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Toxin-free home series: Spring Cleaning

After winter, the arrival of spring signifies a time of renewal. There is no better time for a good spring cleaning than right now and with these simple tips the cleaning can be conquered quickly and easily, leaving time for more enjoyable pursuits. But if there is little ones at home or someone with a compromised immune system, it is wise to find alternative solutions to the chemically laden, commercially produced products which contain various toxic chemicals, some of which emit volatile organic compounds known to cause respiratory and dermatological problems. There are less toxic and plant based cleaners on the market, but it is easy to make your own products at home and save some money in the process.

Tip #1 Create a cleaning checklist

Creating a detailed checklist for each area needing cleaned allows better organization and delegation of the tasks. A great tool to automate the household cleaning schedule is Chorebuster. The service is free for the basic program and is fairly simple to set up, with only two main areas to complete for the program to work, people and chores. After entering all pertinent information the system creates a weekly schedule that delegates the chores in a fair way. Getting the whole family involved is important and chorebuster allows you to set ability levels and preferences for each person. This program goes far beyond spring cleaning and can be set up for a chore schedule throughout the year. This is a great option for roommates or just busy households. The weekly chore schedule can also be set to email each person weekly, further eliminating arguments or discussions over the more despised chores. Need some inspiration to populate your checklist? Check out the spring cleaning checklist from molly maid.

Tip #2 Get Focused

More will get done if you focus on one area at a time. Start with the most difficult area first and the rest of the cleaning will seem like a breeze. Eliminate distractions that may slow down progress or productivity. Turn off the television and opt for music instead. Research from University of Windsor in Canada showed the effect of music on the work performance of software developers. According to the study, without background music the designers’ quality of work was lowest and it took them more time to complete tasks. With background music, participants reported positive mood changes and enhanced perception while working.

Tip #3 Clear the Clutter

Don't minimize the therapeutic value of disposing of things that no longer serve you well. Start a "sell" and "donate" box along with the trash so that while sorting through the clutter, items that may still be useful for others can be disposed of properly. You may be surprised how good you feel after a good de-cluttering session, out with the old, in with the new!

Tip #4 Organize

Once the clutter is gone, organize. A well organized home can reduce stress and improve the overall relaxing atmosphere of a space. Don't forget areas that are often overlooked like closets, drawers, play areas, the home office, as well as the garage.

Tip #5 Deep Clean

Once the space is organized and clutter-free it can be deep cleaned. Use green cleaning products and methods to further increase the health benefits of your spring cleaning session rather than using toxic chemicals that can have various negative health effects.

Green Cleaning Recipes

All-purpose Disinfectant

2 tsp. Borax

4 Tbsp. ​White distilled vinegar

1/2 tsp. Liquid Castile soap (Unscented or if using scented soap you can skip the essential oils)

3 cups water

20 drops tea tree essential oil, optional (Tea tree adds to the disinfecting power, but if you don’t care for the scent, opt for lemon, orange or lavender)

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle, water first, followed by the remaining ingredients. Shake well. Directions for use: Spray area to be cleaned, let sit for a few minutes, wipe clean. (Great essential oil options for cleaning include, lemon, wild orange, and lime, my favorite combination is orange and lemon.) Test on wood or other fine finishes before use.

Soft scrub

In a bowl, mix the following with a wire whisk,

3/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup liquid Castile soap

After baking soda and Castile soap have been mixed well, add, 1 tbsp. distilled water and 10-15 drops essential oil. (Try 10 drops of lemon and 5 drops lime.)

Glass spray

In a spray bottle, mix:

3 tbsp. White distilled vinegar and then fill the bottle with water. Use as you would glass or surface cleaner, for best results, use with a microfiber towel to minimize streaking.

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