Are you caught up in spring fever? Now that the sun has finally shown itself, and we’ve all set our clocks ahead, spring is in the air. If you find yourself looking at baseboards and wondering how they got so grungy, consumed with the thought of rearranging your closet or excited by the idea of wiping down your showers and tubs, it’s safe to say that answer is yes. Spring cleaning is part of our natural rhythm. Unfortunately, many cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful to our health, as well as the environment. Some common household cleaners can cause skin and eye irritation, respiratory issues, and even chemical burns.
At the top of the list of dangerous products are cleaners for ovens, drains, showers, and toilet bowls. Additionally, many products contain unnecessary fragrances which may irritate your eyes or lungs or induce headaches. Here’s a list of non-toxic products you can use in place of harsh cleaners to avoid harmful side effects. Best of all, you probably have everything you need in your pantry or cupboards.
Vinegar Distilled white vinegar is an amazing cleaner. Because it has a high level of acidity, it will kill mold, germs, and bacteria. Mixed with salt, it can eliminate lime deposits. If your blinds are dirty, mix equal parts distilled white vinegar in warm water. Dip a cleaning rag in the solution and wipe away the grime. You may also use white cotton gloves, dipping your fingers in the solution and using them to wipe the blinds clean. Use the same solutions on your refrigerator shelves. A paste of vinegar and table salt will polish brass, and remove lime deposits from faucets and showerheads. Cut grease on your range hood by wiping it with a sponge that has been soaked in vinegar.
Baking soda You probably already know that an open box of baking soda will absorb odors in your refrigerator or pantry. But this non-toxic powder can also keep your kitchen sparkling clean in a variety of ways. Wipe down surfaces with a damp rag dipped in baking soda, then rinse with clean water. It will also get those burn marks off the bottom of your pots, pans, and tea kettles. It’s safe to use on no-wax floors to remove scuff marks, too. To get rid of the grime that builds up on cupboard doors, mix equal parts of baking soda and vegetable oil. Work it in with a cloth or toothbrush, then wipe away. (Put a towel down on the counter to catch all of the mixture that falls to the counter as you work.) Clean your silver with a paste made of three parts baking soda and one part water. Work it into the pieces and then rinse with warm water before drying with a soft cloth.
Blue Dawn The Boise Healthy Living Examiner hates cleaning her showers because she has yet to find a shower cleaner that doesn’t make her gag. Then she discovered the miracle of Pinterest and learned how to mix equal parts of warm vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap. Mix that up and put it into a spray bottle, then give it a gentle shake to help it mix together. Squirt it all over your shower and tub and let it sit for a while, then just rinse it and wipe away. It works great on your sink, too.
Olive oil Polish your wood furniture with a mixture of equal parts olive oil and lemon juice. Use long strokes to bring out the natural beauty of the wood. Or use a little oil on a clean, damp mop to spiff up your hardwood floors.
Lemon juice Another favorite of the Boise Healthy Living Examiner is to use lemon juice to clean the microwave. You know how gross the inside of your microwave gets, especially when your kids are reheating spaghetti and it explodes? Of course they never clean that up while it’s still fresh. Then it gets baked on and turns into a horrible mess. Use lemon juice and water to de-gunk that stuff. Pour a little lemon juice into a microwave-safe bowl and add two or three cups of water. Put the bowl in the microwave and let it cook on high for a few minutes. Use oven mitts or a towel to remove the bowl and set it aside. Then take a sponge and wipe down the inside of the microwave. The citric acid from the lemon juice, combined with the steam from the water, will loosen everything and make it easier to wipe down. For stubborn, stuck-on grime, you may need to repeat the process, so don’t dump the water just yet.
If you’re inspired to do some spring cleaning, here are a few more timely tips. Get these done this weekend and then make a point to do them again in the fall when you set your clocks back.
- Replace air and heating filters and give your vents a good vacuuming.
- Change smoke detector batteries.
- Flip your mattresses and vacuum them.
- Use newspaper to clean your windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors instead of paper toweling.
- Go through your medicine cabinet and dispose of anything expired. Add replacements to your grocery list.
These tips can not only help keep your home looking and smelling fresh and healthy, but they’ll save you some money, too.
Talk it up:
What’s your favorite spring cleaning tip?
To receive all of the Boise Healthy Living Examiner’s articles, click on subscribe or the RSS feed button. Each week, you’ll get informative articles on Need to Know, and Good for You Food of the Week, plus seasonal features like Spotlight Sport, Healthier Holiday, Broncos Challenge, and more.