03 September 2008

Going Green

I'm going to use up the remainder of my cleaning products and then stop purchasing them. Instead, I will be purchasing natural materials and making my own cleaning products.

I could probably let people think that it is because I am such a good person and so concerned about the environment, but that's not actually why.

Don't get me wrong. I am concerned about the environment. And we do recycling, frequently take public transportation instead of driving and do many other things that do help reduce the impact on the environment.

But believe me when I say that I will be doing disposable diapers all the way as I am not inclined to deal with the mounds of dirty cloth diapers or pay the enormous sum for someone else to deal with them. Not to mention the air conditioner that is humming away in the corner of the room even as I write. (It's warm and muggy today...)

No, I am going green in the cleaning area because I cannot get my preferred cleaning supplies here (Clorox Bleach, Bounce Dryer Sheets, Endust, etc.) and the products they do have to replace them just plain don't work as well thereby making me work harder with fewer results.

Want to know what works? Vinegar. Yep, plain old white vinegar. Available from Migros Budget at only 1,50 CHF per bottle. A fraction of the cost of the much more expensive cleaning products.

I've posted before about how I had learned to use vinegar to deal with the hard water and resulting calc deposits in the bathrooms and kitchen. But I have since learned the usefulness of vinegar goes so much further.

Need your whites to be whiter and your brights to be brighter? Half a cup of vinegar along with your detergent at the beginning of the cycle and your whites will be as bright as with bleach. (NOTE: if you have been without bleach for a while, you may need to soak white clothes in hot water and lemon juice to get them back to white faster.)

You can also put an additional half a cup of vinegar in the final rinse to soften the clothes, thereby replacing the need for Bounce Dryer Sheets.

Don't worry, the vinegar smell goes away when the clothes are dry.

Cannot find dusting spray and a damp rag doesn't quite do it with the dust? Combine 1 tsp olive oil and half a cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray on dusting cloth to pick up dust and help to repel it for a couple of weeks. Reapply as necessary.

Wood furniture needs a polish? 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 cup of water. Wipe on with a damp cloth and buff with a dry cloth to give it a good gloss.

Sink needs scouring? Combine equal parts baking soda and vinegar into a paste and scrub away. (This one is a bit more expensive as baking soda is sold in little packets at great cost. But you can also try sprinkling sea salt and then using half a lemon as a scouring pad.)

Microwave has dried food stains and a funky smell? Combine equals parts water and vinegar in a bowl, place it in microwave and heat until it boils. Then wipe interior with a damp cloth.

The list goes on and on.

Not only is it cheap, easy and effective, but it is also much better for the environment. So you can even feel all good and self-righteous on top of it all.

One Final Tip: Vinegar should never be used on marble surfaces. The acidity of the vinegar can create pock marks in the marble.


Twelfthknit said...


Tried emailing but for some reason my email isn't accepting your address....could you resend the email with the directions on? I am hoping it will just be lurking in your 'sent' folder and won't be a pain in the butt to resend...
Thanks :0)

Marcy said...

I am seriously considering switching to baking soda and vinegar for cleaning purposes. Anytime we use harsher chemicals my husband's sensitive skin starts getting all red and stingy.

Global Librarian said...

12th: just sent directions to your e-mail

Marcy: when your cleaning product is based on vinegar, you don't need to worry about baby accidentally swallowing it. He won't like the taste much, but it won't hurt him!

Twelfthknit said...

Bangs head on wall - email won't deign to go when I hit 'reply'. Technology.... Just wanted to check the time...seem to recall it was 2.30ish but don't want to be either too early or too late.

Jen said...

Easier than vinegar and water in the microwave. Just put a damp rag in the micro for 4 or 5 minutes. Let it set another 5 or ten, then use the rag to wipe out the rest.
The problem with vinegar in the micro is that the smell can invade food cooked in there for about a week.
I learned this trick cleaning all those busy rich people's homes.

CanadianSwiss said...

I think these are great ideas AND great for the environment. I'm okay with the vinegar (and we do use it for bathrooms and windows), but I'm not going to use lemons, baking soda or sea salt - btw... why sea salt and not normal salt? - to clean the kitchen sink.

Don't misunderstand me: I think what you're doing is excellent - when you have the time. Only with a 100+ % job, I really don't feel like mixing X bottles of cleaners and I'm perfectly happy with the other products sold here.

Susie Vereker said...

The new microfibre (US=microfiber?) cleaning cloths mean you don't have to use any products.

I was amused by your post about British mispronunciation of Barack. Shall do my best to say BarACK, but, as another commenter said, it's a two-way problem!

Global Librarian said...

CS: Sea salt is grittier than regular salt, although that would probably work as well. And most of my reason for changing my process is so that I can spend less time doing housework after the baby comes. Mixing the vinegar with other natural ingredients takes less than a minute. Because it works better, I spend less time scrubbing and still get better results than I did before.

Susie: All over the microfiber (microfibre) cloths. Which, by the way, work better than paper towels and therefore also reduce the amount of time I spend cleaning! Although I still have the paper towels on hand for quick clean-up of spills and so on.

The Big Finn said...

I always bring Bounce sheets back with me from the U.S.

God bless America!