It’s finally springtime, and that means many people have spring cleaning on their minds. Of course, in this massive effort to refurbish their living spaces, people tend to use a lot of products harmful to themselves and the environment. So let’s rethink spring cleaning – the greener, the better!
First things first: look at the labels on the cleaning products you already have. Do they say “caution”, “toxic,” or something similar? If so, keep in mind that if it could toxic for you, it is definitely toxic for the environment. Consider disposing of these products carefully and switching to “safer choice” or widely accepted green brands, or even making your own cleaning solutions.
If you choose to stick with brand-name products, try to purchase something from companies with greener products. And if you have to choose between regular products or antibacterial/antimicrobial products, stick with the regular products. Antibacterial/antimicrobial products do not work any better than regular cleaning products in terms of actual cleaning power, and are actually helping to create “supergerms”, which are nearly untreatable in humans. As for bleach, stick to using it for mold only – otherwise, it is unnecessary.
Vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice are common DIY cleaning ingredients. A half vinegar and half water solution works as a general cleaning agent, and can also be used to clean your coffee maker/coffee pot. White vinegar can also be used to soften clothes and prevent that unwanted mildew smell.
A lemon solution or even just hot water can remove stickiness, and can remove food particles that are stuck on your pots and pans. Baking soda can be used to clean carpets – just sprinkle some over the carpet and let it soak up any bad smells, then vacuum it up later.
Baking soda or vinegar solutions can be used as general cleaning solutions, but remember papier-mâché volcanos? The “volcanic reaction” of a baking soda and vinegar solution can be used to clean bad stains and messes.
Instead of using chemical air fresheners, try making your own! You can boil different leaves or spices in order to release pleasant scents, so you have your very own air freshener.
Another way to green your spring cleaning is something simple: just switch to reusable cloths for cleaning instead of using paper towels.
But don’t make these changes just now, when you have a lot of cleaning to do – implement them throughout the year. If you clean less intensely and more often, you will have less cleaning to do in the long run, and your environmental impact will be much smaller. Try to be cleaner and greener this spring!
For more specific information about cleaning solutions, check out this article on Tree Hugger.
Story by Alexis Balog, Sustainability Ambassador