By Pat Maurer
When the sun is shining and the temperatures start climbing up into the 60s, it is time to fling open the windows, sweep out the cobwebs and take on your annual spring cleaning chores.
Why not go green this year and clean with the alternatives available that can help you make your home squeaky clean—and green. You don’t have to make a special trip to the natural foods store to find environmentally-sensitive cleaning products.
There are companies out there who make full lines of household cleaners that work just as well as those conventional chemical counterparts.
Or, you can stock up your natural cleaning kit with homemade cleaners. Making them yourself is super easy. The basic supplies you’ll need to make your own green cleaners include:
Distilled white vinegar (sold in the cooking section of most supermarkets)Baking soda Olive oil Borax (sold in a box in the laundry aisle) Liquid castile soap (found in most natural foods stores) Essential oils (super concentrated natural plant oils found in natural foods stores)
Microfiber cleaning cloths Newspaper – Save up those old Reviews! To make those windows sparkling clean mix ¼ cup vinegar and a quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray on glass and wipe clean with old newspapers or a lint-free cloth.
To clean the countertops and bathroom tile mix two parts vinegar with one part baking soda and four parts water. Apply with a sponge, scour, and wipe away.
For the floors mix four cups of white distilled vinegar with a gallon of hot water. If you want add a few drops of pure peppermint or lemon oil which will leave a great scent when the vinegar evaporates.
To clean your wood furniture use equal parts of lemon juice and olive oil. Apply a small amount to your cloth and wipe the furniture with long even strokes.
Clean the toilet bowl with your bowl brush sprinkled with baking soda and scrub away. Wipe the outside with straight vinegar. You can use borax occasionally as a disinfectant – mix two teaspoons with four tablespoons vinegar, three cups hot water and ¼ teaspoon liquid soap.
Wipe on with dampened cloth or use a spray bottle and wipe clean. Baking soda also makes a great scouring power for burnt-on food on your kitchen range and it works great to get the stains off your porcelain sink.
To get rid of mold and mildew wipe it with straight vinegar. To freshen the air in your home, apply a little essential oil to a cotton ball and stash it in the corner of the room – out of the reach of children of course. Use lavender in the bedroom and cinnamon, clove or citrus oils for the rest of the house. Stash one with peppermint in the car to help keep you alert.
Here are a few more ways to “green up”: Install an old fashioned clothesline and hang your wash out in the breeze. If space is an issue, consider the retractable type. It is easier on your clothes and saves money. Plus they will smell wonderful and fresh!
Install a living air fi lter – house plants. Some of the most effi cient are Spider plants, English ivy, rubber plants and pace lilies. Fifteen to eighteen will clean the air in a 1,800 square foot house, or put some in the room you spend the most time in.
Clean those closets out! You can de-clutter by donating gently worn items to a local charity.
You get more room and they get a second life. Worn, torn and stained items make great cleaning rags and save using wasteful paper towels. When you’re packing up the winter sweaters, add some cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and whole cloves in an old sock to deter moths.
If you’re painting this spring, check the VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) in the paint you choose. They are chemicals that form vapors at room temperatures.
Dutch Boy is one of the brands that makes ca safe paint. Check at your paint store. Cleaning up your home for spring doesn’t have to be dirty work. When you implement some of these ideas and products, you can rest assured that you’re benefiting your body, your home and the planet allat once. Many of these changes are small ones, but their impact on your health and the environment can really add up over time.
Happy spring cleaning!