Archive for the ‘spring cleaning’ Tag

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.┬áThen 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?

Lemon vs. Mildew   1 comment

This weekend I tackled one of our usual spring cleaning chores, scrubbing out the mildew in the shower. We’re not doing full spring cleaning since at some point in the hopefully not too distant future we will be packing everything up to move, but there are just some things that need to be taken care of. Our bathroom does not have a vent, and especially during the winter when it is too cold outside to leave the window open, the mildew in the shower can become frightful.

When I moved in here five years ago the mildew in the shower was bad, really bad. Even after I finally got up the guts to tackle it with liberal amounts of bleach it was still really bad. So it became a twice-yearly ritual to scrub and then spray bleach and then scrub again. All this with the necessary breaks to prevent headaches from the bleach, and dealing with the lingering smell for a couple days even after rinsing the tile. It was really frustrating to suffer so much and still have mildew in the grout, and both my husband and I really hated dealing with the bleach. So last year I decided to try something new that I had heard about somewhere: using lemon to bleach out the mildew. The experiment last year wasn’t particularly successful, but I was using lemons that were cross pollinated with oranges and were therefore different. I suspect that they didn’t have all the properties of typical lemon, and they also had a higher sugar content so things got a little sticky. This weekend I tried it again using regular lemons, and I am sold.

It’s not a perfect comparison since it has now been over a year since the last time I used bleach on the tile and I don’t remember exactly how the tile looked afterwards anymore. Also, since we don’t have a prayer of getting all of the mildew out I’m not judging the lemon negatively for not getting all of the mildew out. The bleach never did. But I think the lemon needed less scrubbing, it took about the same amount of time to rub 4 lemon halves on the tile as spraying bleach on the walls, it smelled better and didn’t leave me with a headache, and I didn’t have to worry about damaging my clothing or the shower curtain (it’s hemp, not plastic). Plus, lemon is not toxic. Lemons are gradually becoming a heavy-duty-cleaning staple for me, since they are also great at removing hard water buildup. Unlike vinegar, lemons come with a convenient rind that can be used to hold the lemon in place while applying.

Posted April 4, 2010 by mayakey in cleaning, home

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