Happy Spring! It’s finally time to open the windows, let the fresh air in, and take on the annual spring cleaning. Not only will spring cleaning give you a happier, more welcoming living environment, but it may also improve your family’s health.
Spring Cleaning for Every Room of Your Home
Open the windows
If it’s a nice day outside, open all the windows of your house. According to the EPA, indoor air is 2 to 5, and sometime even 100 times more toxic than outdoor air. Let the stale toxic air out and the fresh air in.
Use natural cleaning products whenever possible
The last thing you should want to do when cleaning your home is dump toxic chemicals into your breathing air. You can’t see them, but they are there. My favorite natural cleaner is Thieves Household Cleaner by Young Living. Yes, a bottle of the cleaner is quite pricey, but it’s concentrated and must be diluted with water. Mix just one capful with 2-3 cups of water, and a bottle stretches a long way. It’s an all-purpose cleaner, and is even great at leaving a streak free shine on glass. You can make your own cleaning solutions using things around the house like baking soda, citrus, and distilled white vinegar. If you still opt to use chemical cleaners, just be sure you’re in a well-ventilated area and the windows are open.
Use newspaper to clean glass and mirrors
Newspaper is great for cleaning glass and mirrors. Unlike paper towels, it doesn’t leave lint behind.
Vacuum everywhere, under everything
One of the best investments you can make for your home is a high quality vacuum with HEPA filtration. HEPA stands or high-efficiciency particulate air. Ever experienced a time vacuuming when you felt like you were just circulating dirt from the ground into the air? If so, you probably weren’t using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. A good vacuum should trap all of the particles it sucks up, not just the large stuff.
Vacuum all wall corners, window sills, all carpets and flooring, under all couches, tables, beds, dressers, and everywhere in between.
Wipe down baseboards and walls
Freshen up your baseboards and walls by wiping them down with a cleaning wipe or damp soapy cloth.
Wash curtains and drapes
Curtains and drapes hold a lot of dust! Shake them out outdoors and wash according to the instructions on the tags.
Toss out the air fresheners and scented candles
Air fresheners and conventional candles are toxic! By using these products, you are spraying/burning chemicals into the air you breathe. They may smell nice, but they are chemicals, and can wreak havoc on your long-term health. A natural alternative: essential oils. Ditch the chemicals and diffuse essential oils in your home for natural aroma and added health benefits. For more on Essential oils and their uses, read 10 Reasons to Use Essential Oils.
Change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
If you haven’t change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors yet this year, now is the time.
Some of the items in your closets may not have been touched in months or even years, so they may be filled with dust mites. You don’t want to drop dusty shoes and clothes on the floor of a room that’s already been cleaned. Start with decluttering your closets and move your way out from there. Decluttering helps to de-stress your life, create more space, and you can even make some money or donate to charity in the process. Bring your unwanted clothes, shoes, hats, belts, etc. to a local clothing drop box, Salvation Army/Goodwill, thrift or second-hand store, have a lawn sale, or even give it a go on Ebay. Any un-sellable/un-donatable tee-shirts may be used as cleaning rags.
Wipe all ceiling fan blades
Obvious, but often times forgotten about: wipe the dust off the top of the blades with a damp cloth before turning your ceiling fans on this season.
Clean your mattress
We clean our sheets regularly, but what about our mattresses? There’s a way to clean them too, and it’ll make for a healthier, better night’s sleep. Strip your bed and throw everything (mattress cover and all) in the wash on hot water with detergent and a capful of distilled white vinegar. Next, pour a small box of baking soda in a mason jar with 10 – 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (Lavender is recommended for sleep), and shake well. Evenly distribute the baking soda/essential oil mix directly onto the mattress, and let it sit. The baking soda will draw out moisture from the mattress, while the essential oil fights bacteria and freshens the scent. After about an hour, vacuum the mattress well to remove the baking soda.
Change or wash the shower curtain
If your shower curtain is covered in mildew and soap scum, change it out with a new one or simply put it in the wash with your regular detergent, a splash of vinegar, and a couple old soiled towels.
