UHF: Squeaky Clean (or is that smelly clean?)

So one area that I have been really interested in progressing to further hippiness is cleaning and using homemade cleaners. I do worry about the chemicals I am putting on my counters, the same counters where I place my nice absorbent bread while making a sandwich or where I put my toothbrush.

Also, my skin is very sensitive and I already have good excuses for not cleaning, I don't need to add fear of hives to my list. And "healthy" (Bio-Kleen, 7th Generation, etc) cleaners cost money so if I can make them from things I have lying around the house, that's even better.

I figured moving would be a good time to address the issue as we would buying almost all new stuff anyway. So instead of rushing out to buy Windex and Comet, we picked up a big thing of vinegar (the regular white stuff) at Sam's and a not-quite-as-big bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a couple of squirt bottles to keep reasonable amounts in. I found my squirt bottles at Wal-Mart for less than a dollar and they even came in my favorite color. Just be sure to get a dark bottle for the hydrogen peroxide so you don't end up trying to disinfect things with a bottle of water - it isn't very effective.

There are lots of neat "recipes" out in the blogosphere but I wanted to start with the most simple approach and only get complicated when and if we needed to.

  • For general cleaning (like bathroom and kitchen counters, wiping down outside toilet, etc) we just use the vinegar. The smell isn't the best, but it does go away pretty quickly.
  • For disinfecting, I spray the vinegar on the surface, then spray the hydrogen peroxide on top of that, let it sit for ~30 seconds, then wipe dry. I use this in the sink and if I have been working with raw meat on the counter. I also use it on my meat bucket in the fridge once a week. (Meat bucket = a plastic container that I put my meat in while it is thawing, just in case of leakage).
  • If I need an abrasive (you know, to scrub that jelly I didn't wipe up earlier than morning), I use a bit of baking soda, water, and elbow grease.
  • For the toilet, I just drain it, pour in some vinegar, let it sit while doing the rest of the cleaning, then swish and flush and I'm done.
  • We use a squeegee on our shower every morning so it stays pretty clean and the vinegar does fine on the shower walls when it needs it.

So far, I am happy with the way these work. I have heard other recipes use diluted vinegar with baking soda mixed in a bottle as an all purpose cleaner so we might try that, just to see if we can reduce the vinegar smell a bit.

But not all my plans worked out so well. Using vinegar to clean the mirror was not effective. It left lots of streaks and the few places where their weren't streaks, there was a haze. Lots of people seem to have no problem with this so it might be my technique. I do my cleaning with old cut-up t-shirts, but I'm going to try switching back to paper towels for the mirror. Also, I'm not diluting the vinegar, maybe I should be? If that fails, I've heard that same baking soda/vinegar mix I mentioned above makes a good window cleaner. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Also, I haven't found a good replacement for mopping or cleaning the tub. In fact, since we actually got paid to take them from Walgreens, I got Windex and Scrubbing bubbles just last week. As I said, I'm going to try a few more things before resorting to opening the Windex (mostly b/c it isn't the end of the world if my mirror is streaky) but I think I will just completely cave on the tub cleaner. It wasn't really very clean when we moved in and it really needs a major cleaning before I will take an actual bath in it. But once I get it really clean to start with, I'll try to find a more natural way to keep it that way.

I think my next step is to try Dr. Bronner's castile soap. I've used it in the past, but only as a regular soap, not a "super fantastic do anything but deliver a baby for you wonder soap" like I've recently heard it proclaimed as. We went to our local health food store on Saturday (during the football game - it was almost more than Craig could take!) and they had it but it was a lot more expensive than I can get online so I'll just have to be patient.

I plan to try it both as my next "no-poo" step, a dish soap and possible as a remedy to the mopping and tub problems. And of course, I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. "Meat bucket" would make either a good insult or a good band name.

  2. Yeah, I agree with Rachel, LOL. Meat bucket, I gotta get me one of those!

  3. I concur with Rachel. And I probably could come up with a better name for it but I don't really talk about it that frequently, although I should. It is one of my favorite tips, and I learned if from WFMW.

  4. Use newspaper on the mirror/window with your vinegar and your streaks should dissapear. Also, when using a new cleaner vs windex you will possibly get streaks for a bit. I know when I switched I did, but they ended up going away.

    About diluting it? I believe your supposed to. The actual ratio is beyond me though... as I use something else. I think I might follow in your footsteps...

  5. there is a show on bbc america that is called 'how clean is your house?' Its these british ladies that go around cleaning unbelievable filthy homes, and they generally use homemade products. They use lemon juice quite often as a window cleaner (and it smells nice) and pour salt on tough stains with the baking soda to act as an abrasive!

  6. for tub cleaner i use method tub and tile from target. i think it's all natural. but it's not real cheap. sometimes it's 3 for 8 bucks.

  7. Bridge - Craig also told me to use newspaper, I did last night and it looks so nice and shiny now. Thanks for the tip.

    Amanda - I should try that too since lemon juice will smell a lot nicer than vinegar does.

    Jess - I have heard a lot of good things about the method line. Now that I am near a target, I will be watching for sales and snag some if I can. (But how do you get it, logan doesn't have a target?)

  8. I got the idea from Bridge, for the record.

  9. Oh, that makes more sense now. I was really impressed by his sudden burst of cleaning knowledge, especially when I had complained about the streaking a few days before and he hadn't mentioned newspaper at all...Lol.

  10. LOL... that makes me laugh. Way to fess up Craig... HAHAHA.

    For the record, most of my windows have streaks since I don't subscribe to a newspaper.

  11. Hopped over here from Lance's blog.

    I, too, use mostly natural cleaning products. The mirrors will eventually be streak-free. There's something akin to a wax/gloss in Windex, and the vinegar breaks it down slowly. Eventually it will wear through and your mirrors will be prettier even than they are with Windex.

    The "official" ratio on Vinegar is 4 parts water: 1 part vinegar, but I don't think that's strong enough. If it's all I'm using to clean, I want it strong. I use it full strength.

    On my tub, I just use the vinegar, but I took one of those scrubbie pads that you can buy at HD or Lowe's - probably other places, too. The semi-abrasive ones, but not too rough. I just spray the tub down and use a little elbow grease. Works great. If it's soap scum, also try a used dryer sheet. You'll be surprised!

    The method line can also be bought at Home Depot, I think. It's either there or Lowe's. Try your luck! I haven't used them, but I hear good things.