“It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.”
– Dave Barry

Every year, around this time, I find myself blogging about “procrastination” and its dangers, as well as observations from tax season thus far.

But this year is different.

I’m writing this blog on Tuesday morning, and the other night the House of Representatives approved the Senate version of Health Care Reform…and it will soon be law. It’s been a drawn-out fight, and it hasn’t been very pretty–but all of us will now have to adjust to these laws. Keep it here (so to speak), and over the next few weeks and months, we’ll deliver insight as to what this means for YOU, your family, and your job. 

All of the details aren’t yet completely clear, but as they become so, we’ll walk alongside you to ensure you’re informed…and that our clients take the most advantageous tax position possible in this new landscape. One thing *is* clear: the IRS will have even more power than before, as many of the proposed regulations are tied into the tax code.

Again…we’ll stay on top of this, so you don’t have to. It’s part of the service we provide our clients and our community through these weekly blogs.

But given the fact that this legislation has been so exhausting to follow…how about we take a little break from it, shall we? Instead, in this week’s Strategy Note, I’m shifting gears significantly and offering some advice for the yearly ritual which we come to at this time (besides taxes)…this advice is adapted and collated from a variety of resources–I’m a tax expert, after all, not always a cleaning expert!

“Real World” Personal Strategy
Avoiding Dangerous Spring Cleaning!
Many parts of the country (including around here!) are already warming up to spring…and that means spring cleaning. 

But have you ever considered what you’re using to clean your home, and if it’s really safe for your family? The problem with cleaning products is that there is very little regulation and virtually no labeling requirements.

“A lot of cleaning products contain toxic ingredients that aren’t properly regulated, disclosed, or in some cases even tested,” said Sara Mohs, co-founder of simplyneutral, a company that promotes sustainable living through non-toxic cleaners.

In fact, most household cleaners are produced using a petroleum-based formula. That’s right, petroleum! In addition, they typically include chemicals, fragrances, and dyes that can be irritating to your eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. 

So,  here’s a list of natural alternatives that work great and are probably already in your pantry: 

Baking soda – We all know that baking soda absorbs odors, especially in refrigerators, but did you know it’s also a simple and effective cleaner? Just mix baking soda with warm water for an inexpensive cleaner comparable to commercial “abrasive” cleaners. 

Vinegar –
White vinegar is actually a deodorizer and a disinfectant…making it a great all-purpose cleaner. Avoid using vinegar solutions on marble or grout, but it’s perfect for all of the other surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom.

Lemon juice – Use lemon juice on hard-water stains, soap scum, even rust stains in the shower, tub, and toilet. Mix lemon juice with salt to remove stubborn stains from coffee pots. Or you can mix lemon juice with baking soda for a softer, paste-like cleaning solution. Add a little to olive oil for an effective wood polish. Blend it with water to make a potent air freshener.

Cornstarch – Cornstarch makes an effective glass and surface cleaner. Plus, you can combine 2 tbsp of cornstarch with 3/4 cup of baking soda for an inexpensive carpet freshener.

Borax – Also known as sodium borate, borax is best known as a hard-water laundry soap, but it also cleans wallpaper, painted walls, and other painted surfaces.

I hope this helps.