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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Spring Cleaning Goes Green

Spring Cleaning Goes Green

Decluttering. The very word evokes images of family members signaling from the deep recesses of clothing piles, waving beneath mounds of sports equipment, and maybe even lost inside towers of books, games, and toys not seen since Christmas. Send in the St. Bernards!

Ads for cleaning products used to show women in breezy chiffon dresses, bouffant hairdos, and spiked heels wielding hefty vacuum cleaners around already pristine corners (did anybody actually live there?). Despite our hectic schedules today, cleaning and decluttering are still a fact of life. Because 21st Century living so often takes us away from the home, revitalizing our neglected living spaces can impact our mental and emotional states just as much as the health and aesthetics of our so-called nests.

Getting Started
Many professional organizers say the reason people are daunted by the prospect of removing months, or perhaps years, of accumulated objects is that they approach the task piecemeal, for example, sitting before a pile of clothing or a desk stacked with old mail, publications, files and the like and going through it all item by item. This can take weeks. Instead, start by transferring everything to another location, opening windows, and cleaning the space thoroughly.

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaners
Removing clutter as part of a spring cleaning routine also provides the opportunity to start anew, pushing  aside harsh chemicals in favor of ecologically-friendly, natural cleaning products, many of which can already be found in the home.

Use white vinegar, which contains acetic acid for deodorizing and disinfecting, for cleaning babies’ and children’s rooms and bathrooms. Vinegar also produces sparkling hardwood floors: one cup to one gallon of warm water (be sure to dry thoroughly so floors do not swell or crack). Cornstarch can be used to clean windows and polish furniture, and baking soda is effective in bleaching tile grouts or absorbing odors from carpets when used before vacuuming.

It’s important to remember, though, that toxic chemicals should never be thrown in the trash or poured down the drain, where they can enter our ground water. When ridding the home of toxic cleaning products and other chemicals, find out when your community’s next household hazardous materials pick-up day is. Most have at least two a year.

Organizing
Once the room has been cleaned and aired, you may feel better about the space and compelled to return items previously removed to carefully designated closets, shelves, or containers. The process itself results in an automatic culling of unused or unwanted items. Prevent material waste, and clogged up landfills, by donating usable items to a local charity, or host a garage sale to make a little money for that special vacation you’ve been dreaming about.

If you need to purchase additional containers, environmentally-friendly materials like bamboo and recycled wood-organizers in all shapes and sizes are popping up in stores. These products respect the Earth, and look attractive, which may inspire family members to use them resulting in less clutter next spring.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.