Our homes are meant to be an oasis away from the stressors of day-to-day life. Sure, our home life can be stressful at times, too. There are still ways that we can care for our homes that make that stress a little less.
The environment we live in directly has an impact upon our health. For example, think about how you feel in a bustling crowded room or mall. Maybe with a lot of noise pollution and bright florescent lights.
Now, consider how you feel on a cool crisp day among the trees. A nice breeze rustling your hair and the scents of wildflowers and pine circling around.
Our homes can have similar effects. They can either make the stress greater or less in two different ways:
First, the amount of clutter can make or break how we are feeling in our homes. If there is a bunch of stuff scattered around the floors and on countertops, it can easily become frustrating as we must learn to safely navigate through our own homes.
Second, the products we use in our homes can affect our bodies in a positive or negative way. There is a host of pollutants that make their way into our homes and circulate throughout the air. These pollutants are made of organic and inorganic compounds, that enter our bodies as we breath and interact with our environments. From there, they can negatively affect our endocrine systems, throwing hormones out of whack, encourage growth of cancer, and cause neurological disorders. More on the different types of toxins found in the home here.
This article will be broken into two parts. First, how to mindfully declutter and simplify our homes to make sustainability easy. Then, I will go over cleaning products that are friendly to our homes and bodies.
Step One: Declutter
Before we can get into the nitty-gritty of deep cleaning our homes, we have to clear the space of senseless clutter.
It helps to create a schedule that you can loosely incorporate into your life that allows the cleaning and care of your home to be effortless. For example:
- Make the bed upon waking.
- Remove shoes at the door.
- Always put objects back in their place once done with them.
- Set a timer for 20 minutes and tidy up. Can choose a different room each day, or break up the time for each room (i.e. 5 minutes/room).
- Make grocery lists to avoid excess purchases. Consider meal planning as well.
- Take recycling.
- Care for your clothes. Do laundry, iron, and repair broken clothes. Paying extra attention and care to your wardrobe will avoid the need to pay for more clothes.
- Reassess possessions. Have too many mugs? Too many t-shirts? Now is a good time to let go of excess.
- Sort through papers such as bills, receipts, and mail that may have piled up in the past month. Recycle what isn’t needed and sort the rest. Either in physical folders or by scanning them into computer files.
- Declutter problem areas. We all have that one room that never seems to stay clean. Offer that space extra attention and develop ways to keep it tidier moving forward.
- Clean the fridge. This is an area that can easily go neglected, with jars from 5 years ago being hidden and pushed to the far reaches of the universe, undetected. Take the time to remove everything from the fridge, wipe it all down and clean the shelves, then reorganize and reassess the items kept in there.
- Visualize your dream home. How would you ideally love for your space to look? Set tangible goals to slowly transform your space into that oasis.
- Challenge yourself. Try developing rules such as “one in, one out.” When you bring something new into your home, you must get rid of something equal to that item. Another fun challenge is doing “no spend month.” Practice gratitude for all you already have and don’t spend money on anything that isn’t necessary (bills, food, transportation).
- Reorganize storage spaces. As the seasons change, our storage spaces grow and morph until you have to fight through boxes and mystery cords just to find a broom. Let go of things you hold onto “just in case,” then find a new organizing system that keeps everything tidy.
Want more decluttering tips? Check out this video with the cleaning queen, Marie Kondo:
Step Two: The Deep Clean
Now that the excess clutter is cleared, we can start wiping everything down and making it shine.
It is vital to be mindful of the cleaning products we are bringing into our homes, as many standard ones on the market are filled to the brim with nasty chemicals that negatively impact our health (as mentioned at the beginning of this article). This is also where a lot of our sustainability practice can come in (with a dash of minimalism)!
When we make the switch to natural and homemade cleaning products, we reduce the need to have a million different products that all do different things, such as having products just for the bathrooms and kitchen, along with an all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, metal cleaner, etc.
For this step, all you will need is 6 products:
- Distilled Water
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Baking Soda
- Citrus Peels or Essential Oils (optional)
To keep it sustainable, look for these items in bulk. If you can’t find some of them, try and purchase ones that are either in glass or cardboard containers. Recyclable plastic is a last resort.
These six items are going to be the basis for any cleaning product you will ever need.
For a disinfectant, simply mix 2 parts distilled water with a half part vinegar. I recommend adding citrus peels to this solution and allowing it to sit at least overnight, as fruits such as lemon act as a natural antibacterial and antimicrobial.
This simple product can be used to clean any surface, from countertops to dishes to the stove.
When it needs a bit extra cleaning power, simply sprinkle some baking soda onto the surface you are trying to clean and let it sit a moment before scrubbing away grease and stains. Still not enough? Sprinkle some salt along with the baking soda to give it some extra grit.
For dishes, though you can use the vinegar and water solution, I have fallen in love with this dishwashing bar by notoxlife. It can replace 3 standard dish detergent bottles, and it comes in sustainable, plastic-free packaging. Did I mention it’s vegan?
For glass, though you can use the disinfectant, we all know glass can be a little testy when it comes to streaks. Simply use the same products, but swap the ratio to be 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water.
For the toilet, this is where the hydrogen peroxide comes in. That porcelain bowl is a breeding ground for bacteria, so it doesn’t hurt to call on a bit of aid to ensure a clean throne.
Mix together 2 parts distilled water, 1 part each of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, and a 1/2 part baking soda. Add essential oils if desired.
- Warm the distilled water before adding it to solutions with baking soda to ensure it dissolves properly.
- Need an extra room freshener? Add some essential oils to a refillable spray bottle with water and use as a natural air freshener. Diffusers work wonderfully as well.
- Try and clean surfaces and dishes directly after using them. This will make it easier to clean off anything that could potentially harden and become difficult to scrape off later in time.
- Buy reusable glass spray bottle and containers that you can easily add your sustainable cleaning products to.
Leave a comment below about what you thought of this article, along with any particular areas you would like to learn more about.
Be sure to share this with your friends and on social media. Thank you for joining me for #sustainableseptember!