Cleaning is a good thing, but if you’re using too many resources, it can quickly turn from a positive to a negative. Given that running a dishwasher, for example, uses between three and 15 gallons of water, and washing machines can use anywhere from 16 to 40 gallons per load, effective cleaning requires efficiency. Not only will you reduce the amount of water, energy and other resources you would typically use to keep your clothes and space clean and organized, but you can save time and money, too.
Where should you begin to make cleaning more efficient? Start by assessing the tasks in your house or apartment that use resources. This could include water and energy used to run appliances or buckets of water used to mop a floor.
Next, prepare to clean so you don’t waste time or resources by accident. Whenever you embark on a cleaning task, make sure you have an area prepped (eliminate clutter that could slow you down) and all your tools are ready (get out buckets, wipes, dish rags, cleaning products, etc.) so you don’t end up accidentally leaving a faucet or a vacuum cleaner running while stopping to move piles of magazines or look for cleaning cloths.
Always read the product label. The label contains important information about how much product you should use to get the best results. Following the instructions on the label will help prevent you from wasting the product.
In general, it’s also a good idea to tackle cleaning systematically. If you’re mopping your kitchen floor, start at one corner and move to the other. This will prevent you from covering an area more than once or using more water than you need. The same goes for cleaning a kitchen counter or scrubbing your shower. You’ll use fewer cleaning materials if you clean systematically instead of haphazardly.
Looking for some specific ways you can reduce the amount of resources you use while cleaning? Try some of these tips:
- For the dishes: Dishwashers use a lot of water and energy, but believe it or not, they use less water and energy than hand-washing all your dishes. To save resources, use a dishwasher if you have one and only run it when it’s full. You can also set the dishwasher to air dry so the appliance won’t spend energy using heat to dry your dishes. Remember that washing your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher wastes a lot of water.
- For the laundry: Choose the correct load size when doing laundry.You can also run some cycles using cold water instead of hot to save energy. To save additional resources, be sure to only use the amount of detergent indicated on your laundry detergent’s packaging; more detergent won’t necessarily get your clothes cleaner, and concentrated detergents can go a long way. Once your clothes are clean, save even more energy by hang-drying them if possible. If you do use a dryer, don’t leave clothes in there after they’re dry — that can cause wrinkling, which may necessitate ironing.
- For floors: If you sweep your floors regularly, you can get away with mopping a little less often. When you do mop, your floors will likely be a little less dirty, too, so you won’t go through water and cleaning supplies as quickly.
- For counter tops: Similar to sweeping your floors, if you brush crumbs and other debris off your countertops before wiping them down with cleaner or sanitizing them, you’ll likely need fewer cloths to get the surfaces clean. This means you’ll do less laundry (of kitchen towels) or buy fewer products (like paper towels).
Making cleaning a little more efficient can be easy, especially if you plan ahead. To get started, just remember:
- Clean systematically
- Maximize the use of your appliances
- Don’t overdose and use more cleaners/cleaning materials than necessary
Want to save even more resources? Learn more about clean living with tips from the American Cleaning Institute.
Editor’s Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. American Cleaning Institute is one of these partners.