March 9, 2017

cleaning days: part II

a few weeks ago i wrote about my cleaning schedule and this is a follow up post with more details on the products i use around the house. i found a cool white locker at our local thrift store recently and thought it looked like the perfect size to keep all of my housekeeping stuff in. we're moving in may and closet space isn't a certainty (european houses are kind of notorious for this) so i figured a stand alone option would be practical. daniel cut me more shelves and i hung some hooks inside and now this thing is a cleaning geek's dream. it's important to me to use products that are not only safe for our health but also gentle on the earth. chemicals that get rinsed down the drain don't just disappear, they stay in the water and can negatively influence the surrounding environment over time. there's a lot of good info here if you're interested in reading more about the impact household cleaners can have on your health, etc.

so, on to the good stuff! the cleaners i use most frequently are kept in a handled basket, that way i can carry them from room to room easily. nearly all of what i have is homemade or self mixed, so i've had to get creative with the containers. i repurposed two glass jars that once held lemon juice and homeopathic tonic for my spray bottles, and the shakers are basic stainless steel ones meant for kitchen use that i found on amazon. i use two kinds of mixtures for the spray bottles: one is just half vinegar and half distilled water with some chosen essential oil, the other is 2-3 tablespoons of dr. bronner's unscented castile soap and distilled water with a different essential oil. they're very easy to whip up in a hurry and i like being able to change the scent depending on my mood or the season (favorite oils include: lemon, onguard from dōterra, orange, peppermint, clove, and grapefruit). the soapy mix is good for the kitchen counters and table and for dusting the house. the vinegar one i use mostly for mild disinfecting or for wiping down glass. this one is also my go-to for mold and baby accidents. it's important to store anything with essential oils in glass and not plastic to prevent leaching, so i took two spray heads from normal plastic bottles and found glass jars that had the same sized opening. you'd be surprised how easy it is to find ones that fit, i definitely was!

one cleaning issue i kept running into was hard water build up. in our old apartment the water had a lot of lime as well, so i had to find something that would get the shower and tub clean without an ungodly amount of scrubbing and preferably no chemicals. my in-laws were the ones who gave me my first bag of zitronensäure (citric acid) and although that worked well against the hard water buildup, it required a lot of soaking or elbow grease. it only took a little googling to discover that mixing baking soda, citric acid and water makes a great fizzing concoction that really reduces the amount of scrubbing you need to do. i keep the two ingredients in the stainless steel shakers and just shake what i need into the sink/shower/tub/toilet and it's good to go! if i want some scent and extra cleaning power i'll spray the soapy bottle mix over the top before scrubbing. elbow grease will always be a main component of a natural cleaning regime, but some chemistry research can help a lot (the citric acid/baking soda mix does create carbon dioxide, so i open windows and try not to stand directly over the area after shaking everything together). another plus of keeping the baking soda in a shaker is that i can easily sprinkle some into the garbage cans when i change the bags to absorb some of the odor.

additional things in my basket are a lint roller, a small spray bottle of just distilled water, paper garbage bags for the bathroom, and a pumice stone. when we moved into our current apartment i noticed the toilets kept getting nasty black buildup around the water line, and no amount of scrubbing was helping. i had resigned myself to just having weird toilet marks when i found something on pinterest that recommended using an old pumice stone to remove black buildup without damaging the porcelain. this trick worked. like, epically. i remember daniel was there when i first tried it and he got so excited that he wanted to do the second toilet himself (one of the reasons i love that man!) the locker also holds the cleaning rags and a bucket for the used ones, a wool duster, our kärcher window squeegee, my 50 lb. bag of baking soda (thanks again amazon) and a dust pan and broom. other extras include toilet paper and homemade wood butter from amanda watters that i use on our wooden spoons and cutting boards.

the one thing we use from time to time that is most definitely not natural is chlorine spray. unfortunately there isn't a window in our main bathroom, and the shower doors are glass (not my idea, it's one of the downsides of renting) so we've had some major mold problems crop up. i'd say we use it maximum three times a year, and always with plenty of air circulation, but it still makes me unhappy. if you have any tips i'd love to hear them!

so that concludes my über nerdy post on cleaning supplies, i hope you got some ideas or inspiration and if you have new ideas for me to try please share! xoxo