The Ecology Works' 30-Day Home-Care Challenge
You have enough face masks and bath bombs; it’s time for a home-care makeover! Thankfully, a happier, healthier home doesn’t always require a major renovation or an intense cleaning regimen. Instead, the key to achieving your best home with less stress is working small tasks into your daily routine, and our 30-Day Home-Care Challenge is here to help you get started. Won’t you join us?
Make this your new mantra: "Home-care is self-care."
DAY 1: Clean Out Your Junk Drawer
Cleaning and organizing your entire home is a daunting task. But one drawer? You’ve got this! Start by emptying it, and then take inventory – being honest about each item’s value. Donate, recycle, or throw out things that are no longer useful. Then, vacuum the inside of the drawer, and spray and wipe Vital Oxide to clean. Finally, reorganize your drawer. Rinse and repeat as needed.
DAY 2: Grab A Laundry Basket, Fill it With Donation Items
Spring cleaning is long behind us, and clutter has started to accumulate in all of our homes once again. Thankfully, clutter is an easy fix! Grab a laundry basket (don’t be shy, grab the big one), and go through your home, room-by-room, and select items to donate or give away. Need some inspiration? Start with a toy your child hasn’t picked up in months or a lamp that just doesn’t “spark joy.”
DAY 3: Get Your Chores Done Faster
Keeping a caddy stocked with your go-to all-purpose cleaner (Vital Oxide, of course) and favorite cleaning tools (like microfiber cleaning cloths, a small scrub brush, and a handheld broom and dustpan) can help make easy work of cleaning up in an instant. Keep your cleaning caddy somewhere you can easily reach it, like under the kitchen sink or in the hallway closet.
DAY 4: Deep Clean Your Bathtub
In today’s hectic world, there’s nothing quite like slowing down to take a long, leisurely soak in a hot bath to soothe away the stresses of the day – unless, that is, the condition of your bathtub is what’s stressing you out! Bathtubs are notorious magnets for soap scum, mold, mildew, dirt, and grime – and when you bathe in a visibly dirty bathtub, it won’t feel like you’re genuinely getting clean, despite all the soap and hot water you’re using.
Luckily, Vital Oxide is effective against bacteria, mold, mildew, and grime; oh my! Start by spraying tiled walls with Vital Oxide and turning on the hot water for five minutes until steam builds. Wait a few minutes, and then wipe tiles clean with a microfiber cloth. Next, scrub grout lines with a brush and tackle any stubborn grout stains with Vital Oxide. Next, spray the interior of your tub with Vital Oxide, and then let it sit for a few minutes. Next, scrub the tub with a scrub brush or gently wipe with a microfiber cloth or sponge (depending on the type of tub you have), working from top to bottom. Finally, rinse thoroughly with hot water to send any loosened grime down the drain.
Finish up by wiping down the walls and the tub interior with a microfiber cloth to polish and remove any lingering water. Voilà! Your bathtub is squeaky clean. Now, grab a bath bomb out of your stash and enjoy a nice relaxing soak. You deserve it!
DAY 5: Clean Air Vents
Breathe easier by cleaning your air vents. Start with the covers: While they’re screwed in place, use your vacuum’s crevice tool to remove any heavy dust or debris. Next, unscrew the covers. Soak them in a sink with warm, soapy water. Dry off the covers and reinstall.
DAY 6: Make the Most of Your Space
Whether you live in a five-bedroom house or studio apartment, we could all get a little bit more out of our space. Consider adding a new bookshelf to your living room, floating shelves in the bathroom, or invest in some pretty storage baskets for your home office. The possibilities are endless!
