Here in Minnesota, once the snow starts melting or it warms up, I get spring fever. Are you with me? I start planning for my gardens, summer projects, trips, and so on. It also reminds me of cleaning, organizing, and going through the stuff I have and getting rid of what I don't need! In this article I am going to be giving you tips and resources that I like and have used for making my home a safe and better place to live for my family and pets!
First things first, your cleaners
When you are thinking about cleaning anything in your house, you first need to look at your cleaners. If you open up the cabinet underneath your kitchen or bathroom sink, what is in there? Clorox, windex, bleach, ammonia, lysol, febreze, or dawn dish soap? If so, this article is for you! This article is also for you if you are making the transition to even cleaner options then what you may already have. As you may or may not know, there are numerous chemicals to watch out for. Many can be harmful to you, your kids, and pets. To read an article on just how scary some of these chemicals can be: https://www.ewg.org/release/tragic-accidental-death-mixture-cleaning-products-cautionary-warning?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=202002CleanNews&utm_medium=email&emci=4e3a1484-bc46-ea11-a1cc-00155d03b1e8&emdi=b4695d1c-f34f-ea11-a94c-00155d039e74&ceid=1274456
So now let's dive in!
Chemicals to look for:
Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach)
Petrochemicals-BHT & BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
Parabens-(Methyl-, Ethyl-, Butyl-, and Propylparaben)
Phthatlates (Diethyl, Diethyl Hexyl, Dibutyl Phtalate,dii-2-ethylhexylphthalate)
Sulfates- sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate
PEGs (polyethylene glycol & propylene glycol
DEA -diethanolamine, cocamide and lauramide
Diethylene glycol monomethyl ether
Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride
Alkyl Dimethyl Ethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride
Dioctyl Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride
Don't get overwhelmed
Whew! That's a big list. Of course not all of these are in every product, but most conventional cleaners and even some so called "green" cleaners have many of these chemicals. So start small, and make swaps as you go. Maybe you can't afford to change all your cleaners at once. That's okay. Start with the ones you use the most, or ones your loved ones may be around a lot of the time. I try and make my own DIY cleaners when I can or buy ones that are safe and non-toxic. Many of these chemicals can harm the respiratory system as you breathe it is. Your skin is also affected, that's why you see cleaning gloves are so common. If I can't clean without gloves, I am not going to use that cleaner. You can even take some common household ingredients to make your own cleaners like:
Distilled White Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
These are just a few things you can use to create your own cleaners! There are hundreds of DIY recipes online. Make sure you get high quality ingredients and good tools for cleaning such as (microfiber cloths, dust cloths, mops, scrub brush, rubber gloves- for vinegar and peroxide, and a sponge).
Spring Cleaning: Carpets
Many of us have carpets and most of us don't clean them thoroughly. Dirt, dust, spills, and bacteria gets trapped in our carpets. Even though we vacuum, we cannot possibly get everything 100% clean with just doing that. Cleaning carpets once a year is a great way to extend the life of them and keep them fresh and clean, especially if you have pets and children! Make sure to choose a natural and safe way for cleaning them. Most companies do not use toxin free chemicals. Harsh chemicals and solutions are used. Look for better options in your area. Opt for steam cleaning or check out this company who cleans with steam and thieves cleaner that has essential oils!
Air Filters & Duct Cleaning
Air systems within a home are essentially the "lungs" of the home. It circulates the air, cleanses it, and protects you from breathing in large amounts of dust, fungus, pollen, etc. It's important to make sure you are changing your air filters regularly so you can be breathing clean air. If you are just learning to take care of a home, it's your first home, or you don't regularly clean it, this is good to learn for your health and family's health. Your home's furnace filters should be ideally changed every 3 months at least. Some people will say 6 months, but I've found that usually is a little too long for my house. You will have to come up with a good routine for yours. They are easy to switch and it is a simple thing to do to help maintain clean air within your home. Getting the right filter for your system is important. HEPA filters or carbon filters will be able to filter better and much more smaller particles. The numbers on the filter determines how small of a particle it will filter. You can find filters for your furnace here: https://www.filtersusa.com/furnace-filters.
If you are looking for a space air purifier (filters the air of pollen, mold, fungus, dust, toxic ozone, volatile organic chemicals and gases.) This is going to even more so "fine tune" the air in your house in specific areas. You can check out the air doctor here: https://www.airdoctorpro.com/#Why_Air_Doctor.
Air duct cleaning is also essential and may not need to be done everywhere. A deep cleaning can be done every 2 years or more often if needed. Each house is different so you will want to set up a schedule for yours. Air duct cleaning removes all the dirt, dust, dander, pollen, mold, fungus, and other things from your air ducts. It will improve the air quality in your home, it will save energy (money), and extend the life of your furnace (won't have to work as hard). A typical house can have up to 40 lbs of dust produced on an annual basis and then it is recirculated daily. If you have pets, asthma, allergies, or other respiratory issues, consider doing it more often. These are both great companies we have used:
To freshen your home daily, use a diffuser with essential oils, instead of febreze, candles, or plug ins. This will help purify the air naturally and safely!
