Turn on the television on any day, and you’re likely to see an advert for some new cleaning product that promises to do what no other cleaning product has been able to accomplish. A fashionably dressed actor joyfully demonstrates how to remove those tough stains with little or no effort at all, then steps back and admires her handy work (It is usually a woman, isn’t it?).
Let’s be honest here. When was the last time you wore a snappy outfit to clean your house? And if we’re being honest, we can’t help but wonder why that super housekeeper on the telly allowed her walls to get so dingy in the first place. But that’s all beside the point, really. What really matters to us is whether the products we use will actually perform as advertised, how much they will cost, and what chemicals are in the toxic brew that can dissolve away such filth without the user breaking a sweat (or into hives, for that matter).
When we go to the store to buy the new miracle cleaner, but when we look at the price, we gasp, wondering if it contains some rare earth element. We pick up the product and try desperately to read the blurred, tiny print on the label. There are no ingredients listed of course, but there are several paragraphs, advising users what to do if they swallow or inhale the product, get it in their eyes, of even find themselves in the same room with its fumes. Scary, to say the least. But you needn’t worry; there is a miracle cleaner available everywhere that works as well as the costly toxic bombs, and is no more hazardous than, well, salad dressing! And that miracle cleaner is…Vinegar! Here are a couple of examples of how plain old vinegar can work as well as the high-priced and much more dangerous cleaners on your grocer’s shelves.
For cleaning surfaces like your stovetop, fridge, countertops, or floors, just mix equal parts vinegar and hot water. You’ll find that it will dissolve grease and grime quite effectively. If you like, you can add a bit of lemon or essential oils to it to impart a nice scent. Lavender is particularly nice, and certainly much more pleasant than the pungent chemical aroma of commercial products.
Clearing slow or clogged drains
This is an easy one, and you needn’t don a pair of chemical gloves and respirator when you use it. Pour about a third cup of bicarbonate (baking soda) down the stubborn drain, followed by the same amount of vinegar. It will bubble, gurgle, and foam up, which is a satisfying thing to watch all by itself. But when you tire of listening to it, walk away for a bit, perhaps twenty minutes or so. When you return, bring a pan of very hot – but not boiling – water, and flush the concoction down the drain. If the drain was clogged with anything less than a massive clump of hair or a deceased rodent, the water will rush right through. I will caution you, however: if you happen to splash some of the soda and vinegar in your face, refrain from licking your lips, as it doesn’t taste particularly good. At least there’s no need to call the poison centre, however.
Scouring tubs and toilets
When you tire of inhaling abrasive dust and chemicals every time you clean the loo, there is another “miracle” cleaner that you can use that doesn’t burn your eyes and nose or leave your hands feeling like century-old leather. Just wet the surface down, and sprinkle some borax powder on. Then, using your sponge or scrubber, wipe away the dirt. Simple, isn’t it? For more stubborn stains, you can pour a bit of vinegar on the surface first, then add the borax and proceed with the scrubbing. And again, you needn’t take hazardous material precautions whilst you work. The borax can sting if it gets in your eyes, of course, but utter a quick curse word or two and wash out your eyes with water, and you’ll be right as the rain in no time.
These are but a few examples of inexpensive and non-toxic products that you can get at the grocer’s, and that will do as fine a job of cleaning as the high-priced hazmats. Experiment a bit, and do a little searching here on the Internet to find even more ways you can cut your costs while cleaning, by using products you likely have stored in your pantry, anyway.