DAY 7: Deep Clean Your Area Rugs
Keep your area rugs looking their best (and remove the dirt and grime that creep up underneath them) with a good cleaning. Since rugs are made of different materials requiring specific care, always read the care label before cleaning. For many rugs, you can start by vacuuming them thoroughly with a HEPA vacuum; reversible rugs should be vacuumed on both sides. Use a stiff brush to remove any pet hair, brushing in the direction of the rug’s nap. To clean underneath, roll up the rug and move it out of the way. Next, vacuum the rug pad and roll it up too. Then sweep the floor to clear away pet hair, dirt, and other debris. Mop the floors underneath with a solution of one part Vital Oxide to nine parts water to get any remaining dust and let dry. Then roll everything back into place. Is your rug still smelling funky after cleaning? Liberally mist it with Vital Oxide and let air dry to deodorize.
DAY 8: Give Your Living Room a Facelift
We’ve all spent a record amount of time in our living rooms over this past year. So freshen up your space with a new splash of color, some new throw pillows, or a new plant – the Parlor Palm is a very cool house plant that's easy to grow and relatively low maintenance.
DAY 9: Let Your Green Thumb Thrive
We may be at the height of the gardening season, but this task doesn’t require you to go outside! Adding a windowsill herb garden is a major home upgrade with minimal effort. Enjoy fresh herbs in a salad, pasta dish, or fancy cocktail.
DAY 10: Refresh Your Curtains
Always check care labels first for recommended curtain-cleaning instructions. Unlined curtains can usually be machine-washed; lined drapes typically need to be dry-cleaned if they contain stains or odors. For washable curtains, wash with an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent to remove dust, grime and neutralize lingering allergens like dust mite allergens and pet dander. Always avoid high heat when washing curtains, remove from the dryer while slightly damp, then iron or steam out wrinkles.
Dust-lined drapes can be sprayed with an Anti-Allergen Solution and tossed into the dryer on an air-only/fluff cycle with a few wool dryer balls for a quick refresh. Clean curtain rods and other hardware before rehanging curtains.
DAY 11: Let Some Fresh Air In
We hear about smog and pollution, smoke warnings, and more about poor outdoor air quality. But did you know there’s such a thing as indoor air quality – known as IAQ in environmental studies? Not only is it a real thing, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that poor air quality inside of your home or workplace is one of the top five environmental health concerns and can have significant health impacts even years after exposure. Yikes! Many things play a role in the quality of your home’s IAQ, from mold and mildew, tobacco smoke, and pet dander to harsh chemical cleaning products and air fresheners, even household stoves, heaters, and fireplaces. Evidence suggests that lack of proper ventilation and poor IAQ can cause sensory irritation, invokes subtle effects on the central and peripheral nervous system, triggers respiratory disease, asthma, and allergies, and has other nasty effects.
Sobered by that knowledge, you might be inclined never to close the windows again, but even a little bit of fresh air does a world of good. How, then, to keep your IAQ A-OK? Opening your windows for just a few minutes – ideally 15 to 20 minutes – each day to let fresh air in significantly improves indoor air quality. So today, open up your (freshly cleaned!) curtains aside and soak up that natural light, and open the windows in every room in your home to let some fresh air inside. Try to get in the habit of opening up your windows for a few minutes each day.
DAY 12: Tackle the Kitchen
Your kitchen is probably the busiest (and the messiest) room in your home. So, freshen up your kitchen by cleaning out the refrigerator, organizing your pantry, or decluttering your cupboards today.
Related: Spring Cleaning: The Kitchen Edition
DAY 13: Clean Your Dishwasher Filter
A clean dishwasher filter ensures spotless dishes while decreasing the chances of a breakdown. Machines with manual filters, as opposed to self-cleaning filters or hard food disposers, can usually be cleaned by hand. These are typically positioned under the bottom dish rack, and the filter will twist out in the direction indicated on the machine. Once you remove it (and get over how gross it is), take it to your sink and then use a soft scrub brush and hot water to clean it. Once you’ve removed all the caked-on gunk, spray it with Vital Oxide (full-strength) to sanitize. Let it dry before re-installing it.
DAY 14: Plant These, Help Save the Bees
Bees need plants and flowers to survive. Spend a day in your garden and plant some of their favorites to help them thrive. Live in an apartment? Plant some flowers in a pot on your patio! Some bee-friendly plants include lavender, chives, sunflower, borage, mint, oregano, rosemary, and wildflowers.
