Spring into Cleaning: Your Complete Non-Toxic Guide to Cleaning and Decluttering Your Home
By Marilee Nelson |
Spring is finally upon us (or very close at hand for those of you up North—hang in there!). With the warmer weather, cheerful blossoms, and chirping birds comes a natural surge in energy and motivation to clear out the old and welcome the new. This is true for our homes, minds, and bodies. For example, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the season for cleansing the liver and gallbladder from winter’s burdens. We can see this philosophy manifest in nature, as liver-supportive herbs pop up in the form of dandelions and chickweed, and our own natural inclination to eat fresher, lighter foods. For our minds, spring inspires us to come out of our winter shell, start socializing, and getting rid of old clutter that’s been clouding our brains and sapping our energy. And for our homes, there is no better time to get motivated to declutter and clean. Unfortunately, this often means breaking out the hard-core conventional cleaning products, which leave our indoor air quality in much worse shape than it was before we cleaned. The good news is, you can still give your home an incredible deep clean and declutter without using a single harmful chemical or toxic product. Today’s article will walk you through our non-toxic spring cleaning routine room-by-room list-style, PLUS easy decluttering tips...let’s get started!
TO BEGIN, OPEN UP YOUR WINDOWSThere’s a wonderful European tradition in which people open the windows for 10 minutes in their home every morning and evening to clear and refresh the air. And this makes common sense, doesn’t it? Afterall, studies have proven indoor air quality is often much worse than outdoor air quality, so what better way to fix that than opening a window a couple times a day? Plus, new research has shown an open window can boost your immunity by helping diversify your gut microbiome.
NOW IT’S TIME TO DETOX YOUR CLEANING CADDYAs we’ve discussed in numerous articles, and our Home Cleanse series, the average American home is filled with highly toxic poisonous cleaning products and pesticides. What most people don’t realize is these products permeate the air we breathe during cleaning and when stored in pantries, cupboards, etc. Therefore, if you want to make a big impact on your indoor air quality and health, it’s time to purge these poisons. Where Do You Start? Clean up your cleaning products—declutter and remove all conventional cleaning products, laundry products, fragrances, and products containing harmful ingredients. Next, use earth911.com or call your local department of works to inquire about safe disposal of these deemed “hazardous chemicals”, or put them in an airtight storage bin in your garage or shed. Finally, replace ALL those products with our versatile non-toxic cleaning Concentrate, some distilled white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. These products will save you so much time and money while simplifying your spring cleaning. Want More Detail On How To Purge Toxic Household Products From Your Home? I go over this step-by-step in our Home Cleanse video series, see our Branch Basics 3’Rs of Clean for the quick how-to, or check out our detailed written Home Cleanse tutorial here. Then come on back to continue your room-by-room spring cleaning tutorial.
NEXT, TACKLE THE KITCHEN WITH ALL-PURPOSE
Here you’ll want to focus on deep cleaning your large and small appliances, plus areas you don’t clean daily or weekly.
- Move large appliances out from the wall and use a sealed HEPA vacuum, microfiber, or unscented swiffer to remove dust and debris.
- Did you know: dust has been proven to harbor a variety of toxic air pollutants including phthalates, biocides, phenols, flame retardants, and heavy metals like lead, arsenic and mercury?So, it’s essential to remove it from places both seen and unseen.
- Use microfibers and All-Purpose to wipe down small appliances, countertops, sinks, window sills, vent hoods, etc.
- To deep clean cabinets, dilute 2 tablespoons Branch Basics Concentrate with 1 gallon of water, wipe cabinets then wipe dry with a cloth.
- For ovens, heat until just slightly warm (not over 100 degrees) then spray a light film of water before liberally spraying All-Purpose or Bathroom cleaner. Let sit a minimum of 15 minutes to overnight. Apply a second time if needed. Scrub the racks with a stiff brush and wipe clean with a wet cloth and dry with a paper towel or dry rag.
NOW, MOVE ONTO THE LAUNDRY ROOMLaundry rooms are a prime spot for toxic dust build-up (especially if you’ve been using conventional laundry products or storing cleaning products here), which is why now is a good time to tackle this often-neglected room.
- Remove mold and mildew from front loading/HE washers—click here to learn how.
- Get rid of scale and detergent build-up with white vinegar—learn how here.
- Clean dryer interior by spraying Bathroom solution on dryer interior, and spray same solution on a towel and run through a drying cycle.
- Deep clean dryer vent using a special dryer vent brush, or hire a chemical-free vent-cleaning service.
- Vacuum or use microfibers to remove dust behind and on top of your washer and dryer.
