Winter is almost over. Spring is so close we can almost imagine shedding  our multiple layers of sweaters, long johns and winter boots  to let that first  blessed ray of sunlight meet our vitamin D-deprived, pasty flesh.

See you next year ,Winter time blues! See you on  the flip side, dry, flaky skin! Smell you later, huge heating bills!

Hello, birds chirping, bees buzzing, sun shining and…Spring Cleaning?

I guess some aspects of Spring are more inspirational than others. Who are we to complain, though? After months of  hibernation and malaise, our homes have likely become musty pits wherein dust bunnies roam free without consequence. Well, listen here, dust bunnies of Earth! Spring has sprung and your days are numbered. Gone are the chilly nights wherein we as a people collectively shrug and think to ourselves, “Eh, why bother sweeping? It will just get dirty again sooner or later.”

You are history, my dusty friends! And that is not a threat, it is a promise!

Before you run off, inspired by my anti-dust bunny propaganda and ready to kick some dust’s unlucky buns, sit down for a moment or  two and read these handy tips on how to keep your Spring cleaning green. After all, the  Earth in all its Spring time splendor is to thank for all this burst  of cleaning energy, so you may as well fight the war of the clean with its happiness in mind.

Vinegar is Your New Best Friend:

Seriously, purchase as much white vinegar as you can get your hot little hands on. Vinegar is going to be your Junior Sheriff in this epic showdown with dirt you are about to face.

Use Vinegar’s awesome cleaning power on floors, cabinets and windows. All of these can be cleaned with a simple mixture of vinegar and water. For more difficult jobs, you may want to employ Vinegar’s on and off again partner, baking  soda. (Why these crazy kids just can’t work things out for good is beyond me.)

Microwaves, toilets, sinks, tubs and the refrigerator all call for a mix of vinegar,  baking powder and scrub a dub, dub, dub-ing (the extra dub really is where the oomph of the cleaning will come through).

Paper Towels, Your New Worst Enemy:

If dust bunnies are the apparent  face of evil in this war on dirt,  paper towels are a close second. Worse yet, these paper towels are not an obvious enemy; they infiltrate your side of the fight. They appear innocent enough, “Oh hey, let me help you wipe that down. No worries, when you are done, just toss me in the rubbish! It is so easy!!!” Paper towels are the devil on your shoulder tempting you to do things the easy way, when the right thing means putting forth a little more effort.

Luckily for you, using cleaning materials that aren’t just one use is not much of a hassle at all. Use reusable towels and rags, sometimes this means looking no further than an aging frayed towel and tearing it into smaller pieces.  Also, instead of using spray mops with replaceable pads, stick to the tried and true mops that require just a tad more elbow grease. Classics are classics for a reason.

Increase Energy Efficiency:

Spring cleaning is a great time to periodically check your smoke detectors. After doing this battery check, take the time to check other items around your home for ways in which you can make them function more efficiently.

Replace your old-fashioned incandescent  light bulbs with the more energy efficient CFL style bulb. Vacuum or dust your refrigerator’s coils to increase the efficiency of this kitchen titan. Check the filters of your hot water heater and your heating system and replace as necessary.

Hasta la vista, Heaters

The longer spans of daylight and the increasing temperatures should make the burgeoning Spring as good as a time as any to turn off your heat until next Winter. Open your shades (which you surely have already cleaned with a mixture of water and vinegar) and let the sun work its mojo on your home’s temperature. Being from New England, I know that Winter has a terrible habit of butting its ugly head in well into Spring, so I am not suggesting letting your pipes freeze if this becomes the case, just merely suggesting reevaluating your heating needs in the face of  warmer temperatures.

Junk in Your Trunk:

A thorough Spring cleaning will often involve an evaluation of certain belongings and questioning whether or not they have outlived their usefulness in your life.  Sure, that magic kit charmed the heck out of your older relatives a decade ago, but do you really need to keep in the bedroom closet of your adult home? The answer is a resounding no. The good news is that you do not have to unceremoniously throw this item in the garbage. You can donate this item to a local charity or thrift store. Some young tyke out there may be longing to pull a long strand of scarves out of their sleeve, help this child live that dream.

While your junk may not be stacked in a trunk- it is more likely in my experience to end up in a garbage bag while I decide each items fate- it needs to be dealt with in a calm and mature manner. Donate and reuse what you can. Heck, you could even get a group of friends together for a clothing or knick knack swap. Add cocktails and you could be in for a fun evening, because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all men (and ladies) love a reason to get together for a drink.

Bugging Out:

Spring sees many forms of life flourishing. Unfortunately for us,  many of these life forms are pests that would love nothing more than to come in our homes and snack upon the crumbs on our counters.  The best way to deal with this influx of insect nuisances in the warmer months is good dose of  old-fashioned prevention.

Pat yourself on the back, by performing a thorough Spring cleaning your job is going to be that much easier. If these little bugs still insist that your home is their home, there are green ways to fight back fairly.

Ants:
To deter ants from making your kitchen party central, wipe down surfaces of entry ways and other points of their interests with some vinegar – I swear to you I am not paid by some greedy Vinegar company, sure they send me a watch every now and then…but that is just for my customer loyalty.

If you want to steer clear of vinegar just this once based on an unfounded conspiracy theory about me being in the pocket of big business, try growing spearmint around your property. Ants are known to loathe the smell of fresh breath more than any other smell on the planet.

Flies:

Unlike vampires, flies do not need a verbal invitation to enter your abode.  To avoid the annoyance of hearing one of these pesky pests get trapped between a shade and a window, try scratching into the peel of and orange or hanging a cluster of cloves, both are said to act as deterrent to flies.

As you finish ridding your house of dust and clutter, be sure to sit down and celebrate Spring, making sure to pause to pour one out for your dearly departed friend, the dust bunny. You guys made it through a long and cold winter together, you may have even  grown a fondness for him -going so far as to name him Captain Ted- but you are better off without him. If you are fighting an urge to play Boyz II Men, “End of the Road”  as you empty the dust buster into the garbage can, you may want to think about taking a Vitamin D supplement next winter and head promptly outside where you can befriend a real bunny.

Happy Spring Cleaning, everyone!

-Meghan Hurley

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