Home and Garden

Eco-friendly window and glass cleaning tips

Man cleaning home windows

In the search for non-toxic products to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals, perhaps you’ve tried a few glass and mirror cleaners. Maybe they didn’t work so well — too many streaks and smudges?

Don’t blame the eco-friendly cleaner!

Conventional glass cleaners can leave behind gunk. BEFORE you switch, take this one small step on the path to “green” cleaning:

Fill a spray bottle with a five per cent solution of hydrogen peroxide to water. Spray onto glass and mirrors, and voila! This mixture cuts through the waxy film. Then you can start using safer products, free from dyes and ammonia (the vapours can irritate eyes and lungs).

Or, make your own with ingredients already in the pantry.

Glass and mirror cleaner

Time needed: three minutes
Shelf life: doesn’t go bad!

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) white vinegar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water

Pour ingredients into a spray bottle. Label it and refill as needed. Spray surfaces and wipe with a reusable cloth.

Note: Most vinegar is five per cent acetic acid, but you can also find what some brands call “cleaning” vinegar which is seven per cent. Many refill stores carry up to 12 per cent if you need a real cleaning boost!

Are microfibre cloths eco-friendly?

Maybe not as much as you hoped.

The upside: They’re reusable and last what seems like forever. Many claim to only need water to clean streaks, smudges, dirt and grime on glass, mirrors and stainless steel surfaces.

The downside: They’re made from petrochemicals. Their polyester and polyamide fabric strands are 100 times finer than human hair. (That’s what makes them good at lifting dirt, grease and dust without cleaning chemicals.) They’re made from a non-renewable resource, don’t biodegrade (break down and go back to the Earth) and can’t be recycled. And they’re likely contributing to microplastics, which are showing up in the food web — including in us!

How to stop contributing to microfibre plastic pollution

  1. Don’t landfill microfibre cloths. Wash them less to release fewer particles and try these tips.
  2. Watch for new technology and studies about microplastic traps and filters to use while laundering.
  3. Use cloth from old sheets and tees instead. (Still better than paper towels.)
  4. Opt for natural and organic fabrics (cotton, hemp, linen).
  5. Look for 100 per cent biodegradable, compostable cleaning cloths.