Thursday, January 7, 2010

Safe, Frugal Cleaning

Confession time: I'm one of those crunchy organic types.

I won't do chemicals at all if I can help it; I garden organically and get most of my food from farmers' markets and other sources where I can trust it to be all-natural. I'd been doing this for years when suddenly it dawned on me, "Why am I still spraying my kitchen counter with Windex?"

So I began investigating less poisonous ways to clean. Surprise, surprise - it's actually much CHEAPER, not to mention better for your health, to clean with common kitchen ingredients! These ingredients I use do a much better job and I don't have to worry about poisonous residues, plus I have more money left over to spend on food and wine. Win all around! Here's what I use...

Baking Soda
You can use ordinary baking soda in place of abrasive cleaners like Comet or Ajax. It works on toilets, bathtubs, sinks, what-have-you. With a common scrub brush, it will even get most stains out of a porcelain sink.

It will soak up greasy spills and absorb odors - we always add a sprinkling of baking soda to the litterbox when we clean it out. You can also sprinkle it around the carpets before you vaccuum, and add it to stinky trashcans, ashtrays, and laundry hampers.

Baking soda can also make a silver polish for your finer occasions. Just mix up 3 parts soda to 1 part water and use that paste for cleaning. Oh happy day, no nasty silver-polish smell!

Plain White Vinegar
To replace the common spray cleaner, go to the dollar store and get yourself an empty spray bottle. Wash it out, and then fill it with a solution made of equal parts water, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. This will clean your mirrors, windows, and other glass surfaces with no streaking or residue.

I also clean the kitchen counters with this same solution after cooking, and I use it for cleaning out the refrigerator, cleaning the tabletops, etc. Basically anything you'd use a spray cleaner on, this solution is for it.

A cheap, easy solution for mopping the floors: 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon hot water. However, this will leave a bit of a vinegary smell for a few hours - not bothersome in the long run, but I have a new answer to mopping which I will get into in a minute.

A quick spritz of vinegar will prevent mildew in the shower and on the shower curtain.

Steam Wand
Okay, it's not a chemical. But my mom sent me one of these for a holiday gift and I'm in love with it. You load it with water - that's it, just water - and it steams your floors beautifully clean and shiny! It works on carpet (or so I hear), but in our house we have a combination of tile, hardwood, and wood-style laminate. This wand worked on all surfaces, even the laminate, which usually just looks spotty and gross after a go with the regular mop because it doesn't dry evenly. These things are definitely worth the investment.

A final tip: Baking soda and vinegar are even cheaper if you buy them in bulk. Look for a co-op, or a bulk store that sells huge multigallon jugs of vinegar and baking soda by the pound. This is one of those happy times when you can save a lot of money by going eco-friendly!

1 comment:

  1. I like this post and as a gal who doesn't cook much (and has a dusty home), I humbly request more cleaning tips!