In Los Angeles, house cleaning has become even more of a chore. No, residents aren’t getting lazier—the problem is water restrictions spurred by the drought. A statewide 25% water-use cut was announced in April 2015. Water suppliers that can’t meet California’s expectations for water savings could face fines; in turn, those agencies could start penalizing residents who overuse water.
The stricter guidelines have Angelenos looking for ways to conserve. Luckily, we’ve compiled some tips for cleaning.House CleaningIn the kitchen and bathroom, don’t let the faucet run while cleaning fixtures—an open tap can release 2–3 gallons in the time it takes to brush your teeth. Only a small amount of water is needed to wet and rinse sponges and other tools. Don’t turn on the showerhead to rinse cleaning solutions off shower walls. Instead, do the job with cupfuls of water. Hardwood and tile floors should be swept often to prevent dirt accumulation. If they need a deep clean, use microfiber cloths, which absorb water better than string or sponge mops. The cloths should only need to be dipped into a bucket of water twice per room (once with soap, once without). Spot-clean carpets after spills. If they’re exceptionally dirty, consider hiring a company that uses dry carpet cleaning, a method recommended by the city of Santa Barbara. TrulyDry Carpet Cleaning, for instance, employs a nontoxic, plant-based product to extract grime from carpets using little to no moisture.Doing the WashingUsing a dishwasher can be less wasteful than washing the same load by hand. That’s assuming you follow these rules: Scrape the dishes, don’t rinse. Put food scraps in the trash or compost bin, not the garbage disposal, which requires water to run. Only run the dishwasher when it has a full load. If you must hand-wash dishes, fill one sink basin or a large pot with warm soapy water. Let your well-scaped dishes soak, then use a sponge or brush for stubborn stains. Rinse the clean dishes with a thin stream of running water. Likewise, only run the washing machine if you have a full load (or can adjust the water level for a smaller load). Extend the time between washes by hand-washing soiled clothes in a basin of water while re-wearing items, like jeans, that don’t need to be cleaned as often.Plan AheadBefore cleaning the house, map out chores to see if water can be reused. Wastewater from tasks like mopping, cleaning produce, and hand-washing dishes and clothes can be handy for activities that don’t require perfectly clear water. Consider reusing it to clean your car, wash windows, and water plants.Think About the FutureThe most dramatic water savings come from upgrading appliances and fixtures. High-efficiency washers use less water and energy, for example, and low-flow showerheads save 5.5 gallons a minute. That said, if you own a house in Los Angeles, you might just have to live with fewer cleanings. Do the essentials but skip infrequent chores, such as cleaning your home’s exterior.