Spring is here and that means its time to get cleaning. The warm temperatures and long hours of sunshine will have you thinking about cleaning your home from the winter slush, all the “stuff” you’ve collected over the past few months that’s cluttering your home and the stale indoor air lingering from the cold weather months. There are numerous ways to clean up this spring that are simple and cost effective, and will also help you keep the environment in mind. In most cases, you can use what you have around you to make your home clean and good as new again.
First take a look at your cleaning supplies to make sure they’re eco-friendly. To protect your health and the health of the planet, opt for non-toxic natural cleaning products. Better yet, you can use ingredients you already have to make your own cleaning supplies, which will cost you about one tenth of what the cleaner’s commercial counterpart would. Baking soda, white vinegar, tea tree oil, lemon juice and good old fashion water are all of the ingredients you’ll need. For cleaning countertop surfaces and inside the fridge mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart of warm water, vinegar will help remove soap buildup in the shower and a dab of tea tree oil can serve as an antibacterial and grease solvent. Instead of paper towels use a reusable sponge, old socks, clothes or rags you have lying around the house.
After you’ve cleaned, its time to de-clutter. Check your closets, basement and any storage space for anything you don’t need. A common rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it or worn it in six months, you probably don’t need it. Make sure to not throw out anything that can be reused by someone else. Having a yard sale is a great way to get rid of excess belongings and Freecycle is a convenient online resource where you give and receive used items. You can also always donate clothing, furniture and other items to Good Will or Salvation Army for those who can use it. Also check your medicine cabinet for medicine, toiletries and cosmetics that are expired. Lastly, give your fridge a good clean by getting rid of items that are expired and don’t forget to compost what you can.
Spring is the perfect time to take advantage of the fresh air and bright sunshine pouring through your windows. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, so once the temperatures heat up during spring open up your windows to let the fresh air in. If you can, put up a clothes line and hang your clothes outside to dry, this will save you energy and your clothing will last much longer. You can also hang your carpets, rugs and bedding outdoors to air out and deodorize, this will give you the opportunity to clean the floors and move around big furniture to clean behind.
While you’re at it, if you want to give your home a makeover without spending a ton of money, rearrange your furniture to create a whole new look and feel. Take it a step further by adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls, but make sure you use low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) which produce the least amount of indoor pollution.
Adding some house plants will help further purify the air and will also add to your home décor –spider plants, bamboo palm and peace lilies are low maintenance options that work well. Experts recommend 15 to 20 plants per 1800 square feet, or 1 per 100 square feet, to see maximum benefits. Utilize your window space to let plenty of sunlight in to keep plants thriving. Spring is a great time to wash the inside and outside of windows, as well as window screens, which you can wash simply with hot water and a soft bristle. Be sure to also clean and replace filters when necessary, such as the furnace, air conditioner and vacuums, to further purify indoor air.