Zero Waste Cleaning: 6 Brands For Sustainable Sparkle
*This post contains affilate links
Cleaning: you either love it or hate it.
If you’re one of the few that love it, good for you! If only we could all be so lucky. But for all the haters out there, we have some good news. You may end up enjoying one of the world’s most despised tasks (here’s looking at you, dishes) when you begin incorporating some ultra-sustainable and zero waste cleaning products into the mix.
Think of it as cleaning the planet as well as your home, which somehow just makes it all the more worth it.
Establishing a zero waste cleaning routine is key to maintaining a zero waste lifestyle. Sure, you could practice the lifestyle without the earth-friendly cleaning practices, then there’s those plastic bottles of toxic junk to consider…
Between that and the fact that eco friendly cleaning products can actually simplify your cleaning routine, well… making the switch to plastic-free polish just makes sense. Based on our sustainable beauty criteria (because cleaning products are basically makeup for your home, right?), we cleared away the grime to reveal some of the best scrubbers, soaps, sprays and sponges to incorporate into any zero waste journey (as well as a few DIY options out there).
1. WELL EARTH GOODS
Well Earth Goods’ Zero Waste Cleaning Products
From their zero waste plastic free laundry detergent strips (which made it into our own spin cycle) to their coconut-based dish scour pads, you’ll find everything you need to keep your house sparkly clean with this awesome zero waste online store.
Well Earth Goods takes their time hand picking out the best zero waste cleaning supplies. Everything is plastic-free, biodegradable, and most come in compostable packaging.
Aside from a cast iron conditioner and a vegan solid dish soap, you won’t find many cleaning soaps/sprays due to the difficulty of making the containers responsible (it’s generally better to make your own liquids or buy them from a bulk store, anyway). You can, however, find all of the brushes, sponges, scourers, and scrapers to go with them.
About Well Earth Goods
Oregon-based Well Earth Goods is a family-run company that is passionate about minimizing waste and creating products made with sustainable resources—and they want their customers to do the same. Simply put, Well Earth Goods wants to share their passion and products in order to keep the earth…well.
Not only are their products zero waste, but so is their all paper shipping material.
Available: Well Earth Goods
EcoRoots’ Zero Waste Cleaning Products
EcoRoots is a one-stop-online-shop for all things low-waste. If you’ve been wondering where to buy zero waste cleaning products from a host of many different small brands, this is a good place to look. They’ve got tons of bath and beauty products but also have options for any stain, spill, or dirty coffee mug.
Their home and kitchen range features products from several different brands (including some of the ones listed here!). If you’re just getting started on your zero waste cleaning journey, they even have a kit to help you out.
If you know what you need, then you can check out their range of plastic free and vegan dish soaps, wooden brushes, reusable cloths, natural loofahs, compostable and/or reusable scrubbers, and more.
Founded in Aspen, Colorado, EcoRoots is all about letting customers know about the impact of single-use plastic consumption, as well as what alternatives exist. Plastic is in literally everything and EcoRoots’ goal is to change that starting with the home.
EcoRoots is certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny, only uses recyclable materials for shipping, and has made it possible for small conscious businesses to sell their planet-friendly products on a larger platform.
Ethique’s Zero Waste Cleaning Products
Unlike their range of personal care products, their range of zero waste cleaning supplies isn’t huge but they do have some things that you might not even realize you need for your zero waste weekly clean—a solid laundry bar & stain remover and pet shampoo bars! Pro tip: That’s one of many ways you can have a zero(ish) waste dog.
Keeping everything in bar form is Ethique’s eco friendly forte. They hail from the small New Zealand city of Christchurch, but their plastic-free cleaning (and other) products are popular around the globe.
As a certified B-Corp, Ethique dreams big. They regularly donate 20% of their annual profits to charity and are encouraging consumers to challenge all of the plastic found in the industry through their #giveupthebottle campaign.
We should probably mention too that the cardboard boxes that wrap their plastic-free products are also perfect for the compost bin (certified home-compostable, even)!
