5 Key Ingredients for a Green Spring Clean

I don’t know if my yearning for a deep spring clean is influenced by culture or the desire to welcome the freshness of the season with a clean smelling, grime-free, cobweb-free, uncluttered home.  Ok true confessions, the last one is really simple since I never give in to the clutter gremlins. 

On the first warm day of the year, I love to throw open the windows and allow the air to circulate through the house blowing out the staleness from the dreary winter months.  Then little by little as I have free time, I tackle tasks.  If spring cleaning is on your agenda, here are some tips to make the process safe and easy for you and your household.

Green Is Not Just For The Lawn & Garden

For your spring and weekly cleaning regimen, turn to simple, non-toxic products.  Homemade solutions are typically cheaper and the cost to the environment is far less.  In lieu of products that may cause personal or environmental harm, try these 5 go-to ingredients that suit just about every household cleaning situation.

1.  Vinegar

Anti-fungal properties of vinegar make it an ideal all purpose cleaner for kitchens and bathrooms. If you do not like the smell, a few drops of essential oils, lemon juice and/or baking soda will alleviate some of the harsh odor.  Give the cleaning solution an extra boost as a bleach and stain fighter by adding some fresh lemon juice. 

The effervescent power of vinegar, baking soda and Castile soap are ideal for cleaning toilets.  If a rust ring remains, use a pumice stone like an eraser to eradicate the ring.

Use 1/4 cup of vinegar to 1 quart of water for cleaning glass and mirrors.

For difficult to clean pots and pans, boil a kettle of water.  Add a splash or 2 of vinegar, approximately 1-2 tbs. baking soda, and 1 tsp. Castile soap along with the boiling water to the cookware.  If you have a long handled scrub brush, it helps to try to scrub away some of the baked on foods before the water cools.  Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes.  Pour out the water.  You may need to use a scouring pad or baking soda scouring powder to clean up any remaining gunk.

2.  Baking Soda

Along with odor control, baking soda is ideal for whipping up a scouring powder.  Add a little water or vinegar to wipe away tough grease and grime.

3.  Castile Soap

You will be amazed at the numerous uses for Castile Soap.  These are just a few ideas: moisturizing hand soap, laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo, floor cleaning solution, veggie wash, pet shampoo, and shaving cream.  Some folks even use it in place of toothpaste as it is plant-based. 

I am a fan of Dr. Bonner's pure Castile vegan, organic soaps.  The company maintains admirable business practices and ethics; commitment to the environment, community, and their employees; advocacy for societal causes; and dedication to their customers and supply chain.  Click here to read about the 150+ year history and legacy of the Dr. Bonner soapmaking family and their ecological and social values.

4.  Lemon

The citric acid in lemons acts as a stain remover.  Leave the lemon juice on a stain and let the natural juice work its power.  Note: before using, check whether the fabric or surface has any special cleaning requirements before using any stain removing protocols. 

Rub a cut lemon onto cutting boards to disinfect and remove stains from cutting boards.  The juice also removes stains from storage containers.

Fresh lemon juice leaves a refreshing scent if you add it to your cleaning sprays and solutions.

5.  Norwex Cloths and Mop Heads

You may have read in my March 14, 2017 blog post about my recent conversion to the Norwex product line.  Their cloths and mop heads make cleaning without any chemicals a snap.

Unlike cotton cloths that will simply spread the dirt, grease and other particles around, their trademark Antibac* microfiber lifts these particles up into the cloth and away from the surface. The microsilver in the cloth goes to work with self-purification properties against mold, fungi, bacteria and odor, leaving your home clean and sanitized with no added chemicals. 

Glass, mirror, crystal and jewelry cleaning is a breeze with their dampened microfiber cloth.  Follow that with a few swipes of the Norwex window cloth for shiny surfaces.

If you would like to learn more about Norwex and how to reduce chemicals in your home, please visit their website here.

To purchase Norwex and for special offers only available on this website, please contact ThePracticalSort.com.  

Walls Get Dusty Too

I should probably not admit to this, but after living in this home for nearly ten years, I cannot recall ever thoroughly dusting the walls.  This embarrassingly filthy Norwex duster mop head is testament to that.  It only took about 20 minutes to wipe down most of my main floor walls after removing art and photos.  We don’t tend to think about dusting walls presuming that vertical surfaces do not collect dust.  Well that sure is a fallacy.

Properly Dispose of HHW to Avoid Risks to Human Health and the Environment

Finally, while you are spring cleaning, this is a perfect time to scour through your cupboards, collect all the household hazardous waste (HHW) for disposal at a collection site near you.  Often times municipalities or waste haulers sponsor HHW events during which time you can drop-off chemicals for proper disposal.  Regardless of whether it is a permanent collection center or a drop-off event, be sure to check ahead of time if there are:

1. Restrictions on the types of products they will accept

2. Weight or volume limitations

3. Any fees

Not sure what constitutes HHW?  According to the EPA, household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic are household hazardous waste. Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special care when you dispose of them. Click here to learn more about HHW.  

If you live in the Portland area, Metro sponsors free HHW events.  The flyer to the right lists the items they will take and how to prepare the load.  The flyer below are the upcoming dates.  Events are held between 10:00 am- 2:00 pm.  Visit Oregonmetro.gov for more information.