March 20 marked the first day of spring, finally. That means it’s the time of year to attack the cleaning you’ve happily forgotten the last few months while you’ve been busy trying to keep your head above water in the middle of this pandemic. Yeah, you’d think spring cleaning would have come a little earlier since most of us spent the lion’s share of the last year stuck indoors but no need to feel bad if you didn’t. The vaccine rollout is ahead of schedule, it’s starting to seem likely that things will look a lot more normal by summer and that means now’s as good a time as any to kick off this fresh start with a freshly cleaned house or apartment.
But not all types of cleaner are created equal. If you truly want this cleanliness to be next to godliness, you’ll want to make sure the supplies you’re using are as kind to the environment as possible. That’s harder than it sounds, since lots of household cleaners actually do quite a number on the natural world, but options are getting better. No longer do you need to load up on harsh chemicals that are bad for your hands, eyes, lungs and the environment. Use these tips to clean a better way — it’ll protect your house and creation, while still making your home sparkling clean.
Squeeze Some Lemons
Use lemon juice (add salt to make a paste, if necessary) to clean stains off countertops and stainless steel appliances.
Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
To make your own all-purpose cleaner, combine two cups of distilled water, 1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons of castile soap (try Dr. Bronner’s, which is available at most stores) and 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil. You can also add essential oil for scent.
Clean Your Windows With Vinegar
Combine 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar with a quart of warm water and use that to clean your windows. Sorry, Windex, blue is no longer needed.
Observe the Miracle of Baking Soda
Yes, you can use ye olde Arm & Hammer for more than just cooking. Use it to scrub pans. Use it to erase stains and marks from painted surfaces. And if you pour a cup of baking soda down a drain, pour a cup of vinegar in after it and seal the drain — it’ll unclog after five minutes. (Just send a gallon of boiling water down the drain afterward.)
When In Doubt, Buy Green
If you’d rather not make your own cleaning supplies, head to Target or Walmart. They have plenty of chemical-free, environmentally friendly and biodegradable options. Check out the products from Seventh Generation or Method. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, you’ll have an even easier time with your greener spring cleaning.