If you’re planning on getting your house into shape with some good, old-fashioned spring cleaning, you might want to consider the environmental impact. Traditional cleaning products are often just as bad for the planet as they can be for your own health, and tossing out wads of used-up paper towels doesn’t do anybody any good. Here are a few simple tips for green cleaning this spring.
- Paint your house green. We don’t mean that literally, of course – unless green just happens to be your favorite color – but if painting is a part of your spring cleaning routine then consider the VOC content of the paint. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals contained in many paints that form harmful vapors at room temperature. They contribute to smog and indoor pollution as well as causing a variety of long-term health problems, so look for low- or no-VOC paints.
- Use (and reuse) your mop. Rather than using a Swiffer-style mop with disposable mop heads, choose a traditional mop that can be used again and again. Several companies make mop heads that can be washed in your washing machine and reused countless times.
- Steer clear of paper towels. Yes, they’re convenient, but consider the long-term cost of buying roll after roll of paper towels. Plus, once used, paper towels generally can’t be recycled, which means all that waste just ends up in a landfill. You can make things easier for the planet and your wallet by using washable cleaning and dusting cloths.
- Clean out your closets. Now is the time to get rid of clothes you never wear. You can give clothing a second life by donating them to charity, and garments that are too far gone to be worn can be quickly cut up and turned into free reusable cleaning rags.
- Hang-dry laundry. One of the best things about warming weather is the ability to let your clothes dry on an outdoor clothesline. It saves money, protects the environment, and reduces wear on your clothes. Plus, why spend money on detergents and dryer sheets with “clean breeze” scent when you can let an actual clean breeze dry your clothes?
- Ditch the chemicals. There’s no need to fill your home with noxious fumes in the name of spring cleaning. Actually, you may already have all the ingredients you need for green cleaning solutions; and if not, you can pick them up for a few dollars at any store. You can clean almost any surface in your house with some combination of water, vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda.