Guide to Sustainable Spring Cleaning

March 10, 2023
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Spring is upon us, which means gearing up for spring cleaning! Alyssa Bialek, Spring Climate Fellow compiled a list of tips to help green your spring cleaning process. 

Make Eco-friendly Cleaning Products 

Try making your own cleaning solution! You can customize it with your favorite scents. Here are some recipes to try: 

  • All-purpose cleaner: 1 part vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle. Add in your favorite essential oils and citrus peel

    Image Source: Pixabay

    s. If your countertop is granite or marble, leave the vinegar out and use a few drops of dish soap instead. Vinegar can damage the protective coating on stone countertops. 

  • Kitchen cleaner: one quart of water and 4 tablespoons baking soda. Baking soda is a great deodorizer and makes appliances shine! 
  • Glass cleaner: 2 cups water, ½ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup rubbing alcohol (70%), 1-2 drops optional essential oil



Stay Away from Paper Towels 

Paper products aren’t great for the environment, so it’s better to use different items to wipe away messes. Paper towels will also cost more over time, compared to reusable products. Additionally, using paper towels for certain messes, like trying to get a stain out of a carpet, will leave behind rubbed off paper residue.

Here is a list of the areas you will be cleaning and what you can use that isn’t a paper towel: 

Source: Flickr

  • Carpets – a clean dry cloth or sponge 
  • Tile and grout – scrub brush attachment for a regular drill 
  • The tub and sink – microfiber cloth  
  • Mirror – microfiber cloth 
  • Shower curtain – toss it in the washing machine and wash with a gentle cycle and plenty of water. Add some towels or rags to the load to help rub away grime.  
  • Your hands – paper towels are easy to grab to dry your hands while in the kitchen and cooking, but try using a dedicated “clean hands” towel instead. While cooking, try using an apron to dry your clean hands. 
  • Electronic surfaces – microfiber cloth or product specifically designed for these surfaces 
  • Dusty surfaces – a wet paper towel tends to just clump dust together. Use a dedicated duster like a Swiffer duster instead! 

Overall, you can replace paper towels with microfiber cloths for most items! Read more here. 

 Repurpose/ Upcycle Old Items 

There are many creative ways to repurpose items that might be past their prime. This is also known as upcycling!

Source: Flickr

Here are some ideas to transform old items into helpful, household items: 


  • Create reusable tote bags. 
  • Cut them into strands and use them as headbands 
  • Use the t-shirts as cleaning rags 
  • Weave the strands into a braid to use as a dog toy 
  • Turn them into colorful shoelaces 


  • Drill holes in the bottom and use as a garden plant potter 
  • Clean and hang on the wall to use them to store jewelry, coins, etc.  
  • Nail the sole to a tree and use it as a birdhouse 
  • Pin them into the ground to use as outdoor stepping stones. 


  • Use them to dust 
  • Tie multiple together to use as a dog tug toy 
  • Cut off the toe, cut a slit in the heel, and use as hand/arm warmers! 
  • Fill a long sock with rice, tie a knot at the top, and use as a heating pad for your aches and pains 
  • Turn them into cozies for coffee mugs 

Glass jars 

Source: Pixabay

Before starting on your glass jar project, you can remove any labels and sticky glue left behind by spraying window cleaner or rubbing alcohol onto the jar and removing it with something sharp like a thin razor blade. Another way is to soak it in an oil such as vegetable oil and use a microfiber cloth to remove the goop afterward. You can read more here. 

  • Use them as vases for flowers 
  • Hang them on the wall and use them to store supplies like markers and pens 
  • Plant succulents in them! Succulents have shallow root systems and do not need much water, so drainage holes at the bottom are not necessary  
  • Keep the lid, find some materials in your backyard, and make a homemade terrarium! Terrariums require no maintenance, if done correctly.  
  • If you’re feeling especially creative, you can try your hand at candle-making 

Where to Donate Your Items 

For the items that you cannot repurpose, there are many locations around the county to donate. Thrift stores such as Goodwill will likely take most of your items. The Montgomery County Transfer station also accepts a variety of waste and recyclables from County residents and businesses.  


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