Spring cleaning: Top 10 eco-friendly tips

With New Year’s day and the Chinese lunar New Year falling within 4 weeks of each other in 2012, it’s timely to pass on my favourite spring cleaning techniques.  It’s all very well to thoroughly clean the house to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good  luck, but it shouldn’t to be at the expense of  toxic chemicals leaching into the soil or releasing contaminants into the air.

The first step is to de-clutter and clear space by getting rid of outdated paperwork, magazines and clothes.  Minimise the amount that you need to clean and make room to work! Find a new home for unused but serviceable items by donating to the Salvation Army or Freecycle Network.

Second, dust rooms from the top down.  Start with the ceiling, overhead fans and cornices and work your way to the floor.  You can avoid whipping up a dust storm  by putting a damp pillowcase over the ceiling lights and fan blades to wipe.

Finally, here are green, biodegradeable alternatives to bleach, man made aerosols and cleaning agents, and all of which are just as effective and safer.  Note that nearly 20% of childhood poisoning accidents are due to chemical cleaning products.

  1. For most domestic cleaning, make an all-purpose cleaner by mixing vinegar and water to remove dirt and germs from walls, windows and countertops. Add a dash of baking soda (a natural abrasive) for scouring power to clean toilets, sinks, and bathtubs.
  2. Mould can spread easily in Asia’s humid climate. Use white vinegar (kills bacteria and eliminates odours) to clean the grout between bathroom tiles. For mildewed shower curtains, wash on cool in your washing machine and add 2 cups vinegar to the rinse cycle per half load.
  3. Clean your kitchen stove and convection oven using a solution of baking soda dissolved in water. Apply the paste to the entire surface, wait 30 minutes and then wipe off with a damp cloth.  For microwave ovens, put a bowl containing one cup of water with 1/2 cup of lemon juice inside and turn on full power for 30 seconds.
  4. Give your cooking pots and pans a thorough clean.  Remove the handle with screwdriver.  Mix 2 heaped tablespoons of baking soda with 1 litre water and soak everything overnight before scrubbing.
  5. To clean the inside of your kettle, pour 3cm of vinegar and add 6cm of water.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Be warned, there will be foam!
  6. Dissolve clogs and clean drains by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda down the pipe and flushing down with 1-2 cups of  vinegar heated up in the microwave.  Wait 10 minutes before a rinsing with 1 litre of hot water.
  7. To remove stubborn limescale from taps and plugs, make a paste of salt and lemon  juice.   Spread around offending areas and rub off after 5 minutes with a damp sponge.
  8. Metal cleaners – Use sliced lemons to clean the spots from brass, copper, bronze and aluminium  decor. For extra grimy jobs, sprinkle the item with baking soda and then rub with lemon. To clean sterling silver, line a plastic or glass bowl with aluminium foil. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and baking soda and fill the bowl with warm water. Soak silver items in this mixture and the tarnish will transfer from the silver to the foil. Rinse and dry the silver, then buff with a polishing cloth.
  9. Don’t throw out the dusty silk flowers and pot pourri yet!  Place the flowers with 1/4 cup of salt into a plastic bag, seal and shake.  All the dirt is absorbed and sticks to the salt grains.  Using a clean bag,  now shake the flowers with a few drops of essential oils to natually scent.
  10. For a natural glass cleaner, use 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol (ethyl alcohol) mixed with 1/2 cup of vinegar and 2 cups of water to clean windows and shower doors. Use recycled newspaper to wipe instead of paper towels.

Wishing you a clean and green New Year!







Written by


Asian Professional Organisers is the first member in Singapore of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers, serving clients in Singapore and Hong Kong. Georgina Wong started out as a professional event organiser before transferring her expertise to where it matters most - in the home and workplace. We offer all forms of organising from home staging of your property to workplace productivity and from wardrobe auditing to digital decluttering.