Get Rid of Stuff
Before spring cleaning is the perfect time to ruthlessly eliminate clutter, since deep cleaning often involves moving lots of stuff around. And by clutter I mean stuff you own that you don't use, don't need, and maybe don't even want. I've seen a lot of spring cleaning checklists that include tossing clutter while cleaning out this or that. This would never work for me. If I were taking everything out of a drawer to wipe it out, and I stopped to consider whether I should keep or get rid of each item, I would never finish cleaning anything. Take the week before beginning spring cleaning to purge the contents of one room each day and get rid of as much as you can before you ever spray a cleaner or wipe down a surface.
When trying to get rid of stuff, I find it useful to name my clutter. Is that book or kitchen appliance aspirational clutter: something you have never used but aspire to using someday? Or maybe you've got some freebie clutter or nostalgic clutter. Click here to read about other types of clutter and why you should get rid of them. Since I've moved many times, I also find it useful to ask myself, if I were moving next week, would I bother to pack up this item and take it with me?
Another strategy I use to get rid of stuff is to sell it. Sometimes just the possibility of a little cash loosens the iron grip of belongings. My venue of choice is Craig's List, where I've sold dozens and dozens of items (see a semi-exhaustive list here and my tips for selling safely and successfully here). The best part is, even if you can't manage to sell the item, once you've psychologically adjusted to the idea of parting with it, you usually can. After purging my clutter, whatever I can't sell, I donate. For items that can't be sold or donated, try to recycle them rather than send to the landfill.
Upgrade Your Cleaners
One of the first things I did as a green newbie was swap out my conventional cleaners for safer eco-friendlier ones (inspired by watching my baby suck on the floor after I had recently used a Swiffer wipe on it). Before you get all Martha Stewart all over your house, it's a good idea to make sure your cleaners aren't leaving a trail of air pollution and toxic residue behind. If you aren't interested in replacing all your cleaners, at least consider replacing those with the "DANGER: harmful or fatal if swallowed" or "DANGER: corrosive" warning on them. Safer alternatives almost always exist.
Possibly the hardest part of switching to greener cleaners is deciding which ones to buy. Once you have a tried-and-true cleaning favorite, it's hard to bother to switch to something new. Luckily, I've done all that annoying research plus trial-and-error stuff for you. Click the links to read about my favorite bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, and laundry cleaners. There are definitely others out there that work. These are just the ones that I've tried that have worked for me.
Of course the eco-friendliest, safest, and cheapest options are the cleaners you make yourself. Here is a list of DIY cleaning recipes I've compiled: everything from oven cleaner to furniture polish. Also consider investing in reusable cleaning cloths rather than burning through several rolls of paper towels.
What are your favorite green cleaners?
How do you get ready for spring cleaning?
Related PostsGreen Cleaning - 10 Benefits
Green Cleaning - DIY Cleaning Recipes
Green Cleaning - How to Identify a Green Cleaner
(Almost) Everything I've Ever Bought or Sold on Craig's List
How to Sell with Confidence on Craig's List
How to Make Letting Go of Clutter a Little Easier