Toss the old sunscreen
Sunscreen does expire. You don’t want to rely on sunscreen that is past the expiration date to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. If there is no expiration date, toss it if you’ve had it for 3 years or more.
Toss the old toothbrush, razor, and contact lens case
If you’ve been using the same toothbrush, razor, and/or contact case for a while, it’s time to toss them and get new ones. Toothbrushes and contact lens cases should be replaced about every 3 months, while razors should be replaced at least a couple times a month.
Purge old makeup
Mascara and eyeliner should be replaced every three months to prevent bacteria from getting in the eyes. Toss any old makeup that doesn’t get used.
The Living Area
Care for your couch
Vacuum all cushions, under the cushions, and under the couch itself. There are a few methods to cleaning cushions, depending on the type of material they are made of. One method is to cover the cushion in baking soda, let sit, and vacuum off. Another is to use soapy water and give it a good scrub.
Clear the clutter
Organize your CD and DVD collection. Recycle any old magazines. If you have dust collecting items or furniture you no longer want, have a lawn sale, or post to Ebay or Craigslist. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
Toss the old plastic food containers, water bottles, and cooking utensils
Recycle if you can! Avoid plastic whenever possible when it comes to your food and beverages. Plastic containers break down over time and release chemicals into the food and liquid that we store in them. Glass/pyrex containers are the way to go. Plastic cooking utensils release chemicals into foods at high heat, and have the potential to melt and contaminate food. Replace your plastic cooking utensils with stainless steel or wooden ones.
Kitchen cabinets are exposed to lots of bacteria, grease, and dirt and grim. Give your kitchen cabinets some TLC by washing with a cloth and soapy hot water. You can also use vinegar, baking soda, or my favorite, Thieves Household Cleaner.
Deep clean the fridge
Have some old open salad dressings and condiments from 3 years ago? Chuck ’em! Toss every food item that you don’t foresee using. Unload everything else for the time being and get to scrubbing and disinfecting the interior of your fridge and freezer. Don’t forget to vacuum the coils under the fridge!
Load up the dishwasher
A dishwasher is good for not only cleaning your dishes, but also spring cleaning and sanitizing household fixtures. Place items like toothbrush holders, oven knobs, light fixture covers, sponges and brushes right in your dishwasher so it can do the dirty work for you.
Clean the dishwasher
You may think that your dishwasher gets a good deep clean each time you run it, but it’s not always so. Over time, your dishwasher can get caked with grease and food debris that you don’t even see. To give your dishwasher a deep spring cleaning, clear the drain of any grim or debris, put bowl of vinegar on the top rack, and run a full cycle on hot water. When that cycle is done, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of your dishwasher and run on a rinse cycle.
Clean the coffee maker
Your coffee maker is dirtier than you think. Clean it out by filling the chamber with a 50/50 ratio of water and vinegar. Let that mixture brew until the chamber is about halfway empty, and let the rest soak for about an hour. After the soaking period, brew the rest and finish by brewing pure water. You may be surprised by how dirty the water looks.
Replace furnace and air condition filters
It’s a good time to take out the furnace filter, and replace it with a fresh one for next years’ use. It’s especially a good time to prepare your air conditioner for its upcoming use. Used filters are likely to be loaded with mold and allergens, so change them regularly (once per month) for good respiratory health. Clean filters also mean more efficient energy use.
Have the air ducts cleaned
An often overlooked area of the home is the air ducts and vents. Dirty air ducts contribute to poor indoor air quality. Having the air ducts cleaned rids them of airborne particles such as dust, pet dander, pollen, and mold spores, bringing significant improvement to the quality of your home’s air.
Clean the fireplace
Deep clean the fireplace if you have one, and have the chimney professionally cleaned.
Clean the washing machine
A cleaner washing machine means cleaner clothes, and can also mean money saved by more efficient use. Run your washer (empty!) on a hot water cycle with a mixture of 4 cups white vinegar and a cup baking soda.