Feel good about spring-cleaning your home with these five green cleaning tips from environmental consultant Alexandra Zissu.
1. Find natural surface cleaners.
Chemicals in cleaning supplies can add to indoor air pollution and aggravate allergies. To minimize exposure, purchase fragrance-free or naturally scented products, and avoid labels that say "danger" or "eye and skin irritant," says Zissu, coauthor of Planet Home: Conscious Choices for Cleaning and Greening the World You Care About Most.
2. Invest in an air filter vacuum.
Vacuums can send small particles like dust, dander, and soil into the air, and potential toxins from chemicals, such as flame retardants, can piggyback on them. Invest in a high-efficiency particulate absorption (HEPA) air filter vacuum, which is great for trapping dust and dirt.
3. Eliminate the source of infestation.
Start with an integrated pest management (IPM) approach by finding and eliminating the source of the infestation. Remember, critters like ants, roaches, and stinkbugs can fit through tiny openings. Plug up holes under the sink, behind the stove, and around pipes with low volatile organic compound (VOC) caulk and steel wool, or find a pro who practices IPM.
4. Use sunlight as a natural disinfectant.
Sunshine and fresh air happen to be the most eco-friendly air cleaners around. Ultraviolet radiation in direct sunlight can act as a natural disinfectant to furniture, and simply opening your windows to let a breeze indoors can greatly reduce air pollutants from the likes of gas stoves, insulation, and household cleaners.
5. Opt for silk or linen fabrics.
Conventional dry cleaners often use perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical classified by the EPA as a likely carcinogen. When shopping for dress clothes, opt for silk or linen fabrics, which can often be hand-washed in cold water and mild detergent even if dry cleaning is advised (hang or lay them flat to dry).