10 Tips for a Healthier Spring Cleaning
By Lisa J. Chadderdon
Spring has sprung, and it's time to throw open the windows and let the fresh air pour in. So while you’re at it, make sure that the air stays fresh!
Think about what you typically use to “clean” your house. The list probably includes things like Windex, toilet bowl cleaners, Endust, Lysol disinfectant, and more – all of which are certainly effective when it comes to cleaning, but are also packed chock full of toxins that can pollute your household environment.
Although spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition, it’s also one that tends to be fraught with such chemical-laden cleaners. To help you change that particular tradition, we’ve come up with a 10 simple and effective ideas to help you keep your household’s environment healthy while you clean, dust, and scrub.
Baking soda is arguably the most economical cleaning product on the market. Sprinkle it in tubs, sinks, and toilets to scrub away dirt, grime, and soap scum. You can add five drops of essential oil to make the cleaning experience more effective – and the environment more pleasant. Just sprinkle some baking soda onto the surface you’re cleaning, and mix the oil in with a very wet sponge to create a paste. If you have white sinks and tubs, adding lemon essential oil to the baking soda will give you a bit of extra whitening power.
Drop a Chemfree into your toilet tank and forget about scrubbing your toilet bowl again for more than 5,000 flushes – guaranteed!
Make your windows and mirrors sparkle with club soda. Just pop open a can, pour the soda into a sprayer, and you’re ready to roll. The fizz helps cut through everything from toothpaste splatter to the dog nose prints and kid’s hand prints that cover sliding glass doors, car windows, and bathroom mirrors. For improved olfactory pleasure, just add 20 drops of lavender or orange essential oil. For a streak free shine, use a squeegee – or if you don’t have a squeegee, newspaper works great, too. If for any reason you still have streaks when you’re finished, use a clean chalkboard eraser to remove them.
Put 25 drops of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball, and drop it into your vacuum bag the next time you vacuum the house. The cotton ball will help eliminate bad odors while simultaneously freshening the room. We recommend trying lemon, sweet orange, or rose geranium essential oil.
When dusting, create a natural furniture polish using ½ teaspoon of olive oil, ¼ cup of Heinz white vinegar (the Heinz brand is made from grain – not from petroleum), and 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (we like cedar). Apply the polish to a soft, clean dusting cloth and polish away. You can reuse the cloth as many times as you like, until it’s ready to be washed.
You can make a great all-natural odor remover by filling an 8-ounce spray bottle with Heinz white vinegar, and adding 25 drops of your favorite essential oil. To make an effective disinfectant for bathroom fixtures, doorknobs, light switches, etc., try adding 25 drops of tea tree essential oil to the vinegar. To remove urine stains, add 25 drops of lemon essential oil (test it in an inconspicuous place first).
Fight indoor pollution by using nature’s own air cleaners -- plants. Indoor plants like English ivy and spider plants help absorb chemicals found in your home, such as benzene from the stove and formaldehyde from the furniture. Place one plant every 100 feet for maximum effectiveness.
Make an effective, natural floor cleaner by placing 1/8 cup of Dr. Bronners Castile Soap in a bucket (we recommend peppermint scent), adding ¾ cup of Heinz white vinegar, and then filling the bucket ¾-full with warm water. Swish the ingredients well, then wash and dry your floors as usual.
To fight mildew, mix 2/3 cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of borax. Add enough water to form a paste (just a few drops), mix well, and scrub the mixture onto mildewed areas. Let it sit for a few hours, and then rinse the area well with warm water. For extra cleaning power, add 10 drops of lemon essential oil.
Place bedroom comforters, pillows, toppers, blankets, etc. outside in the sun for a few hours to freshen your bedding. We recommend airing bedding out twice a year – once during spring cleaning, and again before winter arrives.