How to Keep Your Spring Cleaning Real (Green)

February 22, 2011 View all articles in Home

Spring is usually the first opportunity available for thoroughly cleaning and polishing homes that have gotten filthy and smelly during winter. If you're committed to going green, the last thing you'll want to do this March is use toxic, chemical-based cleaning products that aren't just harmful to the environment, but your family's health as well.

With the ever-growing selection of eco-friendly household cleaners available to consumers, it's easy to think replacing all your current products with those labeled “natural” is the only way to clean “green.” And while there are plenty of great, low-impact cleaners out there, the following list will show you just how easy it is to get your house spic-n-span for spring with some simple advice and at-home methods.


Tips & Advice

  • Instead of spray-on/wipe-off furniture or floor cleaners that pollute your home's indoor air quality and generally leave behind residues, use a washable microfiber cloth or mop to pick up dust.
  • Avoid aerosol products that disperse fine mists and make it easier for chemicals to be inhaled and absorbed into your bloodstream.
  • This may seem like a no-brainer, but you can avoid the need for dangerous, heavy-duty cleansers by cleaning messes up promptly. We understand this isn't always possible, but it's something to keep in mind, anyway.
  • On a similar note, removing your shoes and having guests do the same when entering your home will reduce the need for carpet cleaners.
  • To save time and to make cleaning easier, line the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil, then wipe its walls and ceiling after each spill. Use the self-cleaning feature on your oven instead of toxic cleaners.
  • Restrict use of antibacterial cleaners, scrubs, and soaps to those recommended by a physician or health-care professional. A 2005 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel concluded there is no benefit from using antimicrobial products over soap and water in day-to-day use.
  • Even if you purchase a cleaning product labeled “green” or “natural,” it may still contain fragrances that emit phthalates into the air and water, and cause headaches and respiratory problems. Look for products marked “no fragrance added” or “fragrance free.”

At-Home Methods & Alternatives

  • Alternative Fragrances: If nontoxic, odorless cleaners have you missing that “just cleaned” smell, however, you can fill your home with fresh lavender flowers, rosemary, mint, white peppercorns, or cedar chips.
  • Air Quality Improver: You can also help filter indoor air quality by getting a few houseplants. Any broad, green, leafy plant will do – but peace lilies are a good place to start.
  • Mothball Replacements: Avoid exposure to the volatile chemical vapors released from mothballs by hanging your clothes on cedar hangers and storing them in airtight garment bags. You can also use aromatic cedar chips as you would mothballs and place them in the pockets of hanging clothes or in storage boxes.
  • Streak, Spot, & Stain Cleaner for Dishes: To remove the foggy film from your glasses or dishes, don't use detergents that may contain phosphates and chemicals. Instead, soak them in a mixture of two parts water and one part vinegar, or put vinegar in the rinse dispenser of your dishwasher. This method also works wonders for coffee or tea stained mugs.
  • All-Purpose Cleaner: Make your own all-purpose cleaner by mixing half a cup of vinegar with a quarter-cup of baking soda and dissolving it in a half a gallon of water. You can store the mixture and use it for cleaning bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, or for removing water deposit stains on shower stall panels.
  • Faster All-Purpose Cleaner: To clean grimy bathtub rings, scour vanities, or remove food deposits from your kitchen sink, just sprinkle baking soda onto a damp sponge and scrub.
  • Showerhead Cleaner: Remove mineral and hard water deposits from your showerhead by placing half a cup of undiluted white vinegar in a plastic food storage bag and securing it to the showerhead with a rubber band. You'll be able to rinse and buff the fixture to a shiny finish after letting it soak in the vinegar overnight.
  • Mild Drain Cleaner: You don't have to use expensive, toxic drain cleaners to clear mild sink clogs. All you need to do is pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar, and then quickly cover with the sink stopper. After you let it sit for a few minutes, pour a kettle full of boiling water down the drain.
  • Furniture Polish: To polish furniture that has an oil finish, mix two parts linseed or olive oil with one part lemon juice, then apply and polish with a soft cloth.
  • Fabric Softener: If someone in your household has sensitive skin, they may not be able to tolerate commercial fabric softeners. You can save money, avoid chemical exposure, cut detergent residue, eliminate static cling, AND soften your clothes all by adding a cup of undiluted white vinegar to your laundry's rinse cycle.
  • Carpet Deodorizer: Make your carpet smell better by sprinkling the area with baking soda, leaving on for 10-15 minutes, and then vacuuming.
  • Pet Stain & Odor Remover: If you have pets, having a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water will help remove urine stains and smells.
  • Silver Polish: Place aluminum foil, salt, baking soda, and warm water into a large bowl or container. Place your silver items into the solution, wait one hour, and then use a soft cloth to polish.


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