With longer, warmer days comes that urge to clean and start fresh as we head into spring. These spring cleaning tips can be used all year to clean your space while keeping your family and the earth healthy.

  1. Get rid of clutter. Nothing makes your home feel as untidy as having too much stuff. Before you can really get into cleaning your home, you need to purge some of that stuff you no longer use. If you have old t-shirts you’re getting rid of, cut them up and use them for cleaning and make sure to recycle or donate your unused clutter so it doesn’t end up in your local landfill.

    Visit http://recyclenation.com/ to find out where you can recycle your unused stuff.

  2. Take a look at the cleaners you are using, if the labels say “harmful or fatal if swallowed” or “Danger: corrosive” you probably shouldn’t be using them on surfaces that your family, you and your food touch each and every day. Here is a link to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) guide to healthier cleaning products: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners. This is my go-to stop before I purchase any new cleaners. Or if you prefer to make your own, here are some recipes for my favorite non-toxic DIY cleaners:

    • Tub and tile cleaner: Take a lemon, cut it in half and sprinkle the fruit side liberally with baking soda. Use it to scrub your tub, tiles and your kitchen sink. It cleans, disinfects and leaves a lovely lemon scent.

    • Oven cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda in your oven and spray it with water, making it into a paste. Let it sit, periodically spraying it when it dries. Then wipe off. Your oven will be sparkling clean without the toxic fumes.

    • Window cleaner: Fill a spray bottle with water and ¼ cup white vinegar. Reduce waste by using a soft cloth or newspaper instead of paper towels (and they leave a better finish).

    • Garbage disposal cleaner: Make vinegar ice cubes by putting 1 cup distilled white vinegar in an ice cube tray, fill the balance with water and freeze. Once frozen, drop a couple down the disposal and run it. The vinegar helps disinfect and the ice helps remove any food stuck on the blades.

    • Microwave cleaner: Place some lemon slices in a microwave safe cup or bowl with 6 ounces or so of water. Heat on high for 3 minutes, let sit for 3 minutes (without opening the door), and then open and wipe clean. Crusted food should lift easily and your microwave will smell lemon fresh.

  3. Avoid disposable and one-use cleaning tools. If you’re using an entire roll of paper towels to clean your bathroom that kind of defeats the eco-progress you’ve made by making your own cleaning products. Use washable microfiber cloths, natural sponges, brooms and reusable mops instead of disposable products.

  4. Open those windows. This is easy, inexpensive and a great way to clean your inside air. I go around my house and wash my windows inside and out (the ones I can reach) and then leave them open that way I know there won’t be any dirt from the sills coming back into my house.

  5. Think about energy conservation when running the vacuum, turn off some of your lights to compensate for the extra energy use.

  6. While you’re vacuuming, sprinkle some baking soda on your carpets, it will deodorize them without any toxic chemicals. Overthrow Martha recommends adding 20 – 30 drops of your favorite essential oil to 1 ½ cups of baking soda. Now you have a way to add a lovely scent to your home without the toxins. I use a repurposed glass cheese sprinkler to store my baking soda for easy access.

  7. Make it a habit for your family to leave their shoes (and toxins) at the door. If you haven’t already, provide a spot for your family and guests to leave their shoes when they enter your home. Pesticides, heavy metals and other nasty toxins can find their way into your home via your footwear. And, when you’re done washing your floors, the last thing you want it dirty shoes walking all over them.

Happy cleaning!