Health & Wellness Articles

25 Green Spring Cleaning Tips

Good for You, Your Home and the Planet

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After being cooped up in a stuffy house all winter long, it’s finally time to fling open the windows, shoo away the cobwebs, and take on your annual spring cleaning. But often, the chemicals found in conventional cleaning products can be more dangerous than the dirt they’re intended to clean. And the way we clean (with lots of disposable paper towels) isn’t exactly earth-friendly. Thankfully, there are many alternatives available that can help you make your home squeaky clean—and green.

Green cleaning products
The last thing you want to do is dump toxic chemicals into the environment in the name of cleaning, right? These days, you don’t have to make a special trip to the natural foods store to seek out environmentally-sensitive cleaning products. Seventh Generation, Method and Biokleen are three companies that make full lines of household cleaners, and you can find them in just about every store. These products work just as well as their conventional counterparts. Or you can stock your natural cleaning kit with homemade cleaners—making them yourself is super easy.

The basic supplies you’ll need to make your own green cleaners include:
  • Distilled white vinegar (sold in the cooking section of most supermarkets)
  • Baking soda
  • Olive oil
  • Borax (sold in a box in the laundry aisle)
  • Liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner's brand, found in most natural foods stores)
  • Essential oils (super concentrated natural plant oils found in natural foods stores, usually in the cosmetics section)
  • Microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Newspaper
Here are a few basic “recipes” and techniques to get you started:
  • Glass: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray on glass and wipe clean with old newspaper or a lint-free cloth.
  • Countertops and bathroom tile: Mix 2 parts vinegar and 1 part baking soda with 4 parts water. Apply with a sponge, scour, and wipe away.
  • Floors: Mix 4 cups of white distilled vinegar with about a gallon of hot water. If desired, add a few drops of pure peppermint or lemon oil for a pleasant scent. After damp mopping the floors, the smell of vinegar will dissipate quickly, leaving behind only the scent of the oil.
  • Wood furniture: Mix equal parts of lemon juice and olive and oil. Apply a small amount to a cloth, and rub onto the furniture in long, even strokes.
  • Toilet bowl cleaner: Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub away! Occasionally disinfect your toilet by scrubbing with borax instead. Wipe the outside of the toilet clean with straight vinegar.
  • Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 3 cups hot water, and 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use a spray bottle. Wipe clean.
  • Mold and mildew: Wipe with straight vinegar.
  • Air freshener: Sprinkle essential oil on a cotton ball, and stash it in a corner of the room. If you have kids, make sure it is out of their reach as essential oils are very strong and could irritate their skin. Lavender is a relaxing scent that is great for bedrooms, and cinnamon, clove, and citrus oils are great for the rest of the house. You can stash a few in the car too—try peppermint, which may help you to stay alert.
And while you’re at it, consider these 6 additional ways to green up while you clean up:
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • TTOMPSON
    I'm excited to do my spring cleaning this weekend! We have someone to come clean the house next weekend after we've thrown a lot of things away. It's going to be great to have the house be uncluttered.

    Tara | http://www.floorc
    leantoowoomba
    .com.au/services - 5/20/2014 3:17:17 PM
  • I liked the article. I was surprised to see the recommendation to use microfiber cleaning cloths. They're expensive and buying rags is not green. I'd recommend old cotton t-shirts. I have some that are still cleaning after 20 years.
    - 4/17/2014 8:51:36 AM
  • Thanks for the reminders. - 3/26/2014 5:53:12 AM
  • PONDGOLD
    The picture for this article is of a woman cleaning the countertops. She is holding a spray bottle. Why is the vinegar cleaning solution blue? - 3/22/2014 6:35:15 AM
  • I have found that essential oils are great for so many things. I use them all over the house. - 3/15/2014 1:55:44 PM
  • VAINVT
    I have a Swifter, which I rarely use because it damages my wood floors. The Casabella recommendation is just what I need - something that can be thrown into the wash, as opposed to a sponge mop. The model with the canister is even better because then you don't have to fill a bucket. - 3/15/2014 8:48:42 AM
  • FRECKLEPUP
    Good article but it needed more emphasis on cutting up your clothes and using them for cleaning rags if possible or just throwing them out. Donating your clothes is very hard on the environment. Fuel to transport them, fuel to clean them, fuel to haul them to the landfill after they are rejected by the Salvation Army, etc. Yes, the vast majority of the clothes IS rejected. Also, Africa doesn't need your used sweatshirt. They are drowning in used clothing (shipped at great environmental cost by boat usually) that usually ends up being sold, not giving away. Further, our "donations" have destroyed their own clothing related industries. Cut up or trash your old clothing people! Better yet, don't buy more clothing than you need in the first place.
    - 3/15/2014 4:00:53 AM
  • YIELDNOT482
    Short version of this article would read
    Clean like your Great Grandma did.
    In my late 50's I can remember all these tips as how my Grandma did things. Yes they work but do you have the time? - 3/15/2014 3:49:02 AM
  • Nice article. I find a lot of these ideas don't clean worth a darn for me, but I do use the vinegar for cleaning. My hubby says that it makes the whole house smell like vinegar, but I guess I can try adding scents. Borax is also great for killing bugs in my furniture, and I used it when my dog picked up ticks. - 3/10/2014 10:11:36 PM
  • Great article. Useful. - 12/21/2013 6:17:56 PM
  • JHALLI
    Thank you so much for the great tips! I've been buying natural cleaners like Method and 7th Generation for several years, and I love microfiber cleaning cloths. I'm definitely going to try making my own cleaners now as well! - 3/13/2013 9:34:25 AM
  • If you compost, you can add your paper towels.

    Not all essential oils are "natural," many are artificial/synthe
    tically created. If this is important to you, check the label or with the manufacturer. - 10/14/2012 12:26:13 PM
  • BRENNAGIRL
    I've been cleaning like this for a few years now. Love it! I even write about it in my blog. http://ramblingon
    andon.weebly.
    com/1/categor
    y/cleaning/1.html

    I would never go back to conventional methods. Saves you a ton of money. Is very effective. And best of all no chemicals. It's truly the way to go. - 5/7/2012 5:38:05 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    Some of the suggestions are not appropriate for anyone with allergies. Hanging clothes or bed linens outside on the line will aggravate anyone with allergies. The pollen and DUST from the outdoors is brought into the house, then has to be removed.

    Also, essential oils should also be used with care. I'm allergic to lavender, and floral scents also trigger sinus congestion and really bad headaches.

    On the other hand, I do clean my tile floors with vinegar and water. The smell is gone in less than an hour. The first time I tried it, I was shocked to see how much brighter my floors looked. The floor cleaner I was using before left a hazy film on the tile and the floors never looked clean. With the vineger, they looked like new.

    I have yet to find a really good bathroom cleaner - green or otherwise - that will take the hard water stains off my cultured marble shower stall. - 5/7/2012 5:35:00 PM
  • SLUDLOW
    I try to use "green" cleaning supplies. A month or so ago I found an article on-line giving ideas for using vodka. I bought the cheap stuff; washed my window, made homemade vanilla just to name a few. It has been a standing joke about using the vodka but if it works what the heck. - 5/7/2012 1:22:52 PM

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