So How Do I Clean My Home and Do Laundry?

By Helene Shore, co-chair, 350 Fairfax

Take a trip down the aisles of your favorite grocery store, and you will find shelf after shelf of cleaning and laundry products. There are springtime freshness scents, pine forest scents, flower garden and fruit scents. There are “natural” and unscented products. Almost all of them come in single-use plastic containers.

Companies compete for your business with all sorts of packaging to grab your attention. It seems like new products come on the market almost daily, each one improved to provide you with a cleaner and easier way to take care of your home—and in a brighter more colorful package.

Unfortunately, most of these products are harmful to your health and the health of environment, packaged in single-use plastic—which is made with chemicals that don’t need to be labeled—and filled with more chemicals.

There is a better way. A way that is inexpensive and much healthier.

Household Cleaning

My favorite cleaning products are baking soda and white vinegar. Yes, the same stuff that has been around for generations and was probably used by our grandparents.

Baking soda costs about a dollar. It comes in a recyclable cardboard box and is a cleaning superstar. It can be used by itself to clean sinks, tubs, pots, and pans, to remove stains, and to deodorize. Mix it with a little vinegar and you have a drain opener, toilet bowl cleaner, and degreaser.

To use white vinegar, mix up a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water and put it in a reusable spray bottle. This solution can be used as a window cleaner, stainless steel sink and faucet shiner, oven cleaner, and countertop and general purpose cleaner. Want to make it smell good? Put lemon or orange peels in a jar with the vinegar and keep it in your fridge for a few days. Then discard the peels and add the vinegar to the water. Want to get fancier? Add essential oils to your mix.

To make a bathroom cleaner that will make your tile and shower sparkle, take that vinegar and water mixture and add a few drops of castile soap.

And always skip the disposable paper towels and wipes. Use rags or cloths for cleaning. Try a brush, natural sponge, or steel scouring pad for tougher cleaning jobs.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash


Have you tried soap nuts? They are an unbelievable product. They are grown on trees and work wonders on your laundry. Pop five nuts in the fabric bag that comes with them, and you are set for 10 to 12 washes in your traditional or HE washing machine. When you are finished using the nuts, toss them in the compost. Recycle the cardboard box they come in. Reuse the fabric bag. No waste at all.

If your laundry needs an extra deodorant or cleaning boost, pour some of that miracle product—white vinegar—in the wash with the soap nuts. I put vinegar in the fabric softener tray in my HE washer. I guarantee you will be amazed.

Almost all these products can be found in cardboard, in glass, or with no packaging at all. They are a win-win-win-win: nontoxic, Plastic Free, cheap, and effective. Give them a try.