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Spring

Spring clean indoors

Spring is the traditional time to freshen up inside your home. Changing how you clean your home can save you money and reduce unwanted impacts on your home and health.

Here a few ideas to help get your spring clean rolling.

Cleaning products

Close up of cleaning a tap

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It might sound old fashioned, but making your own non-toxic cleaning products can be an effective way to clean your home that is better for your health as well as the environment. Some conventional cleaning products may contain toxic or hazardous ingredients that should only be used when wearing protective gear and are best kept away from children and pets.

You may already have some of the key ingredients for cheap and effective products in your kitchen. Things like bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar, lemon, salt and borax can be used as surface cleaners (including in place of heavier duty products such as oven cleaner). Just be careful with lemons and vinegar (and other acidic cleansers) on tile grout as it will eat it away. When making your own, don't forget to clearly label the bottles with their ingredients. While the ingredients are common household items, not all of them are meant for consumption, so keep them away from kids and pets.

There is a range of less harsh and environmentally aware products on the market to choose from, but take the time to read the label. Just because it says that it is natural and bio-degradable doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't toxic or hazardous.

Try to re-use cleaning cloths or make them yourself from old worn sheets, tea towels or tatty clothing. Single-use cloths are expensive and create waste when you could easily be using things around the home. If you do need to use more hazardous cleaners, or find them lurking in your cupboards, be sure to dispose of them properly as they can't be put in your regular garbage.

DIY natural air freshener

An indoor plant for freshening the air

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Now that you've cleaned and aired your home, you want it to smell great. Before purchasing or using an air freshener you may wish to look for healthy options. Artificial fresheners can contain chemicals that are harmful to our waterways and may stimulate allergies. Why not use something non-toxic in your home that's safer for you, your family and pets. They're so easy to create yourself.

Baking soda is one of the greatest odour-eaters around and can be placed in a small dish in the fridge and in the bathroom or toilet to absorb unpleasant smells. A quick search on the internet will reveal lots of recipes on how to make natural-scented sprays using basic household ingredients such as water, baking soda, lemons and vanilla.

Another way to improve indoor air quality is with indoor plants. They reduce unhealthy air pollutants while balancing humidity which can help relieve allergic conditions. By giving your indoor plants a healthy spruce-up with a new dose of quality potting mix and possibly a bigger pot if it's looking tired and root bound. Gently clean the leaves of your indoor plants with a damp soft cloth (an old t-shirt). You don't need to use any special products, oil or milk as they'll only clog up the pores on the leaves, making it difficult for them to soak up nutrients. You can browse the internet for the most effective indoor air-cleaning plants and pop two or three in each room.

Mother Nature's mothballs

When storing winter clothes, start by washing them first and making sure you dry them thoroughly. For an alternative to the old mothball (which contains the toxic ingredient naphthalene), try a cotton bag with dried rosemary, mint, thyme and cloves to deter creepy crawlies and keep clothing smelling fresh.

If you're tackling your wardrobe and drawers, why not reduce waste by donating clothes you haven't worn for a few years and are unlikely to wear again. Holding a clothes swap with family and friends is a great way to re-vamp your wardrobe.

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