Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cleaning the House, on the Cheap

As I've changed the way we do things, I've become more sensitive to the chemical smells in so many things. The last time I went down the cleaning products isle, I held my breath because it was so strong.Cleaning supplies - baking soda, vinegar, and cotton rags

Now, I clean with baking soda and vinegar. My cleaning tote has a spray bottle of 50/50 water/vinegar, a tub of baking soda, and lots of rags made from worm-out bath towels. I also keep on hand paste toothpaste (not gel), borax, and lemon juice. This is also quite a bit cheaper; I seem to remember that a full re-stock of cleaning agents once cost me $150 about 10 years ago (memory could be foggy, I'll admit). Now? $20. Maybe.

The spray cleans any surface I can wipe down. The baking soda is for anything needing scrubbed. Combining the two gives fizzies for hard-to-clean stuff, including pipes.

I've used these techniques in two apartments, one 40 years old with ceramic & tile, the other 20 years old with a plastic tub/shower insert thing (yuck!). It works well on both.

Windows: Use the 50/50 spray and newspaper. I've heard that a drop or two of liquid soap in the mix is also helpful, but I haven't tried it.

Tub & Sinks: I scrub them with backing soda and enough water to make a paste, and rinse with full-strength vinegar if it’s bad. That cleaned out the mini-scratches on a 40-year-old bathtub that nothing else touched. If it’s a ‘maintenance’ clean (i.e., barely dirty) I’ll rinse with water.

Also, this same treatment works on the tub walls. Use the spray bottle for the initial rinse, for easy application - it will still fizz. Just rinse everything with water at the end.

Faucets: Use baking soda like you do for the sink. If it has heavy soap scum on it, scrub well and rinse with vinegar, then with water, and then polish with a clean, dry cloth.

Toilet: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into the bowl, and pour 1/2 cup vinegar onto it. Close the lid and walk away for half an hour. Come back, give it a quick scrub, and flush. If it's really bad, scrub before & after. I've also poured some vinegar in the (clean) bowl just before bed and let it sit all night if I think it needs it.

Pipes: In the drain, pour 1/3 cup baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup undiluted vinegar. I try to get the baking soda into the pipe, and kind of drizzle the vinegar it. I want it to clean the pipes, not the sink! When it's done I rinse with very hot water from the faucet.

What's the toothpaste for? If (ok, when) I get a watermark on wood, I rub the paste toothpaste on it, just thick enough that I can't see through it, and wait. Usually for a couple hours. It will pull up the watermark, and you'll never know it was there. Buy this when you see it; at least near me it's a bit hard to find.

Borax I'm still learning to use, but it is very useful and a laundry booster as well.

Lemon juice will help brighten whites, and remove stains. Especially if you apply it and put the item in the sunshine. Wash again afterwards, as the lemon juice is acidic and may damage the item if left on too long.

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