Spring cleaning doesn’t need to result in an abundance of used paper towels, empty single-use plastic cleaning bottles, and trash bags full of unwanted items on their way to the landfill. To make your cleaning more eco-friendly, try one of these sustainable cleaning swaps and learn what items are frequently requested by animal rescue centers before throwing out your unwanted items.

Sustainable Swaps 

Single-Use Plastic Cleaners

Swapping your traditional single-use plastic cleaner bottle for green cleaning products made from less hazardous ingredients and packaged in more sustainable materials can not only minimize your waste, but also improve your health and the health of the environment. Try one of these green cleaning options:

  • Eco-friendly cleaner concentrates with reusable bottles 
  • Making your own green cleaning products from household ingredients
    • Visit this website for an abundance of DIY cleaner recipes, as well as information on the types of cleaners, ingredients, and important information to know before getting started 

What to look for when choosing cleaners:

  • Biodegradable 
  • Nontoxic, free of phosphate, dyes, hypochlorite, and chlorine 
  • Sustainable packaging (bulk, recyclable, or made from recycled materials)
  • Label with full disclosure of all active and inactive ingredients 
  • Natural fragrances 

Check out these recommended products, and click here for more information on green cleaning products.

Single-Use Paper Towels

When comparing the water consumption of paper towels versus cloth rags, it’s a close tie. However, the continuous need for virgin forest fiber used in paper towels collectively contributes to deforestation and climate change. Next time you reach for a paper towel, try replacing it with one of these reusable alternatives:

  • Rags or dish towels
  • Swedish dishcloths
  • Microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Cut up old T-shirts that are too stained or torn to donate 

Plastic Sponges

Plastic sponges are not biodegradable, rarely recyclable, and can create microplastic pollution. Consider using one of these eco-friendly alternatives to sponges next time you’re cleaning:

  • Linen or cotton dishcloths
  • Plant-based sponges, scrubbers, and pads 
    • Cellulose or cotton “un-sponges”
    • Loofahs (you can even grow your own if you live in a warm climate)
    • Coconut or walnut scrubbers and scouring pads
  • Dish brushes made from compostable or recyclable materials such as metal, wood or plant fibers
If you don’t know where to find sustainable cleaning supplies near you, Grove and Blueland offer a variety of plastic-free and sustainable products.

Donate Your Unwanted Items to Animal Rescues  

Rescues are always in need of donations! Before tossing an item while cleaning, check if it is one of these commonly requested items: 

  • Towels, sheets, fleece, blankets, pillowcases, and T-shirts in good condition 
  • Plastic pet carriers, dog beds, puppy pads, and toys suitable for sanitizing 
  • Dog, cat, and bird food  
  • Food storage bags, trash bags, Tupperware, and large plastic boxes 
  • Dish soap and other disinfectants 
  • Batteries, fans, and heating pads 
  • Stationery (tape, pens, paper, etc.) 


Check out a few of the animal rescue centers in Florida accepting donations: 

Conservancy of Southwest Florida – Wildlife Hospital 

Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge 

South Florida Wildlife Center 

The C.A.R.E Foundation 

Florida Wild Mammal Association 

Information from The Washington Post, Medical News Today, and Earth911.