic whereas vinegar is an acid.

You can also use both to clean the same thing but you generally use a base and then follow up with the acid (i.e. shampoo and then conditioner). However, do not mix together an acid and a base! At best, they will just neutralize one another and at worst, you’ll get a dangerous reaction. So when you find diy green cleaners that use both an acid and a base such as vinegar and baking soda, they neutralize each other. Remember those volcanoes in chemistry class? That’s mixing a weak acid and base together. The bubbling is the release of carbon dioxide gas from the reaction of the baking soda (base) and vinegar (acid).

When to Use Soap and Baking Soda (or Borax)

I prefer baking soda over borax for cleaning because it is safe when eaten.

A base is what is needed when dealing with food and grease (fatty and oily messes) but I do not suggest using borax in any area where there is food involved. Borax is a completely natural compound of both a mineral and a salt but it is toxic when ingested. So to get around that and still find an effective solution to cleaning the kitchen, I turn to soap and baking soda. Soap or baking soda work as effective all-purpose cleaners. And a baking soda paste can be used as a gentle abrasive for heavy duty cleaning like ovens and baked-on food.

If you choose to use borax instead of baking soda, please make sure to completely remove any borax residue from the area. I suggest you do the cleaning in two parts. Clean the stain or mess with the borax and then follow up with a quick wipe of a vinegar solution to remove and neutralize any remaining residue. But since I don’t use borax, all my DIY cleaning recipes will be with baking soda.

So where do you use soap or baking soda to clean?

Anywhere that has oily soils and stains i.e.:

  • Kitchen countertops
  • Oven
  • Microwave
  • Dishwashers
  • Fridge
  • Dining tables or any finished wood surface
  • Laundry
  • Windows and glass with grease stains and handprints

It is also safe to clean

  • Natural stone floors and countertops
  • Tile grout
  • Unfinished wood (soap only)
DIY Kitchen and Dining Area All- Purpose Cleaner
  • 1 quart water
  • 4 tbsp. baking soda
  • 20-30 drops essential oil (optional)

Pour or soak a sponge or cloth with the solution and wipe.

DIY Heavy Duty Cleaner
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. water

Mix into a paste. Apply paste to surface and scrub with a sponge or brush. If the stain is particularly tough, let it sit for 15-30 minutes then wipe. This one is great for ovens!

DIY Carpet Deodorizer (and Flea Killer)
  • 2 cups baking powder *
  • 20-30 drops essential oil or
  • 2 tbsp. dried herbs

Vacuum carpet before use. Place everything in a glass jar and shake to combine. Liberally sprinkle over clean carpet and let it sit for at least two hours (the longer the better). Vacuum area thoroughly.

* Replace 1 cup of baking soda with diatomaceous earth (DE) to kill fleas.

When to Use Vinegar

One of my favorite essential oils for cleaning is sweet orange. Not only does it smell wonderful but it contain about 90% limonene which is found in many household cleaners.

First things first. I made the mistake for a long time using regular white vinegar to clean and never understood why so many people swore by it as it never really did that great a job to me. The reason for this?

You’ve got to use a cleaning vinegar instead. Regular vinegar typically contains 5% acetic acid whereas cleaning vinegar ranges between 6-8%. And trust me, that 1% makes all the difference!

So where do you use vinegar to clean?

Anywhere that has mineral deposits, hard water stains, and soap residue i.e.:

  • Bathrooms
  • Tile floors (unless marble or stone)
  • Fabric softener
  • Coffee and teapots
  • Mirrors
  • Glass shower doors

Do not use vinegar:

  • Wood (both unfinished and waxed)
  • Electronics
  • Tile grout
  • Natural stone countertops (marble, granite, travertine, slate, soapstone, etc.)
  • Stone tile
  • Cast iron
  • Aluminium

NEVER mix bleach and vinegar or vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. These combinations emit toxic vapors.

So with all that said, here’s some recipe using vinegar

DIY All-Purpose and Mirror Cleaner
  • 1 cup cleaning vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 10-20 drops essential oil (optional)

Pour everything into a glass spray bottle and shake.

I have found diluting cleaning vinegar makes a really good all purpose cleaner for mirrors, countertops, sinks, faucets, and the like; but for bigger jobs like my bathtub, I use it undiluted. Just spray the surface of your tub with vinegar and let it sit for 15-30 minutes.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Pour 1 cup of cleaning vinegar in the toilet bowl and let it sit overnight. Scrub with a brush the next day. Done!

Fabric Softener

Pour in ¼ cup vinegar during the last rinse cycle or in the fabric softener dispenser.

That’s it!

Have a favorite DIY cleaning recipe using baking soda or vinegar?

I would love to hear about it! Also, if you have any questions about this topic, leave me a comment below and I will gladly get back to you.

Thanks for visiting Late Summer Mama and happy cleaning!

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