Thursday, March 29, 2007

Environmentally Friendly Home Spring Cleaning

(ARA) - With spring just around the corner, warmer temperatures remind us of the annual rite of spring cleaning. It invites open windows to freshen the air, picking up winter debris strewn through the yard, and cleaning house.

In your yearly haul out, you will probably find a collection of refuse, from unused medications and old clothes to left-over paint and dead batteries.

While out of sight typically means out of mind, it’s important to keep in mind how what you throw away affects the environment -- and specifically, the water supply.

Properly disposing of these common refuse items is important if we want to protect our watersheds. What is a watershed? It’s the land area over which water flows to reach a river, lake or reservoir and drinking water for your community is drawn from these sources. Any pollution or contamination introduced into the watershed area ultimately affects the quality of the drinking water supply, so it’s important to protect these areas.

Founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation, NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization that educates the public about food and water safety, offers the following suggestions to help get your home ready for this spring while protecting the water supply.

Start in the Kitchen

When cleaning the kitchen, start in the main food preparation area and work your way outward into the rest of the room from the top down, so that you don’t track dirt and germs back into your main food handling areas.

Wipe cabinets, appliances and walls with a hot water and vinegar solution. It’s a great way to freshen the whole room and helps neutralize odors, remove dirt and dissolve grease. And because it’s not a harsh chemical, it’s easier on hands, there are no harsh vapors and it’s safe to pour down the drain.

Surfaces such as counters and sinks that may be used for food preparation activities should first be cleaned with a mild detergent and water, then disinfected, either with a bleach based solution (1 cap of household bleach to a gallon of hot water) or other disinfecting agent as recommended by the countertop manufacturer.

While cleaning the kitchen, don’t forget to check the cupboards, pantry, refrigerator and freezer for expired foods. Discard any that are beyond the posted “use by” dates. If you aren’t sure how long it’s safe to keep foods in the freezer, check out the “NSF Food Storage Kit” (www.nsf.org/consumer/newsroom/kit_food_safety_storage.asp) for recommended guidelines.

While cleaning the kitchen, it’s a good time to check to see if your water filter is due to be replaced. If you don’t use a water filter but are interested in purchasing one, NSF provides online information about them in the drinking water section of their Web site. Included is information you can use to make sure the product meets structural integrity requirements; that the product doesn’t introduce harmful contaminants into the water being filtered; and that the product reduces the contaminants claimed by the manufacturer.

Tips for Bathroom

Just like in the kitchen, start the cleaning process at the top, working your way down and around the room, ending at the toilet. Baking soda is another environmentally friendly product that can be used for tough to clean areas that you don’t want to scratch, such as bathtubs.

Since a great deal of water can be lost due to a leaky toilet, find out if yours is leaking by putting a few drops of food coloring in the fresh water tank behind the toilet. Wait about 15 minutes, then check to see if any of the colored water has seeped into the toilet bowl. If you notice colored water in the bowl, a seal or other component in the toilet is leaking and should be repaired.

While in the bathroom, check the medicine cabinet and drawers for old or expired dietary supplements, prescriptions and other medicines. Don’t flush unused medicines down the toilet, as they may enter the watershed and adversely affect water supplies. Contact your local pharmacist or local waste hauling provider for instructions on disposing of unused medicines and related items.

Basement/Garage

When cleaning the garage and basement, check for old paints, lawn care products and other chemicals. If they are no longer usable, contact your community or waste hauling provider for instructions on proper disposal.

Never dispose of potentially hazardous products with regular trash, or by pouring them down the drain or into sewers or ditches. Check with your community to see if they sponsor events where hazardous wastes and other household items can be dropped off for disposal or recycling.

Update Your Emergency Kit

Spring is also a good time to take a look at the supplies in your emergency kit to see what needs to be replaced. Refresh your emergency water supply and replace any canned or prepackaged foods. Don’t forget to replace batteries in flashlights, radios and other battery-operated equipment.

If you don’t have an emergency kit, it is simple to create one by locating a portable, waterproof container. Fill it with two to three days of supplies your family would need to survive in the event of an emergency. An extra set of clothes for each family member as well as a supply of drinking water and nonperishable foods should be included.

The NSF Consumer Affairs Office offers a series of fact sheets containing tips to help make your home safer. These kits are available online at www.nsfconsumer.org or by calling the NSF consumer hotline at (800) 673-8010. You can also e-mail questions or requests kits by sending an e-mail to info@nsf.org.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

1 comment:

geeurbie said...

Since you mentioned Eco friendly cleaning... May I suggest"baking Soda"... I am doing a series on it at my blog at http://www.yourfreshstart.us/news.php... I welcome you to visit