The Cleaning is going quite well, thanks for asking. I’m 90% done, at the point where I would normally call it good e-damn-nough and stop. But I told you I was on a terror.
Today in fact is my day to finish. After a morning in my garden, and an afternoon of writing, of course. All in good time, my little pushkins, all in good time.
Since I have had my nose in a bucket of dirty water all week, I thought it might be the perfect moment for me to put my two cents in to the ever-so-fadish world of Green Cleaning.
Because although I do make my own bar soap and laundry detergent, and stock the requisite spray bottle of vinegar and little shakers of baking soda, I want to champion my favorite cleaning products. These are the ones I use every day, and love the best-est. You don’t need to go to the store to get ‘em, you don’t need to wonder how they were mined or produced, and the carbon footprint is negligible. These three products are shockingly effective, and far greener than all of the other “green cleaning products,” unchallengeably the greenest clean of all.
- Hot water.
- Old rag.
- Elbow grease.
It’s true these won’t clean everything, but they really do a fine job on most things. For some reason we’ve gotten the idea that there has to be some kind of magic involved in cleaning, some kind of “product.” I’m afraid to say that I think it’s often just a placebo. If you use store bought cleaning products, or a heavy hand with soda and vinegar, do me a favor and tonight when you clean your kitchen, try using plain old hot water. Just try it– no loss. See what you think.
A very convincing case is my dishwasher. I know y’all have been waiting for a report, and here it is. It doesn’t work for shit. I mean, if you clean the dishes before you put them in, or if they just aren’t very dirty in the first place, then yes, they will come out clean. Otherwise, not so much. I still use it, because I am so strapped for time, and already tired of cleaning everything else, but the result is that when you open our cabinet you see a bunch of half filmy, not very appealing for a drink of water, glasses.
Apparently this is partly to do with the detergent. Some states still sell the phosphate detergent that other states have outlawed. My MIL smuggles some back from Montana every time she goes, and cuts it half-and-half with the legal stuff to achieve clean dishes. When she uses just the legal stuff straight up, she says her dishes are almost as filmy as mine, and she’s got a top of the line dishwasher!
And don’t think I’m trying to use green detergent, nope, it’s just the regular stuff (though not the illegal stuff). And I did try using more, the dishes were even filmier.
I find the whole thing funny, since last spring I discovered I could get most of my dishes clean washing them by hand with plain (soap-less) lukewarm water! Much cleaner than all the 40 minutes of whirring and spraying and shushing of my dishwasher. Just goes to show ya what old-fashioned, under-valued elbow grease will do. Wonders, my friend, wonders. (Read more about this base-est of dishwashing in the post Germaphobes and Clean Freaks Look Away Now.)
Very oily messes of course do require soap. And when you’re actually trying to kill something, like mildew or bacteria, a strong vinegar solution makes sense. Baking soda neutralizes odor, I’ve smelled that one at work on stinky water bottles.
So what does this all add up to? I don’t have very set cleaning rituals, as I’ve said, cleaning is just not my gig. And as stated, I’m a filthy beast. But that’s really more to do with lack of cleaning altogether, not a lack of products.
I use baking soda to clean the toilet, vinegar on the shower mildew, and plain old hot water on almost everything else. I did use some vinegar in my mop bucket this past week, because once a year- what the hell. I wipe my kitchen down with plain old water, or the leftovers from a load of dishes. I even wipe my stove down with plain water, unless it’s really greasy, then I use a little dish soap. I have tried baking soda on the stove, it worked fine, but did it work better than water?
In fact half the times I use soda or vinegar, I can’t tell if it’s helping or not. It seems I just do it because I want to be part of the crowd. It’s what all the cool people do. And lord knows, I wanna be cool.