DAY 15: Give A Handmade Gift
You’re halfway through the 30-day Home-Care Challenge! Take a breather today and do something nice for a loved one. Make a friend a loaf of fresh sourdough bread, some refreshing mint simple syrup, or a bunch of fresh herbs from your garden.
DAY 16: Wash Your Pillows
Clean your bed pillows to keep them fluffy and free of allergens. First, read care labels to ensure they don't require special attention, such as dry-cleaning only. Most down and synthetic pillows can be machine-washed. Be sure to use an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent to kill dust mites. Run an extra spin cycle if needed to squeeze out excess water. Toss in the dryer and put on low heat. Make sure they're completely dry before placing them back on your bed.
Related: Spring Cleaning: The Pillow Guide
Day 17: Dust Ceiling Fans
We heard your exasperated sigh, but this cleaning hack will have your fans cleaner quicker than you can say, “Another one bites the dust.” Here it goes: Grab an old pillowcase and spray it liberally with Vital Oxide. Slip the pillowcase onto one of the fan’s blades and wipe, trapping the grime inside the case. Repeat with the other blades. This simple cleaning technique stops dust from falling onto the furniture or floor as you clean.
Day 18: Freshen Up Your Bedroom
If your bedroom is feeling a bit tired, give it a little makeover. Start by doing something simple like rearranging your furniture. If that doesn’t do the trick, try adding an accent wall, updating your bedding, or use some things you already have around your home to give your bedroom a whole new look.
DAY 19: Wash Your Washing Machine
Did you know? It's essential to give your washing machine monthly attention to prevent bacteria buildup and funky odors that can transfer to your clothes. For both front- and top-loading machines, run the self-clean setting following the manufacturer's directions, along with 1 cup of Vital Oxide instead of detergent. After the cycle, use a damp microfiber cloth dipped in Vital Oxide to wipe down the inside of the machine. After cleaning the basin, spray the gaskets, dispensers, and exterior of the machine with a Vital Oxide. Wipe everything down with a clean cloth.
DAY 20: Clean Baseboards (Yes, All Of Them!)
To clean painted baseboards, use your vacuum's brush attachment to remove dirt and dust. Follow up with the vacuum's crevice tool to clean between the baseboard and the floor. Combine one part Vital Oxide with nine parts warm water in a bucket. Dunk a microfiber cloth into the bucket, wring it out, and use it to scrub the stains and scuffs. Dampen a cotton swab and use it to clean out grooves in the trim and the top. Stand back and marvel at your work.
DAY 21: Clean Pet Beds & Toys
If your beloved pet has a favorite bed, it likely gets a little funky from time to time. First, wash your pet’s bed with your favorite fragrance-free Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent along with 1 cup of Vital Oxide to sanitize. Next, grab your pet’s stuffed toys and repeat the process in a separate load. Finally, keep the germ-load down on rubber chew toys by washing them in soapy hot water and then spraying them with Vital Oxide to sanitize. Unlike conventional cleaners, Vital Oxide is gentle enough to use on food-contact surfaces (and chew toys!) and is free from harsh chemicals and harmful residues.
For bonus points, bathe your four-legged friend today while their bed is in the washer.
DAY 22: Scrub Kitchen Countertops
Sure, you clean your countertops daily, but when was the last time you really scrubbed them? Today’s the day! Start by removing small appliances, decorations, and anything else resting on your countertops. Next, grab your bottle of Vital Oxide, a few microfiber cloths, a small scrub brush, and a few cotton swabs. Spray Vital Oxide and wipe the counter, and backsplash with a microfiber cloth. Use your scrub brush to scour any stubborn gunk or stains. Finally, dip a cotton swab in Vital Oxide and use it to get into the crevice between the counter and the backsplash. Unlike conventional cleaners that can etch the surface of your countertops, Vital Oxide is safe for use on marble, granite, and natural stone.
