Eco-friendly Spring Cleaning and Decluttering!

Eco-friendly Spring Cleaning and Decluttering!

Decluttering. The very word evokes images of family members signaling from the deep recesses of clothing piles, waving beneath mounds of sports equipment, and maybe even lost inside towers of books, games and toys not seen since Christmas. Send in the St. Bernard.

And what about the majority of chemical-laden cleaning products on the market that can wreak havoc with all living things, whether chemically sensitive or not? It’s not always easy to revitalize our neglected living spaces without some forethought, but doing so can impact our mental and emotional states just as much as our homes.

While you can buy ecologically-friendly, commercially-manufactured natural cleaning products, many natural products—some multi-purpose— are already found in the kitchen and pantry. (Important: When ridding the home of toxic cleaning products and other chemicals, be sure to find out when your community’s next household hazardous materials pick-up day is. Most have at least two a year.)

Getting started

Many professional organizers say the reason people are daunted by the prospect of removing months and perhaps years of accumulated objects is that they approach the task piecemeal, for example, sitting before a pile of clothing or a desk stacked with old mail, publications, files and the like and going through it all item by item. This can take weeks.

Instead, start by transferring everything to another location, opening windows, and cleaning the space thoroughly. Eco-friendly cleaning products such as white vinegar which contains acetic acid for deodorizing and disinfecting, can be used for cleaning babies’ and children’s rooms and bathrooms. Vinegar also produces sparkling hardwood floors: one cup to one gallon of warm water (be sure to dry thoroughly so floors do not swell or crack). Cornstarch can be used to clean windows and polish furniture, and baking soda is effective in bleaching tile grouts or absorbing odors from carpets when used before vacuuming.

When the room has been cleaned and aired, you may feel better about the space and compelled to return items previously removed to carefully designated closets, shelves or containers. The process itself results in an automatic culling of unused or unwanted items, from which many charitable entities may surely benefit.

If choosing to purchase additional containers, environmentally-friendly materials like bamboo and recycled wood-organizers in all shapes and sizes are popping up in stores. These products respect the earth and look attractive, and may inspire family members to use them resulting in less clutter come next spring.