Monday, April 9, 2012

Green Your Spring Clean

Spring is my absolute favorite time of year…and it’s finally here! Well… kind of if you live in New York City where it’s gorgeous and almost shorts weather one day, and the next it’s blustery bring your coat back out weather. However, I would have to say things are looking up, and it’s almost officially time to pack away all the winter gear and forget about it!

With the arrival of spring, I, like so many of us always like to start out the season with a good old-fashioned spring clean. Let’s face it, we’ve been cooped up all winter, probably haven’t opened our windows much, and things around the house could probably use some sprucing. This spring, my cleaning methods could also benefit from a little sprucing.
I’ve always been of the mindset that the stronger the cleaning product, the better. When I clean I usually channel Arnold Schwarzenegger and turn into the Terminator bent on mass destruction. I’m also a bit of a germaphobe, which doesn’t help my mission of total demolition, and also makes New York City living a little scary at times. However, the more reading and research I do, the more I’m realizing that not only are these products that will destroy every living bacteria, mold or mildew particle that so much as thinks about cohabitating with you bad for the environment, they can also be harmful to us loyal users. There’s nothing worse than knowing that something you’ve been using regularly contains toxins that get into our water systems, and that some of them cannot be removed through purification processes. Here’s some info from

Most antibacterial cleaners, air fresheners, dishwasher detergent, oven cleaner, carpet cleaner and toilet/sink/tub/tile cleaners contain toxic ingredients that can seep into groundwater. Earth 911 says cleaning products pollute the air, increase smog formation, cause asthma and inhibit plant growth. Not only are most cleaning products bad for the environment, they can be bad for your respiratory health, too. To minimize these effects, dispose of the unused products at your local HHW site. An easier solution may be to buy or make your own greener cleaners.

To read more go to:

Here are a few handy tips that I found from These cleaners are inexpensive and just as efficient as their environmentally hazardous equivalents, so give them a try if you don’t already use them!

• Baking Soda - cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
• Soap - unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.
• Lemon - one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
• Borax - (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
• White Vinegar - cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
• Washing Soda - or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.
• Isopropyl Alcohol - is an excellent disinfectant. (It has been suggested to replace this with ethanol or 100 proof alcohol in solution with water. There is some indication that isopropyl alcohol buildup contributes to illness in the body. See
• Cornstarch - can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and
Citrus Solvent - cleans paint brushes, oil and grease, some stains. (Citrus solvent may cause skin, lung or eye irritations for people with multiple chemical sensitivities.)

From more excellent tips head to:

In addition to having a nice clean home for the new season, I also love to feel like I’m walking into a tropical oasis when I come home from the less than pleasant smelling city streets. However, much to my dismay, air fresheners can also be harmful. But wait, not to worry! There are many simple and safe solutions that will still give your home that welcoming and delicious aroma. Here are a few helpful tips from
• Use baking soda and white vinegar to eliminate odors. Strategically place small dishes of one or the other throughout your home.
• Simmer spices such as cinnamon, clove or orange rind in a pot of water.
• Dilute a few drops of your favorite essential oil in water and store in a spray bottle. Use instead of a commercial air freshener.
• Scent small spaces with natural potpourri scented with pure essential oils. My favorites are sweet, smoky vanilla, spicy clove and bracing peppermint.

Happy spring and happy spring sprucing! If you readers have any other helpful tips up your sleeves, please feel free to share!

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