12 May 2016

Spring Cleaning tips

Spring has officially sprung here in the south, how about where you live? With the arrival of spring (aka. mud season!) our home was due for a bit of spring cleaning. I'm teaming up today with the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center to share with you some of my favorite tips for cleaning up around the home- I like to err on the natural side of cleaners for the most part, as you'll see here shortly!
(below contains some Amazon affiliate links)

First up...
A recent find to our laundry routine includes Dr. Spot stain remover by Basin White. It's an all natural stain remover made entirely of vegetable oils. This stain stick, along with soaks in the sunshine, have removed old ground-in clay dirt stains, grass stains, oil stains, kale smoothie stains, even permanent marker! I bought it not expecting much, but it's been rather impressive!

For my cloth diaper routine, I love using EcoNuts' all-natural Baby Natural Powdered Detergent. Not only is it the only brand that I've found works for our cloth diaper routine, but their newest formula works amazingly well in our hard water!! We used to use their regular soap nuts, and it even got out the stinks from my husband's Army uniform and PT clothes. You can even order a trial size if you want to try it out first, or check out their Facebook page as they often do giveaways! I can attest that their customer service is also top notch, so it's a brand that I can really stand behind.

Next up...
Yup, I'm going there. I use the super simple baking soda and vinegar! Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done and gets it done well. I use an old large spice container filled with baking soda and sprinkle it around the toilet bowl. I follow up by using an old dish soap container filled with vinegar and spray around the top lip of the toilet bowl. I let it sit for about 5-10 minutes (usually about as long as it takes for me to go through our three bathrooms and apply the cleaners!), then scrub and flush. Easy peasy! (Feel free to check out my tutorial here on how I prettied up those empty containers!)

Next up, the dreaded....
Never a fun item to clean, but I've found that Scentsy's Counter Clean does a pretty amazing job at not only cleaning them easily, but also keeping them clean! With repeated use, it actually creates a barrier that repels dust and dirt, so it's perfect for baseboards. (in full disclosure, I'm a Scentsy rep, but this stuff really IS awesome! hehe) It's ammonia-free, safe for all sealed surfaces, and leaves behind a lovely layer of fragrance! While this is not explicitly "all natural," it IS a product that I'm comfortable using around my family and so I still felt it worth including. Use your own discretion :)

So. after you've cleaned all those baseboards, it's time to dirty them up a bit! Ok, so not exactly...  
I don't know about you, but in our current rental house we have major ant infestations every spring. My favorite way to combat them is a series of steps (which works well against spiders, and most any other insects too!)... 
1- kill on contact with soap. I just use our everyday foaming hand soap, nothing special. For our hand soaps, I actually just used up a brand-name foaming soap dispenser, and refilled with 2-3 tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's castile soap and top off the rest of the bottle with water! 
2- spray down with vinegar. This helps to eliminate the scent trail that ants leave behind, guiding the rest of the ant hill to the location of the perceived food source!
3- I spray on a little Coconut Lemongrass Counter Clean since lemongrass is a known bug deterrent. Can't hurt, right!?
4- I lay down a line of diamataceous earth along our baseboards and/or windowsills (wherever I've found the ants are coming in, or known locations where they've come in in the past). It's VERY important to get the FOOD GRADE version of this and NOT the kind that's used for pools. We have kids and pets running around here, so I don't have to worry if they get into the powder (which they inevitably do!) since it's food grade and can even help with the digestive track!  Diamataceous earth is actually the powdered fossilized remains of diatoms (little hard-shelled algae). The powder works against bugs by absorbing lipids away from their exoskeleton, effectively permanently dehydrating them. So it may not be super "earth friendly" to be killing insects, but once they entered my home, it's survival of the fittest ;) So again, use discretion if you're not cool with killing creatures! 
5- Repeat all of the above OUTSIDE! If you can find the source of where the ants are getting into your house from the outside, repeat all of the above steps either just immediately next to your house at their entrance site, or, even all the way to their ant hill!

Throughout your cleaning endeavors, be sure to keep your eyes open for...

Spring cleaning is the perfect time to be on the lookout for things you might overlook on a normal day! Keep your eyes peeled for chipped paint, cracked floor tiles, spilled cleaning products or other hazards, loose nails in the wall, etc. There are lots of little things to keep in mind, that way when you do your spring cleaning sweep you can deal with those too. Things like floor tiles, insulation, piping, and home siding and roofing can contain asbestos (especially if your home was built before the 1970's) - so be on the lookout! If disturbed, and airborne those particulars become toxic and can potentially cause Mesothelioma or asbestosis. If you have any concerns, be sure to contact professionals to come assess the situation- better safe than sorry! 

Those are a few of my favorite tips- what are some of yours? Looking for more tips on spring cleaning naturally? Check out MAAC's spring cleaning tips and their infographic below!

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