Letting Life Lead
Ever wanted to clean without all the chemicals, but didn’t know where to start? This guide will walk you through making the transition step by step. You can use mostly materials you already have, or you can buy a few inexpensive supplies to get you started.
Baking soda is also known as Sodium Bicarbonate or Bicarbonate of Soda. If you shop around you can get a pretty good deal if you buy in bulk either locally at a Big Box store, Feed Supply stores, or online. Some bulk items are food grade, and others (usually cheaper) are sold for non-ingesting purposes. If you are doing a search for the best prices online, if you search for Sodium Bicarbonate you’ll get different results than if you do a search for Bicarbonate of Soda or Baking Soda. On one list search I glanced at, I found a listing that was selling a 50lb bag of Bicarbonate of Soda for 35 cents a pound!
White Vinegar is also called Acetic Acid and usually is dilute to a 5% solution and is the kind I use in this guide; which we will use diluted further. However, cleaning grade vinegar is usually a 20% solution so if you want something stronger to clean with or want to get it in bulk on the cheap, a stronger vinegar is definitely an option. Brand is really unimportant. Just like baking soda, if you are searching for the best deals at your local food or supply stores, using online information you’ll want to take note of your search terms. Here is a search list at Amazon for White Vinegar, another for Distilled White Vinegar, Cleaning Vinegar, and one for Acetic Acid. If you notice, each one brings up different options, so be diligent when you are looking for those penny-squeezing opportunities. Don’t go all weird and buy dry form acetic acid, or the stuff meant for labs. It is corrosive in those concentrations and it’s HAZMAT type of stuff. Stick to the salad stuff or the 20%, okay?
CAUTION: Don’t use vinegar on marble! You can however, use baking soda. And if you have a very stubborn stain go with the milder acid in a grapefruit, scrub it away, then rinse very, very, very well with fresh water. And of course, don’t squirt vinegar in your eye so keep those spray bottles pointed away from you. Granite is pretty tough and you shouldn’t need to use anything stronger than a drop of plain soap and some water. Germs don’t grow well on a surface like granite. A diluted vinegar solution to de-germ is probably okay such as if you got some raw meat juice spillage–but the problem is that some granite counters have sealants that may or may not be damaged by the acid. So I wouldn’t risk it. Your better option is a hydrogen peroxide (we’ll discuss that later) and water solution for de-germing purposes once in a while for instances of raw meat spillage or to remove a stubborn stain.
Step 1: Buy a jumbo grande box of baking soda and jug of white vinegar. White, or distilled vinegar, is cheaper by the jug than apple cider, but you can use that instead if you prefer.
Step 2: Containers and scoops. Purchase or re-purpose spray bottles: 2 for each bathroom, 3 for the kitchen, plus 2 extra. Size does not matter. If you like big get big. If you like dainty get small. Plain, colored, pretty, embellished…whatever you fancy. Free is a bargain!
If you do not have covered storage containers handy, buy some small cheap ones. Same number as the spray bottles. You can use pretty glass or porcelain ones if you have them, or buy them from online stores or at your local Dollar General. Plastic containers from the Chinese take-out or the deli both large and small that soup, potato salad, and chow mein come in are perfect. Even old, used jars with screw top lids can be used as long as they don’t still have a odor from the original contents. You can easily paint the lids to hide product names if that bothers you. Keep those coffee and powder scoops. They are perfect for the baking soda. If you don’t have any scoops improvise with what you have: spoons, measuring spoons, medicine cups, the top off of mouthwash, or raid grandma’s house. You know that grandma’s always have something they’ve saved for just this sort of thing.
Step 3: With a marker, sticker, or label maker (hand written is free!) mark your kitchen and bath spray bottles: 50% Vinegar. Mark one extra as 100% vinegar. Put the other extra spray bottles aside; you will use those at a later time. If you want to, label your containers baking soda (1 for each bathroom, 1 for the kitchen)
Step 4: Fill your kitchen and bath spray bottles 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar. And of course, fill the 100% with all vinegar. Fill your covered containers with baking soda.
Step 5: Put your new friends in their new homes. One of each of the 50% vinegar and baking soda into the bathrooms and kitchen. The kitchen also gets the 100% vinegar bottle. Why so many containers? You’ll clean more if you don’t have to wander all over the house to get your supplies. Keep a set in each area, that way they are always handy.
The VAST MAJORITY of your household cleaning can be done using just these two powerhouses. Before you use a stronger recipe, apply more elbow grease! As a general rule, if you want to disinfect use the 100% vinegar , for general cleaning the 50% is more than sufficient. If you need something really strong, look into buying cleaning grade, 20% solution vinegar.
Use the Vinegar and Water 50% to:
wash mirrors, windows, glass, and fixtures.
Spray down the shower tile and door/curtain
Clean kitchen counters, stove, table, and refrigerator
Quick clean the kitchen and bathroom sinks
Use the Straight Vinegar to:
clean the microwave (heat the vinegar in a bowl, let sit, then wipe away)
or spray the microwave, heat it for 20-30 seconds, let sit, then wipe.
Disinfect the cutting board; spray it on
Put some vinegar in a small pot, throw in some cinnamon sticks and cloves and
whole allspice heat until hot, turn off heat and let sit to scent the kitchen.
Deodorize the toilet: pour it in and leave it
Clean your coffee maker…pour it in; run a cycle–the run 2 clean H2O cycles.
Disinfect your counters, baby’s eating area, toys, etc.
Wash the outside of the windows that are exceptionally dirty (it cuts grime)
Use Baking Soda to:
Scrub the tub and deep clean the bathroom and kitchen sinks
Scrub stubborn stains or dried food off of the counter, stove, and pots
Deodorize the garbage disposal (pour some in and go away)
Deodorize and clear drains (pour some in, go away, return and flush with vinegar)
Pour some in the toilet, let sit, flush, add more and scrub before the water refills.
Got baking soda residue? Spray with vinegar, watch it fizz, and wipe away!
NOVEL IDEA: Instead of a covered container, an old Parmesan cheese container, lidded sifter, or punch holes in a plastic lid for the baking soda. Now you have yourself a container that sprinkles on like comet.
MULTITASKER: If you are ‘poo free (shampoo free, not poop less) you can use the same vinegar spray bottle and baking soda container to wash your hair.
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Author of suspense novels Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, The Stix, and New Age Lamians. As well as the short story collection Time Wasters and (co-author of) The Suspenseful Collection. Columnist for The Conscious Talk Magazine.
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