Meliora’s Zero Waste Cleaning Products
Let’s be honest, cleaning is synonymous with laundry. If your zero waste cleaning routine involves putting in a load (or two or three because you’ve totally put off doing it until you had no more clean ethical undies), you should check out Meliora’s line of vegan and plastic free laundry detergents and stain sticks.
Meliora has got way Meli-MORE-a than that when it comes to zero waste cleaning supplies, though. They’ve also got a solid dish soap and gentle home cleaning scrubs (complete with naturally antibacterial tea tree oil) that are sold in the same reusable tin as their laundry detergent.
If you’re really out to get dirt and grime, they’ve got an unscented all-purpose home cleaner that comes in a reusable glass bottle. Refill solid cleaner tabs can be dissolved in water so you can continue using the bottle for years to come. They also sell organic cotton repurposed diaper rags that are perfect for pairing with this spray cleaner or just wiping up spills.
If you’re looking to totally redo your cleaning cupboard in one fell swoop (or sweep, we suppose), they have bundles of their various products so you can get everything you need.
The brand’s full name is Meliora Cleaning Products and they like to say, “Meliora Means Better”. For this certified B-Corp, that means creating and selling products that are great for the earth and all of her inhabitants. Hence why all their products are crafted palm-oil free from totally non-toxic and vegan ingredients.
The woman-owned and operated business does a lot to give back to their workers and the communities at large. They provide fair wages and regularly donate to organizations like Women’s Voices for the Earth and are a member of 1% For the Planet.
Plus, their Chicago factory is so sustainable that they welcome you to tour it! No dirt swept under the eco friendly rug here.
*Note: With such a large product selection, some EarthHero products contain RSPO-certified palm oil and some are not plastic free.
EarthHero’s Zero Waste Cleaning Products
EarthHero’s range of cleaning products is as big as, well… the earth. They’ve got everything you could ever need to make your home sparkle—from a zero waste cleaning spray to a zero waste bathroom cleaning spray.
But they don’t just stock a variety of sprays, they also stock heaps of soaps and all the zero waste cleaning tools you could ever need (including the organic reusable UNPAPER® towels we mention below).
With a range so large, not everything from EarthHero is plastic-free or free of palm oil (although they do prioritize RSPO certified sustainable palm oil when they do allow products that aren’t free of it altogether).
However, if you really want to stay away from these products (as we try to do for these reasons) they have a simple sorting feature on their website. It also allows you to easily find items that aren’t packaged in plastic.
Additionally, most of the zero waste household cleaning products from Earth Hero are vegan (just check for the symbol to be sure).
We tend to talk about EarthHero a lot because they’re not only one of our fave zero waste shops, but they’re also like Amazon (except wayyyyyy more ethical and better to their employees and sellers) for the environmentally-conscious shopper—and who wouldn’t benefit from that?!
They source them from more than 150 brands and many feature an impressive range of sustainability logos.
EarthHero is the eco-friendly brainchild of Ryan Lewis. It’s based in Boulder, Colorado and their product offering is designed to lie at the intersection of responsibility and convenience.
It probably won’t come as a shock to discover they’re a certified B-corp and yet another contributor to 1% for the Planet. What might surprise you though is that they offset the emissions of their daily operations, transportation, and shipping through CarbonFund. Again, it’s basically planet-friendly Prime!
When you place an order with EarthHero, expect to receive a reused box or one that is FSC-certified (or both). Everything down to the glue and ink is non-toxic and low-impact.
6. BESTOWED ESSENTIALS
Bestowed Essentials’ Zero Waste Cleaning Products
Bestowed Essentials will bestow some special cleaning products upon you…the motivation to use them, however, is up to you.
They’ve got mostly zero waste kitchen cleaning supplies like zero waste dish soap blocks, soap saver bags, dish scrubbers, biodegradable kitchen sponges, and pot and dish brushes (even really specific ones like straw and bottle brushes).
Beyond the kitchen, they’ve also got some useful products for general cleaning (like Isopropyl Alcohol Spray) and for a zero waste laundry room (like paper bag packed laundry powder and naked stain stick).
About Bestowed Essentials
For anyone who’s followed the #vanlife trend, you’ll be excited to hear about how the Bestowed Essentials brand began. Callee, the owner, started making her sustainable beauty products in the back of her converted camper van.
