Plastic free cleaning hacks - Shorebox

9 plastic-free cleaning hacks that really work

We’re all guilty of owning a cupboard under the sink that’s packed full of plastic cleaning products. The good news is, you can reuse this packaging again and again to house your own plastic-free cleaning hacks.

Not only do homemade cleaning products reduce your plastic waste, they are far safer for your health, too. Last year, a study revealed that regular use of cleaning sprays is comparable to smoking a pack of cigarettes every day, because of toxic chemicals. As you can imagine, these chemicals aren’t doing the environment any good either.

Say goodbye to plastic waste and nasty chemicals with these nine plastic-free cleaning hacks, tried and tested by yours truly.

Shopping list

White vinegar — a natural disinfectant and deodoriser that cuts through grease. Available plastic-free, in bulk, or check if your local plastic-free supermarket stocks it. 

Bicarbonate of soda — an abrasive scouring agent that tackles dirt, grime, odours and stains. Available plastic free.

Essential oils — naturally antibacterial and smell great. We’re on the lookout for plastic-free or refillable essential oils — in the meantime, we use them sparingly (we haven’t had to replace them yet). 

Lemons — a handy byproduct of G&Ts. 

DIY Cleaning Products - Reduce plastic on a budget - Shorebox


Make your own surface cleaner

White vinegar is an excellent natural disinfectant for all around the home. Mix it with water to create your own surface cleaner. We use ours to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces, sinks, and plugholes. 


  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and water. 

Packaging suggestion: 

Reuse a plastic spray bottle.  

Extra tips:

Some recipes suggest adding essential oils to offset the smell of vinegar. We found that the essential oils didn’t hold their smell, so this is a bit of a waste. The smell of white vinegar isn’t great, but it fades very quickly. 

This recipe is safe for all surfaces except marble


Make your own glass cleaner

White vinegar is also an amazing glass cleaner, leaving windows and mirrors sparklingly clean without any streak marks. 


  • Mix 1 part white vinegar with 4 parts water.

Packaging suggestion: 

Reuse a plastic spray bottle.  

Plastic-free cleaning hacks - DIY cleaning products - Shorebox


Make your own toilet cleaner

Bicarbonate of soda (a.k.a baking soda) is another staple plastic-free cleaning hack. It’s a great deodoriser and scourers away dirt and stains. It’s great for cleaning toilets, as well as baths and showers.


  1. Shake some bicarbonate of soda into the toilet bowl.
  2. Pour some white vinegar on top.
  3. Add 10 drops of essential oil (e.g. lavender or tea tree) onto the mixture.

Leave the mixture to sit for a few minutes and then scrub with a toilet brush.

Extra tips:

Combining white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda creates fizzing, which lifts and breaks up dirt. This is great when you need an immediate reaction, like cleaning the loo. But there’s no point mixing them to create a cleaning product that will sit around for a while (like a bottle of surface cleaner). Once the fizzing is complete, you’re left with a neutral solution of salt water — which isn’t an effective cleaning product!

Make your own drain unblocker

White vinegar and bicarbonate of soda can pretty much do it all — including unblock your drains. This easy method will save you tonnes of money in the long run — one bottle of drain unblocker can cost as much as £7.00! 


  1. Pour a kettle-full of boiling water down the drain.
  2. Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar down the drain and let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Pour a kettle-full of boiling water down the drain.

Switch to plastic-free laundry detergent

We wash our clothes with soap nuts, which are dried fruit shells from the lychee family. They contain a natural detergent called “saponin”, which is released in warm water. This 100% natural and plastic-free detergent has become a firm favourite of ours, saving us plastic and cash — could it get any better?!


  1. Place 5 soap nuts into a muslin bag and throw it in with your laundry.
  2. Wash as normal (works best in warm or hot washes).

Extra tips:

You can reuse the same bag of shells up to four times, so the cost per wash is a bargain! Simply compost them at home when they’re finished.

Soap nuts don’t leave a scent. Add five drops of essential oil to the muslin bag before you throw it in to give a fresh smell.

Soap Nuts - Reduce plastic on a budget - Plastic-free laundry


Make your own air freshener

This simple DIY is a brilliant way to reuse plastic spray bottles — and to freshen up your home without nasty chemicals.


  1. Fill a spray bottle with water.
  2. Add 10 drops of essential oil.
  3. Shake!

Packaging suggestion:

Reuse a plastic spray bottle.

Extra tips:

Add some sprigs of lavender for extra scent (and extra prettiness).

As well as rooms, you can use it to freshen up bed linen and furniture.

DIY Air Freshener - Reduce plastic on a budget - Shorebox


When life gives you lemons…

…use them to clean your house! We’ve found that lemons work brilliantly for a number of cleaning jobs. We’re not suggesting that you buy lemons just for cleaning, but if you’ve got one spare, here’s how to put it to good use.

Remove limescale in bathrooms

Cut the lemon in half and rub directly onto the limescale. Then, scrub with a cloth or old toothbrush for astonishing results. This works great around taps and in the shower.

Plastic-free cleaning hacks - Shorebox


Descale kettles

Prepare to be amazed. Not only does this method remove limescale, it leaves the inside of your kettle sparklingly clean.


  1. Mix 30ml of lemon juice (approximately half a lemon) with 500ml of water.
  2. Pour the mixture into your kettle and leave for an hour, then boil.
  3. Pour the mixture out to reveal a good-as-new kettle!

Extra tips:

Give the inside of your kettle a brush to remove stubborn bits of scale if needed.

Clean chrome finishings

Lemon juice leaves chrome finishings, like taps, sparklingly clean. Rub a piece of lemon directly onto the chrome and then buff with a towel.


With your plastic-free cleaning hacks in tow, go forth and reduce plastic! For more plastic-free tips, visit our budget guide, beginner’s guide, or browse our blog for more. Join our mailing list for a monthly roundup of our latest posts.

Oh hello! Just a quick note to say, we’re an eco-friendly subscription box helping our subscribers reduce plastic waste step-by-step. If that sounds exciting, enjoy 10% off your first box today with the code FIRSTBOX. That’s all for now, cheerio.

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