Happy (and Safe) Spring Cleaning!

young happy mother is a housewife with a baby does homework and

Spring is finally here! So the age-old practice of spring cleaning our homes from top to bottom is upon us. Throw open your windows, enjoy the spring air and keep these 5 things in mind for happy, healthy, and safe spring cleaning:

1) Keep Cleaning Products Out of Reach of Children. Many conventional cleaning products are made with chemicals of concern and must be kept out of reach of small children. Keep all cleaning products well out of reach of little ones and read up on household chemical safety.  The Government of Canada offers safety tips on household chemicals because unfortunately, household chemical products are responsible for far too many serious injuries in children under the age of five each year.

2. Know Your products.  I have found that the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning is a great tool in determining the toxicity of ingredients in common household cleaners.  Simply type in the name of your cleaning product into their database and all ingredients will be listed and ranked in terms of toxicity. Look for an ‘A’ which indicates cleaning products which are the ‘cleanest’. ‘F’ just as in school, is a fail. You may be surprised what you find. And be sure to check EWG’s Hall of Shame for the worst of the worst cleaners in terms of toxicity. I once found I owned one of these. Yikes!

3) It is Not Necessary to Use Conventional Cleaning Products. Many people have great success with D-I-Y cleaning products made with ingredients commonly found in a pantry. These home made cleaners are effective, non-toxic AND far more economical than conventional cleaners. Loads of recipes exist on the internet…everything from floor to window cleaners. A good source for D-I-Y cleaners is David Suzuki’s Queen of Green. Get a copy of some of her tried and true D-I-Y cleaner ‘recipes’ here and give it a go!

4) Ready Made Clean Cleaning Products Do Exist!  For those who don’t count D-I-Y among their talents (I am one of these!) know there are fantastic, smaller companies making products with NO toxic ingredients.  One of my favourite Canadian line of all-natural cleaning products (and deliciously scented with essential oils!) is by Vancouver-based Sapadilla. From laundry to floors, they have you covered. And I love Toronto company, GRAYDON for their all-natural product, Germs Away Mist.  In my house, this product alone takes care of all unwanted household smells (think diaper bin, bathrooms, yoga mat or gym bag). Even germs on hands benefit from the natural anti-microbial action of The Mist’s blend of 15 essential oils including clove, peppermint and geranium. And essential oils are much safer and easier on the skin and nose than synthetic perfume compounds.

5) And Be Aware of GreenWashing.  Companies can use the words ‘natural’ or ‘Green’ as a marketing term in Canada or the US without being held to the product really being better or safer than any other product. This is important for parents to know especially when the safety of children is at stake. I was surprised when I bought a household cleaning product with the word ‘Green’ in the product name just to find that its ingredients were too toxic for my comfort-level.