Eco-Friendly Spring Cleaning Tips
for a Non-Toxic Home
The sun is shining, the breeze is cool and you're ready to freshen your home with a few spring cleaning tips.
Spring cleaning shouldn't mean choking on cleaning fumes or burning your eyes and skin. But sadly, almost all spring cleaning supplies contain dangerous or questionable chemicals, such as:
- Ammonium chloride found in toilet bowl cleaners or deodorizers are permanently corrosive to the eyes.
- Aliphatic petroleum solvent found in carpet cleaners is a neurotoxin, damaging the nervous system.
- Crystalline sillica in many popular cleaners is a carcinogen, eye, skin and lung irritant.
- Tripropylene glycol monomethyl ether found in floor cleaners, waxes and polishes has been linked to narcosis and kidney failure.1
Spring cleaning (and spring cleaning supplies) should rejuvenate us, not make us sick!
That's why all the following spring cleaning tips will help you accomplish your goal in a safe, non-toxic way. We'll start with the essential spring cleaning supplies.
Spring Cleaning Supplies
Perhaps the best spring cleaning tips have to do with keeping things simple and eco-friendly. All-natural household cleaners do just that.
The following spring cleaning supplies are 100% safe, inexpensive and easy to find and use.
- A broom...sturdy straw brooms are the most eco-friendly.
- A fabric mop...avoid disposable mop heads and opt for one that can be washed many times.
- Plenty of cloth rags...an old flannel sheets cut into squares is the best option for affordability and absorbency. Avoid wasteful paper towels.
- A stiff brush...this will come in handy when scrubbing soiled areas or objects.
- A old toothbrush...good for cracks, crevices and corners.
- A bucket...be sure to use a clean and sturdy bucket that will be long-lasting. Reusing five gallon buckets is great, as long as they are clean.
- A vacuum or wet-vac...this is not only for carpets, but also window and door frames, fireplaces and other hard-to-reach places.
- All-natural cleaning products...that link will open in a new window and lead you to eco-friendly, inexpensive and simple cleaning solutions.
- Work clothes...don't get your nice shirt filthy.
- Essential oils...these wil help you to disinfect, detoxify, and energize you through the work.
- A great playlist...cleaning is always more fun when you're listening to bands like The Police or The Beatles. Make sure it's upbeat and skip anything too slow!
Once you have these things in order, the next step is to implement a plan and put the following spring cleaning tips into action.
Spring Cleaning Tips
Read through the following spring cleaning tips before you get started. They should give you plenty of ideas to create your own plan of action, as well as several useful hints to make your job easier, more enjoyable and more organized.
Make It Fun, Funny or Memorable
Fun, upbeat music and a healthy dose of utter silliness go a long way to keeping you energized and on task. To engage kids, try decorating broom handles with streamers, don special party hats or funny voices, or tell silly stories as you work. Or throw a spring cleaning party with a special meal to celebrate when you're done.
Don't forget to open windows and doors if the weather is nice. You'll not only air your home out, you'll also increase your own fresh air intake, which will increase your energy and mood.
Most homes won't be spring cleaned in one afternoon. A truly deep clean can take anywhere from 2-6 hours per area.
Instead, use the following spring cleaning tips to create a working schedule and plan your attack well.
Create Your Own Checklist
The best way to do this is to break down your areas to clean into sections (master bedroom, bathroom, closet, kitchen, pantry, etc). Then break down each section into individual tasks that need accomplishing in each room (dust fans, clean windows, wash sheets,etc).
Once you have a checklist, estimate how much time it will take you to accomplish each task. Then as you work on each task, write down the actual time it took you to finish the task. This will help you to estimate the same tasks in other rooms and adjust your schedule accordingly.
Using this checklist, you can divide the tasks by estimated times and create a flexible schedule (giving yourself plenty of extra cushion in your time).
Organize As You Go
As you start on a room, begin by sorting, decluttering and organizing the major items in that area first. This means picking up any clutter, putting things in the laundry and generally clearing the area of excess "stuff".
Any items that don't belong in the area you're working on should go into one of four piles, baskets or bags:
- The Laundry Pile: This is obviously anything you want to wash.
- Transport Pile: These are items that need to be moved to a different area or room. This might also include items that belong to other homes (such as a book you borrowed).
- The Goodbye Pile: These are items you're donating or selling.
- The Trash: These are broken items or other trash that can't be sold or donated.
Don't try to leave the area you're working on to put something away! Just put the piles near the door and take them with you when you finish the room.
Work From The Top Down
This spring cleaning tip is a must. The last thing you want to do is dust the table, then dust the fan blades, only to find you need to dust the table again. By working from the top down, you'll save time, energy and resources by not repeating tasks.
A few things to keep in mind when working from the top down:
- The exception to cleaning from the top down is to wash the walls from the bottom up, then back down. This is because dirty, soapy streaks may be harder to clean off dirty walls then already clean walls. Work your way back up to remove any drips.
- Keep the sheets on the bed while you work above to keep the mattress clear of dust or water.
- Do all the rest of your laundry after the room is clean so that you are only bringing in the clean laundry after al the dust and dirt is gone.
Dry Clean Before You Wet Clean
Often, if you don't remove dirt, dust and debris before you start adding water, the result can be a big muddy mess.
This includes the obvious sweeping before you mop. But it also includes dusting fan blades before you wash them, vacuuming dirt and debris from window tracks before you wash the windows, etc.
Keep Up, Not Catch Up
It's always easier to keep on top of things than to try to catch up every spring.
Create a monthly checklist to accomplish throughout the year. You can break it down by rooms (April: kitchen, May: bedrooms, etc) or by tasks (June: windows ceiling fans, July: walls and baseboards, etc). Then create a flexible schedule to get it done each month.
Other Spring Cleaning Tips
Here are a few more spring cleaning tips and tricks sent in by readers:
- Wash windows on a sunny day, but do it in the morning before the windows get hot and more likely to streak. - Teri
- Change air filters only after you vacuum the air ducts. - Lee
- For most cleaning, try boiling water and elbow grease. An electric tea kettle can transport boiling water to any part of the house. - Lisa
- Use a mop to wash the ceiling and walls. A drop cloth can help to protect floors. - Anonymous
- Soaking a rag in white vinegar and laying it over soap scum helps remove tough spots. - Eli
And remember to check out Natural Household Cleaners to learn how to clean anything safely with non-toxic spring cleaning supplies.