Kermit the Frog might not think it's easy being green—but it is when you're spring cleaning! Ditch the chemicals and follow these four steps to deep clean your home, eco-style.
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1. Start by Decluttering
Unless you live in sunny Miami or Phoenix, chances are that you've spent a lot of time indoors over the past few winter months. And it's likely that things have started to pile up as well. That mess of Wii games in front of the TV, all those musty blankets, the towering stack of books...all point to several months holed up in the house. Clutter is not only unsightly to look at, but it harbors dust and can cause emotional side effects such as anxiety, depression, and seasonal affective disorder. When it comes to your spring cleaning, downsizing your home and decluttering the things you no longer need should be your first step. Donate whatever you can, recycle what's left, and then use the trash as your last option.
2. Use Natural Cleaners
Take a look under your sink. You likely have a dozen or more different cleaning products languishing there—window cleaner, oven cleaner, shower cleaner, wood cleaner, stainless steel cleaner—you get the picture. The great thing about going green is that you really don't need these cleaners, and the truth is that you shouldn't have them in your home. They're expensive, and many contain chemical ingredients (i.e., VOC's—volatile organic compounds) that the EPA has associated with eye, skin and throat irritation, as well as more serious conditions such as nerve damage, infertility, and cancer.
The good news is that people were able to clean their homes before Clorox and Kaboom came out. They used natural cleaning ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemons and borax. Want to get rid of mildew? Spray it with straight vinegar. Need to clean your hardwood floors? Mix one part vinegar with two parts water and scrub away. Toilets? A handful of baking soda and a few glugs of vinegar will do the trick. Countertops? One part vinegar with one part water. You can also spritz with lemon juice to disinfect. You can also clean your carpets naturally. Simply sprinkle baking soda or corn starch on your carpets and let it sit for half an hour.
I also love sprinkling dried lavender or dried peppermint tea into the carpet as well. Then, just vacuum it up; your carpets will be odor free. The best part about using natural ingredients to clean your home is that you don't have to worry about chemical offgassing from commercial cleaners. Your home stays safe and clean, naturally.
3. Skip the Paper Towels
As you're wiping down counter tops and windows, try to avoid using paper towels (which are made from tree pulp). Use reusable cloths, or even old socks, or t-shirts. I use several old shirts to clean my house, and they work great.
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4. Open Your Windows
As soon as it's warm enough, open your windows to let in fresh air. Believe it or not, the air outside your home is up to 100 times cleaner than the air inside your home (thanks in some part to offgassing from, you guessed it, all those commercial cleaning products). Unless you live near a heavy industrial area, you'll likely benefit from keeping your home's windows open as much as possible. Even when it's freezing out I still like to open my windows for five minutes just to air it out!
Using natural ingredients to clean your home is a great way to go green this spring and create a healthy indoor environment for your family. Plus, your home won't smell like artificial "fragrance." It will just smell open and natural, like a healthy home should!