The quiet months of winter bring opportunities to prepare for the new beginnings of spring. We may spend more time reading, in self-care or learning something new. It is a time for emptying and reorganizing.
Thanks to Covid-19, cleaning is now an ongoing priority to ensure the health and safety of ourselves, family and loved ones. And while a lot of our homes have become a bit cleaner these days, it can be a fairly wasteful process that can impact the environment and even us.
With no end in sight for this new reality that we’ve been living the past nearly two years, learning to sustainably clean your home can not only help reduce potential coronavirus infections but lower cases of flu and the common cold, as well as reduce your impact on the environment.
To help you along, we’ve put together a guide to helping you deep clean your home with sustainability in mind.
1. Stock up on vinegar and baking soda – These two inexpensive products are organic, power cleaners. Vinegar is one of the most amazing substances on earth. Not only is it very good for the body, but it also has a number of natural benefits including killing bacteria. This makes it one of the healthiest, safest cleaning products available, and when combined with baking soda can help give a good scrub to any trouble area.
2. Make a plan – Start in the furthest part of the home and work your way out. Efficiency is part of the game here and you want to save time as much as your own energy.
3. Clean during day when it’s light outside – This reduces the amount of energy being used to clean and also live and work in the home. Not only will it save your money on your energy bill, but you will also require less reliance on fossil fuels.
4. Use reusable, washable towels – 13 million pounds of paper towels are sent to landfills each year. Reduce your contribution with washable reusable cloth paper towels.
5. Rely on old shirts for cleaning of toilets – Bonus: They’re also washable.
6. Old socks can be great for polishing or dusting books and shelves. Pro Tip: use some lemons and baking soda to polish stainless steal appliances. Bonus: the kitchen will smell fresh and citrusy.
7. Use a bucket of warm water which reduces the amount of water used while cleaning and…
8. Turn off the faucet when you don’t need it on to reduce the amount of water wasted.
9. Save energy – Concentrate on sweeping where you can and limit the use of vacuums.
10. For tough stains in the tub try coffee grounds. They are the perfect abrasive to help remove tough soap scum and can be filtered in the water system.
11. Old toothbrushes find a new use by getting into the tight corners and curves that are difficult for hands to reach.
12. All-natural floor cleaner – Mix 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar with one gallon of warm water in a bucket. Sweep floors then apply vinegar mixture using a mop. Let air dry.
13. Create your own carpet stain remover. We love this recipe, in fact vinegar and water can do a lot around the house.
a. In a spray bottle, blend together equal parts of white vinegar and water. Sprinkle it directly on the stain. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and clean using warm, soapy water and a brush or sponge. Sprinkle cornstarch on the stain to avoid fresh grease stains. Wait 15-30 minutes and then vacuum. Combine ¼ Cup of salt, borax and vinegar for a tougher carpet cleaner to address tough, stubborn stains. Apply the “dough” on to the carpet and let it sit for a few hours. Check the progress, “rinse and repeat” before vacuuming when happy.
14. Naturally clean your oven. No need for toxic, nauseous oven cleaning products. A little bit of water, salt and baking soda can do the trick. Here’s how to make it work for you:
a. Use a sponge and some water to moisten the oven’s surface inside. Combine a ½ Cup baking soda, ½ Cup salt and ½ Cup water into a thick paste. Spread the paste on the interior surface of the oven – try to avoid bare metal and vents. Leave the past on overnight. Remove it with a spoon and then wipe clean. For stubborn stains, rub gently with fine steel wool.
15. Stubborn surfaces like tile and base boards can easily be made new again with baking soda, salt and vinegar as a scrub. Add a dash of lemon for a fresh scent.
16. Lemons can turn the smelly garbage disposal into a fragrant pleasure. Cut lemons in quarters and grind them up in the disposal.
17. Green cleaning products – Over the past 20 years the green movement has brought even more eco-friendly cleaning products to the market and most have sustainable or reusable packaging.
18. Plants – To keep air fresh in your home use plants which naturally recycle the air. Just remember to water them!
Deep Cleaning Day typically means getting to all of the things that get missed during regular weekly cleanings like metals and silver. Here are some simple eco-friendly cleaning solutions that will make your metals shine. You can even make enough of the mixtures to keep on hand for the future, increasing future cleaning efficiency.
Aluminum – If you are in love with the aluminum backsplashes now available for kitchens, baths and just about anywhere, this will come in handy. Clean the aluminum surface with a solution of tartar cream, water and a soft, washable rag or cloth paper towel.
Copper – do your copper pots and cookware need a little extra soak? Or the hood vent is looking a bit dull. This will certainly help remove tough stains on any copper products in your home. Combine 1 Tablespoon salt and 1 Cup white vinegar with a 1 ½ Cups of water. Bring to a boil and soak a cotton cloth in the hot saucepan. Carefully remove using tongs and place directly on the copper while it is hot. Let it cool and then wipe the surface clean. For copper cookware, sprinkle salt on a piece of lemon and rub it on the copper pan.
Bronze – Polish bronze surfaces with a soft, smooth reusable cloth dipped into a solution of baking soda or salt and lemon juice.
Chrome – Not usually the prettiest of the metals but it does deserve some love. Polish chrome surfaces with a combination of lemon oil, white vinegar and aluminum foil, from the recycling bin, with the shiny side out.
It’s not likely you have a ton of gold just lying around, but this combo can work on gold plated surfaces when used gently. Use a regular, all-natural toothpaste or make your own paste using salt, vinegar and flour. Rub gently in a circular motion and gently wipe clean.
Silver – The never-ending fight to keep silver beautiful is made easier with this approach. Line a pan with aluminum foil – again, from the recycling bin – fill with water and 1 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. Bring the water to a boil and dunk your silver serving pieces and trays. Then polish with a soft cloth.
We love that cast iron is making a big comeback but keeping them clean without stripping the iron can be tricky. Always be sure to “season” your cast iron pan, if you’ve not already. Prolonged exposure to soap and water can strip the pan so be sure to always clean it immediately after use with regular hot water and a sponge. Sticky food can be removed with a paste made of coarse salt and water. Be sure to dry well with a clean towel or cloth paper towel and cover with a layer of oil.
Stainless steel – For cookware, combine 4 Tablespoons of baking soda in 1 liter (4.2 cups of water) and apply using a soft cloth or reusable Bamboo cloth towel. Dry with a clean cloth. Stainless steel sinks get a shine when you pour some baking soda on a durable, absorbent cloth. Rinse and clean with a clean cloth.
Finally, turn up the tunes – Nothing motivates and keeps you going quite like music. Instead of putting in a CD, use your favorite music streaming service to “pump up the jams”.
Need more ideas on how to sustainably clean your home? Check out this info graphic eco-friendly cleaning hacks for a sparkling kitchen.