Spring Cleaning Ideas to Make Your Home Greener and Healthier
The days are getting longer and warmer as spring settles in. Spring serves as a time of renewal and rebirth, and it is the perfect time of year to clean the house of spiderwebs and clutter that may have accumulated over the winter.
With spring also comes dust, clutter, and bacteria that make themselves comfortable within our homes in the colder months that need to be removed, hence the annual ritual of spring cleaning. However, before you pull out a bottle of bleach and go to town, consider some healthy and natural alternatives solutions to clean your home in a greener way for you and your family.
Make the Swap
While most of us attempt to eliminate single-use items in our homes, there are a number of things that still need to be replaced routinely — and many of these items have a way of reminding us after they are well past their expiration date. For example, your toothbrush should be replaced every three months. When was the last time you replaced yours?
If you find yourself experiencing more intense seasonal allergies than normal, your pillow may be signaling that it’s time for an update. Our pillows are more prone to dust mites than many other items in our homes, and the general rule of thumb is to replace your pillow once every two years.
However, you can stretch this timeline out if you are willing to wash your pillow in hot water and detergent once every few months or so. If you suffer from skin issues or allergies, it may be best just to update your bedroom pillows with hypoallergenic bamboo pillows. Bamboo is a much more sustainable material and resource than down feathers or polyester filling, and is the greener option when purchasing new items for your bedroom.
The following are additional household items that need be replaced regularly:
- Toilet brush
- Dish sponge
- Fire extinguisher
- Water filter
When replacing items within your home, be an educated consumer and choose items that are chemical-free, made by companies with environmentally friendly practices, and are biodegradable, when possible.
Spring cleaning is more than just dusting off the top of cabinets and putting away the ski gear — it’s also an opportunity to check your home for any safety hazards that may have been put off this winter.
Small rodents tend to take up residence within our homes without our knowledge and cause a number of issues. One of them is chewing through electrical cords and wiring, creating unknown hazards until it is too late — like shorting out appliances or potentially becoming a fire hazard by causing sparks. Regularly check the cords of all appliances plugged into electrical outlets and check for frays or cracks and replace those you find to be worrisome.
If you find you have an appliance in need of replacement or is no longer needed, do not simply discard it in the dumpster. Take it to a repair shop to see if it’s salvageable first before assuming it’s are a lost cause. If you do find it is unable to be repaired, do your part to keep it out of the landfill. A quick online search will allow you to find a place to recycle electrical items so they can be repurposed into new items or disposed of in an environmentally conscious way.
While you are checking your outlets, pull the plug on any appliance you don’t use regularly to avoid pulling energy where it is not needed. It is a small step you can take to reducing your home’s carbon footprint with little effort.
Rugs and Carpets
Our floor coverings take a true beating throughout the winter. Our boots track in dried leaves and mud that settles deep into the fibers, making them difficult to remove with a simple run of the vacuum. If you live in an area with a high amount of moisture, whether it be rain or snow, wet boots or wet pets contribute to creating a moist environment ideal for bacteria to thrive in.
Take advantage of the warm weather to pull rugs outside and remove the dust and dander without allowing it to just recirculate inside your home. Beat the rugs to remove any loose materials, but be sure to protect yourself by covering your nose and mouth with a dust mask or bandana.
Once the rugs have been beaten, you can either bring them indoors or steam clean them outside. Rather than using the harsh chemicals sold at the store, making your own is equally effective but healthier for you and your home.
Fill the reservoir of your steam cleaner with the following:
- 3 quarts of hot, not boiling, water
- 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (3%)
- 4 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons liquid soap
- OPTIONAL: 1/4 teaspoon of essential oils
One of the added benefits of spring cleaning is letting the carpets air dry by sunshine and fresh air. Open all the windows in your house and allow the carpets to fully dry before replacing furniture or rugs. It is best to start this process first thing in the morning to enable your carpets to dry before nightfall.
It may take you more than just one weekend to finish your spring cleaning. Keep in mind when you are wrist deep in soapy water that your lofty summer brain will thank you when it is all done.