Green Spring Cleaning Tips
Green Spring Cleaning Tips
As springtime rolls around, don’t just plan your Spring cleaning— plan a spring greening.
Being cooped up all winter long makes spring a perfect time to really shake off the winter doldrums with a good deep home cleaning to freshen up the place. While you may be looking forward to clearing out the cobwebs, how fresh can you get exposing your home, yourself and your lovedones to toxic chemicals? If you haven’t already, take this opportunity to turn over a new green leaf and switch to safe, environmentally responsible cleaning solutions that you can make yourself for a fraction of the cost of the usual household poisonous cleaners.
A good place to start spring cleaning is to go through the closets and drawers and get rid of as much as you can. Lighten your load. As you go, aside old towels or t-shirts that are too shabby to use can be converted into rags so you won’t have to waste money by throwing rolls-worth of paper towels in the landfills.
For each closet or drawer, designate three boxes or piles: keep, trash and give away. Pull things out and sort them into the appropriate pile or box. Throw out the trash, tape up the box of stuff you’re giving away and set it someplace out of the way.
Vacuum or dust the cobwebs and dust out of the corners, from floor to ceiling. Wipe down all the surfaces with a damp rag and put in new paper liners if necessary. Sweep and mop as necessary, then re-organize and put back all the things you’re keeping.
Keep those closets and drawers clean and fresh-smelling. Recycle some old plastic food containers, such as small margarine or yogurt cups. Fill the container half-way with baking soda and place a piece of doubled cheesecloth over it. Put a rubber band around the container to secure the cheesecloth and slip the container into the cabinet or drawer. The baking soda absorbs odors. Change it every 4 months.
For a pleasant scent, sprinkle a few drops of essential oils or vanilla extract on a cotton ball and tuck them into a corner.
Walls, Ceilings and Windows
Tackle all the walls and windows with a duster or vacuum, getting into all the corners and around the window frames. Dust any ledges, vents, baseboards, door frames or any other little nooks and crannies where dust can accumulate. Dust off the fixtures and ceiling fans.
Mix one gallon of warm water with one cup of vinegar and use it as an all-purpose cleaner for the windows and frames. You can clean some walls with the mixture too, but be careful. Certain paints (like flat paint) or porous wall papers cannot be cleaned with damp rags— if you’re not sure, test in an inconspicuous place.
Walls in kitchens and bathrooms need special attention. They suffer from steam, heat, grime and are the most notorious places to develop mold or mildew.
Vinegar/water solution helps cut through anything greasy and disinfects the surfaces. If vinegar alone isn’t getting the job done, dip the damp rag in baking soda and scrub. Vinegar and baking soda’s reaction will help cut through dirt, and baking soda acts as an abrasive. Scrub grout and stubborn corners with old toothbrushes.
Wipe down the cabinetry, countertops and mirrors with the solution.
Getting to the Nitty-Gritty
Give everything a good dusting; books, electronics, the back of the TV, lamps, headboards and knick-knack shelves. Use the vacuum to suck up the dust instead of kicking it into the air.
Things normally wiped down with those toxic cleaners like bleach-based sprays can be cleaned with vinegar and water solution.
Natural Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
More Green Spring Cleaning Tips
Fabrics, Cushions and Upholstery
Bring out all your pillows and cushions to give them a good shake or beating. This will get rid of the dust. Put the upholstery attachment on your vacuum and suck as much dust as you can out of the sofa and chairs. Any areas that have an odor, sprinkle some baking soda and come back later to vacuum it off.
Give your mattresses and box springs a thorough vacuuming with your upholstery attachment. Vacuum the underside of the box spring, as well as the floor underneath the bed.
Got mattress odors? Use a spray mister to lightly dampen the surface and sprinkle borax over it. Rub the borax in with a rag and scrub. Allow the mattress to dry and vacuum up the borax remnants. Even stubborn odors like urine should be gone.
Sinks, Tubs and Toilets
Spray the fixtures using your vinegar solution and scrub them with an old toothbrush, being sure to get in all the cracks and creases.
Got rings? Mix borax and lemon juice into a paste and scrub with a nylon brush or rag. You can leave the paste on for a while to help it lift deeper stains. Use borax as a scouring powder to scrub away any soap scum or soil, then wash the entire thing with your vinegar and water solution.
If you have a self-cleaning oven, remove any trays or pans you might be storing in there and run it through a cycle. When it’s finished, brush away the ashes and wipe with vinegar water solution.
If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, remove all but one rack. Cut three lemons in half and squeeze them into a metal baking pan. Toss the leftover peels into the pan, too. Pour in 2 cups of water and slip it in the oven.
Turn the oven on to 250 degrees and let the liquids steam for 30 to 60 minutes to loosen some of the debris inside.
Turn off the oven and allow it to cool down until it’s only slightly warm, but not completely cold. Remove the pan and set the liquid aside. Use a plastic scraper to strip off chunks or layers of grease.
Dip your rag into the lemon liquid to wipe away the grime and dirt. If it’s not coming off, scrub with a cellulose sponge, or dip your damp rag into some baking soda and scrub.
Put a cup of vinegar in it and put it on high power for 1 to 2 minutes, or as long as it takes the vinegar to boil. Leave the door closed for about 10 minutes, then open it and wipe it down with a damp rag.
Empty the fridge, dumping anything outdated or questionable.
Remove the drawers and shelves from the refrigerator and clean them in the sink with dish detergent. As they air dry,wipe the entire inside and outside of the fridge with the vinegar solution. Put an open box of baking soda in there to help absorb odors.
Dishwashers and Washing Machines
Fill the powder detergent hole with baking soda and let it run a cycle on high heat. Wipe the entire outside of the appliances with your vinegar/water solution.
Wash the carafe, filter basket and any other removable parts in the sink with your dish detergent. Dry and replace them. Wipe the exterior of the machine with your vinegar/water solution. Fill the pot 1/3 of the way with vinegar, and fill it up the rest of the way with water. Pour it into the reservoir and run it through a brewing cycle.
Empty the carafe, then run two or three more cycle with plain water to remove any remnants of vinegary taste.
Cutting Boards and Wood Counters
If there are a lot of nicks and scratches in your wood cutting boards, give them a good sanding until they’re smooth again.
Sprinkle kosher salt on cutting boards or counters. Place half a lemon, cut-side down, on the salt and scrub. Rinse and let them air dry.
Skip the petroleum-based mineral oils. Use beeswax or coconut oil instead.
Cleaning sponges a couple of times per week will keep them from growing mold, mildew or harboring bacteria. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to a bowl of water. Rinse sponges of all soap remnants, then put them in the vinegar water to soak.
Fifteen minutes later, take them out and squeeze them dry. One minute in the microwave will keep them dry and kill germs.
Grind and mix dried flowers or herbs into a box of baking soda, such as lavender buds or rosemary, then sprinkle it all over the rugs. Let it sit for 30 minutes and vacuum thoroughly.
Make a vinegar and hot water solution for linoleum and tiles. Add a few drops of essential oils, such as lemon, orange, peppermint or whatever smells pleasant to you. Mop.
For wood floors, mix ½ teaspoon of Castile soap, a few drops of essential oil and a gallon of water. Castile soap is pure olive oil soap and won’t harm your floors.
Woodwork and Wood Furniture
The castile soap cleaning mixture is safe for just about any woodwork you’d use less green Murphy’s Oil soap. Just prevent water from pooling up— wipe up excess moisture as you clean.
To polish it to a shine and protect it, use beeswax.
Then sit back and take a deep breath— your home is clean and