in the toilet

The bathroom is the room where we begin and end each day, with a variety of cleaning routines designed to help keep us healthy. Odd then, that the room in which we clean our teeth, our skin and the rest of our bodies (not to mention dispose of our waste) is often filled with toxic chemicals, and, even then, not very clean itself.

As with many sustainable lifestyle subjects, when it comes to going green in the bathroom, one hand washes the other. Eschewing excessive water use – and thousands of gallons of wasted water – avoiding a deluge of disposable trash, and a myriad of toxic cleaners supposed to make the room “safe” for your use, all can come from a few simple steps that combine to help you live greener in the bathroom.

So, to make your bathroom a greener place, we’ve compiled a bevy of tips to help clear the air, go with the low-flow, and keep the toxics out of your way. Changing up your habits and greening your bathroom will help make the planet greener, your home healthier, and your personal health more robust.

Top green bathroom tips

Don’t let so much water down the drain: There are a trifecta of water-saving opportunities in the bathroom. By installing a low-flow showerhead, a installing a low-flow faucet aerator, and a dual-flush toilet, you’ll save thousands of gallons of water each year.

Flush the toilet with care: When it comes to using the toilets themselves, be sure you’re reaching for toilet paper created from recycled sources-remember, rolling over is better than rolling under-and avoid using products made from virgin boreal forest trees. Install a dual-flush toilet or dual-flush retrofit on your current toilet.

Ditch those disposables: Toilet paper is about the only “disposable” product allowed in your green bathroom, so when it comes time to clean up, avoid the temptation to reach for disposable products. That means paper towels and other disposable wipes should be replaced by reusable rags or microfiber towels for mirrors, sinks, and the like; when it comes time to scrub the toilet, don’t even think about those silly disposable one-and-done toilet brushes. In the same vein, more and more cleaners are being sold in refillable containers, so you don’t have to buy so much packaging and can reuse the perfectly-good spray bottle, instead of buying a new one each time you run dry on glass cleaner.

Think about what goes in your sink: Once you have your low-flow faucet aerator installed, your behavior can also help keep water flow down. Be sure to turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth- some dentists even recommend a dry toothbrush- and you’ll save six gallons of water each day (assuming you’re diligent about brushing twice a day).

Clear the air with green cleaners: Bathrooms are notoriously small and often poorly ventilated, so, of all the rooms in the house, this is the one that should be cleaned with green, non-toxic cleaners. Common household ingredients, like baking soda and vinegar, and a little elbow grease will do the job for most everything in the bathroom. Also there are a bevy of green cleaners available on the market today.

Take green cleaning into your own hands: Doing it yourself is a great way to insure that you’re going as green as possible, since you know exactly what went in to the products you’re using. A few reliable favorites: Spray surfaces that need cleaning – sinks, tubs, and toilets, for example – with diluted vinegar or lemon juice, let it sit for 30 minutes or so, give it a scrub, and your mineral stains will all but disappear. Soak it in white vinegar (hotter is better) for an hour before rinsing it clean. And to create a great tub scrub, mix baking soda, castile soap and a few drops of your favorite essential oil-careful, a little bit goes a long way here. Follow this recipe for a non-toxic bathtub cleaner and you’ll never have to buy caustic bathtub cleaners again.

Maintain your new green ways: Once you go green, you’ll want to keep it that way, so remember to do regular light maintenance-unclogging drains, fixing leaky faucets, etc. – with green in mind. Check out our advice for green, non-caustic drain cleaners and leaky faucets, and be mindful of mold