Top 10 Ways to Green Up Your Spring Cleaning

by Teresa J. Mitchell

Green living, while not a new trend, is one that can have long-term beneficial results for you and your family.

Being green affects everything from the food we eat to items we purchase. Going "green" usually means going beyond a reusable shopping bag and recycling paper products (although that's a great start).

This year, give your house a "green" spring cleaning by avoiding dangerous chemicals and harsh cleaners.

There are healthier ways to do the job for you and the environment.

Green Spring Cleaning

1. Assemble a Green Cleaning Kit

What's not to love about mixing your own cleaning products from tried-and-tested formulas? If you don't make it, then shop for environmentally-friendly products.

2. Green Up Your Cleaning Products

When you make the switch to natural cleaning products, safely dispose of any leftover dangerous chemical products. Don't pour them down the drain, into the ground, or into the trash. Read the labels or check with your waste management provider for options.

What's in your detergent? Did you know that traditional dish detergent is made from petroleum. If every family replaced just one 28-ounce bottle of petroleum-based dish detergent with a vegetable-based product, we could save 82,000 barrels of oil.

3. Open the Windows

The best way to get dirty air moving out and fresh air moving in is to open your doors and windows. Feel the breeze do its magic. If an open window replaced an aerosol air freshening product, you've helped the ozone layer, too.

4. Add Living Air Filters -- Houseplants

Some of the most efficient air-cleaning houseplants include Spider plants, English ivy, rubber plants, and peace lilies. You'll need 15 to 18 medium-sized (6 to 8-inch diameter container) houseplants for the average 1,800 square foot house. Even a few plants in your main rooms filter unhealthy chemicals and add oxygen to the air.

5. Baking Soda is Your Friend

Multi-purpose baking soda can be used for everything from freshening the air, to freshening the carpet or furniture, to scrubbing the toilet and tub. You can make that porcelain sparkle with white vinegar and a baking soda-water paste.

6. Use Natural Fiber Sponges and Cloths

You can buy specially-made, washable cleaning and dusting cloths (in all types of fabrics from cotton to microfiber). Better yet, use what you already have and give an old piece of cloth (stained towels, ratty sheets and pillowcases, too-small T-shirts, etc.) a new life.

7. Hang Your Laundry to Dry

Weather permitting, line-dry your clothes outside to reduce pollution, cut your energy bill, get more exercise, enjoy the sunshine, and extend the life of your clothes. Plus, they'll smell like a clean breeze, not a fake "clean breeze" scent.

8. Have a Paperless Office

The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year -- from the credit card offers to the sweepstakes entries and catalogs, and it really adds up; in wasted time, paper, water and energy. Reclaim your mailbox through organizations like Green Dimes and

9. De-clutter Your Wardrobe

Donate gently worn items to charity and give them a second life. Send torn and stained items (if they're made of an absorbent fabric) to your rag bag, where they'll replace paper towels. Are you packing away winter sweaters? Try our natural and wonderful-smelling version bug and moth repellent: Find a lonely unpaired sock, stuff it with cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and whole cloves and tie it at the end.

10. Use Low VOC paints and stains

If spring cleaning at your house involves a fresh coat of paint, consider volatile organic compounds. Some VOC’s, like the ones in many paints, contribute to smog and indoor air pollution, and can cause a host of short- and long-term health problems.

What is your favorite green cleaner? Have you made your own?

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