Her operations have grown since then and now she’s part of an all-female team that also operate a zero-waste shop called Hippie Haven Shop located in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Bestowed Essentials only uses natural ingredients and “none of that greenwashed bullsh*t.” They source nearly all of their products from other female-owned small businesses and only use eco-friendly and plastic free packaging.
They’re a certified veteran-owned business, operate a green website, and are certified cruelty-free and vegan by PETA. Pretty darn impressive.
Available: Earth Hero
ZERO WASTE CLEANING ACCESSORIES
There are endless zero waste alternatives for cleaning. Because we’re becoming more aware of plastic pollution and its negative impact on our oceans and our bodies, more brands are taking an innovative approach to sustainable cleaning.
That makes taking into account the tools we use to clean as much as the cleaning agents themselves. First and foremost, use what you already have. Who cares if that plastic dish brush makes you cringe every time you see it. Mitigate its wastefulness by giving it a long and wash-tastic life.
However, once your traditional rags, sponges, and scrubbers start to look a little like they’re doing more harm than good, then you can upgrade to zero waste cleaning accessories with a better end-of-life outcome (namely compostability!).
Here are a few cleaning pantry essentials:
Brushes and Scrubbers:
Stains and grime are nearly impossible to get rid of without a little bit of scrubbing power. Well Earth Goods helps us out with brushes and scrubbers for any surface—toilets, dishes, pots, pans, reusable straws, kitchen surfaces, bathroom areas, and bottles.
Most of these bear compostable tampico fiber bristles and beachwood handles. They design them to have replaceable heads so you can make the handle last much longer.
Well Earth Goods and Earth Hero have actual loofahs. And no, we’re not talking about those plastic-y ones people commonly use in the shower, we’re talking about loofah, the subtropical vine that’s sustainable and effective at cleaning.
Well Earth Goods also have a similar scour scrubbie made from coconut fiber.
You’ll probably need something to wipe up spills with or use with your all purpose cleaning spray. If you don’t have any old t-shirts or rags on hand, take a look at Earth Hero’s selection of UNPAPER® Towels, organic cotton dish cloths, and sisal washcloths.
The UNPAPER® Towels are created by Marley’s Monsters, another favorite brand of ours who have a huge range and variety of cloth wipes and sponges for every imaginable zero waste cleaning need.
Reusable Spray Bottle:
Earth Hero is wearing a cape once again when it comes to reusable spray bottles. If you’re planning on making your own cleaning spray, or have a bulk shop close by for refills, we’d recommend a reusable glass spray bottle.
Again though, this might well be something you already own. It doesn’t need to be glass and fancy. If you have an empty plastic spray, that works, too.
Reusable Trash Can Liners:
In American households, most people use one garbage bag every.single.day. We won’t bore you with the math but that means that a MONSTROUS amount of plastic bags end up in landfills.
And we can’t have a zero waste cleaning routine if we’re throwing everything away in a plastic bag, now can we? We like the reusable trash can liners from Earth Hero, which can be machine washed in between uses.
There’s also compostable food waste bags from Well Earth Goods which can just get tossed in a compost bin if you’re trying to keep your compost collector a bit cleaner.
We’ve also seen zero wasters use newspaper to line their bins which can then be composted. Another great hack!
DIY ZERO WASTE CLEANING
If you’ve been living a low waste lifestyle or are ready to take your eco journey to the next level, DIY zero waste cleaning spray can be the best and lowest impact way to take care of your home (while also caring for your health and the planet at the same time).
Zero waste cleaning recipes are as abundant as dust bunnies under the couch! It’s just a matter if you have the time to make the cleaning products AND do the cleaning itself, which admittedly we often don’t.
- Homemade Castile All-Purpose Cleaner from Dr. Bronner’s: This castile soap is magic. You can use it to clean your body, your hair, your dog, and your home. For an effective all purpose cleaner, just add ¼ cup of castile soap to your glass spray bottle. Mix with a quart of water and add ¼ tsp. tea tree essential oil if you feel inclined to do so.
