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Healthy Spring Cleaning

Young_buds_1.jpgThe flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping and the days are getting longer. It's that time of year again - spring cleaning (for those of you who rarely clean, this is the time to pick up the mop or sponge!). This is the perfect time to change your cleaning habits and make them healthier:

  • Switch to non-toxic cleaners: I've said it before, but like many things, it's worth repeating: conventional household cleaners have many chemicals that affect our health - you don't want to use them if you can help it. Non-toxic cleaners are available at health food stores and at regular drugstores, as well as on the Internet. You can also make your own with ingredients such as lemon juice, borax, baking soda and vinegar. It’s actually not too hard, even for people like me, who don't follow recipes too well.
  • Put away the broom: Sweeping scatters dust while vacuuming removes it. According to the American Lung Association, household dust and pet dander can trigger asthma attacks. Even for the rest of us, it's better to not inhale the stuff. Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filter, which removes at least 99.97% of allergens and contaminants. The IQAir air purifier was rated as the best by the Allergy Buyers Club (from $649), though there are other less expensive vacuums on the market that can be just as effective for individuals without sensitivities.
  • Get rid of clutter: Do the one-year test - if you haven't used it in the past year, get rid of it. Clutter accumulates more dust and takes up space (not to mention it can make the house into an obstacle course). Give your items away to a happy home using freecycle or donate them to a local charity. You can also use those old shirts as rags to clean with instead of using synthetic sponges. Dispose of items such as batteries and conventional paints at a hazardous waste site, and set your books free or donate them to the local library. And straighten out and organize the rest of your things!
  • Open the windows: Fresh air is great for ventilating the house, and the air outside is fresher than indoor air, that's for sure. In case you weren't aware, indoor air is 3 to 5 times as polluted as outdoor air according to the EPA. This is due to the pollutants from furniture and materials in the house, as well as to human activities.

Now you can take a deep breath - feels great, doesn't it? If you've got other healthy spring cleaning tips, do share!