5 Simple Solutions to Green Your Spring Cleaning

Spring is finally here!

After a long, snowy winter, now is the time we look forward to bringing in the fresh air, decluttering the closets and giving our homes a thorough scrubbing. Spring-cleaning - an annual ritual we learned from our mothers - traditionally resulted in our homes filled with the vapors and residue of harsh, toxic chemical cleaners. Odors that make our eyes water, nose sting and irritate our throat and skin...this is what we have been programmed to think "clean" smells like.

But there are safer alternatives that will get the job done and won't compromise our health.

Here are 5 easy eco and family friendly spring-cleaning tips_

1. Use non-toxic cleaning products. When it comes to general all-purpose cleaning, the simplest and safest products are probably right there in your food pantry. Distilled white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, cornstarch and salt work great along side non-toxic cleaners such as GTC's all-purpose, glass cleaner, hand dish soap and laundry liquid. (www.imusranchfoods.com)

2. For cleaning and polishing wood furniture and floors, use essential oil of lemon with organic olive oil.A tablespoon of olive oil and a few drops of lemon oil on a cloth will clean and polish your wood furniture.

3. Bring nature indoors.House plants not only boost oxygen levels, they can absorb dangerous airborne toxins including benzene, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, formaldehyde and polyvinyl chloride (PVCs). Philodendrons, green spider plants, dracaenas, palms, and ferns are considered to be some of the most effective at reducing gaseous pollutants in the air.

4. Reduced dust, mold spores and allergen particles by using HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.HEPA filters are available in air purifiers and vacuums and can be installed in air conditioning units.

5. Find a "green" dry-cleaner that offers the environmentally preferable technologies such as wet cleaning.Most conventional dry-cleaners use a highly toxic bioaccumulative chemical called percholoroethylene, or PERC. Studies have linked PERC to cancer, neurological, reproductive and vision problems. Wet cleaning is becoming more popular and employs industrial-size machines that operate similarly to washing machines but are much gentler and designed to prevent shrinkage and maintain the shape of your garments. Carbon dioxide cleaning is another nontoxic dry cleaning option.

Other ideas you may want to add to your spring-cleaning routine: Use cedar blocks or chips in a bag instead of mothballs when you store seasonal woolens in airtight containers. Deodorize drawers and closets by creating your own sachets by saturating a cotton ball with essential oils such citrus, lavender, peppermint, pine, lemongrass or cedar chips, and then tie it inside a small handkerchief or cotton square.

Because you and your family spend 7 to 8 hours in bed each day, consider replacing your pillows and bedding with products made from organic material. If you are in the market for a new mattress, think about investing in a natural fiber one. For more tips on green cleaning, go to www.dienviro.com.

Let me know what you think? If you have a question or if there is an issue you are interested in, tell me about it.

Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology (r) at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. Deirdre is the author of four books, including three national bestsellers. She is a frequent speaker on green living and children's health issues, and is a contributor to foxnewshealth.com. For more information, go to www.dienviro.com