Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything feels new and there is something very refreshing about sitting back and seeing things literally spring to life. One thing that does need our assistance, however, is our home. Unfortunately there is NOTHING refreshing about a house that has been closed for months on end.
The problem is that, while we attempt to do our spring cleaning, we can be tempted to grab the commercial cleaners and create a lot of waste too. Here are some tips on avoiding the pitfalls:
- Open windows – let the fresh air come in. It does wonders!
- Buy distilled white vinegar – and lots of it. The uses are amazing… everything from cleaning and sanitizing to disinfecting and stain removal. Check out vinegartips.com for ideas, but whatever you do, do NOT use commercial household cleaners… they are harsh, harmful and unnecessary.
- Buy hydrogen peroxide – you may not have considered this as an option before, but it’s a great alternative to bleach.
- Buy baking soda – fantastic for cleaning but also for removing odors from rugs and carpets. Sprinkle some on, let it sit for 30 minutes and vacuum it up… nice and simple.
- Make your own multi-purpose cleaner – I have a recipe and I use my own cleaner daily.
- Make your own furniture polish – I have another recipe for you!
- Skip paper towels and sponges – gather old t-shirts and towels (not suitable for donation) and put them to work. Skoy cloths are another favorite of mine, and they can all be washed and used again for later cleaning projects.
- Recycle – magazines, mail, catalogs, any needless papers, packaging….the list goes on and on. And don’t just put them in the garbage can. Put them in the recycling can. All of these papers are recyclable!
- Food cupboards – you thought you’d need it, use it, want it, but alas you did not. Donate it to a food pantry if it hasn’t expired; otherwise make sure the packaging, cans and containers get recycled as well.
- Donation boxes – inevitably you will find lots of things that no longer have usefulness for you but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful for someone else. Clothing, shoes, household items, books, furniture, toys, anything and everything. Pack up these items and donate them to a charity, list them on Freecycle or Craig’s List. But never throw away anything that still has “life” left in it.
- Proper disposal – motor oil, paint cans, aerosols… check Earth911 to find out where these toxic products can be dropped off for proper disposal. Same goes for electronics. If they can’t be given away, check local resources (Best Buy has a fabulous program) or again Earth911.
- Consider air freshening in a less harmful way – if you MUST put the scent of spring in the air, forgo the aerosol air fresheners and instead fill a spray bottle with a combination of water and essential oils, and “spray away!”
- Buy a plant – some household plants will actually help to purify the air in your home!
- Consider some “Spring Resolutions” – no more antibacterial soaps (their harmful effects can be greater than their benefit), no more harsh cleaners and chemicals. Vow to replace them with eco- and health-friendly products. Put CFLs on your shopping list and use them for every bulb that needs replacing from here on out! And when you buy these products, make sure they get placed in reusable bags!
Start stretching, limber up and let the “green cleaning” commence!