How to have a zero waste kitchen – District

Written by Julia Gralki. Photo courtesy of Envato Elements.

Cleaning can be so satisfying. Nothing beats shining the bathroom mirror and seeing the dust on the desk. And if you’ve cleaned with conventional cleaning products, there’s a way to make cleaning even more satisfying by switching to eco-friendly, zero-waste cleaning products.

But why should you care about switching to sustainable cleaning products?

Conventional cleaners are made up of chemicals that pollute water and air after disposal. Their plastic packaging will live in landfills for centuries.

However, there are many zero waste cleaning products that can be made at home. They are not only better for the environment but also for your wallet. Conventional cleaning products also contain artificial fragrances that irritate the nose and throat. Here are some tips and recipes to discover how to switch to ecological cleaning products.

Waste-free cooking

Think about the products you use daily in the kitchen. A sponge, a brush, paper towels. All of these items are usually single-use and quickly replaced. But there are alternatives.

Bamboo dish brushes

You can use bamboo dish brushes to clean your dishes. They last a long time and can be composted at the end of their life. Bamboo brushes are available in different types, for example with a long handle or as a bottle brush.

Metal dustpan and wooden broom

A dustpan and hand broom are always useful. If you’re looking to get one, you might want to get a metal dustpan and a wooden broom. You can also buy them used at an antique store. If you already have a plastic set, don’t worry about replacing it with a more eco-friendly one. Because after all, we want to keep plastic out of landfills, not add more.

Cloth rags

To replace paper towels, you can use cloth rags instead. After use, rinse them with lukewarm water and let them dry after a quick cleaning. Put them in the washing machine after the weekly cleanings.

Reusable cloth

Get rid of dish sponges and replace them with reusable rags. They are just as effective and can be used much longer.


You will need ingredients such as water, castile soap, baking soda, soda ash, alcohol, and essential oils to clean your kitchen. Castile soap is a type of bar soap that is completely natural and contains no animal products.

Make your own all-purpose cleaner

This zero-waste all-purpose cleaner can be used on counters, tables and floors. The preparation is simple because all you have to do is mix the ingredients. Like most zero-waste all-purpose cleaners, this one contains a combination of white vinegar, distilled water, alcohol, and essential oils. Mix them together, pour them into a spray bottle and shake it well before use.

If you have a marble, granite, or stone countertop, do not use this all-purpose cleaner as the vinegar can damage the material. However, you will find many alternative recipes online.

Make your own dishwashing liquid

An essential cleaning product in the kitchen is dishwashing liquid. Although it is almost impossible to buy washing up liquid other than plastic, it is very easy to make at home. All you need is bar soap (eg Castile soap or olive oil), baking soda, water and essential oils.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Grate the bar soap. If you have a food processor, you can cut the bar into small pieces and add them to the food processor.
  2. Bring 600 ml of water to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the soap flakes. Stir until the soap dissolves and allow to cool.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of baking soda while the mixture is still warm. Then let it cool.
  4. Transfer to a soap dispenser and shake well. You will also need to shake out the dishwashing liquid from time to time.
  5. Enjoy your dishwashing liquid without waste!

When shopping

If you’re not ready to switch to homemade products entirely, you can look for products with certification logos indicating that the product is environmentally friendly.

The logos to look for are the Green Seal, Ecologo or USDA Biobased Product labels, which certify that the products meet specific standards.

Some brands plaster their bottles with words like “biodegradable” or “non-toxic.” However, these products are probably as harmful to the environment as most conventional cleaning products, as the above terms are not very tightly regulated.

A great place to look for eco-friendly products is the organic sector, where you can be sure that cleaning products are made from more natural ingredients than their conventional counterparts.

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