Spring cleaning doesn’t mean spring pollution.
There’s rarely an occasion in which someone is exposed to as many chemicals as when house cleaning. Detergents, bleach, and softeners hurt the skin and make their way through airways. And they all hurt the environment. There isn’t much good to be said about the constant hum of a vacuum either, or the liters of water spilled across the kitchen floor. Fortunately, there are simple ways to protect yourself and mother earth, whilst keeping your house sparkling clean.
- Make indoors outdoors
For no additional cost, open a window. Fresh air will do wonders for any room in the house. You don’t need air fresheners when you let the world through the window. It’ll be harder during the winter so make use of sunny days. If the clouds won’t go away, close the blinds and leave a window open when you leave the house.
For added points, get an indoor plant. During the day, plants absorb carbon dioxide and particles and replace them both with oxygen. Ferns and lilies will act exactly as an air purifier – by emitting negative ions -- and they’re easy to take care of. They’ll also help humidify your indoor air, which tends to be too dry and responsible for many respiratory ailments including sore throats and colds.
And no, contrary to popular belief, keeping plants in your house or even in your bedroom, won’t have you running out of air at night. Unless you’re leaving within a greenhouse, it’s been tested, and it’s safe. If you’re still worried, get a snake plant. NASA recommends it, and it emits oxygen even at night. And plants are scientifically good for your peace of mind and focus.
If you’re looking for a freshly cleaned smell, get water, lime, and thyme into a saucepan and leave it on a low simmer. It’ll evaporate and do the work of a thousand candles.
- When the world gives you lemons
Lemons are antiseptic and antibacterial. Dip half a lemon in salt and rub it around your copper pans to bring out their old shine. Drag some lemon across your cutting board to clean off the embedded flavors. Use a mix of lemon juice and baking soda to remove stains on plastic containers.
- Get some baking soda
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is alkaline, abrasive and deodorant. Mix water and baking soda, and apply the paste to the bottom of your oven, let it sit overnight, and scrape it off in the morning to clean.
Add some baking soda to your washing machine to soften your clothes. In the bathroom, throw a cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl, give it an hour, then add a cup of white vinegar, give it another hour, and flush – it’ll get rid of odors and stains.
- Vinegar: that’s what fear smells like
White vinegar is acetic acid. Mixed with water it will remove stains from fabric. If you mix it with lemon, it’ll remove odors. Simmering vinegar with oil on the stove while you cook will hide some of the smell of fish, onion, and garlic. Two cups of white vinegar left for a cycle inside a dishwasher will also replace the cleaning chemicals you tend to use.
An equal parts mix of white vinegar and water will clean windows if you put it in an empty spray bottle. White vinegar, carbonated water, and baking soda will help you remove mold between your bathroom tiles.
- Replace paper
Ditch paper napkins and get some reusable towels and rags. Wash them, hang them to dry, and leave them out on the counter, like you would with disposable paper napkins. It’ll even be cheaper in the long run.
When you need to clean up something truly vile, use an old rag. When a tablecloth, a shirt or any piece of fabric is ready to be thrown out, rip it into pieces and keep them around for the dirtiest spots in the house.
- Get some soap bars
Liquid soap means chemicals and preservatives. It’s also a constant waste of plastic through packaging and containers. So go back to head forward: get a soap bar to wash your dishes.
Green Taylor’s Dish Washing Soap Baris vegan, palm-oil free, cruelty-free, ethically handmade, plastic-free and zero waste. Each bar replaces two bottles of liquid soap. It’s extremely effective on stainless steel, pots, and pans, and it’ll work on laundry and carpet stains and cleaning walls and counters. Green Taylor’s Dish Washing Soap Bar also gentle on porcelain and glassware, and it does quite a trick on unsticking labels off jars.