Skills

Spring cleaning is a time honored tradition. We start the year off right by getting rid of what we don’t need anymore. That gives us room for new things like the Christmas gifts we got last year. When doing your cleaning, don’t forget to clean up your computer.

Raven Moore reminded us to manage our emailsbut there is still work to do offline. New programs and files can add up. The recent updates to my computer took up 100 GB! To keep adding things to your computer, there has to be enough room to do so. You’ll be surprised to know that real life spring cleaning rules will help you make room on your computer.

1. Get Rid of Duplicates and Junk

In real life, we can occasionally use more than one of something. However, you generally don’t need more than one bed in your bedroom. You take the one you need and get rid of the other one. Similarly, if you have duplicate files, you can get rid of them if they serve no purpose.

2. Dispose of Things You No Longer Use

Generally, I keep files of my writing. They are all unique to me. However, there are some programs and files that I never use anymore. These are programs I downloaded for one use or have since become outdated. You may have forgotten that they are on your computer since it’s been so long since you used them. Look through everything on your control panel and search for the programs you no longer need. Once all this is gone, there is a chance that your computer will run faster.

3. Organize What Is Left

When going through your house during spring cleaning not only will you find things you want to get rid of, but you’ll also find things that you want to keep and take care of. To keep track of the things you hold dear, you have to organize them. To organize your computer put the important files and folders in a place where you can easily access them.

4. Keep It Safe

Once you have an orderly computer, don’t forget to back it up! You never know when a virus will hit or your system will crash. I’ve known a lot of people who lost all their data at a critical time like several pages into a paper or 40,000 words into their novel. I’ve even known people who have had their laptops stolen and lost the work on it. Don’t let that happen to you. Buy a backup hard drive.

So, do some spring cleaning. It will require no heavy lifting. You will thank yourself in the long run. No one has ever regretted getting organized.

Image: Getrefe

Health

The feeling that comes with knowing your laundry, kitchen, and bathroom are clean is something like intense joy. We often judge this cleanliness by what we smell: the smell of disinfectant. Bleach. Soap. Strangely tropical flowery fragrances that would never actually be in our apartments naturally.

What these smells actually tell us, though, is that we have replaced dirt and germs with chemicals and artificial substances. Replacing bacteria with these agents is sort of like replacing a stomachache with a headache – the unpleasantness is still there, just in a different form. We clean our little living spaces with chemicals that are unsafe to even inhale. What is up with that?

I’m not dissing our love of freshly cleaned chemical smell. I love it, too. I am saying, though, that there are some natural cleaning agents that actually get the job done better, and much more safely, than the commercial products to which we’ve become so accustomed.

Below are five natural cleaning products to replace commercial cleaners:

Task: laundry
Natural solution: soap nuts

I’m sorry, what? Soap nuts? That’s the reaction I often get to this.

Soap nuts, native to India and Nepal, are these little round berry things that grow on trees and do a fantastic cleaning job by releasing natural saponins to free dirt, oils, and stains from clothing. They are unscented and wonderful for those of us with sensitive skin and allergies. In fact, they’re used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis.

Not only that, but they clean incredibly well. I spilled red curry all over a new white shirt. In a moment of pure stupidity, I didn’t wash the shirt right away, leaving it to bask in all its curry-stained glory for two days. I felt defeated when I finally put it in the wash. To my surprise, it looked good as new after I took it out.

What you do is place around five soapnuts in a reusable muslin bag (which typically comes with the order) and place them in the washing machine. It’s not unsafe to put them in the dryer, but I prefer not to do that. The soap nuts can be reused for about five washes.

The best part? Soap nuts are completely non-toxic and can be composted when done, and they are pretty darn inexpensive. I love them, and order mine here, although Amazon and plenty of great retailers also carry them.

Task: dishes (in the dishwasher)
Natural solution: white vinegar

I know, I know. It sounds strange. But, if you want your dishes to actually be stain free and deep-cleaned, I’m telling you, this is how. Just put white vinegar in the dish soap slot and run the dishwasher. That’s it. They will be sparkling when they’re done, and the vinegar smell isn’t apparent when used in the dishwasher.

Task: quickly remove a stain from clothing or carpet
Natural solution: Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and water

I can’t tell you if it’s ok to use on fabrics that require dry cleaning – I’m going to assume it’s not. I can tell you that last time I spilled hot sauce down my cotton shirt (I’m messy, ok?) I put water and a little dab of Dr. Bronner’s almond castile soap on a tissue and wiped away the stain. It went away completely after wiping for around 20 seconds each with three damp/soapy tissues. It probably would have been quicker had I used a washcloth, but that would have made too much sense.

Castile soap is good to have around the house, too, as it has many uses, including washing dishes in the sink, as an ingredient in natural body washes and shampoos, and to hand wash delicate fabrics.

Task: maintain shower cleanliness
Natural solution: apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle makes a great everyday shower cleaning spray. I also like to add a few drops of lavender oil to remove the vinegar smell. You can use this as a quick toilet bowl cleaner, too, by spraying and letting it sit, or using a toilet brush. Add coconut oil, too, and lemon or lime juice for an extra cleaning kick.

Task: use an all-purpose cleaner in the bathroom and/or kitchen
Natural solution: coconut oil

Coconut oil is magical and life-changing. It has hundreds of fantastic uses, and it’s incredibly gentle and safe on skin. In fact, I use it as a face wash and body moisturizer every day. Aside from its gentleness, its cleansing properties are incredible.

Dampen a rag or sponge with coconut oil – it can be in liquid or soft form – and wipe down any surface that needs cleaning. The dirt will come right off; it’s amazing to watch.

Pretty amazing, and a little strange, that we can safely and naturally wash our faces with the same product we use to clean our showers, floors and countertops.

I hope these cleaning products help you replace the dangerous, nasty chemicals currently under your kitchen and bathroom sinks! I swear by each of them and have found success using them to keep my apartment clean. They’re great for dorms, too, because we all know those little rooms can get dirty. Happy cleaning!

Do you use any natural ingredients in cleaners? Share below!

Image: Umberto Salvignan