Spring has sprung-which means most homeowners are jumping into spring-cleaning mode. As you rearrange your garage, dust off your air conditioner, and break out your lawn mower, don't forget to take care of two of your home's most important facets: your windows and doors.
After a long, snowy or rainy winter, your windows and doors could use a little TLC. But not all springcleaning materials are environmentally friendly. In particular, aerosol cleaners are inherently bad for the environment, especially the ozone layer.
Fortunately, you can easily clean your windows and doors-and the rest of your home-without hurting the environment. Below, we'll give you a few eco-friendly spring-cleaning tips so you can enjoy a beautiful home, guilt free.
Most people use ammonia-based glass cleaners to make their windows shine and sparkle. While ammonia-based cleaners aren't horrible for the environment, they could stand to be improved. You can create an easy window cleaner using vinegar and water to give your windows an even cleaner look.
To clean your windows from the inside, mix a quarter cup of vinegar with two cups of cold water. You can add a drop or two of dish soap to get a deeper clean, but take care not to leave soap marks on the window panes. For best results, put the mixture in a spray bottle.
To clean your windows from the outside, gently spray them with your garden hose. You can dip a squeegee in your vinegar mixture, or you can dip it in a soapier mixture to remove thicker dirt and streaks. Spray the window gently with your garden hose to remove the suds.
You might have heard that you can use newspaper to clean windows-and, if you're gentle, you usually can. However, newspaper can scratch window glass if you're not careful. Plus, the ink many newspapers use can smear. You should still do your best to cut down on your paper towels use while you spring clean, so try cleaning your windows with a soft microfiber cloth.
For best window-cleaning results, clean your windows on a sunny day so they dry quickly and so you can better see any remaining streaks.
In general, you shouldn't use abrasive chemicals to clean your door, especially if you have a painted door. Instead, use the same vinegar mixture you would use on your windows to remove tricky stains and spots. Before you spray the door down with vinegar and water, dust off the outside of the door with a microfiber cloth.
Make sure you clean every component of the door. Check the weather stripping and replace any old, torn, or ragged strips with new ones. Rinse the weather stripping to remove any mud or dirt. Oil the door's hinges, clean the knob and knocker with soap and water, and sweep the stoop to remove door-damaging debris for good measure.
General Cleaning Tips
Once your windows and doors are squeaky-clean, you can move on to the rest of your house. Here are a few eco-friendly ways to clean each room in your house.
Oven-cleaning products are some of the most toxic cleaning products on the market. They can get the job done, but they come in aerosol cans, and you must adequately ventilate the kitchen when you use the product. Avoid the hassle and make your own, more environmentally friendly kitchen cleaner.
Mix several tablespoons of baking soda with just enough water to make a paste. Then, spread the paste across the dirtiest, greasiest parts of the oven. Let the baking soda mixture sit for 24 hours, then scrub it off. Baking soda works at least as effectively as oven-cleaning chemicals (perhaps even more so), and it creates little hassle and fuss with no environmental or health concerns.
Use a vinegar mixture to clean other areas around the kitchen, like countertops and cupboards. If you have a stainless steel sink, clean it with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar (but remember, the mixture will fizz). Let the solution sit on tricky stains overnight, and then rinse the mixture off with hot water.
After you strip a room of its dusty bed sheets and linens, set your washing machine to use cold water instead of hot. Your bedding will get just as clean, but it will use much less energy. After you wash your linens, hang them up to dry instead of putting them in the dryer.
Baking soda works well on most bathroom fixtures, including tricky-to-clean toilets. Dust a little baking soda on your toilet scrub brush in lieu of toilet bowl cleaner.
Many spring-cleaners prefer to use paper towels in the bathroom over reusable sponges and clothsdisposable paper towels seem more sanitary. Instead of wasting paper towels, though, try using old shirts as rags to clean the bathroom. If you prefer to throw the scraps of shirt away afterwards, you can do so, but you can also throw the old shirts in the wash to use them again.
Enjoy Your Eco-Friendly, Clean House
Without too much effort, you can make sure your windows shine, your entry door stands out, and your house feels fresh and clean-all without contributing any harmful chemicals to the environment. Follow these tips to enjoy a clean house this summer without the guilt of using commercial cleaners.