green cleaning

Despite the chill in the air, spring is really just on the horizon. Whether you live in an apartment, condo or house, spring is the perfect time to streamline your routine, re-examine your living space, and think “out with the old and in with the new.” After the long months of winter, it feels great to throw open the windows, air out the rugs and linens and scrub the dust and grime away, welcoming in the intensifying sunshine. Longer days bring more outside pursuits. No one wants to face a house full of chores after a long day. With a little focused effort now, you can save yourself time later, when summer hits and the beach is calling your name.

First, take stock of your home one room at a time and consider taking this opportunity to purge and donate old unwanted items. The easiest method to begin cleaning is to start at one end of your home and work toward the other end or you can begin with the dirtiest rooms first: usually the kitchen and bathroom.

Next, have your simple supplies at the ready. If you want to clean your home for health and peace of mind, consider using only eco-friendly products or better yet (and a far less expensive alternative) make your own green cleaners. Green cleaning means less worries about dangerous chemical interactions, fumes, and harming your local water supply and ecosystem.

Some of the best green cleaning ingredients can be easily found at your local grocery or sustainable market. Nearly all of these can do multiple duties, too.

Here’s a rundown on some of the most time-tested green cleaning ingredients and how to use them:

  • castile soap: A very mild cleanser, most castile soap is sold in liquid form and is often scented with essential oils, although you can find unscented versions. Keep a spray bottle full of a few squirts of castille soap and hot water handy for quick and easy cleanup of any greasy mess. This super simple solution dissolves grime easily and is very safe to use on most surfaces. Avoid use on glass or mirrors, however, as it may leave a slight film.
  • baking soda: Use as a gentle scouring powder in place of chlorine bleach cleansers. Baking soda is useful for cleaning drains of soap scum and gunk when used along with full strength vinegar. (Remember that science project volcano reaction?) Baking soda is also a powerful cleaner for removing baked on grease from inside ovens when used with hot water. Rinse well.
  • borax: A chemical “cousin” to baking soda, use this dissolved in hot water for cleaning carpets and scrubbing dingy walls.
  • white vinegar: Excellent for cleaning glass and mirrors, white vinegar has been proven to also disinfect. Be careful to dilute it or use it in focused areas only, as it is acetic acid, which can erode wood varnishes and other porous surfaces.
  • hydrogen peroxide: Dilute with a small amount of water and squirt on stained tub tiles for a safer and quicker alternative to bleach for whitening grout.

Simple tools that make green cleaning a cinch:

  • empty spray bottles: Look for the heavy duty type in hardware aisles or stores. They hold more liquid and are much more durable, with a longer spray reach.
  • microfiber cloths and “magic” eraser sponges: These have tiny textured surfaces that can absorb an enormous amount of liquid and scrub out stains better. They are also reusable many times over. Avoid using eraser sponges on shiny or delicate surfaces as they may scratch.
  • cellulose sponges: made from biodegradable plant fibers and much more durable and absorbent than plastic sponges
  • old toothbrushes and nail brushes
  • plastic squirt bottles: like the type used for condiments, handy for spot application and cleaning tile grout
  • reusable flat head spray mops: Forget those old bulky mops and buckets of yesteryear. Look for spray mops that come with their own refillable tank for use with your own green cleaning solutions. These often have mop heads that can be machine washed. Purchase extras mop heads to have one clean at the ready. These are much more eco-friendly than disposable flat mops embedded with cleaning solution, too.

Here’s to a happy, healthy springtime home!


-photo credit: storebukkebruse, flickr