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Dog Lovers’ Tips for Safe, Effective Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning for me this year will be a very long process, thanks to the superfine particles of sheetrock, plaster, and paint that transformed my...

Julia Szabo  |  Apr 5th 2011


Spring cleaning for me this year will be a very long process, thanks to the superfine particles of sheetrock, plaster, and paint that transformed my living room into a dustbowl after part of my ceiling collapsed last week. In case you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what I’ve been doing to restore order in the house.

First, I plugged in an air purifier. Then, I did a massive dry sweep using a broom and dust pan to remove chunks of rubble. It’s amazing how far those shards of ceiling traveled, scattering superfine white dust in their wake. I’ve been sneezing for days! I was lucky that the weather was damp and rainy, a real blessing when dealing withthis much dust.

The humid, wet weather notwithstanding, I quickly discovered that shattered-ceiling dust acts like a highly efficientdessicant, sucking the moisture out of just abouteverything it touches, including your skin. So I made sure to keep moisturizing my hands with OrganixSouth’ssuper-emollient Neem Cream.

Finally, once the dry clean was done,it was time for the wet clean. I mixed batches of super-hot water – my tap runs 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but if it didn’t, I’d boil the water on the stove top – with essential oil of lavender.

Lavender oil is one of my favorite homekeeping items. Its most obvious use is to provide an aromatherapeutic lift, especially at bed time. I’ve found that sniffinglavender oil immediately beforewe hit the sack is a pretty good guarantee that my dogs and I won’t have bad dreams.

But lavender also happens to be antibacterial and totally safe to use around animals, so I use it for general all-purpose cleaning in my animal house.Most household cleaners make my dogs and cats sneeze – that’s how powerfully scented they are. But lavender oil keeps all of us happy. It’s especially great for cleaning carriers used to transport cats and small dogs, because the soothing scent helps keeps the enclosed animal(s) calm on a long, bumpy road trip.

Essential oil of lavender is very expensive, but it’s also very potent, so happilya few drops go a long way. Mixed with the hottest water you can handle, lavender oilis the bestweapon in the war againsta mess like the one that redecoratedmy living room.

I got to work, and I’m pleased to report that the dust on the floor actually beaded up, magnetically attracted to the oily hot water. This madethemessreally easy to wipe up, and helped condition the wood floors in the process; this was important for my animals, as dry floors produce splinters, which is not something any of us wants to step in.

I worked in small, two-by-two-foot sections, so as not to stir up more dust than necessary. Naturally, the painstaking process of mopping the floor slowly and carefullywould’ve seriouslyfrazzled my nerves after a while – but it didn’t because the delightful scent of lavender was so calming!

When I was done and the floors were dry, the entire room smelled really fresh and lovely. And that lingering scent will, I hope,help keep my dogs and cats calm. The atmospheric lift seems to be working: None of the catshas gone into long-term hiding. And, true to form, Lady Bug the Chihuahua remains cucumber-cool and unfazed.Amazing animal.

Here’s another way lavender oil can help keep your rooms smelling fresh. It’s about time to clean the air conditioner filters so they’re ready for the warm weather that – hopefully – is just around the corner. I like to sprinkle a few drops of straight lavender oil right on the newly cleaned filter, so that while the machine works to cool the air, the scent of Southern France is wafted through my rooms. Of course, any essential oil is lovely for this application, including patchouli and neroli. Pick your favorite, and dab it on those clean air conditioner filters.

Do you have any tips for spring cleaning? Please share them in the comments!