Monday, July 09, 2007

Vinegar

I’m not normally one to post cleaning tips to my blog, but what the heck, it’s something to write about.

I’ve been worried about the amount of chemicals Andrea and I dump down the drain, whenever we clean, especially when I clean the bathrooms. (Not to mention, of course, the number of chemicals that we, as a nation, dump down the drain. Or the number of chemicals dumped in North America.) So, when I cleaned the bathrooms yesterday, I decided to use vinegar, instead of cleansers, just to see how well it would work. If you haven’t heard of this, vinegar can be used in place of cleansers in many instances; washing floors, cleaning sinks, etc. (Ask your grandparents; they probably used vinegar all the time, before the chemicals became so popular.)

Normally, I mostly use Murphy’s Oil Soap for cleaning—which I hope isn’t too harsh—but for some jobs, including the tub, I use CLR Kitchen & Bathroom. (Or just plain CLR, for some of the really nasty stuff, but this is rare.) This time, instead, I decided to use a mixture of 50% water and 50% vinegar for most of the work, and full-strength vinegar to do the tub. (For the floors, the mixture was probably a bit more weak than 50/50.)

What I was expecting was that the vinegar would work fairly well, but that I’d have to do a bit more scrubbing than I had with the chemicals; which I’m fine with, really. I’d rather use elbow grease and be more friendly to the environment, than save myself five minutes by using chemicals. And that was true, sort of; it was a bit more work to scrub the tub with vinegar, even using it full-strength, than it had been with CLR Kitchen & Bathroom. But for most of the work, including the sinks, toilets, floors, and shower tiles, using vinegar was exactly the same as using the cleansers I’d used before. It was no harder to clean those surfaces with vinegar than it had been with Murphy’s. (In fact, the vinegar might have worked better on the tile grout than Murphy’s had.)

In a nutshell, I’m sold. I’ll be using vinegar to clean my bathrooms, from now on, instead of cleansers. We also put some in a spray bottle, again using a mixture of 50% vinegar to 50% water, and Andrea used that for cleaning the kitchen. Not only will we be pouring less chemicals down the drain, but we’ll also

  • Save money; vinegar is cheaper than cleansers. (You can get big 4L jugs of the stuff; and you can get away with using the no-name brands, too. It's not like you need name-brand vinegar to clean your toilets…)
  • Feel safe to eat off of our counters; it’s to the point that I won’t eat any food that falls on the counter, anymore, because I’m afraid of eating any CLR Kitchen & Bathroom residue that might be there. If we use vinegar, instead, I won’t have that worry.
  • Not feel so gross, after cleaning the bathrooms. Normally, when I finish cleaning, I feel like I’m covered in chemicals, but I didn’t feel that way yesterday.
  • No longer have the smell of chemicals in our bathrooms, after cleaning. Actually, for that matter, there’s not even really a strong vinegar smell; only after cleaning the tub, using the vinegar full-strength, was there a vinegar smell, and that went away completely when the vinegar dried. Whereas, when I cleaned with chemicals, I had to turn on the bathroom fans, and leave them on for hours, for the smell to go away.
Incidentally, I read an article yesterday, talking about using vinegar for cleaning. It mentioned that a lot of people had given up on using vinegar, because they’d cleaned their windows with it, and it had left streaks. If you’ve had this problem, the problem is not with the vinegar, it’s with the Windex that you’ve probably been using on your windows up until now; Windex leaves a film of wax on the windows, and this is what’s streaking. If you’d like to switch to vinegar, use a mixture of vinegar and water, but then add in some dishwashing soap, to the mixture, which will help to remove the wax. After one or two washings (I’m guessing), when the wax is gone, you can go to just vinegar and water, for cleaning the windows, and you won’t get the streaks.

Okay, I admit, it. This wasn’t a post about cleaning. It was a subversive attempt to get people to use vinegar instead of cleansers, to try and help the environment. But it’s not like there’s a downside to it… If you can save money, have no more work to do than you did before—except for your tub, if it’s like mine—and help the environment, it’s win-win-win, right?

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