With warm weather almost here, duty calls most of us to get in the mood to do a little spring cleaning around the house.  We may be inspired to even do a little spring cleaning around the office or workplace, as well.

There are some things to remember to do outside the house.  Windows and doors need to be checked to ensure that they close properly, and downspouts and gutters should be washed out.  If there’s a build up of mildew and fungus on the deck, use a pressure washer on your water hose to spray it away.  New filters for the air conditioner should be in place for that first burst of warm air.

Getting organized is the best way to undertake any project.  De-clutter your home or office.  Now is a good time to get rid of things you haven’t used in a while, or don’t intend to use again.  A good rule of thumb is: if you haven’t used it or worn it in 2 years, get rid of it!

While we are on the subject of cleaning, however, we need to caution you to be aware of using cleaning products that stir up allergies or asthma.  Also, sometimes a new piece of furniture, carpet, or other new household items contain chemicals that can aggravate allergies.

Formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (voc’s) are chemicals that evaporate at room temperature.  Furniture cleaning solvents, paints, even particle board or pressed wood may contain voc’s.  Keep your home ventilated well and their fumes will dissipate in a few days.  When buying paints, choose the one with the lowest voc number.

You will be better off when you are cleaning to use fragrance-free products.  Don’t close yourself off in a bathroom while using bleach or ammonia for cleaning, it can be very noxious.  Non-toxic cleaners such as borax or baking soda clean and deodorize, and can be bought at most grocery stores.

Washing soda can be used to remove stains and cut grease.  Washing soda—sodium carbonate—is in the same family as baking soda, but has been processed differently. It is much more caustic/alkaline, with a pH of 11, and while it doesn’t give off harmful fumes, you do need to wear rubber gloves. It is found in the laundry section of most supermarkets. Arm & Hammer is one brand of washing soda.

Sodium carbonate and sodium perborate ( an alternative to bleach) can also be purchased at chemical supply houses.  White vinegar cuts grease.  Hydrogen peroxide is another bleach alternative.  One other tip: never mix bleach with any household chemicals, especially ammonia.

Here are some ingredients for homemade cleaners that will ensure your success:

  • Drains:  ½ c. baking soda with ½ c. salt – pour down drain, follow with 2 c. boiling water, and let sit overnight.
  • Bathtubs: ½ c. baking soda with white vinegar, make a paste.
  • Ovens: ½ c. baking soda with ¼ c. salt, add enough water to make a paste.

Another cleaning challenge – mold!  If there is a place larger than 3’ x 3’, turn to an expert.  If you don’t know what you are doing, you can release mold into the air.  The EPA recommends using rubber gloves, (discard them after use), goggles without air holes, and N95 or higher filter masks.  Again, if you have doubts, let professionals handle it.

You’ll breathe easier and save money by using simple cleaning combinations. Clean safely!