Spring Cleaning with Nontoxic Cleaners
Spring cleaning goes beyond normal everyday cleaning. It's a
major project of home revitalization: to make everything new
by removing dust and dirt, to make sure everything is in
good repair, and to put things in order, so that you will
have everything in your household in working condition for
the coming year.
Here are some tasks that are traditionally included in a
major spring cleaning:
* Put away winter clothes and take out spring and summer
* Sweep and vacuum floors, walls, and corners.
* Wash floors and carpets?
* Clean window panes, sills, and frames. Replace thick
winter curtains that keep heat in with light summer curtains
that allow breezes through. Remove storm windows, hang up
* Brush or vacuum stuffed furniture and remove spots.
* Wash every surface in every room that has accumulated dust
I like to finish a spring cleaning by bringing in loads of
spring flowers and placing them in vases in every room.
USE NONTOXIC & NATURAL CLEANERS
With so much cleaning going on, I always make sure to use
cleaning products that are simple, safe, and eco-friendly.
When choosing a cleaning product for a specific job, I use
the least-toxic, most-effective product, in the smallest
Cleaning products are the only household products regulated
by the Consumer Product Safety Commission under the 1960
Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act, which requires
products that contain hazardous chemicals to carry warning
labels. In general, it is best to avoid using products that
say "Danger," "Poison," or "Warning," on the label. Many
safer products carry the "Caution" label, even though they
are acceptable to use. Fortunately, the least toxic products
voluntarily disclose their complete ingredients on the
label, so you can determine for yourself the safety of the
product. There are even cleaning products now made with
Nontoxic cleaning actually requires very few specialized
ingredients. I do all of my cleaning with a squirt bottle of
fifty-fifty distilled white vinegar and water, liquid soap,
and baking soda. For laundry I use a natural soap powder and
chlorine-free oxygen bleach. Other substances I have on hand
for occasional cleaning needs are salt, lemon juice, borax,
and chlorine-free Bon Ami scouring powder.
SIMPLIFY YOUR CLEANING
While scrubbing away at your spring cleaning, there are two
things you can resolve to do in the coming year that will
make cleaning easier. These will also reduce the amount of
cleaning products you use, saving resources and money. But
the most important thing to me is that they save time and
reduce the amount of cleaning needed.
First, I incorporate preventive maintenance. I put a cookie
sheet on the rack under a casserole that is likely to spill
over, for example, which pre-empts the need to scour baked
on food from the oven. If the casserole spills, the cookie
sheet can be effortlessly soaked clean in a few inches of
water in the kitchen sink.
I also keep in mind the adage "A stitch in time saves nine,"
which means if you take that first stitch to fix the tear
before it gets bigger, you'll save having to make nine
stitches later. In cleaning, this translates to wiping up
the spill when it happens, cleaning surfaces before they are
caked with dust and grease, just cleaning as you go while
there's not much to clean. It's only when we don't clean
that we may need harsh chemicals to tackle what would have
been an easy job earlier.
"Clean your room well," say the Shakers, "for good spirits
will not live where there is dirt."
Find nontoxic, natural and earthwise cleaning products at
Hailed as "The Queen of Green" by the New York Times,
Debra Lynn Dadd has been a consumer advocate for products
and lifestyle choices that are better for health and the
environment since 1982. Visit her website for 100s of links
to 1000s of nontoxic, natural and earthwise products, and to
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