Cleaning product reform: Go natural
A mother on a mission to reform her habitual use of commercial cleaners explores the effectiveness of vinegar and lemon.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - 01:32
SPIC & SPAN: Lemons can be used to keep a home fresh. (Photo: Katerha/Flickr)
Earlier this month, I posted that I will replace at least two of my store-bought cleaning products with eco-friendly products or methods by the end of summer. This weekend, I tried cleaning three areas of my home with lemons and vinegar. In two out of three instances, I had success.
On Saturday, I trekked to a local market and purchased a spray bottle, two bottles of vinegar, and a lemon. The total cost was $2.75.
Trial one: The bathtub
In researching natural cleaning methods, I discovered that white vinegar has disinfectant properties. I decided to try cleaning my kids' bath with it. I poured pure vinegar into a spray bottle and sprayed the ring around the bathtub. Now, I must be honest here. I usually clean the ring in the tub just prior to giving my kids a bath — meaning they get bathed in a clean tub, but I leave the resulting ring until just prior to the next night’s bath. Thus, every time I clean the tub, I’m cleaning a ring that is about 24 hours old. This time, however, I was trying to clean a 48-hour-old ring. The vinegar didn't work even though I let it sit for about 30 minutes. It did loosen the ring a bit. As I scrubbed with a sponge, some of the scum was coming off.
With a little more online research on how to clean effectively with vinegar, I followed a suggestion to combine the vinegar with warm water to loosen tough stains. This still didn't work. I resorted to my commercial cleaner.
The lesson I learned: spray the tub with vinegar immediately after the kids are both bathed and in bed. This seemed to cut down on the amount of scrubbing I had to do the next time. The downside to this is that by the time I've tucked the kids in each night, I don't exactly feel like cleaning. I just want to sit on the couch and relax. For this reason, I've decided to switch to an Earth-friendly commercial bathtub cleaner, rather than depend on the vinegar remedies.
Trial two: The bathroom floor
My second use for vinegar this week was using it to mop my bathroom floor. I combined equal parts of vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and sprayed the solution on the floor. My bathroom floor is — much to my chagrin — a white linoleum. It constantly looks dirty to me. The vinegar solution did impress me here. It made the floor seem whiter than when I cleaned with my bad-for-the-environment cleaner. It also didn't make the floor sticky, as some other cleaners do. I was very satisfied with the result here and will use it next on my kitchen floor.
Trial three: Garbage disposal stench
My third and last experiment of the week was with lemon. There had been a terrible odor coming from the garbage disposal for some time. My 5-year-old son even noticed it. "What's that smelling like?" he asked one day when he was putting his cup in the sink. I typically cleaned the disposal with a disposal cleaner that contained bleach. This time I cut a lemon in half, squeezed the juice out and cut the remaining hulls into smaller chunks. I gradually put all the chunks down the drain with the disposal running. The noxious smell has been gone for three days.
I've always avoided using chemically-based cleaning products around my children. Changing how I clean the tubs, mop the floors and clean the disposal is only the beginning of what I see is possible in use of natural cleaning methods and products — not to mention the savings. I spend about $40 a year buying cleaning products (not including laundry detergent). Using vinegar as my primary cleaning agent saves me nearly $30 a year. I'm now anxious to purchase essential oils for my next homemade cleaning product project: a disinfectant spray. For anyone planning to make their cleaning a little greener, I suggest doing thorough research and weighing your options.