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Seven Steps to REALLY Spring Clean Your Home for a Healthier and Happier You
© 2023 Health Realizations, Inc. Update


Spring cleaning is an annual rite of passage in many American homes. In fact, 77 percent of Americans say they regularly engage in spring cleaning, according to The Soap and Detergent Association's Spring Cleaning Survey.

Both women (86 percent) and men (68 percent) take part in giving the house a good scrub down, with finally cleaning behind the furniture and washing the windows at the top of the "to-do" list in most homes.

Most Americans also agree that spring cleaning is a valuable thing to do:

  • 46 percent strongly agree, and 36 percent somewhat agree, that spring cleaning helps them save time throughout the year.

  • 93 percent say that spring cleaning makes keeping a clean home throughout the year an easier job.

  • 96 percent say spring cleaning includes discarding or donating items they don't need.

This, of course, doesn't mean that we enjoy it. Many Americans would make some significant sacrifices to have someone else do their cleaning. For instance:

  • 29 percent would pay $100

  • 25 percent would give up eating out for a month

  • 19 percent would give up concert tickets

  • 9 percent would give up a weekend away

Fortunately, spring cleaning your home, and getting it to that organized, fresh point where you can look around a feel a deep sense of calm and satisfaction, is well within your reach.

The Top Tips to Get Your Home Clean This Spring

1. First, Remove Clutter

One of the basic tenants of feng shui, which is an ancient art of creating a harmonious environment in your home using space, placement of objects, color and more to keep vital energy aligned, is that clutter represents stagnant energy.

In order for energy, or chi, to flow -- and therefore for your home to feel peaceful, support your mental and emotional well-being and provide a sanctuary for you to reside in -- the clutter must be cleared. Plus, there's no point in cleaning items that you're planning to get rid of, so remove the clutter, then move on to step #2.

2. Get Your Supplies Together

Running back and forth to your laundry room to get a dust rag, or to your kitchen for more vinegar, is a waste of time. Gather all of your cleaning supplies FIRST, and keep them with you in a large bucket.

Supplies for effective and non-toxic cleaning include:

  • Antimicrobial cloths that clean down to the biological level. Rather than just pushing dust and dirt around, or worse, stirring it up into the air, cloths made with positively charged ultramicrofibers that pick up biological and toxic contaminants.

  • The "Three Musketeers" of natural cleaning: baking soda, lemons and vinegar.

  • Non-toxic cleaning solutions. Skip the harsh, chemical cleaners and opt for safe solutions which contain no hazardous ingredients, petrochemicals, perfumes, dyes or animal byproducts that deliver dramatic results with non-toxic formulas which are safe and mild, even on your skin.

3. Set the Mood

Cleaning may not be your idea of fun, but it doesn't have to be miserable either. Throw on an old t-shirt and put on a lively CD to boost your spirits.

4. Clean One Room at a Time

Spring cleaning can seem overwhelming if you look at it from a "whole house" perspective. The key to keeping it manageable is to break it down into room-sized projects. So start with the kitchen, and don't move on until it's complete. You can even do one room a day, or one a weekend, as time permits.

5. Get Your Game-Plan Down

The general game-plan for each room is the same: clean from top to bottom (dirt will fall to the floor as you clean) and only circle the room once. Clean all that you can from each position you're in (at the sink, for instance) before moving on. Move in a clockwise movement around the room if it will help you remember where you've cleaned already. The key is to move in the most efficient manner so that you don't have to backtrack or do things twice.

6. Remember to Clean This Essential Thing

Your home's air. Most people would agree that a fresh, clean-smelling home is one of the main points of spring cleaning. One aside, remember that a truly "clean" home should not smell like an artificial pine tree or giant lemon, either. These scents come from harsh cleaning supplies and air fresheners that often contain toxic ingredients.

Researchers from the University of California-Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyzed 21 household cleaners and air fresheners and found that many -- especially those with pine, lemon or orange scents -- emit excessive levels of toxic pollutants. This is the first study to measure household cleaner emissions during typical indoor use, as well as the potential related health risks.

Six of the products contained ethylene-based glycol ethers, which are classified as hazardous air pollutants by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, 12 products contained terpenes, which are found in the pine, lemon and orange oils used to give cleaning products their "clean" smells. Terpenes have been found to react with ozone to produce a variety of toxic substances.

Of the four air fresheners included in the analysis, three contained significant amounts of terpenes. Adding to the problem is that many consumers are not aware that cleaning products and air fresheners represent a major source of indoor air pollution.

"On the one hand, they think `I'm cleaning germs,' which isn't a bad thing," said Gennet Paauwe, spokeswoman for the California Air Resources Board, which funded the study. "But what else are you doing in the process? You or your family members may be inhaling toxins while you're doing that."

Conclusion from the four-year study raised concerns among the researchers:

  • Cleaning a shower stall for 15 minutes with a product containing glycol ethers may result in exposures that are three times the recommended one-hour exposure limit.

  • People who clean houses professionally take in double the recommended formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) levels if they clean four homes a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year. Their intake of fine particulate matter also exceeds the average federal guideline level for an entire year.

  • Using an air freshener along with an ozone-creating air purifier in a child's room may result in formaldehyde levels that are 25 percent higher than California recommends.

Another problematic scenario occurred when cleaning while outdoor ozone levels are high. If you were to stay in the kitchen for two hours after using a terpene-containing product, while ozone levels outdoors are high, you would inhale about one-quarter of the total daily guideline value for particulate matter in California.

If you'd like to know more, you can view the entire study, "Indoor Air Chemistry: Cleaning Agents, Ozone and Toxic Air Contaminants," here.

7. Keep Your Home Clean on a Daily and Weekly Basis

Once your home is clean and clutter-free, it will take a little bit of work on your part to keep it that way. This doesn't mean you'll need to become a full-time housecleaner, just that you should devote a few minutes each day to:

  • Filing your mail and papers

  • Doing dishes

  • Sweeping the kitchen floor

  • Cleaning the kitchen counters

And put on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule:

  • Vacuuming and dusting

  • Cleaning the bathrooms

  • Removing clutter


UC Berkeley News

Dr. Bernstein's Comments

Great article focusing on the dos; and don'ts of cleaning and deodorizing a home safely and effectively.

One area that has really gotten my attention lately is the increased use of air fresheners like Febreze and plug in air fresheners like Glade.  Turns out that over 20% of the population have a significant negative reaction to these products and they are extremely toxic.  These chemical fresheners mask odors and affect the way we perceive odors.  Similar chemicals are found in certain clothing, detergents and fabric softeners and contain many toxins.

We recommend baking soda and other products mentioned in the article for cleaning and deodorizing.

Please Note: Above comment statements are not written by Health Realizations, Inc. nor the opinion of

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