Eco Tips: Spring Cleaning

Why spring cleaning? Because the hours of day light are longer and the sun brighter and we can see the dust and dirt more easily. With warmer weather we open doors and windows more readily  which feels conducive to create and removing dust. And there is the psychology of spring being the time for a fresh start! 

Spring cleaning – or indeed any cleaning – contri to the advertising of the

supermarkets, does not need a basketful of sprays and polishes, creams and scourers, nor a cupboard full of newly bought cloths – eco or otherwise. More useful are time and elbow grease. 

  • Use old/ worn thin towels and flannels, tea clothes and t-shirts/ vests. The soft material of an old vest is greater for picking up dust. Towelling is good for cleaning floors, sinks, tiles and other hard surfaces. Ex-cotton or linen tea towel are good for giving a polish to a surface. Old vests and socks are good for applying silver and brass polish and for buffing. 
  • Old toothbrushes are good for getting dust or dirt out of small crevices. (They are also good for cleaning bikes).
  • Water is good all round cleaner, especially for floors and tiles. Vinegar helps if surfaces are greasy. 
  • For washing windows use water with a splash of vinegar. Soap really isn’t needed.
  • When dusting a little vegetable oil helps pick up the dust but buff the surface after to remove excess oil to which further dust or dirt may stick. 
  • Vinegar is an acid. Acids dissolve lime scale so can use vinegar on taps etc – do a small check first that the taps haven’t been given a surface coating that can be damaged by an acid. 
  • In toilets vinegar may be insufficient to tackle lime scale. Try using instead citric acid which you can buy for cleaning purposes (cheaper than food quality citric acid) and you can improve the efficacy of the citric acid by first pouring a kettle of hot water into the toilet.
  • You can also use citric acid to descale kettles. Boil a kettleful of water, unplug and then add a little citric acid and leave to soak. Rinse well before using!
  • In line with reducing plastic products, wooden toilet brushes are a good alternative. Ideally they should have a hook so that you can let them drip dry over a suitable pot – eg a plant pot holder/ large jam jar.
  • Bicarbonate of soda is an alkaline which becomes a mild bleach when added to water. You can use bicarbonate of soda to clean your toilet – adding hot water will aid this. You can buy bicarbonate of soda for cleaning purposes from Robert Dyas or similar retailers. Again it will be cheaper than food quality bicarb)
  • Use a mixture of  bicarbonate of soda  and water to soak dish clothes to help keep them clean.
  • A mild solution of bicarbonate of soda and warm water is good for cleaning the inside of the fridge.  
  • Mixed together in water, bicarb and citric acid will react and fizz. You can use this to clean sink and shower drains. For best effect use 2 part bicarb to 1 part citric acid. This also works well in toilets. 
  • You can also use this to clean your washing machine.
  • Use bicarbonate of soda to clean sinks and baths by mixing the powder with a little water and apply with a cloth. Rinsing clean with vinegar will remove any residue.
  • As it is a mild bleach, you can also use bicarb to remove tea stains from mugs. Put a small amount in the bottom, add hot water and leave to soak. 
  • Although you can use a vacuum cleaner for hard floors, a brush doesn’t need any electricity and is much easier to put away. When you need a new brush, investigate non plastic options.
  • Brooms can be used carefully to remove cobwebs from ceilings or use a pole with a duster fixed to the end.
  • A regular quick clean prevents any build up of dirt which ultimately can be harder to shift.

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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