Clean the Air with Spring Cleaning

April 2009
“Spring cleaning” has come to mean a top-to-bottom cleaning overhaul of the home. Some think that the most likely origin of the activity came from the ancient practice of the Jews that consisted of cleaning thoroughly to remove all traces of leavened bread in preparation for the Passover holiday.  I tend to believe that “spring cleaning” is a practice that has also sprung up as a natural response to the increase in light and warmth in the spring season of northern climates. Before electricity, oil lamps and wood stoves would layer a home in soot, and once the windows could be opened and fresh air brought in, so too began the job of removing the winter soot, and hanging bedding out to air in the sun. 
Even without having used oil lamps all winter, the increase in light in the spring still offers up a good reason to clean the house from top to bottom. The light seems to shine on all the dust that has accumulated over the winter, and the bedding still needs airing in the sun after winter! 
Spring cleaning goes above and beyond normal weekly or bi-weekly cleaning routines. While there are many tried-and-true techniques for top-to-bottom cleaning that have stood the test of time and come down through the ages, spring cleaning offers a great opportunity to consider implementing contemporary cleaning products and methods. 
Clean Away Dust Mites, Dust, Dander, Bacteria, and Molds.

Bedding, Couches, Upholstery, Window Treatments
Airing out mattresses, getting under couch cushions, and taking down drapes for cleaning, are the main attributes of spring cleaning.

New and Contemporary Solutions
- Vacuum first using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a good HEPA filter, which employs micro filtration using a bag with smaller pores; some also contain electrostatic filters in addition to the motor filter. For more information, read vacuum cleaner reviews and ratings, at Allergy Consumer Review.
- Clean with vapor steam. These small machines heat surfaces with dry steam that kills fungus, dust mites, bacteria, and viruses.  The best steam cleaners are considered to be those that only use water that is heated to 240F or hotter.  Consumer Search offers reviews of various steamers.
- Go over all the surface areas with an Ultra Violet (UV) light “wand” to kill up to 99 percent of bacteria and viruses, and to reduce dust mites. There are large and small varieties.
- Use a dehumidifier, as dust mites die when the humidity falls below 40 to 50 percent. 

Down through the Ages:
- Gather that which can be taken outside, and shake thoroughly, or beat with a broom.
- Direct Sunlight--UV light--goes a long way to deodorizing fabrics, including reducing mold and killing dust mites (although it doesn’t remove their bodies, which cause the allergies). A good airing in the sun for three hours or more is recommended.
- Gather up all washable fabrics and wash them in hot water, 130F or higher.
- Gather up smaller items and put them in the freezer to kill dust mites (or larger items outdoors on a night that is below freezing).
- For mold or bacteria odors, spray straight white, distilled vinegar to the area. Don’t rinse. 
- Go over dusty fabric that can’t be removed with a damp sponge. Rinse the sponge frequently. 

Clean the Windows
Now that all the brighter light is streaming in the windows in the spring, you’ll see which windows could use a good clean, inside and out. There is no need buy window cleaner, as this formula is the best; it removes all the old wax buildup as well as dirt:
Tried-and-True Window Cleaner
¼ cup white distilled vinegar
1 cup water
½ teaspoon, or a small dab, of eco-friendly dish detergent.
Combine all the ingredients in a clean spray bottle. Shake to blend. Spray on windows and clean with a soft, clean rag, such as an old t-shirt that has been ripped up for the purpose.
Make it Easier Next Year
Stop the Dust at the Front Door
  • Look to see if there is any way to reduce the amount of dirt brought in on shoes. Is your walkway clean? If you are in the country and are challenged by mud season, consider building on a “mud room” for removing muddy shoes.
  • Invest in a high quality tract mat to collect the dust, and place it where everyone entering the house has to step.
Last but not least, agree to yourself to choose the least toxic approach to whatever “deep cleaning” projects you tackle this year. Make your highest priority clean indoor air!
2018 Green Clean Certified
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