Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cleaning Up

Janet Koch, hopeful novelist, is also a budding website designer and book trailer producer. Visit Janet at or contact her at for her Deepwater Design services.

If you've ever stood wide-eyed in the middle of the cleaning products aisle, your brain almost exploding at the staggering number of boxes, bottles and cans, your stomach clutching at the thought spending money on window cleaner, counter cleaner, cook top cleaner, bathroom cleaner and shower cleaner - take heart. If you have a jug of white vinegar, you already have most of the cleaning power you need.

Yup, vinegar. Find a clean empty spray bottle (I used an old Windex bottle for years) and add two things in equal amounts. Water. Vinegar. If you want to get fancy, add a teensy drop of blue food coloring. Voila! You've made an all-purpose cleaner for mere pennies.

If vinegar can be an all-purpose cleaner, does it clean vinyl floors, too? Sure. Add a cup of vinegar to a gallon bucket of warm water and you're ready for mopping. How about wood floors? You bet. Add half a cup of vinegar to gallon bucket of warm water.

Organized Home
says we can power through scummy shower gunk by warming up the vinegar/water mixture in the microwave (take out the spray mechanism first) until almost hot. Spray the gunky stuff, wait 15-20 minutes, then wipe off.

Of course, as with any cleaning product, you have to be careful. Try it first on a small area before going whole hog, and don't use vinegar on granite or marble or other stone because vinegar is acidic and can etch stone surfaces. On the plus side, vinegar is a natural deodorizer. And it's a mold-killer. And a de-greaser. Vinegar, the Wonder Cleaner!

If you need something a little more abrasive to clean the bathtub or kitchen sink, dampen a sponge, sprinkle some baking soda onto the sponge, and scrub away. You won't get that "fresh citrus scent" that you get from many commercial cleansers, but do you honestly need your tub to smell like an orange?

There are even easy ways to make your own cleaning wipes. Just google "homemade cleaning wipes" and choose from 36,900 different methods.

Once you start using cleaning products you've made yourself -- from supplies you already had -- you'll never buy those over-priced, over-perfumed, over-packaged products again.


Krista said...

I love cleaning with vinegar. One of my favorite tricks for a slow drain is to pour baking soda into it and vinegar on top. It bubbles up and you can see it working!


Jessica Conant-Park said...

I've gotten rid of all my old chemical cleaners and use only vinegar based ones now. They're great! I also add some tea tree oil, castille soap, and geranium essential oil to make a countertop cleaner. One time I found an old chemical cleaner and used it to clean under the fridge....Whew! The smell was absolutely noxious and I vowed to never use those again.

Jeanie Beutler said...

Love that vinegar in cleaning.... but I have found steam at 300 degrees and 50# of pressure is much faster,easier and healthier!
best of all there is no odor! It just feels clean.

Darlene Ryan said...

Okay Janet, I confess I do like my bathroom to smell like oranges or lemons. So I stick orange or lemon peel in a bowl and set it on the side of the tub. Pretty soon the room smells great--it's a very small bathroom--and I haven't used any chemical cleaners.

Lorna Barrett said...

Don't forget salt as a mild abrasive, too. Vinegar is a great weed killer, as well.

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