Spring is Here. The Time for Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Has Begun.
I know some of you may still be packed in with snow, and others (like me) are already feeling the warmth of the sun, but either way, spring is here. The time has come, once again, to spring forward into a new season. Daylight savings time begins at 2:00am on Sunday, March 8th. Now is the time to open up the windows, air out your home, clear away the clutter and do a little spring cleaning. To help you get started, here are seven of my favorite, environmentally-friendly spring cleaning tips:
1. Air out your home naturally:
Forget the toxic “air fresheners.” The simplest and most effective way to air out your home and lower the indoor air pollution levels, which have likely been climbing for months, is to do it naturally. Open your doors and windows. Let a nice breeze in and create a cross flow so the bad air goes out and the fresh, clean air comes in.
2. Create your own non-toxic cleaning solutions:
Spring cleaning should not be about bringing more toxins into your home, it should be about getting rid of harmful chemicals so as to make your home cleaner, more environmentally-friendly and safer for you and your family.
In all honesty, you may already have many of the ingredients you will need to make your own non-toxic cleaning solutions. Fresh lemons, white vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and coffee grounds are some of ways you can clean your home naturally. Coffee grounds are a simple way to deodorize your fridge. Baking soda, vinegar and water make a great oven cleaning mix. Want your wood to shine? Opt for olive oil and lemon juice rather than a chemical-filled furniture spray.
If you need a natural disinfectant, why not make your own? Add two cups water, 10-20 drops of tea tree oil, two tablespoons of white vinegar, and half teaspoon liquid dish soap (non-toxic, of course) to a spray bottle, then shake and use. Here are a few more recipes and techniques for green spring cleaning.
Remember to use eco-friendly, non-toxic paint for any touch-ups you may want to do, particularly if you want to lower indoor air pollution levels, remove harmful toxins and give your home a healthy glow to start off the spring season.
3. Use old clothes and fabrics, rather than paper, for cleaning supplies:
Clothes that are too old or stained to be donated, sheets, towels and other fabrics can all be recycled or re-used for cleaning supplies. There is no need to use paper towels or other paper products, when you likely have a slew of cleaning supplies clamoring to be used. Worn-out socks make for great cleaning “gloves.”
4. Donate, sell or give away items you no longer use:
If you haven’t worn or used an item for at least six to nine months, then it is time to find that item a new home. You can donate clothes, appliances, tools and other gently worn items to a local charity or thrift store. Depending on the value of an item, you may want to sell it. You can do this via a yard sale or even online through a reputable site. If you have friends or family who you believe may have an interest in the items you no longer use, see if you they might be interested in giving your stuff a new home.
Whatever you do, spend a little time going through cupboards, closets and cabinets. You never know what you may find taking up space in your home.
5. Make spring cleaning fun:
Spring cleaning does not have to be a chore. When you make spring cleaning fun, it tends to make the time pass more quickly and turns your cleaning activities into a something you no longer dread having to do. Simple ways to make spring cleaning fun are to:
- Blast your favorite tunes
- Create a friendly competition between you and other members of your family
- Encourage silliness or flat out wackiness
- Set a goal and figure out a fun reward for each completed task
- Turn your cleaning into a party
6. Brighten up your home with some colorful flowers and air-purifying plants:
With spring comes bright colored flowers, green grass and trees, new growth and fresh, clean air. Why not utilize some of nature’s freshness to keep your house clean and green in the month’s ahead? Plants can also increase oxygen levels and help improve your overall mood.
To start off, try any combination of these air-cleaning houseplants that are almost impossible to kill. Then if you want, you can add in some orchids, anthuriums or florist’s chrysanthemum (mums), as these flowers and flowering plants can also help eliminate certain types of toxins.
7. Be water-wary and water-wise:
While you are doing your spring cleaning, you need to make sure you are being water-wary and water-wise. Don’t leave the water running while you clean. Fill up buckets as needed and use “gray water” to water plants both indoors and out. Make necessary repairs on leaky faucets or pipes. Install a low-flow toilet or low-flow shower head. Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load.
In addition, adjust any automatic timers you have set to turn on outdoor (or indoor) lighting, water lawns and more. Take the time to make changes on your programmable thermostat as well. There is no reason to waste water, electricity or energy. Make your environmentally-friendly spring cleaning efforts last.
Spring cleaning windows image by storebukkebruse via Flickr Creative Commons license.