Spring Cleaning

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I am in probably the minority camp that actually really enjoys cleaning. I regularly keep cleaning supplies stocked and the list is pretty short because most things I use can do triple duty, or more. The items I use are all mostly “green,” have minimal environmental impact and are safe for humans and pets. My reserved day for cleaning is typically Thursday evenings so that by the time Friday arrives, after work I will light a candle in our freshly cleaned home, and we can sit and enjoy our ritual of kicking off the weekend with a coffee and a treat.

What’s in my green cleaning kit?

  • Vinegar is amazing. It’s a non-toxic and eco-friendly cleaning agent that cuts through grease, mineral deposits, dirt and can kill bacteria (but note: not viruses). I buy the plain white vinegar; it’s not necessary to purchase the one specially packaged for cleaning, that’s just marketing. It’s also good for deodorizing or treating stains. The odor of vinegar can initially be unpleasant to some, but it quickly evaporates. To mask the odor, you can add a few drops of essential oil. I keep a bottle of 1 part vinegar to 4 parts of water plus a dropper full of lemon essential oil for cleaning surfaces.

  • A steam mop was my most favorite purchase of 2020. Before I had one, I would use a soapy bucket of water and a mop, but it would take forever to dry, and it was a pain to drag a bucket around with me from room to room. Then for touchups in between mopping, I would use a spray bottle of floor cleaner and microfiber floor mop, which would sometimes leave streaks and was not that great at cleaning. The steam mop is amazing because it cleans and sanitizes both of my floor types (hardwood and tile) and is the final step after a vacuum to get up the dust and pet hair. I no longer have to deal with a mop, or bucket, just a small water reservoir to which I add some filtered water. I have two mop covers that I alternate and rinse as I am cleaning, and then launder when done. My favorite trick is to add a few drops of lemon or lavender essential oil to the mop cover and it makes our whole house smell like a professional cleaning crew was at work.

  • Baking soda makes a good alternative to powdered bathroom cleaners because it acts as an abrasive that can help to scrub away rings around the bathroom tub and mineral deposits on bathroom porcelain and faucets. After scrubbing, I add a little vinegar to create a bubbling action that helps to further break down the build-up, then wash away with fresh water.

  • Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castile Soap comes in a lot of scent formulas, but to me nothing says ‘pretend you’re in the South of France’ more than a clean, lavender-scented home. I use this to hand wash delicates, mop the floors, give the dogs a bath, refill hand soap dispensers in the bathroom, in my upholstery cleaning machine, in a bucket of hot water for cleaning baseboards and even as a body wash! It’s super gentle yet very effective. Any soap and water is effective against killing coronaviruses because the friction from scrubbing breaks the virus’ protective envelope.

  • The Laundress All-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate is what I use with water in a spray bottle for my daily all-purpose cleaner for dusting or wiping down counters, but it’s also great for mopping floors and cleaning bathroom porcelain in a more concentrated application.

  • eCloth glass cleaning cloths work incredibly well and are proven to remove bacteria from surfaces using only water. When you use the window cloth followed by the polishing cloth, it’s a chemical-free way to get super shiny windows! It’s also great for stainless steel appliances and gets rid of smudges.

  • Flour sack towels are my favorite alternative to paper towels. I still use paper towels, which is a habit I would love to break, and can at least say that I do compost them after use. But my usage went way down when I decided to stock a kitchen drawer with about two dozen flour sack towels that I could reach for instead of a paper towel. I use them for general kitchen use such as wiping counters, drying dishes, bread-making, as oven mitts, or as a salad spinner, and they’re my go-to for cleaning rags. I keep a dedicated basket on top of the washing machine for these after use and just wash them all together on hot to sanitize. When they get too threadbare, instead of throwing them out, I just add to my compost pile since they’re 100% cotton and compostable.

Our regular practice is to keep up with cleaning on a weekly basis by staying on top of vacuuming, keeping surfaces clear and returning things to their designated home when not in use, wiping up spills as they happen, wiping down the bathroom every few days, and keeping up with laundry. I wear a pair of lab-grade gloves that are super heavy duty and protect my hands while I work. I sometimes lotion up my hands before wearing them to get a little added softening beauty treatment while I work. These are the things I focus on seasonally that aren’t part of our regular tasks to get that sparkling clean.

  • Dust bookshelves and all the tech like TVs, speakers, components, etc.

  • Sanitize door knobs

  • Vacuum hard-to-reach places such as ceiling molding and light fixtures that collect cobwebs

  • Wipe down kitchen cabinets with soapy water

  • Scrub the bathrooms top to bottom

  • Air out cushions and pillows in the sun and fresh air, and launder or clean upholstery as needed

  • Take everything out of the fridge and freezer, wipe down surfaces, discard expired items and organize what stays

  • Steam or launder and store winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves

  • Wash windows inside and outside (this makes the biggest difference!)

  • Rotate mattresses

  • Clean curtains, vacuum shades and blinds, dust windowsills

  • Polish wood furniture with a few drops of lemon essential oil on a flour sack towel

What are your favorite green cleaning tips?

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