Sustainable Spring Cleaning: 3 Easy Steps For The Best Routine

Sustainable Spring Cleaning: 3 Easy Steps For The Best Routine

When spring rolls around, I start getting a familiar itch to open the windows, let the sunlight in, and dust-bust my way through the apartment. While I do have a fairly good cleaning schedule throughout the rest of the year, I like to do some deep cleans in spring. Mainly, decluttering and reorganizing. There are sustainable ways to do this without creating waste or using harsh chemicals. I do my very best to find good homes for the items I no longer plan to keep, usually offering them to loved ones first. And, I always choose sustainable, non-toxic cleaning supplies when I’m buffing the grime away. If you’re looking for some sustainable spring cleaning tips, look no further! Here’s how to make your home sparkle with minimal waste.

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Sustainable Spring Cleaning: 3 Easy Steps For The Best Routine

Sustainable Spring Cleaning: 3 Easy Steps For The Best Routine

1. Decluttering: Lighten the Load

First and foremost, spring cleaning begins with decluttering—clearing out the unnecessary to make room for freshness. I just recently decluttered my laundry room and OOF, what a difference it makes! I can actually see the floor again…

Here’s how to mindfully declutter your items:

a. Embrace the Golden Rule of Small Steps

  • Take it one area at a time: a room, a closet, a cabinet, or even a single drawer.
  • Small victories lead to big results.

b. Keep or Toss? Ask These Questions

  • Do I Use It?: If you haven’t touched it in months, consider letting it go.
  • Does It Bring Joy?: Marie Kondo’s famous question applies here. Keep items that spark joy.
  • Is It Repairable?: Some things can be fixed; others may need to go. You may even be able to get it repaired by a tailor or a shoe cobbler, depending on what the item is.

c. Sustainable Disposal Options

Sustainable Spring Cleaning: 3 Easy Steps For The Best Routine
Left: What state my laundry room was in before I cleaned it. Right: After cleaning/organizing! What a difference, ey?

2. Organizing: Create Order and Calm

Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time to organize. A well-organized space reduces stress and promotes sustainability:

a. Sort and Categorize

  • Group similar items together (clothes, books, kitchenware).
  • Use labeled bins or baskets for easy access.

b. Sustainable Storage Solutions

  • Reuse: Repurpose shoeboxes, glass jars, or old containers. I like to use tote bags I’ve accumulated over the years to store my smaller items safely. For delicate items, wrap them in some upcycled paper for cushioning.
  • Invest in Reusable Containers: Opt for glass or stainless steel containers for food storage. For bigger items, it’s okay to invest in high quality plastic bins (I had to for my laundry room), but make sure you’ll be using them on a frequent basis first.
  • Vertical Space: Use hooks, shelves, and hanging organizers to maximize space. You may be able to find some unique ones on Etsy. Or, if you’re lucky enough to know someone who is into woodwork, see if they can make you something.
  • Roll-out cabinet drawers: There are all kinds of simple kitchen installments you can make to organize your items better. One of my favorites is a roll-out drawer you can easily install in any cabinet and store items like baking sheets and pans hassle-free. I really want to get one of these soon!

c. Digital Decluttering

  • Clean up your digital life too:
    • Delete old files and emails. Did you know emails have a carbon footprint? Simply deleting them on a consistent basis will help reduce that!
    • Organize digital photos into folders.
    • Unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters (yes, even from sustainable brands).
Sustainable Spring Cleaning: 3 Easy Steps For The Best Routine

3. Deep Cleaning: Refresh and Revitalize

Now that your space is decluttered and organized, let’s deep clean. There are so many ways to approach this, so here are just a few that will make you feel less overwhelmed.

Here are some ways we can refresh a space without harsh chemicals or creating too much waste:

a. DIY Cleaning Products

  • Skip Bleach and Ammonia: These harm the environment and potentially human health. Use vinegar or castile soap instead.
  • DIY Citrus Vinegar Spray:
  • DIY Castile Soap Cleaning Spray:
    • Combine unscented liquid castile soap with water (2-3 tbsp soap per 14 oz water).
    • Add antibacterial essential oil (e.g., lemon).
  • DIY Tub Scrub:
    • Combine baking soda, castile soap and water together.
    • Add essential oil of your choice (optional).
    • Spread onto your tub with a wooden brush, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse away.
Sustainable Spring Cleaning: 3 Easy Steps For The Best Routine

b. Stocking your cleaning caddy

c. Clean your cleaning supplies!

  • Don’t forget, your cleaning supplies (like brushes) can get dirty too. Make sure you upkeep them as well.
    • For wooden brushes: To clean and disinfect your wood dish brush, add a little liquid castile soap to a cup of vinegar and soak your brush in the liquid for about 10 minutes. Then rinse with hot water and lay (bristles down) to dry.
    • For rags, cotton and microfiber cloths: Add these to your washing machine with sustainable laundry detergent. Wash in hot water. If they’re coated in grease, allow them to presoak in a solution of how water and degreaser before washing. Never add oil-soaked cloths in a clothes dryer even after washing. They are combustible. Allow them to line dry.
    • For vacuums: Use a cloth dampened with cleaning spray or warm, soapy water to wipe down the exposed parts of your vacuum and the attachments. You can use a soft brush to get to any hard-to-reach areas, like an old toothbrush. Wipe out the dust bin, brush rolls and filter. Make sure to remove any stuck hair, string and other debris so your vacuum will function at full power.

d. Tackle Neglected Areas

  • Windows and Blinds: Dust, wash, and wipe down. Don’t forget to wash your curtains and dust the curtain rod.
  • Doorknobs: Spray with all-purpose cleaner and wipe down.
  • Baseboards and Corners: Vacuum and wipe.
  • Mattresses and Pillows: Sun them out to freshen. For mattress, sprinkle with baking soda, let it sit, and then vacuum it up.
  • Appliances: Clean coils, filters, and vents.
  • Ceilings: Clean ceiling trim, light fixtures, and corners.
  • Oven: Clean the stovetop with all-purpose cleaner. The inside can be cleaned by leaving a paste of water and baking soda to sit overnight (avoid getting any in the heating vents), then scrub clean the following morning.
  • Floors: Vacuum, mop, and/or steam carpets if possible. I personally use a Dyson and a Bona to clean my floors. Bona doesn’t bother my very sensitive nose and the microfiber pads are machine washable/reusable.

e. adding life to the space

  • What good is cleaning if you can’t also beautify the space you’re in? I love decorating for the seasons – it stays relevant no matter what holidays come to pass. You can add some spring time touches to your home by:
    • Buying fresh flowers from the local farmers market and putting them in a pretty thrifted vase
    • Getting a new zero waste candle in a spring scent
    • Opening the windows and letting the house air out
    • Investing in pretty linen curtains (like the ones I have from April Notes)
    • Hanging up some spring artwork (I love painting my own pieces!)
Sustainable Spring Cleaning: 3 Easy Steps For The Best Routine

So, what do you think of these sustainable spring cleaning ideas? Let me know in the comments!

For more spring cleaning tips, check out this list of zero waste cleaning tools and supplies.

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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