We keep our cleaning products under our sink, as I am sure many of you do. When my first child was born, that area was PACKED. It seems like we had a special cleaner for every job in the house – wood cleaner, countertop cleaner, sink cleaner, window cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, bathroom cleaner, floor cleaner . . . plus some more I can’t remember. This doesn’t include all the laundry products we had, which included special detergents and fabric softeners.
These days we get the job done with just a few products, and frankly, most of our cleaning is done with only two. Those two are vinegar and baking soda. They clean better than most of the products you buy at the store, and are far cheaper. An added bonus is that they are free of aerosols, chemicals and fragrances that can be irritating to to breathe.
How do I use these products? My standard go-to is a big spray bottle filled halfway with regular white vinegar, and topped off with tap water. This bottle is used to clean everything in my kitchen and bathroom. For example, after dinner, I walk around my kitchen spraying every surface with vinegar solution. Then, I use a clean cloth to wipe everything down. Vinegar has natural antimicrobial properties that will kill most types of germs (I admit I do keep a bottle of sanitizing spray on hand for special occasions, like raw chicken goo). The same goes for the bathroom – I go in, spray everything down, and wipe it from top to bottom. The vinegar spray takes care of 99% of my issues. Once again, if I suspect some germs are lurking about, I might give the light switch, the toilet and the faucets a spritz of sanitizer, just to be safe.
The few areas that require some extra love, like the ring around the tub, stubborn stains in the sink, and tile grout, get a dose of baking soda paste, which easily takes off the mess. Simply add a bit of water to a small bowl of baking soda, then use a cloth to apply and wipe. To clean drains, pour some baking soda into the drain, then drizzle vinegar (slooowly) above the drain. Remember the volcano you made in elementary school? This is your big chance to relive that glory. It is SO much fun to clean your drains this way, and effective too!
My floors are washed with a mixture of vinegar and water. I have no idea what the percentage is, as I simply dump in a bucket and go. Sometimes I add a dab of dish soap if my floors are really muddy or if my kids have been baking. This mixture works for all my floors, no problem.
In the laundry, I have one container of eco-friendly detergent on hand, and another big bottle of vinegar. I have hard water, and have found that my clothes can be a bit stiff because I no longer use fabric softener. (If you want to know why, click here.) Instead, I pour vinegar into the fabric softener compartment of my washing machine. This bit of vinegar, which goes into the tub at the very end of the washing cycle, softens my clothes naturally. Then, I use dryer balls in the dryer to speed drying and keep my clothes soft.
The last discovery about vinegar for cleaning is a recent one, and very exciting. As I mentioned, we have hard water. For years, I have bemoaned the white crusty marks left behind on our bathroom countertops by hard water puddles. Nothing I tried could take them off – not even harsh cleaners. This summer, on a whim, I used a cotton ball of apple cider vinegar on the crust. To my surprise and delight, some of it came off. After several days of applying ACV in the morning, the hard water crust around my faucet handles was gone. As a preventative, I put a bit around my faucet handles each morning.
So, my cleaning supply expenses have been greatly reduced by these changes, and I feel really good about the change. I am not afraid of chemical burns on my hands or bleach spots on my clothes from the products I use, and the products don’t make me cough. Our laundry is clean and soft, and even our hard water spots are gone!
Give green cleaning a try and see how much you can save, and how clean your house can be!