Updated: May 24
How to organize cleaning supplies and some super simple, non-toxic cleaning options.
I've seen underneath a LOT of sinks in my home organizing career! I know what lurks under there is more than just a mess - we often have supplies we rarely (or never) use, some of which are toxic.
Our brains say, "I don't know what to do with that!" so we shove them to the back and pretend they're not there, while muttering about not having enough storage space.
Now is the time to stop pretending :)
Most store-bought cleaning products have unnecessary hazardous chemicals. Why expose ourselves, our loved ones and our pets to chemicals when we don't have to?
I want my husband, our cats and I to live long and healthy lives - keeping toxic cleaning supplies out of our house is a major part of this.
It's amazing how much space can be opened up when we remove unnecessary and unused products!
And it's often surprising to see how many products and supplies we have when we gather them all together!
My clients often let go of at least 20 cleaning products when we go through them together. Most go to the local hazardous waste facility, not just a trash can or the toilet.
When we organize what's being kept in a way that's easy to put things away and easy to find, it's inspiring to use them and keep the storage spaces tidy.
Read on to see what I have in my home, then the exact steps I use to declutter and organize cleaning supplies...
What I use for cleaning products:
Baking soda (for gentle scrubbing) - a big open bag under the kitchen sink I can dip sponges into + small boxes under the other sinks in the house
Olive oil (for stainless steel) - I use the bottle I use for cooking, with a clean rag
White vinegar - I keep big containers with laundry to use as a softener, and spray bottles under each sink with 50/50 water for surfaces (not for wood)
Non-toxic dish soap
Non-toxic laundry soap (for Earth Day I'm going to try making my own!)
Oxygenated cleaner (for tough stains)
Bleach (for very occasional cleaning of kitchen scrub brushes and white laundry)
Barkeeper's Friend (my husband loves this for the glass stovetop)
H20 at home scrub (for cat barf)
Pledge (my husband insists this is best for our dining table even though I know we can use olive oil :)
Here's what I have in my house for cleaning supplies:
Cotton rags - old dish towels + torn up t-shirts, in a basket in my laundry room
Sponges with a scrubby side
Mop + mop bucket
Brooms stored next to dust pans
Pumice stones (for toilet stains)
Here's what I have under every sink in my house:
Spray bottle with 50/50 vinegar/water and a few drops of essential oils
Steps for clearing and organizing cleaning products
I clear a space on the floor so I can spread out...
ALL cleaning products AND supplies together from the whole house (sprays, soaps, rags, dusters, etc).
A damp rag
At least one box to have handy
Separate into clear categories
Examples: all purpose cleaners, rags, dish soaps, hand soaps, dishwasher soap, wood cleaning products, window cleaning products...
Choose your favorites - the ones you like and will ACTUALLY use
Decide what to do with unwanted items (post on Buy Nothing or take to a hazardous waste facility are what I recommend for most of them)
4. CLEAN - Wipe down/vaccuum the space and dirty containers
5. CREATE HOMES
See the list below of what I keep under each sink in my house.
Make homes as visually pleasing as possible so you'll keep it up!
Choose homes that make it super easy to use and put away items.
Use containers to delineate the homes and protect from spills
5. TELL EVERYONE
If you have others in your house...
Show them each home
And ask them to put things away if they use them
6. FINISH THE JOB
Leave the space in a way your Future Self (and others in your home) will appreciate.
Take out the trash
Clean up behind yourself
Figure out where your local hazardous waste facility is
Schedule when you or someone helping you will take things to hazardous waste - honor this as if it were a doctor appointment!
Put donation items in your car and take them where they need to go
Look around and clear out any last bits that don't need to be there
What goes to hazardous waste?
I don't like to take the chance I'm polluting waterways, so I take all cleaning supplies to hazardous waste except vinegar.
I live in Kitsap County - here's where I take cleaning supplies, paint and old gas cans with gas in them
What caused me to be so conscious about cleaning supplies?
I grew up with a very environment and health conscious Mum - her first Master's degree was in Public Health. Rather than buy something out of line with her values or that could harm her family's health, she'd live with less or figure out another way to get the job done.
My Mum also loved to clean! It was one of her main hobbies later in her life, though I don't think she would've considered it a hobby!
She didn't pass on to me the love of cleaning, but she did pass on a deep passion for voting for my values with my dollar and keeping toxic things out of my home.
My last career was as an outdoor environmental educator (I'm still a kayak guide) and...
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this Spring Cleaning Challenge! It's been fun sharing tips and ideas, and I've loved hearing back about ideas, challenges and experiences!
Please keep sharing, keep decluttering, keep organizing, keep envisioning a healthy, happy Future Self...
And remember I'm here for help and support any time - there's no need to struggle alone. We're all in this together :)
Under my kitchen sink. The orange bag is baking soda - I dip my scrubby sponge in there when I have something to scrub (it's abrasive, so test it first). The blue top is my dishwasher pods. The containers I got at Goodwill!
The supplies I keep on top of my washing machine. The vinegar and water + paper towels is because I have a barfy cat :(
Please remember that I'm here for you! Reach out if you have questions and/or you feel stuck.
There's no need to struggle with clutter anymore - you're not alone and I can help you feel better right away.
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