Ten Tips for Sustainable Spring Cleaning and Decluttering

Ten Tips for Sustainable Spring Cleaning and Decluttering

It’s almost that time of year, the approaching season of renewal--spring! And with it comes spring cleaning, a time when we find ourselves either eagerly embracing the idea of a fresh start or, let's be honest, slightly dreading the deep cleaning that awaits us after winter. Regardless of where you stand on the love-hate spectrum, we've got you covered with ten tips to make your cleaning and decluttering process a breeze while keeping sustainability front and center. The first portion of the list is focused on helpful guidance for cleaning products, and the second portion on ideas for decluttering and what to do with your items after you’ve parted ways. 

Smart, Sustainable Choices for Spring Cleaning Products 

1. Skip the Bleach or Ammonia: You may already have a routine that includes tried and true formulations. As a general rule, skip the bleach and ammonia whenever possible and opt for vinegar or castile soap instead. Both bleach and ammonia are harmful for the environment and should only be used when absolutely necessary. Bleach can seriously harm both aquatic and wildlife1 and if ammonia is in water at high levels, it can be toxic to aquatic animals.2

Vinegar mixed with water in a 1:1 solution can be used for many areas of your home; from cleaning linoleum floors to washing windows, cupboards, sinks and more.

2. DIY Citrus Vinegar Spray: This zesty, all-purpose solution is as easy to make as it is effective.

  • 16 oz spray bottle
  • 1 part citrus-infused vinegar: Fill a jar with citrus peels, top with white vinegar. Store for 5-7 days in a dark place, giving it a shake daily.
  • 1 part filtered or distilled water
  • A few drops of a citrus essential oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients in the spray bottle and it’s ready to use!

3. DIY Castile Soap Cleaning Spray: This castile soap cleaning spray can be used as an all-purpose cleaner, a floor cleaner, for dishes, and more. It cuts dirt and is a powerhouse on grime and grease. 

Combine all ingredients in the spray bottle, give it a swirl if using soap flakes, and it’s ready to use.

4. Check out the EPA’s Safer Choice Program: If creating cleaning products isn’t your thing, the EPA has created a resource for consumers and businesses to find products that are effective, safe for humans, and gentle on the environment.

    Simple Tips for Household Decluttering

    5. Keep Decluttering Simple: Embrace the golden rule of spring cleaning: take it one step at a time. Whether it's one room, one closet, one cabinet, or one drawer, small victories lead to big results. I like to do one to two areas per day, depending on how much time I have and how big of a job each area will be.

    6. Set a “Number to Reduce By” Goal: Not up for an entire room? No problem! The “number to reduce by” concept is exactly how it sounds: determine the number of items you want to reduce or get rid of out of each space. Maybe its 5, maybe 10, maybe more—see how it’s going and change as necessary. You may start with 10 items in a particular space and then decide you want to keep going and look for another 10.

    7. Create a Process for Reducing Sustainably: Keep the environment in mind as you declutter, and use the Waste Hierarchy Pyramid: think through what you can do with items from the top of the pyramid to the bottom. Sort your items into boxes for reselling, donating, recycling, repurposing/repairing, and last but not least, the keepers. The goal is to minimize landfill contributions as much as possible.

    8. Having a Hard Time Parting Ways? Whether an item holds sentimental value or you are not sure you will ever use it again, depending on your personality or character, upbringing, background, or other reasons, it can be difficult. Consider creating a 'maybe' box for undecided items. If you haven't used an item in six months, it might be time to let it go.

    9. Aim To Keep Items That Bring You Joy: As Marie Kondo has taught us, ask yourself if it sparks joy. Does that piece of clothing make you feel super confident? Do you find joy or have fond memories when you use that vase from your grandmother? In my case, can you use all of those pens and pencils you have been accumulating over the years!? If not, find someone who can use the items instead of them taking up time and space in your home.

    10. Make a 1:1 Trade for Each Item You Bring Into Your Home: How did all of this clutter make its way into my home in the first place? Curbing clutter isn't just about clearing out; it's about preventing new additions. Adopt the 1:1 rule—for every new item in, an old one goes out. Just remember to use the Waste Hierarchy Pyramid to continue making sustainable decisions and keep the items you are parting with out of the landfill!


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