Green Spring Cleaning (Green Moms Carnival Submission!)

(This post is part of the Green Moms Carnival. Tiny Choices will host this month’s Green Mom Carnival. Read all the Green Moms sounding off about spring cleaning on March 10th.)

I really don’t like cleaning. Really. And all spring makes me want to do is roll down the windows and travel. I don’t ever want to clean. The spirit never strikes.

That said, when my mom is visiting, or other friends are coming over, I have to get to it like all of us do. And I want to do it as green and healthy for my family and for the earth as I can.

That means no nasty chemicals, scents, or extra anything. I want to do it as fast as possible, as little as possible, and move on with life.

I do like to take advantage of the energy of spring to purge. As a recovering pack rat, this is hard. So here are my tips for green spring cleaning (and purging):

*Find all that is not being used: toys, small clothes, housewares, etc., and move it along to someone who needs it! Take the pile (we have a BIG one in the basement) to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or to a consignment store (better yet, a friend who is expecting or has a new baby).

*Clean green. My favorites include any Seventh Generation product. They, unlike many companies, label all the ingredients in their products on every label, and work hard to promote environmental health for everyone. And remember the Dixone 1,4 controversy last year? The Organic Consumer’s Organization found the carcinogenic chemical in many of our favorite green cleaning brands. But they’ve released a new report and study with newly reformulated cleaners, many of whom are completely free of this chemical now. They are also working towards a more clear and better labeling system, similar to the process for organic foods.

The Coming Clean campaign is: “focused on cleaning up the organic personal care industry by ridding of fraudulent labeling that is misleading consumers. The OCA believes that organic body care standards should mirror organic food standard.

This means that:
*Certified organic agricultural feedstocks are utilized in the manufacture of the key basic cleansing and conditioning ingredients, versus petroleum or conventional feedstocks.

*Manufacture of such ingredients is ecological.

*The toxicity of each ingredient is minimal

*Non-agricultural water is not counted in any shape or form as contributing to organic content,” according to the OCA.

Wouldn’t this be amazing? Join OCA’s Coming Clean effort here.

I also love Simply Neutral’s non-abrasive cleaner. I use this everywhere that needs a little more cleaning (let’s just say if you wait as long as I do, you need this stuff). It doesn’t mark up any surface, and scrubs out soap and toothpaste scum in a second (sorry to sound like a commecial). The stuff is green (no odor), safe for your lungs and your kids in the same room.

*Air out your house. All those nasty indoor air quality issues! We’ve got flame retardants in dust, fragrance chemicals, VOCs and who knows what viruses are lingering. If you can, open up the windows and air it out.

*Vacuum. I RARELY do this. And when I took a survey about indoor air quality, it is where I got in trouble. Turns out, chemicals like flame retardants cling to dust and stick around, to be ingested by little hands. Vacuuming regularly cuts this down. I’ve read this, I understand this and I still don’t vacuum much. Maybe you will have better luck!

*Purge your stuff. This one is hard for me, but I am getting better. If you haven’t worn it in a year (okay, maybe two) move it along. Send those books over to the used book store.

*Set up that compost pile. If you’ve stopped composting for the winter, now is the time to get it set up again. There are lots of resources online to help you with this!

Readers, what are your tips for green spring cleaning? I’m sure you are all better house keepers then I (not hard), so please, comment and share here!

image credit: The Bridge to Spring – Part 2 by WisDoc on Flickr under Creative Commons

8 Responses to Green Spring Cleaning (Green Moms Carnival Submission!)

  1. Lynn March 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    I totally agree that the most important part of spring cleaning is to clean OUT, not clean up. Well, the latter is important too, but giving away things, donating them to good causes or individuals in need, re-purposing them, gives me such a lift! I feel lighter, as though I'd lost a few pounds (don't I wish, LOL).Thanks for the ideas.

  2. Anna (Green Talk) March 9, 2009 at 6:55 pm #

    Katy, thanks for the information about the new study that came out. I was wondering what 7th Generation was doing about this particular chemical. Vacuuming with a HEPA based vacuum is the best since the allergens do not come out of the bag as you continue to vacuum. I have a whole house HEPA vacuum system since my kids have allergies. I love it.

  3. Kate March 10, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    This post is just what I needed to read. I have started to transfer to green cleaning products. I am definitely going to have to try the Simply Neutral's non-abrasive cleaner because I am always complaining of not having something strong enough :)As for Vacuuming, I am stuck in the same trap. I have no idea why I dislike vacuuming so much. I love it when it is done, just really don't like doing it. Maybe thinking about the the chemicals sticking to my dust in the carpet will help motivate me more…Thank you for the great post!

  4. Josh, Erika, and Kat March 10, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    I use one part Vinegar and one part water for a surface or counter top cleaner. I also use the same ratio to mop my floors (if you have ants this is a great way to help get rids of them, the vinegar wipes away the trail they leave, sort of like they won’t retrace their steps). I have also found that arm and hammer brand Washing soda (not to be confused with baking soda) which is usually found in the laundry isle is not only a laundry booster but works great for soap scum removal. We use bar soap and I think that is creates more soap scum, I used the washing soda the other day and was amazed at how well it worked (without much elbow grease) for cleaning the bath tub

  5. Diane MacEachern March 11, 2009 at 6:58 am #

    OK – I admit it. I get my husband to vacuum. I pull the vacuum out and it in the middle of the living room where everyone trips over it until he finally just does it. This strategy works!

  6. Katy Farber March 11, 2009 at 6:52 pm #

    Great comments! Thanks so much!I love, love the idea of my husband vacuuming. The truth is, he usually does. That's why it doesn't get done very often. I particularly sensitive to noise. Ugh!And I did mean to say it should be a HEPA vacuum. We need to make this leap but it is such a non-sexy purchase. I mean, who has hundreds of dollars to spend on a vacuum??

  7. Fake Plastic Fish March 11, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    My husband is the vaccuumer in our house, too. He's also the one who reminds everyone (including me) to take their shoes off when they enter our house.Thanks for the link to the revised OCA list.

  8. Becky March 14, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    My husband has banned me from vacuuming! I break every vacuum I touch- shucks! However that means I do all of the scrubbing! Lately I have been using "green" cleaning techniques- something I learned by reading, "Super Natural Home," by Beth Greer. This book is a great book for anyone interested in reducing their exposure to dangerous toxic chemicals.

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