Spring is here. And it's time to cut the clutter and create a clean space, making room in mind, body, spirit and home for the people and things that truly matter to you. With natural products (free from toxic chemicals) and a little elbow grease, you can welcome the new season into your home.
In honor of Earth Day, here are 10 easy steps to get you started on a spring home cleaning that Mother Nature would be proud of.
1. Take a home inventory. Go through each room with two giant garbage bags: one for items to be donated and one for items to be recycled. Be swift: don't linger on imagined emotional connections to material objects. Learn to relish the joy of less. Embrace minimalism.
2. Make a vow to ditch paper towels. As you clear out your linen closet, gather any shabby or stained towels and washcloths and cut them into reusable rags.
3. Create your own green cleaning products. Mix half a cup of vinegar with a quarter cup of baking soda in a half-gallon spray bottle. You now have your own all-purpose green cleaning solution, at a fraction of the cost of the store-bought, chemical-filled version.
4. Scour your tub and kitchen sink by mixing vinegar and baking soda. Some surfaces require a grittier cleaning solution. Soak your sponge in vinegar and sprinkle the surface with baking soda. Remember that elbow grease we mentioned? Here's where you really put it to work.
5. Wash your floors with reusable microfiber cloths and a natural solution. The ProMist Microfiber Spray Mop by O-Cedar comes with ecofriendly, reusable pads; you can even add your own cleaning solution. For your hardwood floors, mix one cup vinegar and a few drops of baby or olive oil in one gallon of hot water.
Learn more Eco-Tips for a greener life.
6. Freshen up your fridge. It's time to make room for spring's veggie bounty. Check the dates on all products, particularly stuff pushed to the back and forgotten about. Anything that's passed its freshness date — or looks (smells) a little funny — should be tossed. Wash the surfaces with vinegar, an effective and food-safe cleaner. Don't forget to wipe away those dust bunnies hiding under the refrigerator.
7. Clean the air with houseplants. Spider plants are super efficient air purifiers, and certainly very green! Add a few plants to the areas in your home where you spend the most time. For small, dark spaces, hang a Moso Bag. This fragrance-free, natural air-purifying bag contains moso bamboo, which absorbs and filters odors, harmful pollutants, allergens and bacteria while dehumidifying.
8. Line dry your linens. Dry your linens and clothes the old-fashioned way: on a line in the backyard. You'll save energy, and that ultra-fresh smell will keep you coming back to the clothespins for as long as the weather cooperates.
9. Switch to a green energy option with your local utility provider. Many utility companies now let you purchase renewable energy at a slightly higher premium. And cutting down on your energy usage might actually negate the price change. Call up now, inquire and make the switch.
10. Enlist your kids to help. Spend time around the yard taking care of Mother Earth, and instill a love of nature in your children at the same time. Clean out the weeds and sticks from a fallow garden, then let them choose the flowers or vegetables to plant. If it's fun, the kids will be clamoring to help.
Check out more kid-friendly environmental activities.
Visit the Earth Day section at CBS Local.