In most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, spring has arrived! Time to throw open the windows and let some fresh air into your home. It’s also a great time to organize, recycle unused items, and yes, clean. We created this green spring cleaning checklist to help you get started.
Green spring cleaning checklist
We’ll start with my least favorite of the three: spring cleaning. According to Martha Stewart (we might as well ask the expert!), you’ll need to tackle the following on your spring cleaning to-do list. But there’s no reason to use harsh chemicals that have the potential to hurt your pets, children, and the environment. We’ll show you how to get your spring cleaning done in a green spring cleaning manner for eco-friendly homes.
Heavy dusting: Vinegar and water are your friend! (And if that’s the only thing you remember from this post, you’ll be in good shape… vinegar is a primary green cleaning solution for multiple uses.) To dust all household surfaces, mix a few tablespoons of vinegar with a bowl of water, soak a dishrag, wring it out, and dust. The water will clean the dust off, and the vinegar will help the furniture surfaces repel dust in future. Don’t forget to take books out of bookshelves to dust those surfaces as well!
Walls and ceilings: Use your vacuum extension to clean corners, walls, and around the corners of ceilings, then use a damp cloth (water is fine, or your vinegar solution) to wipe down walls. Baseboards are an often-forgotten part of the wall that gets the dirtiest!
Draperies and curtains: Most drapes and window treatments are machine washable, which makes the hardest part about cleaning them climbing up on a step ladder to get them down (don’t do what I do, and teeter precariously on a chair). Run them in a delicate cycle with eco-friendly laundry detergent.
Carpets and rugs: This is the time to deep clean your carpets with a steam cleaner. They are available to rent, borrow, or buy, but instead of filling the cleaning compartment with the chemical stuff, use — you guessed it — water and vinegar. This time, however, you’ll want equal parts of both ingredients. Use the steam cleaner as directed, washing and rinsing (with plain water). When the carpet dries, the vinegar smell will disappear.
Bathrooms: Aren’t bathrooms the worst?! Clean them with a solution of borax (which can be found in your supermarket for a fraction of the cost of heavy-duty commercial cleaners) and water with lemon juice. Be patient: it will take juice longer to cut through grease and grime than you’re used to with chemicals, but it will get the job done.
Now is the time to go through your kitchen cupboards and organize pots and pans, your closets to sort clothing (especially if you have kids who rapidly grow out of sizes), and your garage (perhaps to finally make room for the car?). Additionally, spring cleaning is a great time to check or organize the following:
Defrost your freezer, and clean your refrigerator: It’s not a fun task, I know, but you just might find a pint of Ben & Jerry’s you’d hidden from your spouse and kids in the process (true story!). Plan ahead for freezer defrosting, eating your way through frozen items in the weeks beforehand, or making room for them in a smaller freezer. Clean your fridge with the same water and vinegar solution you applied to your dusting efforts.
Check smoke detector batteries and replace incandescent light bulbs with energy saving bulbs. You may also consider purchasing a carbon monoxide detector while you’re at it: they’re affordable, plug in to a wall outlet, and save lives.
Spring marks the start of yard sale or tag sale season, and now’s the time to get ready by identifying and reserving those household items you wish to recycle. Maybe it’s time to go through the old DVD collection now that your stream your movies, or perhaps your kids have outgrown toys that now add clutter to their rooms.
Sort outgrown clothing and household items, and box them for a future yard sale, or consider donating them to a children’s shelter or Goodwill (you can even get a tax deduction for donating). Another option that allows items to be reused: list them as free on Craigslist. We’ve met a number of nice families in our communities by paying it forward with items we no longer need.
What’s on your spring cleaning to-do list? Share your green cleaning solution tips!