Since the first installment of this column, I’ve made a few changes to my “green” cleaning arsenal; the ammonia is long gone, vinegar is my new best friend, and my bathrooms just met Borax. I have an unopened box of washing soda on my shelf that I will add in eventually, but it remains a mystery to me at this point.
While ammonia may not leave a lingering odor, the fumes it produces while in use are enough to result in its expulsion. I noticed that I was getting a headache while cleaning my bathroom, even with the fan on, and decided to look for an alternative general cleanser. Meet vinegar.
Armed with a spray bottle of a 50/50 vinegar/water mix, I took on my old nemeses, bathroom germs and soap scum. The vinegar did the trick, and even doubled as a chrome and glass cleaner, leaving everything with a beautiful shine to it. Alas, the love affair lasted but a short time; my son complained enough about the smell that I had to admit the truth- vinegar stinks. It works wonders on glass and chrome, and is great for wiping down the kitchen; but in a small, poorly-ventilated area such as the bathroom, another solution was needed.
Just two hours ago I tried out borax for the first time; in a new spray bottle, I mixed a solution of 1 tablespoon borax and 1 quart of hot water. It worked well on soap scum, and though it wiped the chrome clean enough, it did not leave that sparkle that vinegar produced. There was no noticeable odor though, and that was my ultimate goal. I also used borax to disinfect the toilet bowl, as opposed to baking soda and vinegar; I flushed once to moisten the inside of the bowl and poured in ¼ cup borax. I scrubbed and let it sit for about thirty minutes, and it got the bowl quite a bit whiter than vinegar did. If you choose this option, make sure to close the lid to the bowl if you have beasties who like to drink from it; also, make sure you store your borax out of reach of children and pets!
The final change I’ve made was getting rid of dryer sheets; the result was clingy laundry, but we’ve all been able to live with that. The only problem that presented itself was solved just this afternoon- clingy towels with fuzz from the bathroom mats. I always wash them together after cleaning the bathroom, and the static produced without dryer sheets was driving me crazy. Today I added ¼ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of the washing machine, and voila! No static! There was also no discernable odor from the vinegar, so I will be trying this tip out with my regular laundry as well.
So to sum up this issue’s cleaning finds:
· For bathrooms, use a spray bottle with 1 tablespoon borax dissolved in hot water; spray and wipe clean.
· For toilets, pour ¼ cup borax, scrub and let sit with lid shut.
· For glass and chrome, as well as sinks and kitchen countertops, use a spray bottle with 50/50 solution of vinegar and water.
·For linoleum floors, use ½ cup vinegar in 1 gallon of hot water (from last issue)
·To replace dryer sheets, add ¼ cup vinegar to rinse cycle of wash as you would liquid fabric softener