It’s springtime in Chicago, which means everyone is thinking about two things: Going green, and doing a little bit (or a lot) of spring cleaning.

Why not put those two things together and turn your attention to your bathroom? We’re willing to bet you’ve got plenty of old or unwanted products taking up valuable space.

Want to get rid of that bathroom clutter responsibly? Here’s how to sustainably reuse or recycle your most common bathroom products:

Towels and Washcloths

The many hand towels, washcloths, and full-size bath towels we use in our bathrooms can get quite dingy, and many experts advise replacing them at least once a year. Even worse, we’re willing to bet you know someone with a linen closet full to the brim with clean, rarely-used towels that could be put to much better use than gathering dust in the darkness.

While fabric isn’t really recyclable in a conventional sense, you can often donate towels and sheets; search around for animal shelters or caregivers to the homeless in your area, who may accept them for a variety of purposes.

And to put an old towel to work in your own home, try turning a larger towel into a sheaf of rags, perfect for cleaning the house or taking care of the car; using cotton rags can help you cut back on your paper towel use, saving you money and helping cut back on paper waste.

Old Soap and Shampoo Bottles

After a quick rinse, most of your shampoo and soap bottles can be recycled with the other plastic products around your home. And it’s also pretty easy to reuse these containers for a variety of purposes across the house. Clean shampoo bottles are perfect to use as containers for your homemade cleaning solutions, for instance; whip up a quick batch of your favorite – perhaps using lemon, vinegar, and water – and then funnel it into a large bottle for handy access later. Or want to add an eclectic flair to your home? Try decorating your old plastic bottles with paint, a photo collage, or paper mâché, Voila! You’ve turned that unwanted plastic into a makeshift vase for your next bouquet of flowers!

Shower Curtains

Because they often contain PVC, many commercial shower curtains and liners are a little bit difficult to conventionally recycle. Instead, you can put your gently-used shower curtain or liner to new use! There are plenty of creative ways that you can use these big, water-resistant sheets around the home.

Put your old liners to work as tarps to cover firewood, or use them as “drop cloths” to prevent splatters when you’re painting or doing housework. Throw down an old shower curtain in the trunk of your car to help handle a wet umbrella or muddy boots, or cut a few strategic holes and use it as a poncho; if you’re truly feeling crafty, you can also cut old shower curtains into liners for your drawers or cabinets, or even sew the old fabric up into a beach bag.

Put a Bin in the Bathroom

According to a 2016 recycling survey funded by Johnson & Johnson, only about 20% of Americans have a recycling container in the bathroom, even though a full 70% report using one in the kitchen.

Adding a designated recycling container to your bathroom could do wonders for helping you reduce the amount of waste you generate; besides the items that we mention above, there are all sorts of products that pass through your bathroom that you may not even realize you can recycle.

Take these things to the curb or kitchen or start recycling them in the bathroom – just make sure they don’t end up in the trash! You can confidently recycle:

  • Toilet paper and paper towel rolls
  • Plastic wraps and films (like the ones that your toilet paper may come packaged in)
  • Paper boxes (like the ones that your toothpaste tube or first aid supplies may come in)
  • Clean make-up compacts
  • Aerosol cans

In general, plastics marked one and two are likely to be accepted, as are most paper or cardboard products. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to do a little research! There are plenty of organizations that accept recycling that your curbside hauler won’t necessarily take away; for instance, you can cut back on oral care waste by donating your old toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, and floss cartons to TerraCycle, which has a partnership with Colgate.

Have any questions about making your home’s bathrooms really work for you and your family? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line today or be sure to reach out on Twitter or Facebook to keep the conversation going.