With winter behind us, it's time to embrace the season of rejuvenation by reducing clutter and attacking grime. Give your home a fresh beginning with our green spring cleaning tips. If nothing else, check out this app, Think Dirty, it was eye-opening for me! (Shauna Summers; PCC Coordinator)
Why scrub counters, floors, and tubs with harsh chemicals that reduce indoor air quality and harm the environment when you can use a few common household items to get the job done? Some basic ingredients for DIY cleaners include baking soda, lemon, vinegar, salt, liquid soap, and hot water. Follow these recipes to create nontoxic scrubs for every occasion.
Clean With Reusable Wipes and Scrubbers
Spring cleaning doesn't have to result in a trash can full of used paper towels. Instead, try reusable scrub brushes or homemade cloth cleaning rags. Synthetic sponges are petroleum-derived and can contain triclosan. Greener options for natural sponges include those made of wood-pulp cellulose. Your best bet? Cultivate luffa (a.k.a. "loofah") in your garden and grow your own "sponge gourds."
Use Natural Air Fresheners
A clean house is often associated with a "fresh" smell, so it's ironic that synthetic air fresheners (watch out for limonene, in combination with the ozone in the air around us produces formaldehyde!) could be contaminating homes with phthalates or formaldehyde. To really freshen up a room, try opening the windows first.
Next, invest in houseplants. NASA has been studying the pollution-reducing abilities of plants for years. Some of the plants tested by NASA and shown to remove benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air include the peace lily, spider plant, golden pothos, mother-in-law's tongue, bamboo palm, ficus, pot mum, and gerbera daisy.
Choose Earth-Friendly Cleaning Products
You dump all sorts of fancy-smelling products into the machine with your clothes, but those commercial detergents are full of nasty chemicals and microplastics that end up being eaten and bioaccumulate up the foodchain. Humans are at the top of the food chain which means the largest accumulations will occur in us - ick!
Consider switching to a plant-based, biodegradable laundry soap (scan your bottles to find out what is IN them that could hurt you). Check out the Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents list for 2017. Interestingly enough you don’t need a fabric softener, its okay to skip it entirely!
Shine Furniture With Natural Polish
Make a simple wood furniture dusting mixture with lemon juice and olive oil. Annie B. Bond, author of Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living recommends using a wool dusting cloth "because static electricity draws dust to wool, and lanolin in the wool causes the dust to stick to the wool." The next best thing? A cotton rag made from an old t-shirt. When it's time for a shine, check out Bond's recipe for a polishing cream wax.
Make a Green Window Wash
To clean those panes, fill a spray bottle with a vinegar and water mixture to make a DIY wash. If you've used conventional glass cleaners in the past, Care2 recommends adding dish soap or detergent to the mixture to cut the wax buildup left by commercial products.
Let it Hang Out
Now that the weather's warmer, instead of tossing your damp clothes into the dryer, hang them outside. Line-drying uses zero energy (except your own) and we think sun-dried clothes actually smell better. If the weather doesn't permit (or for more delicate items), invest in an inexpensive drying rack that you can set up inside.
Revamp Your Green Routine
After you've purged your closets (recycling everything, of course) and dusted off your shelves, set the stage for a cleaner, greener year. Use spring cleaning as an excuse to reorganize your recycling bins for maximum efficiency or make sure a hibernating bike is tuned up and ready to ride. Clear out pantry space so that you'll have room to store staples bought in bulk.
Efficient Washing Habits
Front-loading clothes washers (most have an Energy Star label) use up to half as much water and energy than other, older models. Most important is to wait until you have a full load and then wash your clothes in cold water (it gets them just as clean) on the shortest available cycle.
Hopefully some of these tips will peak your curiosity and fit into your regular routine.
**Bless our Mother Earth, and Bless you for all you do!
This article was revised from the Green Spring Cleaning Tips posted on the Sierra Club website.