Can you feel it? I know I do.
It’s the feeling that spring is coming. It is the warmth of the sun on your face (while the rest of you is still bundled up in winter gear). Today I actually felt the sun on my legs…it was so comforting after the cold winter.
Plus, mud is everywhere. Like everywhere. And then it freezes into a bumpy mess. Only to melt again into mud. Now mud is a sure sign that spring is coming!
I love spring because I love to open my windows and let fresh air in! I live on the shores of Lake Huron so I can be sure the air is as fresh as it gets.
In fact, I think the air outside is healthier than the air in my home right now! Think about it. Your home has been closed up for months to keep the cold out! But once spring comes, the windows are wide open in my home.
And once spring is in the air, people get that itch to clean. I know I do!
But did you know that our homes are full of pollutants that are released during the use of cleaning products in daily life.
Think about your household cleaners – furniture polish, floor cleaners, stain removers, detergents, bathroom cleaners, toilet cleaners, air fresheners (Febreze anyone?) and even bleach and disinfectants (which everyone has in their house right now!).
These all emit chemicals into the air and we breathe them in. Formaldehyde. Ammonia. Sodium hypochlorite. Dichlorophene. Sodium acid sulfate. Ketones. Esters. Chlorinated phenols. Shall I go on??
It is scary stuff, eh? Spring cleaning is not all that it is cracked up to be…
So in my quest to help you live a healthier life in the home you love so much, I found a list of safe alternatives for you to use during your spring cleaning. These come from various websites and I just did a bunch of cut and paste.
Instead of cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals, try using:
- White vinegar – to clean windows, counter tops, chrome, grease and floors.
- Baking soda – to absorb odours, and clean ovens, sinks and counter tops.
- Lemon juice – to clean windows, sinks and grease.
- Vegetable oil, lemon oil – as a furniture polish.
- Plant-based dish soaps.
- Borax – as a substitute for chlorine bleach. Borax should be used sparingly, as it too can be toxic in high doses.
- Washing soda – to whiten laundry and cut back on the amount of detergent needed.
- To clean your oven, sprinkle with baking soda, spray with water and leave on for 12 hours, respraying the water periodically. Scrub until clean.
- To open a clogged drain, use baking soda followed by boiling water or vinegar.
- Try using herbs and spices or boiling a lemon instead of using commercial air fresheners.
- For an all-purpose cleaner, use a 50:50 mix of water and white vinegar.
- A mixture of one cup soap flakes, ½ cup borax and ½ cup washing soda as a laundry soap.
- Sodium perborate or hydrogen peroxide as a chlorine-free, natural bleach.
- ½ to 1 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle of your laundry, to soften clothes and remove odours and residual detergent (instead of fabric softener).
You can improve your indoor air quality by purchasing green products and cleaners. And despite what my husband says, they DO work just as well as the toxic stuff.
So happy spring cleaning everyone!!
A Word About Staying Safe During Renovations
I wanted to say a special word about renovations. I always urge my clients to find alternative living arrangements during a renovation. Why?
Well, renovations cause the release of nasty elements into the air. Asbestos, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, toluene, chloroform, trichloroethane and other organic solvents, and lead dust are the main pollutants released during remodeling. Homes built before 1970s may pose additional environmental problems because of the use of lead- and asbestos-containing materials.
Makes you just want to make do with what you have, eh?
Construction is a dirty business and living in a home through a renovation can be dangerous. Think about it….
- Wood dust from cutting
- Dust from cutting drywall and sanding drywall compounds
- VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in paints and primers
- Formaldehyde and other chemicals present in building materials
- VOCs from adhesives and surface finishes
- Airborne fibers from insulation batts
- Off-gassing of foam insulation
Air that is full of dust and chemicals can cause respiratory irritations even among adults who don’t suffer from such health concerns, even worse and potentially very serious for those that already do suffer. This is why I stress to my clients that having a plan in place to live through the renovation is so important.
There are simple steps you can take to keep your air as clean as possible while work is being done. For example:
- Sealing off the work area with plastic sheeting to separate it from the living area may be a possible solution given the type of renovation you are doing. You can create a vacuum seal by opening a window and having a small fan pointed out the window.
- You may also want to use of high-efficiency air filters to collect fine particulates in the area where you are living.
- Sealing the air vents during the renovation will also reduce the build-up of dust that can spread around your home long after construction is complete. I always get my ducts cleaned after a renovation.
- Using low or no VOC paint is always a good choice.
- Choose green materials and low environmental-impact materials, materials produced from waste or recycled materials, or materials salvaged from other uses.
So please be safe during your renovation.
A Final Word
Do you want to know more about my Renovation Design Plan service? Set up a 20 minute discovery call with me or contact me directly at 519-484-8965.
Until next time, stay safe my friends…