Spring Clean & Green Pt. 1: Getting Started with My Favorites

springclean-logo I’m typically a pretty clean person — or maybe “neat” is a better word. I will readily admit I’m not a big fan of cleaning. But as much as I dislike it, I do it because it must be done. And if there’s one time of year when I get in the “mood” to clean, it’s spring. There’s something abut the newness of flowers coming out of their buds that makes me want to scrub the cabinet doors.

Since I figure many of you are going through the same process right about now, I figured I’d share some of my favorite spring cleaning tips this week and help you keep it as green as possible. After all, a well-decorated home is a clean home, and you can’t very well have a green home if you’re cleaning it with toxic chemicals. I’ll share some of my favorite green cleaning tips as well as reviews of green cleaning products, from carpet & upholstery cleaners to vacuums.

getting started

Before my husband and I start the big clean, we first must — for lack of a better way to say it – go through all our crap. The last time we moved with all of our stuff, which was back in 2007, we got rid of a LOT of stuff. Since most of the stuff we kept has been sitting in storage since then, it’s probably a safe bet that we’ll go through all of it again when we move into our own place and get rid of lots more. If it’s in a box that hasn’t been opened for months or we’ve forgotten we own it, we get rid of it. We typically have 3-4 piles: One pile to donate/give away, one pile of stuff to sell at a yard sale, one pile of stuff to recycle and one of stuff to toss. This helps us declutter, obviously, but it also is a reminder that above all, living green is about simplifying, working with what you have and conscientiously disposing of everything else. Whether you’re preparing for a spring cleaning project or just need regular junk removal services, you can contact a garbage removal company for the best options.

springclean-1aHere are a list of places that will allow you to properly dispose of your unwanteds:

  • Goodwill: Clothing, shoes & accessories, furniture, textiles & housewares, computers and hardware in any condition, and vehicles
  • Salvation Army: Clothing, shoes & accessories, furniture, textiles & housewares, and vehicles. They may even pick up your stuff. Call 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825) to discuss pickup of your items or to find a drop off location.
  • Habitat for Humanity: Building materials and jeans to be turned into home insulation. We also recommend hiring Clean Crawls: Crawl Space Cleaning for clean home insulation.
  • OneSight: Take your old eyeglasses to Sears, Sunglass Hut, Target, LensCrafters, Lions Club, Pearle Vision, or BJ’s Optical store, and this organization will recycle them as glasses for those in need throughout the world
  • Radio Shack: Take your unwanted gadgets (MP3 Players, phones, cameras, camcorders, GPS units, car audio, laptops, video games & consoles, HDTVs and monitors) to Radio Shack to be appraised for trade-in. Get the value of your used items back on a Radio Shack gift card. We recently traded in 3 old cell phones in good condition and got back $49. The better condition your gadgets are in, the more money you’ll get back. It’s also a good idea to find the chargers for all those gadgets.
  • Best Buy: They offer an online trade-in program for your gadgets (same type of gadgets as Radio Shack). You can get instant online appraisals, print a free shipping label and send them in. 10-14 days later, you’ll receive a Best Buy card with the value of your gadgets.

my favorites

springclean-1Before my family started learning about green cleaning products, we stuck to a couple of old favorites for all of our cleaning. We never really used any recipes. We just guesstimated when mixing with water:

  • Lemon juice: All-purpose cleaning
  • Hydrogen peroxide: All-purpose cleaning, eliminating sink odors (we don’t have a garbage disposal) & for laundering whites
  • Vinegar: All-purpose cleaning and eliminating sink odors (although I’m really not a fan of the smell for everyday cleaning, even when diluted)
  • Dr. Bronner’s pure castile liquid soap: All-purpose cleaning, floor scrubbing and hand-washing
  • Borax: For laundering clothing

asking for your help

What natural green cleaning products do you use in your home or want to know more about? Leave your tips or questions in the comments and let’s get excited about cleaning our homes for the spring!

About Author

I am a graphic designer by trade who has a strong passion for interior design and doing what we can to protect the environment. This blog and my other site, Green & Gorgeous, are my ways of giving back to the Earth.


  • Alana
    May 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Love all the spring cleaning tips!!

    I make a all-purpose cleaner with equal parts distilled vinegar and distilled water, then add about 25-60 drops of essential oil depending on the amount of cleaner I am making. My favorite essential oils for cleaning are any citrus, eucalyptus, pine, cedarwood and peppermint. My boyfriend also dislike the smell of vinegar – and this seems to help a bit. I also like to use baking soda to clean sinks and bathtubs – plus if you add the all purpose cleaner it bubbles and fizzes which is very satisfying.

    Alanas last blog post..Etta + Billie Featured on Bright Side Project

  • jennae
    May 5, 2009 at 9:22 am

    @Alana I never thought to add essential oils, but that’s a great idea. I’m sure it would cut back the vinegar smell quite a bit. I love the smell of peppermint oil, so I’ll have to try that one. And although we personally don’t use baking soda very often, it’s a great addition to the natural cleaning arsenal. Thanks for your tips! 🙂 Anyone else?

  • Michelle
    May 7, 2009 at 7:01 am

    I have been trying to find a mixture that will work in the dishwasher. Any tips?

  • jennae
    May 7, 2009 at 11:51 am

    @ Michele I’ve never actually tried it, but I’ve heard a lot of people say that they use a combination of borax and baking soda to make a powdered dishwasher detergent. More specifically, 1 part borax to 1 part baking soda. For example, you could start off with a cup of baking soda and a cup of borax, and use about 2 tablespoons for one load in the dishwasher.

    Again, I’ve never tried this, but I use borax in the laundry as a cleaning agent, and it works really well. I’d also recommend using vinegar during the dishwasher rinse cycle. Your dishes won’t come out smelling like vinegar…trust me 🙂


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