It’s that time of the year again – spring cleaning season! Before you start sorting through the stuff you’ve accumulated over the last year and scrubbing your home thoroughly, you might want to consider how what you’re doing is impacting the environment.

Spring cleaning can fill your home with harsh chemicals from synthetic, store-bought cleaners and add bag-after-bag of unwanted items—items that can often be reused or repurposed—to the landfill. This year, take a more eco-friendly approach with these four green spring cleaning tips.

Recycle, donate, and sell: As you declutter your garage and home this year, don’t absentmindedly toss what you don’t want into plastic garbage bags and haul them to the curb. Instead sort them into four piles: recycle, donate, garage sale, and trash. Scottsdale recycles cardboard, glass, magazines, newspaper, paper, and plastic.

Electronics such as computers, cell phones, and televisions can be turned in on one of the city’s multiple Electronics Recycling Days held throughout the year, too.

Donate any items that are gently used to Goodwill or other charities, or repurpose them. Stained or ruined clothes, for example, make great (and free) cleaning rags!

As for those few remaining items that are truly trash, bag them in eco-friendly, biodegradable bags.

Make your own cleaners: It’s easy to make your own cleaners using ingredients you likely already have such as distilled white vinegar, baking soda, olive oil, lemon juice, and hot water. For a good all-purpose cleaner, mix 10 drops of lemon extract with 20 drops of tea tree oil in one quart of water, or mix two parts vinegar and one part baking soda with four parts water. This works great on countertops and tile.

For a green window cleaner, add two teaspoons of vinegar to one quart of water and wipe with newspapers that you can compost when you’re done. Combine lemon juice and olive oil for a simple furniture polish, and to deodorize your carpets, sprinkle them with baking soda, sweep into the fibers, and vacuum.

If that sounds like too much work, head to your local supermarket. While many of the products you’ll find on the shelves contain harmful chemicals that can wind up in rivers and streams, there are many eco-friendly alternatives made from non-toxic, biodegradable ingredients.

Ditch paper towels and garbage bags: Use earth-friendly alternatives to dyed paper towels, synthetic sponges, plastic garbage bags, and other similar products. Instead of paper towels, use old washcloths, t-shirts, cloth diapers, or newspapers, which work better on windows and can be composted after use. Replace synthetic sponges and scrubbers with eco-friendly ones made from recycled or natural resources.

After recycling, repurposing, and composting what you can, put the remaining trash in biodegradable trash bags for disposal instead of the standard plastic ones. If you can’t find biodegradable bags at your supermarket, you can purchase them online here.

Freshen the air: Store-bought air fresheners can make your home smell better, but even those marked as “all-natural” and “unscented” can contain dangerous chemicals for your home.  Take advantage of Scottsdale’s moderate spring climate and get rid of musty and foul odors by simply opening your windows!

Although houseplants won’t do anything to alleviate bad odors, they can act as an air filter. Greenery such as Boston ferns, English ivy, rubber plants, and peace lilies work best. Aim for two plants per 100 square feet.

The sun is shining, the cool spring breezes are blowing, and it’s time to start that spring cleaning! We hope these tips will help make your home sparkle in an eco-friendly way. Feel free to call or email me to chat anytime about these and other tips that will not only make your home feel clean and bright, but also get it ready to sell!

Don Matheson
Realtor | Founder
The Matheson Team – RE/MAX Fine Properties
21000 N. Pima Rd., #100, Scottsdale, AZ 85255