Zero Waste Team: Spring Cleaning – #1

Zero Waste Tip: Eco-Friendly Cleaning Solution Recipes
All-Purpose Cleaner: Use a 1:3 white vinegar to water ratio (ex: ½ cup white vinegar and 1 ½ cups water) and store in a spray bottle. You use an old cleaner’s bottle for your new cleaning spray! Use this for anything but granite/marble.
Option 1: Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to water/vinegar solution for a fresh scent.
Option 2: Add a squeeze of dish soap and shake. This can be used as a degreaser and is good for bathrooms and kitchens.


Spring is nearly here and you may be feeling the need for a deep cleaning of your home. How can you do this in an environmentally friendly way? Below are some easy tips to clean your home without toxic chemicals, and without breaking your budget.

  • Gather old towels, sheets, tee shirts, socks, and dish cloths for cleaning rags. These can be reused until they disintegrate and are far less wasteful than paper towels. Socks are particularly useful for dusting blinds and ceiling fan blades as you can wear them as a mitt on your hand.
  • Check out our recipes for non-toxic, eco-friendly, affordable cleaners (see Zero Waste Tip box). Baking soda, white vinegar, water, and lemon are a powerhouse combo for cleaning. Dish soap can help in many situations. Using water and vinegar on windows and wiping with newspaper results in a streak-free shine every time. 
  • To clean a dirty oven, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the oven and spray with water and white vinegar (leave overnight). Wipe away in the morning to reveal a sparkling oven. Baking soda and vinegar also work wonders with stinky sink drains and disposals. Baking soda on its own is a non-abrasive scrubber useful in bathrooms, kitchens, and with pots and pans.
  • Use a broom and dustpan rather than a vacuum, which conserves electricity. Beat rugs outside with a broom and sweep them to remove pet hair. Brooms can be used to reach high places where cobwebs like to gather. A cat grooming brush can help remove hair from short-pile carpet.
  • Fabric mops last for years and can be easily washed. Avoid disposable mop heads or pads that just end up in the landfill.
  • A scrub brush, an old toothbrush, a razor blade, a pumice stone, and a bit of elbow grease can really make a bathroom, kitchen, or any room shine without the use of harsh chemicals. Consider a scrub brush with natural fibers and use a straight razor to remove dried-on messes from flat surfaces.
  • Don’t overlook a pair of reusable gloves to keep your hands dry and clean. 
  • Using a bucket or tub or two can save water and time. Rinsing dirty rags in one bucket and squeezing out before re-wetting in the clean bucket keeps your “clean” water clean and eliminates back-and-forth trips to the sink, as well as a lot of running water. A large rolling mop bucket is a convenient way to mop large rooms. If you do not have one, see if a friend or neighbor will loan you theirs.

Share your favorite experience, tips and solutions for eco-friendly spring cleaning on the Los Alamos County Environmental Services Facebook page at: or via email at

For more information, check out the Los Alamos County Environmental Services webpage at For those with questions or concerns, please contact Environmental Services at 505-662-8163 or

* The Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) and Environmental Services Division (ESD) formed the Zero Waste Team to educate the community on: 

  1. reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and 
  2. conserving energy and water. 

Comprising community volunteers and Los Alamos County employees, the team achieves the ESB and ESD charge through printed and digital messaging that is shared through traditional media sites, social media, and brochures. Moreover, the Zero Waste team members work with individuals and organizations, such as restaurant owners, businesses, schools, and residents, to incorporate these best practices to reduce and conserve into daily routines. To join or contact the Zero Waste team, contact