Whether you do all your food shopping at your local Jewel Osco for deals, at Nomad’s Marketplace for international food items, or both depending on your mood, your eating should reflect your principles. If you make a point to clean with natural and non-toxic prodcuts, you should also make a point to eat natural and non-toxic products.
I’ll be starting a blog soon to discuss some clean-eating ideas and tips that may make it easier, less intimidating, and more affordable to eat a responsible and clean diet. Hit me in the comments with your contact information if you want to be kept updated on the new blog. I’m also looking for guest contributors to share your own clean-eating tips, recipes, and health benefits!
Oh and while we’re on the subject, keep in mind some of the peculiarities of a ceiling fan: don’t forget to dust it at least once a year. And don’t forget about the directional spinning. There’s a tiny switch on the side of your fan that you’ve maybe never noticed: During the summer the fan should be blowing cool air down, keeping you cool, spinning in a counter- clockwise direction; during the winter it should run more slowly and clockwise, pulling cool air up keeping you warmer. Depending on your fan, the switch will be up or down to reflect its direction.
So twice a year – the beginning of summer and the beginning of winter – you should plan to dust the blades and switch the direction of your fan.
While cleaning, regardless of the temperature or season, I keep my windows open and my ceiling fans turning. Often, my apartment doesn’t necessarily feel dirty, it just feels closed up and claustrophobic. Especially a few months into winter, when my windows have been sealed up for weeks, no fresh air has come in, no stale air has gone out, it’s like living in a closed up little box and it’s not mentally or physically healthy.
So while cleaning, I open all the windows and turn on the fan to create an air exchange system.
The fresh air is good for your health and introduces necessary allergens and irritants into your environment. Allowing the trapped air back out into the world cleanses the air inside. And the fans help to blow it all around, bring up settled dust so you can vacuum or dust it up.
It’s also a change to turn off your HVAC heating or cooling for an hour or two, let the system rest and clean out a little bit – saving energy and a little bit of money.
Houseplants are another great way to keep your home feeling fresh and clean. Many have air cleaning properties, they add a natural element to a home, and they are fun to tend to! While some houseplants like orchids or bonsai trees may require a ton of maintenance, some are simple and communicative! Below is a list of some of the simpler houseplants to maintain. Once you get the hold of these, you may be ready to upgrade to something with more personality.
Succulents are super trendy little desert plants. One reason they’re so trendy is that they require very little maintenance. Set them up in a nice little sunny spot and give them minimal water once a month or so. Succulents are desert plants meaning they don’t take much water. Jades are perhaps the most famous succulents, growing big thick trunks and plump little leaves. They also make great gifts!
The ZZ plant can tolerate low light and needs water once a week or so. It grows high straight branches ornate with little teardrop shaped waxy glossy leaves. It’s simple, easy to maintain, and a beautiful addition to any décor.
Pothos is a long, bright green vine plant that grows heart-shaped leaves of various sizes. They require direct sun, weekly watering, and frequent pruning. Don’t let this scare you off – pruning the pothos plant actually helps her grow bigger and better. Plus, clippings can be put into a jar of water until they sprout fresh roots and then replanted in new dirt. It’s a great holiday or housewarming gift! And finally, the pothos plant can purify the air of formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide while also helping to minimize odors. Like many millennials, pohtos plants can thrive on neglect!
And finally, the peace lily is a really easy houseplant to keep alive. When she’s not blooming, she features long, tropical bright green leaves that droop noticeably when she’s thirsty so she’s good at letting you know when she needs attention. And when she’s blooming, she features grand white elegant quite lilies.
One thing I didn’t quite realize until I was well into my late-twenties was that the things we use to clean, often need to be cleaned. So below is a list of things I do to keep my cleaning products clean:
At the end of each cleaning day, I put all brushes and sponges into a mixture of clean boiling water, distilled white vinegar, and some lemon juice. This kills any bacteria that my have taken up residence in the sponge or brush and gets them ready for their next time cleaning. I soak them for about a half hour, squeeze them out, hang them to dry, and put them away until next time.
