Archive for the ‘d-limonene’ Tag

Orange Oil Cleaner As Weed Killer   4 comments

One of the things that happens when you accidentally buy a case of 32-oz bottles of orange oil cleaner, is that you have A LOT of orange oil cleaner to get rid of. Even shipping a few bottles to interested friends and family hardly seems to make a dent in the volume. We typically use probably 1-oz in a year since most of our cleaning is done with just castile soap, vinegar, or baking soda (none of which are sensitizers like d-limonene, a sensitizer makes your body more susceptible to allergens and toxic chemicals). So a few weeks ago I read somewhere about using vinegar or orange oil cleaner to kill the weeds growing in the cracks and spacers in concrete, and I immediately thought it would be a great way to make some progress on our stash of orange oil cleaner!

Do you know what? It works.  It doesn’t actually take that much, but we have lots of concrete, lots of cracks/spacers, and therefore lots of weeds. Some of the weeds in the concrete are too large to pull out and repeated weed whacking just seems to make them tougher. But a dose of orange oil immediately shriveled them up and within days they were completely dead. It mostly worked on bermuda grass as well, although not all of the runners got killed. Since d-limonene is not a toxic chemical I don’t have a problem using it as an herbicide, and since it is extracted from orange peels I’m guessing that it is biodegradable so that there’s not a problem with harmful residues remaining on the concrete or contaminating storm water runoff.

Now there are two followup experiments: vinegar and time. Vinegar is cheaper, so if it works as well then it would be a better choice for anyone who didn’t accidentally buy a case of orange oil cleaner. And I’d also like to know how permanent of a solution it is. My guess is that any of it that soaks into the soil in the crack and stays will just help keep more weeds from growing for a while.

Posted October 24, 2011 by mayakey in environment, gardening, resource use

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Evolution of Spring Cleaning Products   Leave a comment

As I wrapped up my intensive final spring cleaning weekend yesterday, I was musing to myself about how the cleaners that I use for both weekly cleaning and spring/fall cleaning have evolved.

When I first started doing spring cleaning I was new to the world of citrus cleaners, and while I was just using a few drops of lemon oil for weekly cleaning, the commercial orange oil cleaner was my big gun for spring cleaning. Fast forward a few years and I learned that d-limonene, the active ingredient/extract from the orange rind to make the orange oil cleaners, is a sensitizer. That means that it is in a class of chemicals that are not toxic in and of themselves, but exposure to them can worsen the health effects from exposures to other agents like toxic chemicals or allergens. At first it didn’t really bother me. Since at that time I had also started using an orange oil cleaner for my weekly cleaning, I just switched to using a commercial “natural”, non-toxic multi-purpose cleaner for weekly cleaning and saved the orange oil cleaner for spring and fall cleaning projects. Then I started noticing that during both spring and fall cleaning I would have zero hayfever until I came home and started cleaning, and then I would spend the rest of the evening sneezing and blowing my nose. In order to avoid that rather unpleasant side-effect, my use of the orange oil cleaner significantly decreased.

Instead of the orange oil cleaner for spring cleaning I started using the same multi-purpose cleaner that I was using for my weekly cleaning. It sort of worked, except that it’s in a spray bottle and much of my thorough cleaning jobs are done using a bowl of water with the cleaner in it instead of spray-and-wipe. I find the bowl method much more psychologically pleasing since I get to watch the dirt go down the drain every time I empty and refill the bowl. So I started using castile soap instead for much of the cleaning.

Fast forward to today when almost all of the spring cleaning was done with castile soap in a bowl of water. The shower and sink tops were done with a lemon half dipped in salt. The oven was cleaned (very well and very easily) using a liberal dusting of baking soda and an occasional spritz of water over the course of an evening. That was the most impressive, watching the baking soda discolor as it did its magic and absorbed or reacted with the baked on crud (I don’t actually know how it works), and then with a wipe it was all gone with no annoying odors, elbow grease, toxins, or sensitizers. I realized that as far as the cost of the cleaners I’m now using the “big guns” for my weekly cleaners, since I’m still using commercial toilet bowl cleaner, scrub, and multi-purpose cleaner. I think it is time for a change. If I can do my thorough cleaning job with mostly water, castile soap, and baking soda, then why not my weekly cleaning?

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, A House in a Tub   Leave a comment

…or at least that’s what it feels like right now.

Right now it seems my world revolves around cleaning since I’m doing a very thorough cleaning of our new house from top to bottom while it is still empty. When I say “top to bottom” I mean it (although I’m not including the attic crawl space). We’ve vacuumed the textured ceilings, washed the smooth ceilings, and are working our way down the walls, kitchen cabinets, closets, etc. Every inch will have been cleaned by the time I’m done, or at least that’s the plan. The plan is being modified on the fly into categories of “must be done before we move in” and “can be done after we move in”. In my defense the house has been vacant for two years and it really is dirty.

I’m insisting on doing this because I have a weird tendency to not be comfortable in a new space until I have scrubbed it clean (slightly obsessive-compulsive, I know). It took me several years to be comfortable touching the cabinets in the kitchen of our rental, or eating food that had fallen on the counter. Since I don’t want to go through that in the house we now own, I’m cleaning it all immediately. If I can start with my brain thinking everything is clean, maybe that will shorten the period it takes me to get comfortable. It’s not like everything around me always has to be clean; it’s that I have to trick or lull my brain into thinking that it is.

Since I won’t use any toxic cleaners, for me a heavy duty cleaner is an orange oil cleaner that does not contain petroleum distillates (at least as far as I was able to determine). While d-limonene (from orange peals, the active ingredient in orange oil cleaners) is considered to have low toxicity, I am not comfortable using it as a regular cleaner because it is such a potent solvent (degreaser). It absolutely causes skin irritation; I have made the frequent mistake of not wearing gloves and ending up with very very dry hands. (This time around I am wearing gloves, but we’ll have to see if the lesson has stuck.) For me, d-limonene also exacerbates any allergies; after a cleaning session I am sneezing like mad. I pretty much only bring out the orange oil cleaner when I need a really big gun, and instead I usually rely on hot water, castile soap, and elbow grease.

So far, at least, I think all this cleaning is working. I’m already much more comfortable in the house. The only problem is, this is taking forever!

Posted August 2, 2010 by mayakey in cleaning

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