Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Cleaning

"The whole year's work depends on a good start in the spring."
                                                      --Chinese Proverb
Last Sunday at church the deacon had some very interesting things to say. He talked about 'pulling back.' Pulling back from the things that weigh us down, like, negative thoughts about other people and about ourselves. Essentially, I thought that it was all about spring cleaning for the mind. Spring is an excellent time to get rid of hang-ups and habits that don't really work, put on a fresh face, a fresh outlook and set new goals. It's a great time to let go of negative emotions and energies to make room for new possibilities. 

There is something thoroughly satisfying about this and other certain kinds of ritualistic cleaning. In the spring, we clean those places and hard to reach corners that we leave out during the regular cleaning--places that no one sees anyway, but nevertheless gather dust and grime, in ourselves and in our home. The invigorating bursts of sunshine-y days, brisk cool air and longer days fill us with vim and vigor to go about these tasks. 

For spring cleaning, here are some new products, new ideas, and old ideas that still work.  

Green = Clean: New! Martha Stewart Clean 
I went to The Home Depot yesterday and saw that this new line of eco-friendly cleaning products had made their debut.  These household cleansers are effective, responsible, safe, non-toxic and come in recyclable packaging. Martha Stewart Clean products are tough on dirt and give you all the cleaning power you need to tackle every room in your home quickly and effectively without any harmful side effects. Shown here is the Marthe Stewart Clean All-Purpose Cleaner, available at The Home Depot for $4 for a 32 oz. bottle (roughly the same price for a bottle of toxic 409!)

Change your air filters.
These trap the airborne allergens like dust, dirt and pollen in our homes. It is ideal to change them every 90 days, and now's a great time to start! Inexpensive ones cost as little as $3 each.

Change your shower head.
Aside from the fact that if we don't regularly clean and disinfect our shower heads, bacteria gather in them over time, making a switch means saving water and money. 
A low flow shower head spits out 1.5 gallons of water per minute, while an older one can run at about 2.5. For two people taking 15-minute showers every day for a year, this means saving 10,000 gallons of heated water and roughly $300 per year in savings (at an estimated 3 cents per gallong for the cost of water and heating). It is easy to install yourself, and the initial investment pays for itself in as little as 1-2 months. 
One to try: Waterpik EcoFlow Handheld Chrome Showerhead, $25. Available at Target and home improvement stores.

Get a pot of basil.
If you like to cook with basil, you know that buying for just 1 recipe amounts to anywhere from $1 - $2. At Trader Joe's the other day, I found a big pot for $3. This one big pot looked like it had enough leaves for about 5 recipes or one cup of pesto! What a smart investment as it's about the same price as cut basil and will keep growing back. They are incredibly easy to care for, just place them by a windowsill or anywhere in the kitchen that gets light. As needed, snip of the top most leaves, making sure to leave at least two rows of leaves. The stem will keep growing back. Eco-bonus: No more plastic boxes to throw away.

Clean your lightbulbs.
The bulbs in our lamps get coated with grime and dust over time, resulting in less light. Unscrew them and gently wipe with a damp towel. Still using incandescents? Switch to compact flourescent. They are now available in a variety of sizes for different uses.

Re-caulk in the bathroom.
The caulk lining where the edge of the hanging sink or counter meets the wall and the rim surrounding the foot of the toilet and the aread surrounding the tub, can get chipped over time. Loose caulking lets water out, creating a mildew-prone environment. Check out this how-to:
All you need is a caulk remover and a new tube of caulk, a cost of less than $10.

Re-seal your home.
There is a product called Great Stuff Gaps & Cracks Insulating Foam Sealant that's supposed to help heating and cooling by helping keep warm air in and cold air out. According to their website, when applied to spaces like the basement/attic, it seals the gaps and holes and a homeowner can save up to 20% in heating and cooling costs. What's more, like new windows, it's tax credit eligible! Check out their website:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For air filters, you could go more environmental by going for the washable air filters for 2-3 times the amount of a disposable filter. This way, you save money (in about 2 filter changes) and space in landfill.