While cleaning, I often put a pot on the stove with apple cider, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, rosemary, and lemon. This is an easy, simple, inexpensive all-natural air freshener.
Once a week I clean my kitchen garbage disposal by pouring in a half cup of baking soda followed by a cup of white vinegar, letting is sit for ten minutes, and then running the water and the machine. I finish by throwing in an ice cube of water, lemon and orange peels and running the machine for a few seconds. I keep a tray of them in the freezer for just this reason.
I put a glass bowl with two cups of vinegar and place it on the top rack of my dishwasher and run a hot cycle. This just keeps the machine clean and clear of food debris.
A Ziploc bag of white vinegar placed on the showerhead overnight will clean the piece and increase your water pressure and direction.
Maintaining a clean, healthy, and environmentally responsible home can also be an aromatherapeutic experience. Any of these oils can be added to some standard vinegar cleaning solutions to create the scent profile you desire in your home.
Tea tree oil and lemon oils create a clean and fresh soundscape. They can be combined to deodorize a fridge or shoe closet, wipe down the floors to create a sparkle. Rosemary is a great antiseptic with a deep herbal scent, it’s great for a load of laundry. Lavender is universally considered among the most relaxing scents – I recommend using it on your bedding and in your bedroom, this being the most zen space in the home. Once a year I combine eucalyptus and lavender oils to create a scrub for my mattress. It keeps my bed fresh and tidy all year long.
Because essential oils can stain some textiles, I advise always testing a small portion of a surface before applying oils to it. You won’t have any need for Febreze or other fabric and air refresher sprays if you keep a tidy home with natural cleaners and essential oils.
Vinegar is an amazing home-cleaning product that can be used in a million different ways to clean a million different things. It’s not as aggressive or abrasive as chemical cleaning products so it leaves some irritants from which you may benefit. Your immunity grows stronger with every irritant it encounters and defeats – eliminating all irritants from your home may actually weaken your immunity to irritants you encounter out in the world.
A simple mixture of white vinegar and water can be a great surface cleaner in the bathroom and kitchen – eliminating dirt, spills, and soap scum without corroding the surface or putting your health in danger. Adding lemon juice can turn this simple surface cleaner into a light disinfectant. Adding dish soap can make for a powerful textile cleaner.
You can also make vinegar scrubs for deeper cleaning needs. Add salt and borax to water and vinegar to create a paste that can do scrub-level work by just spreading it over a stained area and waiting a few minutes before wiping it back up. Baking soda is a mild abrasive that can combine with the acid of vinegar and unclog your sinks without fucking up your pipes.
Combining vinegar with olive oil can make a great wood polish.
I try to use as many non-toxic, natural, and plant-based cleaning products as I can. I don’t feel good dumping pollutants into the waterways just so that my home can sparkle. I don’t want to use self-scrubbing and foaming products just to avoid having to really use my body. I like when products smell nice, but not at the expense of health.
I set aside three hours every week (usually on Sundays) to smoke a j, turn on a record, and deep clean my apartment, myself, and all my things.
For scrubs, I use machine-washable towels, sponges, and brushes. I make all my own products and use glass packaging to avoid contributing to the unconscionable plastic consumption in this nation.
Some products to avoid are enumerated below:
Air Fresheners: artificial scents tend to be made from toxic chemicals that can irritate allergies and poison the water source. Many store-bought cleaning products have air fresheners built into them. Rather than scented cleansers, make your own cleaning products and deep clean – this should rectify any odor issues you may be having in your home.
Corrosive drain/toilet/oven cleaning products are terrible for the environment – they can chew right through your pipes, imagine what they can do to your skin before they enter the pipes and the waterways after they exit.
Bleaches and ammonias can cause some lung distress and skin irritation.