How many times has someone ordered you to clean your room? I personally remember hearing that phrase a lot growing up, and it makes sense if you think about it. We spend a third of our lives asleep- it’s only natural that our bedrooms demand special attention. Now that I have a little more space, and a lot more knowledge, I understand the necessity of living in a clean environment. My concern is no longer just having to clean my room, but making sure I’m cleaning my room responsibly. Am I doing it right? Are the products I’ve chosen natural, or full of chemicals?
Make sure you’re not sleeping on a bed of toxins.
Before we dive into what you should be cleaning (and how), let’s explore why you should be doing it. More and more studies are popping up that show a link between living in a clean, organized space, with living a happy, healthy, and productive life.
Why? For starters, a clean home provides a sense of accomplishment, which can reduce stress and depression. A study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin revealed that women who described their homes as cluttered or full of unfinished projects were more depressed and fatigued than women who felt that their homes were restful. The Psychological Journal also found that those who lived in tidy and clean homes made healthier food choices.
“Clutter is stressful for the brain, so you’re more likely to resort to coping mechanisms such as choosing comfort foods or overeating than if you spend time in neater surroundings.”
But perhaps what’s most important is making sure you make the right, responsible choices when selecting your cleaning products. Some of the most toxic chemicals can be found in household cleaners. Environmental Working Group conducted a massive study of more than 2000 cleaning products on the American market and found that many contain substances linked to serious health problems like asthma and cancer.
A clean space is important, but so is your health. Below we’ll share our favorite tips and tricks on how to properly clean our favorite space with chemicals that won’t harm your health, or the earth.
You spend about 2,000 hours a year in your bed. But do you really know what you’re sleeping on? Mattresses are hotbeds of microscopic activity, containing germs, dead skin cells, and even mold. The average bed is said to contain around 10 million dust mites.
Never use harsh chemicals (you want to avoid breathing in fumes as much as possible). Instead, invest in some eco-friendly baking soda. It may not seem like much, but baking soda is widely regarded as one of the best, non-toxic, multi-purpose cleaners out there.
Start by vacuuming the top of the mattress to tackle any dust that’s floating around the surface. If you have an upholstery nozzle on your vacuum, that would work best. Sprinkle baking soda on the mattress and let it sit for around 2 hours. After your time is up, vacuum the baking soda up. Your last step is to air your mattress out for a few hours.
It’s recommended to go through this process about every two months. Mattresses themselves are usually good for up to 8 years.
While you’re peacefully sleeping on your comfy cotton sheets, your pillow is collecting drool, sweat, dead skin cells, etc. It’s not a pretty picture.
Laundry detergents are surprisingly full of harsh chemicals that should never touch your skin. Because companies aren’t required by law to disclose ingredients on laundry detergents, it’s hard to make a good judgement call at the store. Do your research! If you want to purchase a premade solution, reach for brands like Seventh Generation that willingly provide ingredients and that have zero dyes, fragrances, brighteners and phosphates.
You also have the option of making your own detergent! Use the below eco-friendly recipe.
Thankfully, most pillows are machine washable these days, so find a good non-toxic solution that works for you. Even if they can’t be machine washed, the tag lists specific cleaning instructions. A good rule of thumb is to clean any stained area with a damp cloth and allow it to air dry completely before putting it back on the bed. You can also try vacuuming the pillow to get rid of any dust/ loose particles, similar to what you did when cleaning the mattress.
Try cleaning your pillow every two months. To make it easier on yourself, clean your pillows when you’re cleaning your mattress. Depending on allergies, pillows should be replaced every year.
Do you have a set of soft, snuggly fair trade organic cotton sheets? Cleaning them regularly is a sure-fire way to maintain their comfort, and durability. After all, think about the average wear and tear during any given week. The average male perspires around 25 milliliters per hour, or 200 milliliters per eight hours of sleep. But night sweats can bring that number up to a liter. From dead skin cells to body fluids, sheets come in direct contact with the body most throughout the night, so they require the most attention.
Because sheets are machine washable, use the same recipe for laundry detergent above, or purchase environmentally-conscious brands like Seventh Generation or Method. You sleep in your sheets every night, so it’s extremely important to avoid placing your skin in direct contact with harsh chemicals.
Perhaps the easiest item to clean on our list, you can wash your favorite set of fair trade organic cotton sheets in the washing machine.
It’s recommended that sheets be cleaned every week. Your sleep could benefit from it. According to a Sleep Foundation poll, 75% of respondents said they got a better night’s sleep when their sheets were fresh and clean because they were more physically comfortable.
If you can’t live without your fair trade organic cotton sheets for a night, or want to wait to do laundry until the end of the week, invest in a good back up pair or two! You won’t regret it.
Stepping into soft carpet may feel great, but you should probably know what you’re getting into. A study by the Rug Doctor found many carpets to contain “dangerously high levels” of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and Shigella. These carpets were also found to have dust mites, food debris, pollen, human and pet hair, and traces of skin and human feces. Perhaps most shockingly, the Rug Doctor found that Americans weren't doing much to stop it. Only 55% of US consumers clean carpets as frequently as the EPA suggests.
With pets and the occasional barefoot walk around your home, who wants any residual harmful chemicals left behind? Skip products filled with dyes, fragrances, carcinogenic substances, and other harmful ingredients, and pick a green product instead. These eco-friendly alternatives are made from natural ingredients like plants, minerals, and enzymes.
Sadly, vacuuming isn’t enough to really clean your carpet. It’s recommended to get your carpet professionally steamed every 12 to 18 months. In addition to vacuuming in between streams, you can maintain the cleanliness of your space by having guests remove their shoes before entering your home.
Have hardwood or linoleum floors? Use a green cleaner every two weeks (or as needed) to mop up any dirt or dust.
Do you love to clean or are you a cleaning expert? Comment below with your favorite green cleaning hacks!
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