Thursday, March 15

10 Tips for Green Spring Cleaning

 "All the effort you are making will ultimately pay off." - Fortune Cookie

Ah, the springtime, isn't it a wonderful time of year! Snow is turning to rain, flowers are start to bloom, and the warmth can be felt in the air. For me this is always the time of year that I love to clean. Yes, that's correct, I love to clean. Our homes are a reflection of ourselves and it's the place that we spend the most time in. It's extremely important to be surrounded by a beautiful, tranquil, and clean atmosphere, because that physical environment has an impact on you. If you're in a dirty, chaotic place, you feel that chaos, in contrast to a gorgeous spa or hotel. Those places are inviting and fun, and we yearn to spend time there. The same goes for the home. It's not just about cleaning the house, it's house cleaning of the mind. 

Here are some tips to help tidy up the home in a natural way:

1. Stop buying stuff you don't need. - I know this sounds silly, but think about everything that might bother you in your home. At one point or another you purchased or received them gifts. A clean and clutter-free home starts with this simple step. Be selective about what you buy and bring into the home. Also, it doesn't hurt to tell others about your preferences. For example, my family is aware of this and tries to only buy me gifts that I can use. Carla gave me fresh cactus last year for my birthday and I was forever grateful. This is not only eco- friendly (if you buy less, less is thrown away), but it's easier on the wallet and the home.

2. Get rid of the clutter. - Ever step into a cluttered room and feel overwhelmed to even start cleaning it? Well, the first step is to remove the clutter. I don't condone throwing things away, that breaks my heart when other minimalists tell people to take a trash bag and start pitching things. Whatever you throw away stays in or on the ground for hundreds, if not thousands, of years if it's not biodegradable. Instead, give your unwanted belonging to friends or family that might need or want them. Or try Craigslist or Ebay to sell unwanted things. Your junk is someone else's treasure, and I'm sure a grateful buyer is out there somewhere. Lastly, you can donate to charity if you want to get it out fast. My preference, because I know where it's going, is to donate to cancer funds, missionaries, or special-needs children. They are always so thankful.

3. Go one room at a time. - Make life easier by starting with a small room first. That way it's not too daunting, and even rewarding when you finish. This will prepare you for larger rooms later on.

4. Let fresh air and light in. - Letting fresh air and natural sunlight inside will not only help you to see things more clearly when you're cleaning, but it will help keep the air you breathe a little fresher if a lot of dust and dirt is being stirred up in the process. It will also help get all of the stale winter air out of the house which may be contaminated by carpet fumes, chemical paints, poisonous household cleaners, pressed wood toxins, and mold. Fresh air is always better than indoor air. It helps revitalize the cells in our bodies. So keep those windows open if it's warm.

5. Use natural cleaning products. - Vinegar and water can be used for almost everything. It's nature's little miracle cleaner and can be used on floors, counter tops, dishes, sinks, and windows. Also, adding a few drops of tea tree oil to water can be used to kill mold because it's an anti-fungal. Isn't nature amazing!

6. Hydrogen peroxide can be used instead of bleach. - I've had some bad experiences with bleach and I won't use it for cleaning. Specifically the strong fumes burning my eyes and bleaching my carpet on accident. Instead, earth-safe (meaning if you pour it down the drain it won't destroy rivers or plants the way bleach does) hydrogen peroxide works just as well, it brightens without bleaching towels/fabrics, and it isn't as smelly. Also, this is how hotels keep white towels so new and fluffy. Bleach just wears them out over time.

7. Use eco-friendly biodegradable sponges and old rags. - Personally I use natural plant-based fiber sponges in the kitchen, sanitizing them weekly in the dishwasher when I do a load. Using the dishwasher is preferred because it uses less water than what would be used for hand washing dishes. So when the sponges get too old for kitchen use I then use them for the floors, throwing them out only when I can't possibly use them any more. That's why it's good that they're plant based, because when they're thrown away they will degrade fast if exposed to the elements. Other than that, I use old t-shirts, holey socks, and torn up pajamas that are too ragged to give to charity. All you do is cut them up into squares and use them as dust rags and they can be easily thrown in the washing machine for reuse.

8. Clean out the refrigerator and the pantry. - A dirty refrigerator or pantry is not awesome. Vinegar is great because then if any residue is left behind it doesn't matter if it comes in contact with food. Also, this is a great time to reorganize and get rid of unhealthy foods. Just eat it up or give it to a friend, and stop buying it. Replacing it with fresh fruits, herbs, and veggies every week will help maintains the refrigerator's cleanliness because it's easier to clean if there's less stuff cluttering it.

9. Pack away heavy blankets and clothing for next year. - This is a great way to mentally prepare for the warm new season. Just pack them away in the closet, but be aware not to horde. If it won't be used next year then it's time to give it to someone else.

10.  Use flowers and essential oils instead of air fresheners. - This is a great way to help keep the home chemical free, and who doesn't love flowers and essential oils? It's an instance pick-me-up. Flowers and potted plants are the best air filter one can buy and helps to provide fresh oxygen for inside the home. I absolutely adore the smell of fresh roses, gardenias, or lilies when I walk into a room. It makes me so happy. Also, try adding a few drops of your favorite essential oils to water in a spray bottle for spritzing on carpet, couches, and upholstery. These oils will not stain them, and make your home smell delicious. Some of my current spring- time favorites are pink grapefruit, vanilla, and wintergreen.

As always, be patient and mindful about cleaning. It will definitely take a few days, if not weeks, 
to finish the entire house. Spring cleaning can be a wonderful stress reliever and a great workout. Relax and make a fresh batch of homemade organic green juice, to help revitalize the body and celebrate after all that hard work.

Cheers and happy cleaning.