- Homemade General Purpose Cleaning Solution from Wasteland Rebel: Get your notes ready for this recipe… just kidding! It’s so simple, yet works like magic. All you need is one part warm water and one part white vinegar (which you should be able to find in glass). Mix together and go cleaning crazy!
If all else fails, pure and simple zero waste cleaning with white vinegar is always an option (even if it’s not the most pleasant smelling one).
Our local bulk store sells zero waste cleaning liquids made using very similar home made recipes (and they sell Dr Bronner’s in bulk) so we opt to save ourselves some time (and plastic) and buy in bulk. Though if you don’t have a local bulk store, there are a bunch of online bulk stores which you can order from too.
HOW WE FOUND THESE ZERO WASTE CLEANING BRANDS
We’ve spent some time writing zero waste guides like this one, so we know a thing or two about what to look for with zero waste cleaning brands: namely, thoughtful, minimal packaging. Truth is, there’s we don’t need plastic to clean up the house.
However, finding cleaning products (especially liquids) that don’t come in a plastic bottle is sometimes easier said than done. Dr. Bronner’s (and castile soap, in general) is a good example of an eco friendly product that unfortunately comes in plastic (refills are available in some cities though).
Beyond that, there are considerations like ingredients, sourcing, and manufacturing. Basically, the zero waste-ability of a product doesn’t start and end with packaging. Here are a few other considerations we make, consistent with our sustainable product guidelines:
You may end up with a spot-free countertop, but at what cost? Some conventional cleaning products have been associated with a range of health problems like asthma, birth defects, and chemical burns. A clean house certainly isn’t worth the risk.
As you can see from the DIY cleaning product recipes, you really don’t need much to get the job done. In fact, ingredients that are clean enough to be eaten can also work wonders for a clean house.
That said, we looked for products that contained natural (preferably organic) ingredients. Not only are these non-toxic ingredients better for cleaning, but they’re also better for our bodies and the planet, too.
Vegan & cruelty free:
Should animals be required to clean your house? We don’t think so. Most of these brands are either certified vegan or cruelty-free (by PETA or Leaping Bunny), but always be sure to double check the ingredient list.
Palm oil free:
Palm oil is something we like to avoid in beauty products, laundry detergents, and, you guessed it, zero waste cleaning products. Palm oil requires deforestation on a pretty large scale and workers generally aren’t compensated fairly.
Unfortunately, we haven’t found a way to fully replace palm oil in everything. So, if no alternatives are available, go with RSPO certified palm oil (the more sustainable choice though it still isn’t perfect).
Given our DIY options and the brands managing to NOT use palm oil here, we hope you see that palm oil definitely isn’t necessary for cleaning, so it should be avoided where possible.
Ethical sourcing / manufacturing:
This wasn’t the most important consideration for us, since many of these products come from small brands often run by one or a handful of people. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t applaud companies for doing things like confirming their fair wages or sourcing from Fair Trade channels.
That said, we felt cleaner already by recognizing that some companies are going above and beyond by supporting the environment by purchasing of carbon offsets or giving donations to their local communities. Big props to any brand that donates some of their profits or partners with charitable organizations!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ZERO WASTE CLEANING
No one likes to think about cleaning. We know. But what we should think about is not how we’re going to tackle that dirty bathtub, but what we’re going to use to get there.
Most cleaning products aren’t great for us and they definitely aren’t great for the planet. We might not like a dirty sink, but the effects of a dirty planet will be felt for much longer. Good thing for all of us “clean freaks” that there are eco cleaning companies making it possible to see shine and shimmer without the negative consequences.
Cleaning your toilet with a wooden or bamboo brush and a homemade solution may seem insignificant, but it can end up making a big impact. Take a look at all the different cleaning products you own right now… that’s a lot of plastic and chemicals that we can all start avoiding.
The best place to start your zero waste journey is at home, by taking steps to create things like a zero waste bathroom and a zero waste kitchen… and keeping both of them pretty and polished sans plastic.
We’re sure these aren’t the only zero waste cleaning brands out there that deserve a mention, which is why we’d love to get your input. Did we wipe over any brands that you think should make the cut? Or, if DIY is your style, drop your favorite cleaner recipes in the comments below to help us spread the know-how.