Spring Cleaning Never Too Late
by Dr. Christina Bjorndal, ND
Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic
200-6650 177th St NW
As the temperatures start to warm up and the snow begins to disappear, and as the
hours of daylight extend, that feeling of spring starts to arise. The return of spring often
brings a sense of new beginnings, new growth, or a fresh start. For many, this also
means a time for spring-cleaning: the undertaking of cleaning one’s living space.
Spring cleaning. Did you just cringe? If not, I imagine that you didn’t jump for joy either.
Spring cleaning is often not a desired activity, though most can agree that once it’s
done, you do feel satisfied.
Here are several tips to help with your spring cleaning.
Limit or remove some of the pressure in feeling that you need to do it all at once,
and take it step by step. Start with one room at a time, or one category at a time (ex.
clothes, photos, books, pantry items) or divide up the work over several weekends or
throughout the week.
Enlist the help of others! If you live with other people, encourage them to help out in
some way. Also, make it more fun by putting on some music (and maybe even take a
few minutes for a dance party!).
Do your best to keep up with regular cleaning during the rest of the year, so that it is
less overwhelming and not just a yearly event.
When going through your possessions, it can be helpful to determine what you use on
a regular basis and what you don’t, and whether or not those items are serving you or
“sparking joy” (as discussed in a helpful resource called The Life-Changing Magic of
Tidying Up by Marie Kondo). Also, keep in mind that there are other categories besides
“throw away” when going through your possessions. See if you can reuse or repurpose,
recycle, or donate items before throwing them in the garbage.
Clean Up Your Cleaning Products
Did you know that our indoor environment is two to five times more toxic than our
outdoor environment? Even the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that nearly
3% of the global burden of disease is attributed to indoor air pollution. Also, we can
spend as much as 90% of our time indoors. There are many possible sources of
pollutants found inside the home, including dust (which is a reservoir for chemicals in
the home) and even the products we use to clean our homes!
Most conventional cleaning products contain chemicals that can affect our health, so
before you begin cleaning, start by removing those cleaning products that can increase
your overall exposure and body burden of harmful chemicals.
What to look for and avoid in your cleaning products:
|Triclosan||Dish soaps, disinfectants, numerous other household
products. Look for triclosan listed as an “active
ingredient” in many antibacterial products.|
|Formaldehyde||Floor polishes, scouring cleansers, disinfectants,
liquid cleansers, laundry aids, air fresheners, carpet
cleaners (as well as numerous other household items
and furniture, personal-care products, wrinkle-free
|Quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats”||Bathroom-cleaning products, all-purpose cleaners,
fabric softeners, degreasers.|
|Ammonia||Window cleaners, drain cleaners, toilet cleaners,
bathroom cleaners, oven cleaners, car polish,
stainless-steel cleaners, all-purpose cleaners.|
(2‑BE, also known as butyl
cellosolve)||Glass cleaners, laundry-stain removers, carpet
cleaners, automobile cleaners, windshield-wiper fluid,
degreasers, oven cleaners, rust removers.|
|Parabens||Various cleaning products (and most cosmetics/
|Phthalates||Various fragranced cleaning products, including air
fresheners, dish soap, even toilet paper (and most
|Sodium laurylsulfate (SLS) and
sodium laurethsulfate (SLES)||Dish soap, liquid laundry detergents, cleaning
towelettes, toilet-bowl cleaners (also in cosmetics or
products that form “suds”).|
|Fragrance or perfume
(catch-all terms for masking
potentially harmful chemicals)||Most types of cleaning products|
DEA (diethanolamine), TEA
(triethanolamine)||Floor cleaners, car-wash products, degreasers, liquid
laundry detergents, dish soap, oven cleaners, glass
and surface cleaners.|
|Coal tar dyes||Most types of cleaning products.|
|Phosphates||Dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents,
(NPEs)||Stain removers, all-purpose cleaners, air fresheners,
liquid laundry detergents, degreasers, toilet-bowl
cleaners, car-wash products.|
|Silica powder||Abrasive cleaning powders.|
dihydrate||Toilet-bowl cleaners, surface cleaners, disinfectants,
|Sodium hydroxide (also known
as lye and caustic soda)||Oven cleaners, bathroom cleaners, drain openers,
toilet-bowl cleaners, disinfectants.|
|Trisodium nitrilotriacetate||Bathroom cleaners, some laundry detergents (more
common in industrial formulations).|
For more information on these chemicals (what they are and how they are harmful),
check out the David Suzuki Foundation’s article at http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/
You really don’t need that whole collection of cleaning products meant for cleaning
various parts of your home like your windows, bathroom, toilet, floors, kitchen counters,
and so forth. You can use a few DIY multipurpose products to get the job done! See
below for a simple citrus-vinegar cleaner recipe.
For more DIY nontoxic home cleaning recipes, check out Meghan Telpner’s article
at http://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/10-non-toxic-home-cleaning-recipes/ and
David Suzuki Foundation’s resource at http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/
For more information on “greener cleaners” that you can purchase, check out
Environmental Working Group’s website at http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
Don’t Forget Your Internal Environment!
Spring cleaning need not apply only to the home or external environment. It can also
apply to your internal environment, including your thoughts.
Reflect upon the various areas of your life—relationships, work, friendships, personal
life—and examine any area that may be weighing you down. Notice your thoughts
about those particular areas, and what physical response you have to those thoughts
(ex. sadness, anxiety, frustration, etc.). Our thoughts create feelings or emotions, which
then can lead to actions and behaviours. When we can start to interrupt those unhelpful,
negative and self-defeating thought–feeling–action cycles with tools like breathing, we
can start to begin to challenge those thoughts and redirect our thoughts to a more
neutral place, or to thoughts that feel better and thoughts that reflect more positive
truths (such as “I did the best I could,” or “I am enough”).
The simple act of breathing is cleansing, where oxygen is brought into the lungs during
inhalation and carbon dioxide is released during exhalation. Throughout your day, pause
and take a few deep breaths. To help focus on your breathing, inhale to the count of
five, pause, and exhale to the count of five; then repeat.
DIY Citrus Vinegar Cleaner Recipe
(from In Sonnet’s Kitchen)
Use this as a cleaner for windows, glass, counters and mopping floors.
Ingredients and Supplies
- Citrus peels (ex. lemons, oranges, limes)
- Glass jar
- White vinegar
- Spray bottle
- Cut the peel off of the citrus fruit, and place in the glass jar.
- Cover with vinegar and allow to sit, for up to two weeks.
- Remove the peels and dilute vinegar 1:1 with water.
- Pour into spray bottle.
You can also mix the vinegar/water mixture with a small amount of castile soap (ex.
Dr. Bronner’s soap) or baking soda for more cleaning power.
In a time pinch? Skip the citrus peels and two week wait time. Just dilute the vinegar
1:1 with water and you’re ready to go!
Bio: Christina Bjorndal, B.Comm, ND, graduated from UBC in 1990 with Bachelor of Commerce Degree with honours. She was Valedictorian of her graduated class. She completed her Doctorate in naturopathic medicine from CCNM in 2005. She is one of the only licensed NDs in Canada with an expertise in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, ADD/ADHD, OCD and schizoaffective disorders. Having overcome many challenges in the sphere of mental health, Dr. Chris is especially exceptional about sharing her motivational speeches about how to overcome barriers in life and to encourage others to achieve their full potential. She is currently completing a book on mental health. www.drchrisbjorndal.com