How did you spend your Friday night? I spent mine getting excited about cleaning bathrooms without cleaners…
Maybe not the most fascinating subject, but we were out of cleaner and I wanted to try using vinegar and baking soda. It worked amazingly and there are plenty of “pluses”.
Only 40p for a bottle of vinegar that will last for months and months and a pot of baking soda which was already sitting in the cupboard from that one cake months ago that called for bicarb rather than baking powder, vs. £1.75+ for toilet cleaner that would last for potentially less time and a separate ~£1.25+ cleaner for the rest of the bathroom for example. At least a couple of pounds a time saved there.
It uses more environmentally friendly packaging
1 small bottle which can be easily cleaned and reused/recycled and a small pot for which the same is true, compared to a large bottle which can’t really be reused or recycled due to its shape and being coated on the inside with bleach/hazardous chemicals
It gives more environmentally friendly results
When vinegar reacts with bicarbonate of soda, the reaction (chemical formulae sourced from ThoughtCo.com) is:
This is more environmentally friendly than using chloride-based cleaners which have the potential to be harmful to aquatic life – the only products of the reaction are carbon dioxide, water and sodium acetate.
The main problem with organochlorines such as bleach is said to be that they can take centuries to decompose, they don’t occur naturally and that chlorine can react with other chemicals to form toxins which persist in the water and soil.
I do question the overall potential “just” this cleaning method has to help the health of aquatic ecosystems when there are plenty of other sources of pollution other than household chemicals: examples listed by National Geographic include pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, oil and industrial chemicals, but avoiding unnecessarily contributing from home where I can at least makes me feel better for doing my best.
The same is true for thousands of other wildlife/environment-loving people around the world making their own efforts, so whilst hopefully bigger scale changes will eventually creep in, I do believe that collectively our efforts have the potential to make a bit of difference in the meantime.
I have read lots of people saying that whilst vinegar and baking soda are great cleaners in their own rights, it’s pointless to use them together because the acid-base reaction causes them to cancel each other out, and that the resulting sodium acetate is not a good cleaner on its own. Personally, I think it’s the whole process that works well – the original chemicals, the reaction/resulting chemicals and any remaining un-reacted. I can imagine it not working particularly well if you mix them first and then apply to the surface for cleaning, especially if you’re storing them pre-mixed. The way that I’ve done it DEFINITELY works. I tried cleaning a water-stained tap with a bit of vinegar and wasn’t getting a great result, then tried putting a drop of vinegar, sprinkling with baking soda, watching them fizz up and then rinsing it off and to my delight, the tap was gleaming.
(It also only uses a really small amount – I’ve read online some people suggesting to add them by the cupful, which I thought seemed a bit excessive… maybe it depends on the level of cleaning you need to do.)
I just splash a bit of vinegar on, sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda, resplash a bit of vinegar, close the lid and leave for half an hour, then use a toilet brush to scrub and flush – for me, it gets rid of the hard water marks perfectly. For some people maybe the vinegar on its own would work for that, but we have particularly hard water and I found that the abrasive bicarb really helped to give it a decent scrub.
I applied them in the same way for cleaning sinks but didn’t leave them for so long before scrubbing and rinsing off. Again, I believe that having the bicarb helps to easily scrub the surface.
On a similar “greener cleaning” note, my mum suggested a great idea to avoid throwing my holey socks out which I mentioned in my previous post that I hate doing: Use them as cleaning cloths instead.
I love this idea and hadn’t bought any cloths since moving house, so I happily used a few holey socks for my bathroom cleaning yesterday. They did a great job and presumably will last a very long time, so no need to buy any or wastefully use up kitchen roll.
If you’re looking to make your cleaning routine a little “greener” I’d say this is a brilliant place to start. I’ve only used it for cleaning sinks and toilets so far. I already have a vinegar-based bought glass cleaner so will continue to use that for now, but plan to reuse the spray bottle and give vinegar/a homemade vinegar mixture a go when it eventually runs out.
Have you used it for any other jobs that it’s great for? I’d love to hear about them, as I’m loving not being reliant on manufactured chemicals to do the job!