Ready to push Spring (and yourself) into high gear with a little cleaning?
Here's what you need to make it simple, time-efficient and effective. If you do these 5 things over one or two weekends, it will make your day-day life easier and your home will be healthier as well.
1. Ditch the chemical cleaners once and for all.
If you've not switched from commercial cleaners to vinegar and water yet, do it now. It's the one simple switch that will make your home healthier, your lungs cleaner and you wallet fatter. Get a big jug of vinegar and keep it and a spray bottle on hand. Mix vinegar, water, some lemon essential oil and little eco-friendly dish detergent together and you've got an all-purpose cleaner that works for your kitchen, bathroom and floors. I pull it out every day and use it with a microfibre cloth to disinfect my countertops. You can also add a few drops of orange and lavender essential oils to leave an invigorating scent. Make up this cleaner - see the formula here - and forget all the many bottles of different cleaners that are filled with toxic chemicals and are a waste of money. Go back to what our grandmas used to do and keep it simple. And clean.
2. Clean your entryway, and make a place for shoes.
Actually get down on your hands and knees and scrub your entryway floor and floorboards with your all-purpose cleaner. It will disinfect and smell great as you come in the door plus get rid of any lingering yucky stuff tracked in over the winter. Wash and air out a mat or area rug to have in the entry for neat shoe storage, and if you can, tuck in a bench or little stool to encourage all family and guests to sit down and take shoes off at the door. Just thinking about the dirt and toxins they track inside makes me want to scrub the floor all over again! More helpful info on essentials for a small entryway are here.
3. Clean out your kitchen cupboards and drawers.
One at a time, take everything out of each kitchen cupboard and drawer and make the decision whether it goes back in gets or donated/tossed. If there are food cans that haven't been touched since 2010, it's time to pitch them. If there are appliances or dishes you never use, forget dusting them, make space and more time by donating them. Clean down the inside of the cupboards with your all-purpose cleaner, and lay down a fresh shelf liner if you'd like (it makes for pretty drawers that tend to keep neater longer). Then organize everything that goes back in so that like goes with like - dessert dishes all together, breakfast food together, etc. Consider using baskets and bins, crates and jars to keep things in their place - like onions, potatoes, bulk flour and cereal. I like to keep all the cloth napkins together in a basket on a shelf, which keeps them handy and neat, and also frees up a drawer for the aluminium foil, parchment papers, baggies and twist ties to stay together in their own place. Finally, wipe down the fronts of each cupboard door and scrub the toe kick as well.
4. Clean your windows.
Use a simple solution of vinegar, water and lemon oil to clean all the winter grime off of your windows, inside and out. It'll do wonders to brighten the space and your outlook on life.
5. Clean the air.
Add a couple of new plants to your home to help filter out toxins. Open the windows. Toss chemical room spray in favour of natural essential oils that freshen your space through a diffuser like this one or a simple linen spray using water and lavender oil. If you burn candles, make sure they are natural soy or beeswax. And phase out environmental chemicals in the home like plastic and synthetic fibres that can off-gas for years, or at least don't bring new ones into the home. All of these will help improve air quality and long-term health and well-being.
That's it! Other things, like bathroom cleaning, should now be under control if you've tackled creating a healthy bathroom - as suggested here. Laundry is a project on it's own - for ideas on that see this post. These kind of bigger projects can be done later, but if you tackle the five simple but essential cleaning tasks above your home will be fresh for a new season and day-day life will be easier.