- Detoxify and declutter your laundry room by replacing those toxic, scented laundry products and stain removers with our Concentrate, Oxygen Boost, and Wool Dryer Balls (Just three products will take care of all your laundry and stain-fighting needs).
NEXT, TACKLE COMMON SPACESThis means your living room, den, dining room, office, foyer, etc.
- Move furniture and use vacuum to suck up dust and debris behind and beneath furniture and within sofas and chairs.
- To remove stains from upholstery or fabrics, use Branch Basics Concentrate as-directed in the User Guide on Page 1.
- Use Concentrate at proper dilution to mop hard-surface floors. See User Guide for directions.
- Dust everything including electronics, shelving, window sills, and door frames using microfibers, your vacuum, or unscented Swiffers.
- For baseboards, spray All-Purpose and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. This will also help break down any residual pesticides that may have been sprayed on the baseboards.
- To polish wood furniture, dilute 2 teaspoons concentrate in 2 cups of water and test a hidden area first to ensure the finish is not affected. Wipe on minimally and wipe off.
- Clean vents and returns with your vacuum and All-Purpose.
- Now is also a great time to replace your home’s air filters. For best 1-inch filter replacement we recommend Filtrete.
NEXT, TAKE IT TO THE BEDROOMFollow the advice above to dust and clean furniture, baseboards, floors, vents, returns, etc. Then, get ready to detoxify your bedroom.
- Wash all sheets, blankets, mattress covers, comforters, pillow cases, shams, pillows, pillow covers, and decorative pillows using Laundry solution. Make sure all are washable and use cold water for any material that may shrink. Test fabrics in inconspicuous area for compatibility.
- Vacuum your entire bed (and underneath) including headboards, mattress, box spring, platform frame, etc.
- Move onto the closet, remove any clothing on shelves, etc. and vacuum thoroughly.
- Replace toxic moth repellents with non-toxic solutions like natural cedar or Stay Away Moths by Earthkind. Get more tips on non-toxic moth removal here.
- Declutter by going through your closet and purging any clothing, shoes, or accessories you haven’t worn in the last year. Then donate them or re-sell them at a consignment store.
FINALLY, BLITZ YOUR BATHROOMS
Bathroom and Streak-Free, along with some Oxygen Boost will take care of your entire bathroom.
- Wash any bathroom curtains, towels, bath mats, bathrobes, etc. using Laundry solution.
- Remove mold and mildew from bath or shower using Bathroom cleaner with a sprinkle of Oxygen Boost.
- If your tub or shower has stubborn mold embedded in the seal, it’s time to replace it with new seal/caulk.
- Clean all surfaces, tubs, showers, and toilets by spraying Bathroom solution and let sit for 1-5 minutes. Then scrub.
- For stubborn soap scum, include a sprinkle of Oxygen Boost and scrub.
- Clean grout by spraying Bathroom solution directly in the grooves, and let sit 1-5 minutes, then scrub. If necessary, repeat and/or add Oxygen Boost.
- Declutter by purging old personal care products, razors, hair ties, sponges, back scrubbers, broken hair styling tools, makeup, applicators, medications, etc.
- Take it a step further by detoxifying your bathroom of harmful, chemical-laden personal care products. Removing all products with synthetic fragrances is a great first step. Dive deeper and remove products with carcinogens. Learn how (and why) to do this in: “Ingredients to Avoid in Personal Care Products”
TIPS ON MAKING SPRING CLEANING MANAGEABLE AND FUNYes, spring cleaning definitely takes a little time and effort BUT it doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune on dozens of cleaning products—Concentrate + Oxygen Boost and/or distilled white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide will do the entire job fast—or taking a week off work. Here are some tips to make this process efficient, painless, and enjoyable:
- Take it a room at a time. If this means a room a weekend, that’s perfectly fine.
- Get the whole family involved! There is no reason for one person to do this alone, plus you’ll teach your children the value or non-toxic cleaning and taking pride in their home.
- Invite your friends over to help, then return the favor by helping them clean their home. This works great for singles or those with spouses who travel a lot, serve some great wine and snacks, crank up the tunes or your favorite podcast, order some healthy takeout, and make a fun weekend of it.
- No time? Hire a cleaning crew and print this post as their checklist. Any cleaning company worth their salt will follow your instructions and use the products you ask them to use. Also, look for a company that uses a HEPA vacuum, or have them use yours.
- Above all, take it one step at a time. The surest way to fail is to try and tackle your entire home in one day. Even if this means doing three little spring cleaning chores every day for weeks , that’s fantastic!
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.