Judging by a few elements of our home, I can only assume the previous owners enjoyed cleaning.
Where there isn’t hardwood flooring, there is white carpet. Also, our kitchen sink is white (well, sometimes.) Prior to purchasing the house, I remember looking at the carpeting and thinking, “well that might be a problem.”
We have two dogs: A black husky mix whose primary hobby is shedding, and a so-brown-she-looks-black border collie mix who doesn’t shed as much as her older packmate, but does a fair job. We also have two dark-colored kitties who enjoy shedding, but who seem more focused on picking a spot in the middle of the living room to hork up a few hairballs.
Cleaning has never been something I have enjoyed; for me, it is a necessary evil – the price of living in one place and accumulating Stuff. Alas.
Like so many of us in modern society, until I began following this sustainable path, I reached for the conventional cleaners I saw in commercials and households everywhere I went. I hated their smell, but as far as I knew, there were no alternatives.
Well, silly me. I wrote about sustainable cleaning products in another blog post, so I won’t cover that ground again here. However, I want to provide you with a visual demonstration of just how good homemade cleaning products can be!
I am too embarrassed to show you the “before” photo of my sink; during the course of any given day, our sink gets coated in various teas, juices, oils, spices and whatever else we’ve been prepping in there and very rapidly spirals into a light brown color. Instead of a true “before” photo, you’re getting “this is what it looked like after I scrubbed it a bit with plain baking soda and water, before rinsing.”
Notice the baking soda is a really grody brown color – that’s how dirty that sink was. I’m not proud, but please don’t judge me too harshly.
Um, ugh. Looking at that image and realizing I’m about to show a bunch of people on the internet what a terrible housekeeper I am, I feel I have to make the following note: I had been away from home for 5 weeks, and this was probably the first time the sink had been cleaned since at least a week before I left.
Ok. I feel slightly less mortified now. Sort of.
But we soldier on!
After scrubbing and rinsing, the sink was better, but still did not have that “really clean” look to it.
Baking soda is a really powerful abrasive, but even it alone could not get the gunk cleaned off. I called in my next line of reinforcements – vinegar. I had no white vinegar in the house, so apple cider vinegar it was.
Combined, as you’ll recall from childhood science experiments or misadventures, baking soda and vinegar create this fantastic bubbling, resulting first in carbonic acid, then in carbon dioxide and water – marvelous!
Perhaps it’s the carbonic acid, perhaps it’s the bubbling, perhaps it’s a multitude of things, but when you spread baking soda over a surface and then spray it with vinegar, much cleaning power is unleashed.
After letting the bubbles do their work awhile, I scrubbed things out with a scrubby pad, and they were significantly improved – just about as perfect as a porous, white kitchen sink that’s at least 10 years old will be, anyhow.
Because I wanted to prove to myself that this cleaning solution was every bit as good as bleach (if a bit more labor-intensive,) and because we’ve had this same bottle of Clorox since we moved into the house, I bit the bullet and poured a bleach solution over the remaining stains.
I let it sit for a moment, with the window open, then rinsed it down into our unsuspecting septic tank.
To be completely honest, it was a tiny bit less stained after the bleach, but not so dramatically as to be worth it.
There we have it – empirical evidence for the effectiveness of sustainable cleaners! Lately, I’ve been adding a bit of lemon oil to my vinegar so it smells fresher when I’m done. I’ve had success with lavender and rosemary extracts, as well. Even without the scents, though, the vinegar smell quickly abates, and I can relax knowing I haven’t exposed my husband, myself or our pets to neurotoxins or other harsh chemicals.
Do you have any sustainable cleaning tips to share?
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