DAY 23: Dust Your House Plants
For smaller plants, simply put them in the shower and gently rinse the leaves with lukewarm water to remove dust. For larger plants, use a dry microfiber cloth or a duster to dust the plant’s leaves. It’s simple to do: Just gently wipe the leaves individually with a soft microfiber cloth, and for a larger plant, use a duster. Unfortunately, some plants have sticky or fuzzy leaves that just don’t lend themselves to easy cleaning. And in the case of plants such as African violets that don’t like getting their leaves wet, neither spraying nor wiping is the answer. For fuzzy-leaved plants, use a soft brush (such as a mushroom brush) to coax the dust from the leaves very gently.
As a general practice, aim to dust your plants whenever you dust other areas of your home.
DAY 24: Reorganize Your Bookshelf
Take some time today to clean and organize your personal library space. Start by removing all of the books from the shelf and wiping them with a microfiber cloth that is very lightly dampened with Vital Oxide to remove dust build-up. Next, use a HEPA vacuum and thoroughly vacuum the shelves, then wipe down with Vital Oxide and allow the shelves to air dry. While your shelf is drying, consider a new creative way to organize your books for a new look. For example, you could try the library system method – alphabetizing by the author’s last name, followed by alphabetizing each title of that author’s – or an Instagram aesthetic method (try searching #Bookstagram for inspiration), which usually involves organizing books by color or size.
DAY 25: Try Three Sustainable Swaps
Making your home more sustainable can be as easy as a few eco-friendly replacements. For instance, try swapping plastic cling wrap for beeswax wraps, dryer sheets for wool dryer balls, and harsh chemical laundry detergent for our 100% biodegradable plant and mineral-based laundry detergent.
DAY 26: Organize Your Medicine Cabinet
This task shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and will leave you wondering why you waited so long! Start by taking everything out and checking expiration dates and products you no longer use. Be sure to spray and wipe everything clean with Vital Oxide before reorganizing.
DAY 27: Deep-Clean Under Beds & Couches
Throw on some old clothes and your favorite cleaning playlist. Today you’re going to clean out dirt, dust bunnies, pet hair, and debris lurking under the beds and couches. Start by pulling everything out from underneath; grab a yardstick or broomstick to push out anything out of reach. Set aside anything that needs to be cleaned, stored elsewhere, or donated, and toss any trash. Vacuum out any dust with an extension wand and upholstery cleaner attachment, making sure to reach under the mattress (between the supports and baseboards) or couch cushions – a crevice tool works great for those areas. If you have hardwood or tile floors, run a flathead mop over the surface. Use a microfiber cloth and Vital Oxide to dust off boxes or other items that need to be stored under beds before putting them back in place.
DAY 28: Remove Window Grime
Use a stiff-bristled brush to loosen dirt and cobwebs that have collected around your windows. Vacuum up the debris and wipe the tracks, frames, and glass down with a solution of one part Vital Oxide to nine parts water (or use full-strength if you prefer) to remove any stubborn dirt.
DAY 29: Check All Of Your Home’s Safety Devices
You made it to day 29! Today’s the perfect day to check all of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. As a general rule of thumb, these devices should be checked at least twice a year – it’s a good idea to set a reminder on your phone, so you don’t forget. If you test your detector and it’s no longer working even with fresh batteries, replace it immediately.
DAY 30: Share An Evening With Friends
That’s it! You’re done! You’ve worked hard all month to make your best home, and now it’s time to sit back and appreciate it. Enjoy a home-cooked meal with family, or have some friends over for a happy hour. Remember, the “perfect” home is a place of comfort and warmth where you can relax and recharge with your loved ones.
To help stay on track with cleaning tasks, consider creating a cleaning checklist; check out Porch's cleaning checklist for a great example. Happy cleaning!Have questions about cleaning or reducing harsh chemicals in your home? We have answers! The Ecology Works has been leading the way in green cleaning since 1993. We can help you select the products you need to live a better, allergen-free life. Please feel free to Contact Us or message us on Facebook. No question is too small! We're here to help.