As you wrap up (or just start) your spring cleaning, you may come across out of date cleaners or ones no longer in line with your lifestyle. What do you do?

cleaningproducts.jpg Most people assume that unused household cleaning products should be brought to your local Household Hazardous Waste facility. However, this is usually not the case and doing so can place an unnecessary burden on the facility. First, let’s talk about cleaning products. Most cleaning done around your house can be accomplished without harmful chemicals and fancy packaging. My girls love to help me clean, so I strive to find cleaners that are non-toxic but still get the job done. Here are a few DIY cleaners that I use all the time:
  • Glass Cleaner: Fill a clean spray bottle with one part white vinegar, two parts water and a few drops of a castile soap. I add the castile soap* if I am using this cleaner for especially grimy windows. *Note: Castile soap is made from plant oils. It is not a chemical detergent, which makes it completely biodegradable and better for the environment. My favorite brand of castile soap is Dr. Bronner’s because it’s certified Fair Trade and organic.
  • Tub/Tile/Sink Cleaner: This is my girls’ favorite way to clean. First, you cut a lemon in half and then sprinkle baking soda on the cut side. Use the lemon like a scrubber to clean tubs, tile and your kitchen sink. When you’re done scrubbing, rinse the area. Not only does it work, it smells great.
  • Oil/Grease Stain Removal: At some point, we all seem to get oil or grease spills or leaks on driveways and garage floors. Use baking soda to remove these stains. Simply sprinkle baking soda on the offending spots and scrub them with a wet brush. It takes some serious scrubbing, but it really works.

What if you have household cleaning products that need to be disposed of?

If your local recycler allows it, use up the product then put the container in your recycling bin. If you can’t use it, consider giving it to a friend or an organization that may need it. I have a friend that puts unused products in a “free” box when she has her yearly garage sale. The box is always empty at the end of the sale.

What if you can’t use it and can’t give it away?

As always, follow the instructions regarding use and disposal provided on the labels of any products you are using. If there aren’t any special instructions given for disposing of the product, then think about how the product is being used to make the right disposal decision. Here are some great tips from the American Cleaning Institute:
  • Water soluble products (those mixed with water for cleaning), such as laundry and dishwashing detergents; multi-surface cleaners; bleaches; disinfectant cleaners; and liquid metal cleaners/polishes, drain openers and toilet bowl cleaners can all be flushed down the drain with running water.
  • Powders should be disposed of in small quantities at a time so they don’t form lumps in the drain.
  • Solid cleaning products, such as bar soaps, toilet bowl cleaners and soap scouring pads, can be safely disposed of in the trash. So can aerosol cans with product left in them.
  • Remember, just as you shouldn’t mix cleaning products together when using them, you shouldn’t mix unused products during disposal.
For disposal recommendations on other products, like oven cleaners and furniture polishes, call the manufacturer’s toll-free number or check with your local waste disposal facility. Bottom line: Be thoughtful about the products you buy and try to use them completely. This will ensure your spring cleaning is better for you and easier on the environment.