This is a guest post by Jessica Phan
Spring is almost here and this usually means one thing: spring cleaning! Spring cleaning often means a lot of work and extra costs to cover it. Going green can take some of that work out and reduce the expenses sizably. We want to help the earth as much as we can, and when we do, the earth does us the huge favor of saving us money.
A lot of things people think they need for cleaning aren’t needed at all. Look at the price variety of cleaning agents — glass cleaners, cleaning sprays, carpet powder, and tile cleaners. They add up to a lot of money that doesn’t need to be spent. You can make everything you need from the stuff in your own kitchen.
A bottle of plain vinegar can replace many of your over-the-counter cleaners. Vinegar works as a fabric softener, too. Don’t worry about the smell: when vinegar dries, which it quickly does, the smell goes away. If you want a nice smell, then you can just mix the vinegar with lemon juice. You can use baking soda to scrub the pots and pans instead of scrubbing powder. Baking soda can also be used as carpet powder as it is naturally deodorizing.
Use cold water for laundry
You might be doing a mass blanket-and-sheet washing, pulling out all the cloth implements that have been sitting together in a closet for a year. This might even include a towel collection and curtains. You’ll need a lot of electricity for this. Avoid using the hot settings on your washer. The heat it produces can be as much as 85% of the power it’s using. Simply set it to cold and you’ll be using only 15% of the electricity.
Take advantage of the sun
(Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
With so much to dry, don’t bother using a dryer unless you have a very thick blanket. You can put all or most of your wash on a clothesline and use the sun for free. Like baking soda, sunlight is also a natural deodorizer. Additionally, ultraviolet radiation from the sun is one of the most effective ways to kill bacteria. This is especially useful when airing out mattresses or big rugs and carpets. Now that is efficiency!
Forget plastic garbage bags
Much of your garbage space is going to be used for all the trash you collect around the house. Don’t use plastic bags for dry garbage; just use a large trash bin. You might even run out of space in the garbage bin provided by the city.
Keep it fresh
Cut down on kitchen waste by preparing every meal with fresh ingredients. Fresh food is more than 50% cheaper than packaged food anyway. It’s really better to always cook if you can. If you buy packaged food to dedicate more time for cleaning, buy big portions. The garbage will still be less and you’ll still save a little of money.
Disposable packaging accounts for a lot of garbage (including bottled water) and you might have an overflowing city garbage bin, maybe even extra bags outside of it. You can be fined for too much waste.
Don’t throw away what’s left on your plates! Turn it into compost and use it for your garden or potted plants. Even egg shells can be used by plants. If you can always cook and you compost what’s not eaten, your kitchen cleaning well be a cinch and easy to maintain while you slave away on the rest of your house.
Switch to energy-efficient lights
You’ll need keen eyesight to for the hard-to-see dirt. There might be a part of your carpet that is a little off color. It might not be obvious just how dusty a shelf really is. Don’t use incandescent light bulbs anymore. They are obsolete and don’t make for the best vision. Switch to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) that give off white light at a fraction of the cost.
The little advice here is going to save you so much money, not just for spring cleaning, but for the rest of your life. Take greening seriously after you’re done cleaning. Take it far! You’ll have more money and will have done your small part, a part of a huge green movement, to make the world better.
Jessica Phan is a designer for Balsamhill.com a purveyor of high-end artificial Christmas Trees. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is perfect for her because she has a wide range of interests, including Art & Design, Fashion, Photography, Painting and Thrift Store Shopping.