It’s that time of year again. The skies are blue, the weather is changing and the birds are chirping. That means it is time to turn over closets and start that spring cleaning, freshening up our homes both inside and out. This year, why not consider cleaning your home naturally? Get your green living on with natural options from your cleaning supplies to your closets.
While we are spring cleaning (especially natural spring cleaning), it is important to remove indoor air pollution from our homes that may have intensified during the winter months. Don’t think that indoor air pollution in your home is a serious issue? Consider this. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers indoor air pollution among the top five environmental health risks. Scary, right?
Here are some easy and effective ways to clean your home naturally and rid it of indoor pollutants:
Keep it fresh. If none of your family members suffer from severe seasonal allergies or asthma, open your windows to allow a flow of fresh air in your home. If you want to allow the fresh air to come in but worry about pollen, opening your windows in the evening might be a better alternative for you than during the daytime. Besides, what feels more like spring than fresh air.
Clean the air. Spring cleaning may be the perfect time to change your home’s air filters. In addition, an air purifier may help to reduce levels of smaller airborne allergens or particles in your home, especially if you cannot open windows due to allergies or asthma. High efficiency purifiers (HEPA) are said to have the highest air particle capture of all air purification technology available for reducing indoor air pollution in the home.
Watch your step. Take off your shoes upon entering the house. This will avoid tracking in unwanted pollutants, pollen and dirt from outside. Green living means being friendly to the earth but you can still leave those pollutants outside.
Get a houseplant. Houseplants are often forgotten as a terrific way to get rid of pollutants and toxins. Experts say that ideally you need two or three plants to aid in good air quality in a 20-25 yard space. Plants such as palms (Areca, Dwarf and Reed) as well as ferns (Australian Sword and Boston) are suggested for increasing the air quality inside one’s home.
Make it hot. Steam clean your floors to kill dust mites and bacteria. Steam cleaning is known to dramatically reduce pollutants in the home, and it can be done without harmful chemicals.
Read labels. Before you purchase that new sofa or chair, ask if it contains halogenated fire retardants, polyurethane foam or stain resistant fabrics, which can all release toxic chemicals in your home. In fact, in the state of California Friends of the Earth has been working for years to end the use of halogenated fire retardants in furniture due to their toxicity.
Hang it up – or not. Do you have hangers in your closet from the dry cleaner? Don’t throw them away. You can recycle hangers. Take them back to your dry cleaner to reuse. If your dry cleaner does not recycle hangers, find one who does.
Wash out. Speaking of dry cleaners, look for an environmentally friendly cleaner or one who does not use perchloroethylene (perc) a chemical commonly used in dry cleaning that is known to cause neurological, kidney and liver damage, depression of the central nervous system, impaired memory, headaches, drowsiness, and eye, nose and throat irritation. If you must take your clothes to be professionally cleaned, ask for them to be returned to you without a plastic covering. Not only will you help to reduce plastic waste but you will reduce the risk of bringing perc into your home as it can be contained in the plastic and then spread when you remove the plastic inside of your home.
Shop friendly. When you are purchasing cleaning supplies, look for those made from renewable, plant-derived ingredients as well as organic ingredients, recyclable materials and containers that minimize plastic. You can use washable cleaning cloths or old towels instead of paper towels, biodegradable trash bags instead of regular trash bags and brushes made from bamboo rather than plastic. It really takes minimal effort to find earth friendly cleaning supplies.
Make it yourself. Are you up for making your own household cleaning supplies? If so you can find several recipes online, most of which are done using borax, white vinegar, castile soap and hot water. Here are some terrific home cleaning tips from Robin at Simple Green Organic Happy http://simplegreenorganichappy.com/2008/08/green-cleaning-101-again/ and a great recipe for laundry soap from Lisa at A Daily Pinch http://adailypinch.com/