Yes, it really is possible to have a home that’s both squeaky clean and squeaky green. Here’s how…
Switch to more eco-friendly cleaning products
You don’t have to give up your favourite brands to go green. Lots of household names are releasing more eco-friendly products. Look for ones made from a higher percentage of naturally-derived ingredients that are promoted as being effective at lower temperatures..
Turn the temperature down
Switching to more effective detergents means you can use a lower temperature to wash clothes and dishes. In most cases, 50°C or lower is plenty hot enough for your dishwasher. And washing your clothes at 30°C could reduce energy-use by a whopping 40%. (Plus, you’ll save money on your energy bills.)
Choose the eco setting
Most washing machines and dishwashers have eco options. They tend to use less energy by cleaning at a lower temperature with less water and (in the case of washing machines) fewer spins.
Despite what many people believe, the quick wash setting on your washing machine is usually not the most economical or eco-friendly cycle. Clothes aren’t given time to soak, so the machine has to spin them more or use more heat to get them clean. Likewise, the quick setting on your dishwasher may actually use more water or energy than the eco one.
Where do you buy your dishwasher tablets?
Not sure which setting to choose? The manual should say how much water and energy is used for each setting. If you’ve lost the manual (or chucked it away), check online. Most brands offer PDF versions, which can be downloaded from their website.
Make the most of your dishwasher
Using a dishwasher can actually be more eco-friendly than washing by hand. The newer energy-efficient models don’t use anywhere near as much electricity or water as you may think.
Our top tips?
Only run your dishwasher when it’s full.
Use the eco setting.
Wipe food off plates and pots before they go into the dishwasher.
Use a dishwasher tablet that’s effective at low temperatures.
Yes, we know, it seems to be constantly raining here in the UK. However, it takes a lot of electricity to get that water to our taps. And heating water uses even more energy. We’re not going to suggest you switch to weekly showers or stop flushing the loo… but there are lots of ways you can save water when you’re cleaning. For a start:
When you’re scrubbing the shower, rinse with a damp cloth rather than the shower head.
If you need hot water to clean with, boil the kettle rather than letting the hot tap run.
Squeeze that lemon
If you fancy going 100% au natural, have a look to see what’s lurking in the back of your fridge or kitchen cupboards. The lemon that didn’t quite make it into your G&T can definitely be put to good use, especially if you have some white vinegar to hand.
Lemon and vinegar are the cleaning wonders of the natural world and can be used for a whole host of things.
Use green energy
However much energy you save, you’ll still need to use some to keep your house clean and warm (and your Netflix-addiction fuelled). So why not switch to a green energy tariff? It won’t make the vacuuming any quicker, but it will cut your carbon footprint.
Reduce your plastic
There are plenty of easy swaps you can make to reduce your plastic. For a start:
Swap your plastic washing up sponges for wooden brushes or loofahs.
Use squares cut from old T-shirts as cleaning cloths.
Look for ‘naked’ products (that aren’t wrapped in cling-film) and ones in recycled/recyclable packaging.
Choose concentrated cleaning products to reduce the number of bottles you need.
Buy more efficient appliances
If you’re in need of a new kitchen appliance, go for the most efficient model you can afford. And buy the size that best meets your needs. If your washing machine is used most days, choosing a machine with a larger drum means you can do fewer washes, which saves electricity, water and time. On the other hand, if you often put your dishwasher on when it’s only half full, consider switching to a slimline model, which could save up to 70kg of CO2 a year.
Invest in longer-lasting products
Green cleaning isn’t just about water, energy and chemicals. Poor-quality vacuum cleaners, mops, brooms and other products will need replacing more often, which means more waste. Look for ones with a longer warranty, as this shows the manufacturer expects them to have a decent lifespan.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already invested in reusable shopping bags. But there are other ways to reduce bags that you might not have considered:
Go bag-less for your bathroom and bedroom bins.
Switch to a smaller kitchen bin that can be emptied straight into the outside one.
If you’re in need of a new vacuum cleaner, choose a bagless one.
For more green cleaning tips, check out our sustainability section. You’ll find everything from easy upcycling ideas to advice on zero-waste living.
Frequently asked questions on green cleaning
Do natural cleaning products work?
Lemon, vinegar, baking soda and other natural products can be very effective. You’ll find plenty of tips on how to use them in our sustainability pages. If you prefer using more conventional cleaning products, why not look for ones that have a higher percentage of natural ingredients?
Can I really make a difference?
Yes! 40% of the UK’s energy-use is linked to households. So if we all play our part, we could make a real impact on cutting carbon emissions.
Is it better to buy cleaning products in glass bottles?
There are pros and cons to both glass and plastic. Glass is easier to recycle than plastic and doesn’t break down into micro-plastics. But plastic is much lighter, so helps to reduce transport emissions. Whichever you choose, make sure you reuse or recycle the bottle afterwards.