Greener Spring Cleaning
Spring is the time of year that most of us really start thinking about cleaning. The sun comes out and we see all the dirt our houses have gathered over the winter. As an athlete, you have to consider the effects of the chemicals you use to clean your house on your overall health and your athletic performance. If you are an endurance athlete, chances are you've spent hours getting your lungs and heart to be as efficient as possible. It would be a shame to undo all that hard work with an afternoon of cleaning your house.
The EPA reports that the air inside the average home is 200-500% more polluted than the air outside due to household cleaning products. Many of the products you use to clean your home may contain toxic chemicals. If you are curious how safe the products you use in your home are, you can check the Environmental Working Group's website.
But you don't have to use chemicals to get a clean house.
Using natural, non-toxic ingredients to clean your house is a safer alternative for your and your family. It can also save you money! Not to mention that it' better for the environment and won't affect your performance. With just a few simple ingredients that you probably already have at home, you can clean your entire house safely and effectively!
Cleaning with ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, and salt is regaining popularity as many people look for ways to reduce their exposure to potentially toxic chemicals. Also, did I mention this stuff is cheap? A bottle of all-purpose cleaner will cost you around $5. You can buy an entire gallon of vinegar for less than that and it will last you three times as long!
It's important to note that just because an ingredient is "natural" does not mean that it is safe. Some combinations of ingredients can have dangerous reactions. For example, never mix chlorine bleach with ammonia, vinegar, or any other acidic substance!
BASIC CLEANING INGREDIENTS
- Baking soda: eliminates odors, scrubs surfaces
- White vinegar: cuts through grease and mineral deposits, has antifungal and antibacterial properties
- Castile soap: cuts through dirt, grease, and stains
- Salt: deodorizes, scrubs surfaces
- Essential oils: natural compounds with cleansing properties for the air and surfaces
Remember that not all non-toxic, biodegradable, and "earth-friendly" products are safe choices. There aren't any regulations that require cleaning products labeled with these claims to actually be true. Any product with the USDA organic label will contain ingredients from plants that were grown without pesticides or fertilizers, but that doesn't mean that they are safer for you or the environment.
You might have been surprised to see essential oils on the list of basic cleaning ingredients. They have properties that make them extremely effective at cleansing the air and surfaces. They also have a strong aroma, but are very different from the artificial fragrances that are found in most cleaning products.
Artificial fragrances in air-fresheners, laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaners, etc. are synthetic versions of essential oils and do not provide any of the health benefits of essential oils. There is a lot of research surrounding artificial fragrances and some of it has found that they can actually be detrimental to your health.
Essential oils are a safe way to clean a space naturally, while also gaining the physical and emotional benefits they provide. Direct inhalation of essential oils (called aromatic use) can affect your mood, improve the air quality in your home, and support your respiratory system. As an athlete, wouldn't it be great to gain respiratory benefits while cleaning instead of potentially harming your lungs?
So, how can you get started spring cleaning your home in a safer, greener way?
1. Diffuse essential oils instead of spraying an air freshener or using candles.
Air fresheners don’t actually eliminate odors, they just cover them up. They also contaminate the air, exposing you and your family to potentially toxic and harmful substances like phthalates and other allergens. Natural options for freshening the air are to open a window, make your own natural air freshener with essential oils, or diffuse essential oils.
2. Make your own all-purpose cleaning solutions
In a spray bottle, mix 9 parts water and 1 part white vinegar. You can a few drops of dish soap, as well. Add essential oils if you'd like to minimize the strong smell of the vinegar. Melaleuca oil (tea tree) or lavender can be used as a cleansing, deodorizing, and purifying agent. Use to clean surfaces in your house. It works in any room!
Remember, despite what cleaning product marketers want you to think, you don't need different cleaning products for all the rooms of your house. You can use the same stuff to clean your kitchen as you use in your bathroom!
3. Freshen clothing and bedding
Put 1-3 drops of essential oil on your pillowcase, or add 10 drops to an 8-ounce spray bottle of water to spray clothing and bedding before drying.
4. Boost the grease-cutting power of your dish soap
Add 10 drops of essential oil to an 8-ounce bottle of liquid castile soap to clean dishes. Citrus oils like lemon, lime, or orange are especially good at cutting grease from pots and pans.
5. Natural scouring alternative
Sprinkle baking soda or salt over the area to be cleaned and scrub.
5. Polish wood surfaces
Add 2 Tablespoons of castile soap to about 1 gallon warm water in a bucket. Add 5 drops Douglas Fir, 5 drops White Fir, 5 drops Lemon, and 5 drops Cypress. Pour into a spray bottle for cleaning counters, or use to mop floors. This doesn't need to be rinsed off...and if you kid or your dog eats something off the floor, you don't have to worry about exposing them to harmful chemicals!
I love diffusing oils for their beneficial properties and the mood-shifting ability of these gems from nature.. Try these blends in your diffuser!