Every so often I’m going to review an eco-friendly cleaning technique for those of us who live in apartments and do have to clean them occasionally.
But first, how I was literally reduced to an eco-friendly method –
When you get married, inevitably the issue of a just division of chores arises, especially when one of you has a lower tolerance for dirt than the other. In my case, I’m the one who grew up with the belief that the bathroom sink should be routinely wiped down. In a trade-off for laundry (which I despise), vacuuming, and putting the dishes away my job is to clean the bathroom and the kitchen.
The problem – I live in married couples housing, in apartments in which some designer, in a fit of brilliance, decided that the bathrooms didn’t need ventilation. Lack of ventilation in the bathroom, especially when combined with the cheap vinyl shower curtain housing provides, is the perfect growing place for mold.
1 month into the lease I got tired for scrubbing down the shower curtain weekly I chucked the cheap plastic curtain and bought an industrial cloth one which I could throw in the wash (don’t worry I will replace it when I move).
That just left the problem of fighting the pink mold that grows in the shower. I tried everything – scrubbing bubbles, tilex, soft scrub, comet, etc., and nothing worked. The use of commercial cleaning products bothered me, literally. The smell made my chest tighten and I had to air out the bathroom (via the use of two fans, one in the hallway and one against the sliding glass door) and leave every window and door open in order to get enough smell of the cleaning product out of the bathroom as possible so that I wouldn’t feel like I was smothering. But the mold wouldn’t go.
I was left with one option (or so I thought) – bleach. Unfortunately, my husband is allergic to bleach and I was actually too scared to handle it, given that already I could barely breathe when cleaning.
While browsing on the web for ways to remove the mold, I ran into a site recommending vinegar. I used it and it actually worked. Many of the tips for cleaning using baking soda and vinegar that I have tried have worked as well or better than the cleaning products I used.
I decided to go eco-friendly, but using stuff I knew I wasn’t allergic to – baking soda, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. I went to walmart got a huge-ass bottle of vinegar, 4 lb. box of baking soda (in laundry aisle, so apparently some people use it in the wash), and a huge bottle of hydrogen peroxide (note don’t mix vinegar and peroxide in a bottle as this makes a toxic acid).
Websites promised that these products would do everything from clean and bleach my clothes to disinfect my cutting board, to kill mold, but can you really trust some anonymous pusher of baking soda?
Anyways, here are my reviews:
Review #1 Using vinegar to clean mold off the shower.
[IMPORTANT: Test this on a small, non-noticeable part of your shower first to make sure that this won’t ruin your grout or bleach your tile]
need – spray bottle of full strength white vinegar, scrub brush, time
(1) Wet down shower. (2) Spray vinegar on tile. (4) Let sit 15-20 minutes. (5) Scrub with brush. (6) Rise off shower.
Pros – got ride of pink mold on shower tiles, mold just came right off.
– hubby not allergic to smell of vinegar.
Cons – just as much scrubbing as any other cleaner.
– your bathroom smells strongly of vinegar so running a fan to air it out before you go in to scrub is a must.
Review #2 using baking soda and vinegar to clean tub:
[again test this on inconspicuous place first]
This was supposed to miraculously get rid of hard water stains and dirt rings without a lot of work, but you still had to scrub.
(1) wet tub (2) place baking soda paste on tub (3) spray with vinegar [note vinegar plus baking soda equals carbon dioxide gas so you may want to ventilate the bathroom if you are using a lot of each] (4) Scrub tub (5) Rinse
Pros – got rid of ring.
Cons – just as much scrubbing as Clorox powder.
Review #3 using vinegar to clean microwave
In microwave safe dish place 2 cups of water and ¼ cup vinegar. Microwave for 3-5 minutes (let boil). Wipe down microwave with damp cloth.
Pros – cleaned microwave, esp. loosened stuff that gets stuck on the top of the microwave.
– Don’t have to wipe down microwave afterwards (to avoid contamination of food I wiped down microwave with water after using 409 or Clorox wet wipe).
-When the vinegar solution cools down, you can dip a rag in it and wipe down the kitchen counter and stove.
Cons – takes longer than a Clorox wet wipe, but the wet wipes don’t do well cleaning the gunk that gets plastered to the top of the microwave.
Review #4 using vinegar in the wash instead of bleach
Using vinegar is supposed to help prevent dye from fading and to provide a good disinfectant for whites. So I threw ¼ cup of vinegar in the wash with my whites and colors (note I only experimented on my clothes not on the hubby’s).
Results: Non of my clothes smelled like vinegar coming out after the first wash. It didn’t bleach my coloreds, but only time will tell if it prevents fading. Also, I like the smell of my whites better when I used vinegar than I did with bleach.
Next up – does baking soda really clean the oven without a lot of scrubbing? What about using vinegar to help you clean the dishes?