April 21, 2020

How to Spring Clean the Sustainable Way

Mila Podlewski

Spring is officially in the air and most of us are celebrating it indoors this year. You might be used to celebrating this season in the great outdoors, observing the bloom and regeneration of nature. You might be disappointed, even heartbroken, by your lack of outdoor time. But there’s a silver lining to spending so much time indoors. As you do the responsible thing and stay at home as much as possible, you have the ability to give our indoor spaces the attention they deserve. 

Many different cultures have practiced spring cleaning over the centuries. In the Jewish tradition, spring cleaning is linked to Passover. In Iranian culture, a thorough housecleaning happens before the Persian new year. But your spring clean doesn’t have to be associated with any religious or cultural practice. You only have to look out your window to be reminded that spring is about rebirth and renewal. What better way to celebrate this season than to breath some life into a stale home. 

Sustainable Spring Cleaning - Reel

How Do You Spring Clean?

There are no official rules on what counts as spring cleaning. Generally, this time is reserved for a deeper clean of all the nooks and crannies you overlook the rest of the year. This is your chance to get rid of any clutter and cobwebs you have in your home. 

But don’t toss your unwanted stuff in the landfill and scrub your walls with industrial-strength bleach. You can declutter and clean without harming the environment. If you’re terrified at the thought of looking behind your own furniture, don’t freak out yet. IWe’ve put together some sustainable spring cleaning tips to help you get started. First, let’s look at the spring cleaning basics.

Spring Cleaning Basics

  • Declutter
  • This is probably the step that trips up most people. There are tons of methods and techniques out there. Some tell you to go through your belongings by type. Others say to do it room by room. Some swear by getting rid of one item every day. So which one is the best technique? The one that you actually follow through on. 

  • Give everything a home
  • You don’t have to be obsessive about organizing to give every possession you have a home. Keep it simple and keep like with like. If you have clothes in closets all over your place, try to find one place to store them. Take a look at your kitchen cabinets—are there cups in three different places? Try to find a cabinet or shelf where they all fit together.  Store all electronics in the same place. Boxes, baskets, and drawers are key. 

  • Work from top to bottom
  • Have you ever dusted your entire living room only to remember that you forgot to dust the fan? Then realized that by dusting the fan you’re now going to have to dust the entire living room all over again? Yeah—that’s what you’re trying to avoid. Even if you have to break up your spring cleaning into multiple days, work from the very top to the bottom.

  • Get behind furniture
  • If you can, move your furniture away from the walls. The goal is to get to areas you normally don’t see. That’s where the grime is. If you live alone and can’t completely move the furniture by yourself, a good vacuum attachment does the trick. 

  • Open the windows 
  • It turns out that hundred-year-old health advice sometimes holds true during modern times. Not only does opening the windows give you a sense of the outside world, but it can also support your health. Natural ventilation can improve indoor air quality by reducing indoor pollutants1. Throw open the windows for some fresh air while you’re vacuuming under furniture and rummaging through closets.  

    Tips for Sustainable Spring Cleaning

     

    If you’re worried about all the waste that spring cleaning can produce—here are a few sustainable spring cleaning tips.

  • Donate
  • Just because you’re decluttering doesn’t mean your possessions are useless. Donate any unwanted items to local charities. One of the most effective ways of keeping trash out of landfills is by buying used. When you donate instead of dumping, you’re doing your part to combat waste. You’re also providing affordable options for clothing and home goods to your community.

  • Repurpose
  • There are plenty of ways to repurpose old items in your house—but it takes a little creativity. Cut up those faded t-shirts into cleaning rags. Old shoe boxes can hold arts and crafts supplies for your kids. Put together a zero-waste kit with the mismatched silverware you want out of your kitchen. 

  • Use rags instead of paper towels
  • Here’s where those old t-shirts can shine. Cut them up and use them to scrub instead of paper towels. Rags are reusable and way more effective than paper towels. Just toss your dirty rags into the washer on the highest temperature setting. 

    If you have to use paper towels, try ones made from sustainable materials—like bamboo. We recently asked our followers on Instagram what they’d like to see us make next. Bamboo paper towels were a popular request. 

  • Ditch the toxic cleaner 
  • Conventional house cleaners are filled with toxic chemicals. These chemicals can irritate the lungs and cause other health issues2. The same chemicals that are harmful for humans can also be harmful to the environment. Look for cleaning supplies that are non-toxic and sustainable. 

  • Use sunlight 
  • Here’s another hunredhundred-year-old adage that just might be true after all—sunlight kills germs. A study shows that sunlight exposure can affect microbe growth indoors3. No, this study doesn’t prove that sunshine kills viruses or diseases. But it does tell us that when you expose your home to daylight, certain microbes don’t multiply. So it can’t hurt to open up the shades and let in as much light as possible. 

    Conclusion

    Now is the perfect time to clear and clean your home space. Take your cue from the countless cultures that practice spring cleaning. 

    Whether your version of spring cleaning involves a multi-day overhaul or a one-hour sprint of frenzied cleaning—this practice does wonders for your wellbeing. 

    And you can do it intentionally and sustainably. At the end of the day, a clean house gives us health and peace of mind. 

    Let us know in the comments what Reel products you want in your home next.

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