Windows & Sliding Doors
This is something that I do not do very often. Simply because I have pets, and they love to scratch and smudge the windows! However, I do a deep clean about twice a year to remove dust, fungus, mold, asian beetles, etc. Cleaning not just the glass window part, but the window sills and sliding door areas is a good idea. Dust, bugs, mold, and more can collect there and multiply when left and not cleaned. First I use my vacuum to remove dust and bigger items. Then I use a good clean and natural multi-purpose or window cleaner with a norwex window cloth to wipe it up. Thieves cleaner is a great multipurpose cleaner that I will use for most of my cleaning. You can also make your own vinegar spray and use that on windows as well. I like using the norwex window cloth the best as it doesn't leave streaks and lasts a long time. There are other great products as well, but their microfiber picks up stuff the best from what I have used.
Here is the window cloth I use:
When it comes to your kitchen, there can be a lot to clean. Sometimes it is hard to be motivated to clean it, especially if it gets dirty right away again. Even if it does, it's okay. At least do a deep clean 1-2 times a year. All those places we don't normally clean like: the tops of upper cabinets (where you maybe have decor), behind appliances, stoves, inside of fridge and freezer, in-between and in drawers, your pantry, and so on. It can be A LOT. What you can do to make it easier, is do a little bit over a whole week. Then you can finish it without being overwhelmed! I like to organize with smaller bins in my cabinets and drawers so it's easy to take stuff out and put it back. Then everything doesn't get jumbled together in one big mess! You can get lots of bins at the dollar store for cheap and get organized pretty quickly. Wiping out all the crumbs behind stuff and dusting the tops of cabinets makes a big difference. You do not want to make a friendly environment for mice, insects, mold, or fungus! Dusting especially is important if you have or have had mold issues. Dust is a "food" for mold. Cleaning your cabinets on the inside and outside is helpful as well since when cooking, sometimes things splatter! We all have had times when something spilled inside the cabinet be it food coloring, spices, liquids, etc. Time to get the sticky stuff out!
Doing a deep clean in your oven and refrigerator will help keep things fresh for your food and usage. Here is one of my favorite ways to clean the oven with a DIY recipe: https://naturallivingfamily.com/homemade-oven-cleaner/.
Cleaning out your freezer and refrigerator is easy. Take the food out and wipe it out the shelves. At the same time you can through away condiments, sauces, or food that has went bad or is beyond its usage date. You can also do a dishwasher cleaning once in a while as well to keep it fresh and from build up.
Taking care of your washer and dryer is important as well so you can extend the life of them and keep them in good function. Getting your dryer vents cleaned out yearly is helpful as well as cleaning your washer with a rinse after several loads keeps it fresh! I like this one: https://www.mygreenfills.com/products/laundry-machine-cleaner
You can get your dryer vents (outside) cleaned by any servicer that usually does air duct cleaning as well. Green Home solutions and Four Seasons both do this. Make sure to clean out your dryer's lint catcher after each load.
Fun fact, you can keep the lint for easy fire starters for your bonfire pit!
Other areas of the home
Places like shelving, furniture, under beds, fans, bathroom showers, need to be cleaned too. Dusting can be done for fans and shelving. I love using the norwex dusting mitt. It grabs dust easily and leaves the surface clean. You do not have to use a cleaner for this! Here is the one I use: https://shopus.norwex.biz/en_US/customer/shop/product-detail/508081?categoryName=Best_Sellers.
It all depends on how much you want to clean, but rugs and furniture can also be "carpet cleaned". Furniture can be moved for vacuuming that is not done as often and showers scrubbed once in a while to prevent rust and build up. If you have an air conditioner unit, make sure to connect with someone and know how to clean that and or if there are filters that have to be changed.
Garage & Cars
Lastly, the garage usually needs some organizing and sweeping, at least ours does! About twice a year I do a deep cleaning and reorganize everything as items get out of place. Investing in some plastic bins and racking or shelving is so benefical! You will have more space and it will be kept cleaner. Using plastic bins is a better choice then cardboard boxes. Cardboard is a food for mold and fungus, and that is not what you want growing in there! Opt for plastic bins. They will last longer, are water proof, and will hold more. Sweeping out the dust and leaves can be done seasonly so you are not dealing with critters, bugs, or mold finding a happy home in it. As for cars, I try and do a deep cleaning each season and swap supplies out for what I might need for that particular season. You can always get your car professionally cleaned, but if you want to save money, you can easily do it, unless of course there are major messes. Vacuuming it, cleaning windows, and wiping the interior is really all you need to do. I love using a natural cleaner like thieves and norwex cloth to clean inside. If there is dust, i use a dust mitt and not spray. Everything else I use a enviro cloth from norwex. This kills bacteria and cleans thoroughly with either just water or a natural cleaner. Add some essential oils or dried spices to freshen it up and you are set!
I love adding these dryer angels as an air freshener to my care: https://www.mygreenfills.com/products/dryer-angel.
Time to get started!
Now that we went over some tips and resources for cleaning your own home, it's time for you to start with something this spring! Don't feel overwhelmed, just start with one thing. You will feel much better and your home will be cleaner then ever before! We didn't cover every single thing, I'm sure there is a lot I missed. This was more of cleaning areas that usually get missed. If you are looking for some great options for natural cleaners, remember to check out the EWG website- https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/top_products?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=202002CleanNews&utm_medium=email&emci=4e3a1484-bc46-ea11-a1cc-00155d03b1e8&emdi=b4695d1c-f34f-ea11-a94c-00155d039e74&ceid=1274456 . They have lots of research and options for clean products if you don't know where to start. You can see how products rate and find out how safe they really are. I hope this gives you confidence when cleaning your home, knowing that you are bettering the health of you and your family!
Some of my favorite cleaners & brands
Other Great Resources: