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6 tricks for green spring cleaning

Posted by Meg Stout on Mar 16, 2012
Tags: green tips

It’s time to sweep up the clutter of winter, open the windows, and let the light into your newly sparkling house. But do you know which cleaning products can be toxic for you and the environment? Save money and protect your health with these effective green cleaning tips.

1. Go non-toxic

Conventional household cleaners often contain hazardous substances that can lead to skin, eye, and respiratory issues. In addition, these chemicals leach into the environment through sinks and sewers—compromising water quality and affecting wildlife. Luckily, there are safer (and cheaper!) alternatives—ones that you probably already have in your pantry. For example, humble white vinegar and essential oils can kill bacteria, molds, and viruses.

Project

Recipe

Testers

Glass & mirrors

Mix 4 tablespoons lemon juice with 1/2 gallon of water, wipe with lint-free rag

TLC

Furniture polish (wood)

Mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice and wipe with a soft cloth

TLC

Tarnished copper and brass

Slice one lemon and dip it in salt, rub directly on the item, then rinse and dry

TLC

Disinfectant spray

Pour white vinegar into spray bottle, use undiluted, and don’t rinse surfaces

Gaiam

Toilet bowl

Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub, occasionally disinfect toilet with borax

SparkPeople

 

If homemade isn’t your thing, you can find pre-formulated green cleaning products at your supermarket or health food coop, including brands like Method, Seventh Generation, and Ecover. To help protect water ecosystems, look for biodegradable products that don’t include phosphates.

2. Avoid “antibacterial”

In most homes, antibacterial soaps are overkill (pun intended). Several studies have shown that triclosan—an antimicrobial chemical found in many household products—is no better at removing germs than regular soap and water. Worse, it might cause hormone disruptions in children and adults and help create antibiotic-resistant bugs. It has been detected in waterways and even breast milk.

The solution? If you don’t have health problems that require a clinically sterile environment, stick with plain old soap and hot water.

3. Scent wisely

Forget artificial fragrances, which studies have linked to allergic reactions, hormone disruptions, and even cancer. Scent your home with all-natural potpourri instead.

It’s easy: simply simmer fragrant spices like cinnamon bark, orange peel, rosemary, nutmeg, or cedar in a small saucepan on the stove. For extra green points, use citrus peels that you would otherwise toss. View recipe ideas.

4. Invest in some green

Studies suggest that houseplants can remove toxins from the air, including formaldehyde and mercury vapor. For easy maintenance, try Golden pothos, spider plant, or Chinese evergreen.

But choose carefully if you have pets or small children—some are poisonous if ingested. For a list of non-toxic houseplants, visit the ASPCA plant database.

5. Ditch the clutter

Spring is a great time to get rid of the old things that you no longer use. But don’t toss them in the dumpster. Bring useful items to consignment shops or stores like Goodwill. Some places, like ReSource, will even refurbish damaged appliances.

Be sure to take hazardous substances (like chemical cleaning supplies) to your municipal drop-off location, so they can be disposed of properly.

6. Leave shoes at the door

Here’s the easiest tip of all, and it’s one that will help prolong your spring cleaning efforts: don’t wear your shoes indoors.

Shoes track dirt and contaminants from outside, including animal waste, pesticides, pollen, and mold spores. This can be especially problematic for kids and people with asthma. To address this issue, leave shoes at the entrance, or better yet, in a mudroom or foyer. Installing doormats inside and out also helps block pollutants.

 

 

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