6 Ways to safely spring clean your home

When it comes time to spring cleaning my home, I like to go all out using my abuela's spring cleaning tips. I go through my closets, spring clean my diet by going through my refrigerator and use every product known to man to get my house looking shiny and new. But the other day, as I was cleaning with a product filled with bleach and smelling like lavender (one that my mom, bless her, swears by), I got to thinking about what's actually in the product that I was cleaning with. I mean, my grandmother wasn't cleaning with this stuff back in Cuba. When I started to read up on some of the cleaning products that we all use, I found out that many are actually quite toxic to our families. That's when I decided to figure out better and, most importantly, safer ways to spring clean my home—and here's what I found out.


Read more ¿Qué más? Abuela's best spring cleaning tips

1. Do your research! It should go without saying, but the first step when making your home cleaning a safer task is to invest in some green, all-natural cleaning products. But you can't just go out and buy any product that claims to be eco-friendly on the bottle. Research the company online, check out what other people are saying in reviews (Is it a conscientious company? How are the products made? Do the products actually WORK well?). Be well informed about the products you're buying, even if that means a couple of extra hours in front of the computer screen.

2. Read all of the labels. All-natural and safe products should have ingredients that anyone can recognize, right? Well, make sure you actually read through the back label to find out exactly what those ingredients are. Does one of them sound funny? Does another one sound like it was made by people in white coats in some lab who-knows-where? Then maybe that's not really the product that you want to be buying. This goes hand-in-hand with doing your research, but make sure that anything you purchase for the home has words that we would all recognize as being natural.  The EPA doesn't actually require companies to list every ingredient, which is where #1 (research) can come in handy. Try to go for products that are plant-based and fragrant free and that promise to avoid phosphates, petrochemicals or chlorine bleach—all of which have been proven to cause damage to the human body.

3. Stick to what you love. When you find a brand or company that makes safe and sustainable cleaning products that are also pretty good at the cleaning part, why veer away? Yes, there will always be shiny new products on the market and there's nothing wrong with checking them out, too. But if you love something, know it's good for your family and the environment, then save yourself the hassle of always being pulled into the possible great new thing and stick with the products that are tried-and-true for you.

4. Clean like your abuelita did! When it comes down to it, sometimes going the homemade product route is actually your best bet. Remember that our grandmothers didn't have fancy bottles with fancier-sounding names. They cleaned with what they had in their homes and the products they knew already worked. So take a page from abuela's page and, whenever you can, make your own products! You'd be AMAZED at how versatile vinegar and baking soda are at cleaning almost anything. Mix up either of them with some warm water and you'll have a great all-purpose cleaner for the home. You can even add a tiny bit of essential oil to make it smell nicer. Plus, to keep things green, also make sure you're being smart by not wasting paper towels while cleaning. Instead, do like my abuela taught me and use old socks as rags and old toothbrushes to scrub those hard-to-reach spaces and cracks. Plus, washing windows and mirrors with water and a plain black-and-white newspaper is a complete, cheap, surprising and eco-friendly cleaning miracle. There's a lot you can do with your at-home non-toxic cleaning kit and, although it may take some extra time in the beginning, it'll be well worth it.

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5. Reuse, Donate, Recycle. Keep your home, your family and yourself safe and sane by making sure you're employing these three golden rules of having an eco-friendly and clean house. This especially is true for spring cleaning your and your kid's closets. Here you're helping to keep the Earth safe and sound by not abusing what you have. Go through the house and donate anything that your family is no longer using or doesn't really want. Reuse some old things or repurpose them in some way (such as old socks into racks, as I mentioned above). And recycle anything that is past it's prime. Recycling is particularly important because some products have to be disposed of in a special way, such as energy efficient light bulbs (which contain some mercury, so you have to be VERY careful) and batteries.

6. Make sure to stay physically safe, too. Last but absolutely not least, while you're remembering to use safe products and methods while cleaning your home, don't forget the little things—like staying physically safe. If you're cleaning the top of the cabinets, don't stand on a chair. Make sure you find a proper, sturdy ladder and that someone stands at the bottom to help you. When cleaning the inside of the bathtub, make sure you wear some sliding-resistant shoes so that you don't trip and hit your head on a hard surface. Seriously, STAY SAFE! All of the green, non-toxic and eco-friendly products in the world won't help you if you're not using basic precautions to make sure you're not falling, sliding or otherwise having an accident while trying to maintain your home in good condition.

Do you use safe, non-toxic materials when cleaning your home? How do you keep safe while spring cleaning? Share with us in the comments below!

Image via The Working World/flickr


nonmember avatar
on May 31, 2012 at 3:22 AM
I am with you...I am sure some of you have heard the name Melaleuca...it is tea tree oil based. Some of the greatest cleaning products I have used. They are safer for your home, your body and your babies. Thanks for the great article!
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on Jun 1, 2012 at 10:19 PM

We donate items. We are careful when it comes to mixing cleaning supplies. We recycle. I use rags to clean instead of paper towels. 

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on Jun 2, 2012 at 2:24 PM

I make my own cleaners.  I have not been doing it a while, but they certainly clean well , are less expensive than buying bottle after bottle of detergent, I can re-use bottles and are non toxic.  I do not use bleach unless it is absolutely necessary, so I only buy 2-3 bottles in the whole year.  I recently made my own laundry detergent since my current brand was getting too expensive and most of them are making boosters now because their cleaning power has decreased.  I did not like the smell of the one I made, because I do not like the soap I used.  I will make sure that the next batch have a better smelling soap.  It has been a rewarding experience and I am saving a ton.  There are plenty of recipes online, you just have to look for them.  

My next experiment will be making my own deodorant.  I want to make my own make up but those are expensive ingredients and I have not found the time to experiment yet.  I did "make" my own lipstick from all the older ones that were almost done and it came out beautifully.

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on Jun 2, 2012 at 2:28 PM

I couldn't fit it all.  We also compost, recycle and reuse as much as we can.  We hardly have 1 bag of trash a week.  We try not to use anythign that can't be either recycle or composted.  I have also used rags for years, so there is no waste there.  I buy the packages of "bar mops" at Sam's and they last years. Just a good wash in the washer with bleach and they are completely dessinfected.  

I am trying to educate my children in a re-usable way.  They enjoy going to the Goodwill and painting furniture and things that can be re-used.  In fact, they use recyclables to make projects during the summer.  We have to take care of the planet.  If not, one day, we won't be as lucky as to have clean air anymore.

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on Jun 2, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Couldn't agree more with some of you ladies above.  I have to say though I have been known to use some pretty strong products when disinfecting.  When my daughter began pre-school one of the conditions for enrollment was a certain number of volunteer hours and that was when I learned about vinegar uses for cleaning.  We literally cleaned the school from top to bottom and it was spotless.  I was sold.  Try it some time you may be surprised there are boundless do it yourself recipes online for cleaning and disinfecting.

Tip: I buy used baby swaddling blankets and cut them up in squares they're fantastic for dusting and once worn out they can be used for cleaning.

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