These tips for a zero waste bathroom can help you to enjoy your soak all the more, knowing that you are washing biodegradable items down the sink, and loving a bathroom free from toxic bleach and toilet cleaners. Use a quality non-slip bath mat and avoid slippery bath oils. Avoid Epsom salts for heart/blood pressure problems, avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and avoid Dead Sea Salts (not sustainable, this sea is dying).
If you live with pets, be careful when using houseplants. Some are highly toxic (even brushing a tail against a lily or sago palm can harm). See toxic houseplants to avoid. Houseplants don’t ‘clean the air’ (a 30-year myth).
Moksa Himalayan Bath Salts are sold in a glass jar with cork lid. They are made with Epsom salts and French sea salt, scented with oils of rose absolute, geranium and vetivert, to calm and ground. Use the enclosed spoon to sprinkle under warm running water. Luxury Lavender Bath Salts are relaxing, and also full of minerals due to the coarse sea salt. These bath salts are ideal to ease aching muscles, and relieve stress as your body absorbs the magnesium.
Lüks make organic cotton Turkish bath towels, sold with a 20-year guarantee, with knotted fringes. Can also be used as sarongs. Ethically made. Do not tumble dry or dry clean, and avoid fabric conditioner. Donate unwanted blankets to animal shelters or homeless shelters. If lining a wildlife box with a towel/blanket, remove any string or knotted fringes, as they could entangle, on the way to the vet or rescue shelter.
Firera White Linen Towels are sold for the face, hands and bath and made from ethically sourced linen, which is from the flax plant. Linen is naturally anti-microbial and anti-static and beautifully crumped. It absorbs moisture quick and dries fast, yet is lightweight so good for everyday use and travel, as they can be packed very small.
Vesta Living Organic Cotton Waffle Hand Towel is ideal for the guest bathroom or a kitchen hand towel. It is in 3 subtle colours to match any decor, extra absorbent. Wash with similar colours. Do not bleach/tumble dry, expect some shrinkage.
Leave No Trace Organic Cotton Flannel is good to the planet as well as your face. Organic cotton requires no pesticides, so items made with it tend to last longer too, as the fibres have not been damaged by chemicals. This locally-ethically-made flannel is sent without packaging, and has a hanging loop for faster drying. It features a super-soft brushed cotton side, and a buffing side, to replace commercial exfoliators.
Serious Tissues (sold online) is made from recycled paper, founded after discovering that the average person uses almost 400 trees in one lifetime, just from using virgin toilet paper. Made in the UK, one tree is planted for every roll sold.
Who would use washable toilet paper? You may indeed wonder. In fact, it’s pretty hygienic for when you just need to pee, although possibly only real earth mothers may wish to use it for the other! Most disposable toilet paper comes from trees (a few brands use bamboo). And most of those trees are in the Boreal Forest, home to endangered wildlife. Single-ply (thin) toilet paper is not very nice. And the luxury thick paper blocks loos and takes longer to break down at landfill. Switch to recycled bathroom tissue, to save trees.
Leaving used washable toilet paper in a handy bag in the bathroom, then just tossing the bag in the machine, is no different to cloth nappies or feminine care pads. There’s no chlorine bleach or plastic packaging, and it’s kinder on your behind! A quick caveat: don’t use fabric conditioner for anything ‘washable’ (toilet paper, nappies, feminine care pads) as it will reduce absorbency, so they won’t work as well.
Leave No Trace Organic Cotton Washable Toilet Roll is sold in a set of 20 (cardboard inner not included) with a bag that you can use to store and wash. Handmade locally from highly-absorbent brushed cotton, it’s overlocked at the edges, to prevent fraying. One single sheet can do the work of 3 pieces of single-use toilet paper, which can help to reduce the amount of toilet roll a household gets through. After use, just store in the handy cotton bag, and then use it to prevent the sheets getting lost in the washing machine.
To clean your toilet naturally means avoiding chlorine bleach and toxic brands and switching to biodegradable plant-based versions that don’t harm aquatic life. Never mix vinegar or anything with bleach, it can kill you. Public buildings may consider waterless urinals (low maintenance and no smell) or off-grid folks may like composting toilets.
Flush Brush offers a toilet brush made with a permanent handle and a silicone head (this stops microplastics going down the pan when you use it). Eco Living Toilet Brush Set (above) include a sustainable beech wood brush and vintage-style metal holder (or use their steel bucket version or just buy the brush). If you use a plastic brush, choose a long guarantee like OXO Good Grips and Joseph Joseph.
Some people use cloths. Use a compostable cleaning cloth with Fair Trade rubber gloves. If you use Microfiber cloths, wash them in a Guppyfriend (to stop microplastic fibres breaking off). You can send back bulk bathroom waste (office buildings etc) to TerraCycle Bathroom Waste Box.
Biodegradable Toilet Cleaner
If pets follow you into the bathroom, avoid using citrus (including peel) or essential oils (or Borax) as all are toxic (cats, birds, ferrets and reptiles especially can be harmed). See toxic houseplants to avoid near pets (just brushing a tail against a lily or sago palm can harm). Houseplants don’t clean the air, this is myth from a 30-year old NASA study.
Also don’t use conventional disinfectants near pets. Erin Heights Vet Hospital says Dettol contains chloroxylenol (destroy bacteria walls) and Nicola Robinson (Veterinary Poisons Information Service) says Zoflora (flammable) contains benzalkonium chloride that can cause oral/tongue ulcers.
- Bio-D Toilet Cleaner (also in bulk size and big bulk size) is made from biodegradable ingredients.
- ElmKind Peppermint Natural Toilet Cleaner is made with biodegradable organic ingredients, and essential oils. Sold in an aluminium bottle with a stainless steel pourer, a portion of profits help animal welfare/ocean charities. Avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing.
- For outside the toilet, just use a good biodegradable bathroom cleaner like Bio-D Bathroom Cleaner (not for gold-plated taps) or Elmkind Grapefruit & Palmarosa.
- Do not pumice stones to remove mineral deposits (can damage enamel). Instead, pour 1 cup of cleaning vinegar (not food grade) in the pan and wish, let sit for a minute. Then add 1 cup bicarbonate of soda (not food grade) to create a fizz, then pour another cup of vinegar. Leave for 30 minutes without flushing, to solve most cases.
- Add a little cleaning vinegar to laundry, to reduce pee smell of bath mats and soiled clothing. Do not use vinegar on stone/unsealed grout/waxed surfaces (dilute well and wear gloves).
- EcoZone Magnaloo Toilet Descaler stops deposits for up to 5 years, by magnetically treating water, so calcium carbonate can’t form hard limescale. Has good reviews at John Lewis, so it must be good.