Have a happy, healthy, clean New Year

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to have a cleaner (and maybe even greener) home and office, here's a good place to start.
Written by Denise Amrich, Contributor

Have you been thinking about your New Year's resolutions yet? I know I have. I want to make the first few weeks of January about the old adage, "Out with the old, in with the new."

This means I plan to donate stuff I no longer need, and take better care of the things I do have. I have a feeling this is a pretty common New Year's resolution.

A dust-free, clutter-free home is a healthy home. A clean and tidy office is a productive office. But some of the most common ingredients found in household cleaners are not very good for you!

I'm probably not going to go out and buy a whole bunch of new housecleaning products all at once. But when I run out of the ones currently in my cleaning tray, I'll be purchasing greener products that are better for my family's health, as well as the environment.

Research on this topic has led to a number of fun resources on the Internet, including ZDNet's sister site SmartPlanet. I also really like The Eco-Friendly Family. You'll have a blast poking around the site, learning all sorts of healthy tips.

For a jump-start on a clean New Year, be sure to check out the article entitled Cleaners: Ingredients to avoid. The article contains not only information about what ingredients to avoid, but also suggestions for what to use in their place.

I was happy to see that rubbing alcohol wasn't on the list (although it is considered a toxin and should be stored away from children) because I have a favorite use for those prepackaged alcohol preps you can buy in the drugstore. We nurses use them all the time at work. Anyhow, I like them for cleaning my mouse and keyboard. For some reason, I'm obsessed with computer input devices and the muck that seems to gather on them.

Whether it's my husband's mouse or his keyboard, there always seems to be some "shmutz" all over them. If anyone has been snacking anywhere near the mouse, the strange-textured material it's made of seems to be a magnet for leftover crumbs, grease, or residue. This goes double for videogame controllers.

See Also: Do you share your videogame controller?

In terms of guidelines on cleaning electronics with alcohol, most people will recommend 90% or greater concentration of isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs or pads.

However, I prefer the alcohol preps because they're convenient and lint free (not to mention cheap, and ubiquitous in the clinical environment). Different brands vary in texture and quality, so you may want to try a few before you settle on a favorite. They're usually a little stiff so you can clean inside small cracks and seams easily with their corners.

I wouldn't use them on my expensive iPad, but I haven't had any ill effects on my keyboards and mice, and I've been cleaning them with preps for years. You might find yourself tackling all kinds of small cleaning jobs with them.

What are your New Year's resolutions this year? Share in the TalkBacks below.

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