Health & Wellness Articles

25 Green Spring Cleaning Tips

Good for You, Your Home and the Planet

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1. Hang dry your laundry. Drying your clothes in an electric or gas dryer isn’t just hard on your clothes; it’s also hard on the environment. Don’t stop with natural laundry detergent. Stay green every step of the way and install a clothesline in your backyard. If space (or aesthetics) is an issue, look for a “retractable clothesline” like this one from Gaiam, which takes up virtually no space when not in use. Weather permitting, line-dry your clothes outside to reduce pollution, cut your energy bill, get more exercise, enjoy the sunshine, and extend the life of your clothes. Plus, they’ll smell like a clean breeze, not a fake “clean breeze scent.”

2. Add a little greenery. Install a living air filter—houseplants! Some of the most efficient air-cleaning houseplants include Spider plants, English ivy, rubber plants, and peace lilies. You’ll need 15 to 18 medium-sized (6 to 8-inch diameter container) houseplants for the average 1,800 square foot house. If that sounds like a lot, place a few plants in the room where you spend the most time.

3. De-clutter your wardrobe. Donate gently worn items to charity, where they’ll get a second life, and donate torn and stained items (if they’re made of an absorbent fabric) to your rag collection, where they’ll replace wasteful paper towels. And as you’re packing up your winter sweaters, replace those stinky mothballs with a natural and better-smelling version: Stuff a lonely unpaired sock with cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and whole cloves and tie it at the end.

4. Paint your walls green. If spring cleaning at your house involves a fresh coat of paint, consider the VOC content of the paint when choosing your paint. VOC's, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are chemicals that form vapors at room temperature. Some VOC’s, like the ones in many paints, contribute to smog and indoor air pollution, and can cause a host of short- and long-term health problems. The good news is that many paint manufacturers have started making low- or no-VOC paints. The bad news is that many of those manufacturers have simply substituted VOC's with other non-VOC-yet-still-toxic chemicals. For truly eco-conscious safe paint, check out these products: Eco-Spec, by Benjamin Moore; Clarity, by Dutch Boy; Enviro-Pure, by MAB Paint; American Pride Paint; and BioShield Milk Paint.

5. Swap out your Swiffer. Instead of continually buying expensive single-use mop pads, invest in a reusable mop. Casabella is one brand that’s widely available in health food stores and general stores. Their mop heads can be washed in your washing machine, hung dry, and used again and again—well worth their moderate price tag.
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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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