Spring arrives March 19th this year, and for many that means pulling out the gloves, dust mit, and broom to do a thorough spring cleaning. While spring cleaning your home may be deeply satisfying, it's not always the best thing for the environment.
Common habits of cleaning tending to commit numerous environmental sins include:
Cleaning your home can be a dirty job. And, when you think you're actually spring cleaning your home, you might be participating in toxic cleaning, depending on the methods and products you use.
University of Washington researchers tested various popular household products for toxic ingredients, such as:
And, guess what? They found over 133 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in these products, including those that had the "natural", "green", and "organic" labels on them. Why bother cleaning your home with loads of chemicals that can compromise the planet and your health?
Fortunately, it only takes a few easy tweaks, and you can easily turn your spring cleaning into eco-friendly spring cleaning, from the pleasant scents you fill your home with to the products you choose to clean with.
Here are some tips on "green" cleaning your home.
One of the easiest ways of making an eco-friendly difference in your house is by throwing away all products that contain hazardous chemicals. They not only damage the environment, but you breathe them in each time you use them. Instead, use non-toxic cleaning solutions (or make them yourself with natural ingredients - which you'll learn about below).
Begin decluttering your home about a week or two before you decide to spring clean. After all, you don't want to clean things you're not going to keep, right? To start decluttering your home, go through each room with a trash bag and two baskets. You'll toss trash into the trash bag, and if you find things that don't belong in a certain room, place them in one basket. If you find things you want to do away with (you no longer have use for it), place it in the second basket. You'd be surprised how much stuff you're not using anymore, and no longer require.
You can take the things you no longer want to a thrift store that benefits charities. Not only are you decluttering your home, but you're also helping others out by providing them with things they need.
Choose simple ingredients for chemical-free cleaning like lemon, baking soda, and vinegar. They're non-toxic, so you can even involve your children, and get them to help.
If you have a stain on your Eco Terra latex mattress, simply spot clean it with a mild, natural detergent, and let air dry.
Make a list of all the non-routine and large cleaning tasks in your home you need to do. Once you've created the list, you can make the decision on how you want to begin tackling them. For example, you might want to wash your curtains annually, but your fridge you might want to do twice a year.
Plan your cleaning schedule, so it works for you. Don't try and go by someone else's cleaning schedule, since everyone is different. Some individuals like to spread tasks over different months, while others prefer to tackle everything in a few days.
It's ultimately up to you, and really only takes a few steps to create a cleaning schedule that works for you, and involves your family, since keeping the house tidy and clean shouldn't just be your responsibility.
Typically, the first thing people reach for when their floor is dirty is the vacuum cleaner, but many types of vacuum cleaners use bags that you have to discard when full. Instead, consider something more natural to clean your floors - a natural-bristle broom. These make picking up dirt and debris easier. You can take mats and rugs outdoors, and beat them, and sweep underneath them. Plus, you’re getting a workout by sweeping. Did you know that you can burn up to 136 calories by sweeping for 30 minutes?
If you have hard floors throughout your house, it could mean lots of mopping and buckets of water. You can decrease your cleaning water usage by:
In your bathroom, tiles are constantly coming in contact with water. If you have hard water, it can result in lime stains, which leaves your tiles dull and unsightly. To eliminate these lime stains, try vinegar and citric acid.
You only need a small amount of vinegar in the water you'll be using for cleaning. If you have stubborn lime deposits, you can also add in some citric acid. But, be very careful when you clean the joints between tiles, since they're often sensitive to acids.
When you start your eco-friendly spring cleaning, start from your ceiling, and work your way down to the floor. This will allow the dust you move around to fall down to the floor, which you would typically clean last. Using a slightly damp cloth or a microfiber mopping cloth, dust your walls and ceiling. Once your walls and ceiling are cleaned, move onto other surfaces, and then save your floors for last. Then you can simply throw the microfiber mop head into your washing machine, and thereby reduce waste.
Paper towels, while very convenient (tear, wipe, toss away), come at a cost to our planet. Instead, swap your paper towels for reusable towels. For instance, you can use sustainable bamboo reusable towels that are absorbent and strong, and you can wash them, and reuse them over and over.
Air fresheners contain synthetic chemicals that you're pumping out each time you use them. These synthetic chemicals can be bad for your air quality and your health, so you'll want to use air fresheners that aren't as polluting. For instance, you can add a few drops of lavender, apple, or another favorite organic essential oil in a reed diffuser to fill your rooms up with pleasant, non-harmful scents.