The other morning hit me with a tough challenge - do you remember your chemistry, Courtney? Nope I answered quickly, I’ll go get Robert. Robert and I sat next to each other on the couch and hammered out some math problems. We were trying to work out some concentration questions for my laundry soap. I was using chemistry equations and he was using logic. We both came up with the same answers but I had to cheat and google the equations because alas I had forgotten them.
So why was I bothering with chemistry equations, well I had another soap disaster but I won’t bore you with the details this time. Let’s just say that I trusted another EHow recipe. I had to rework the recipe a bit and here is what I have come up with.
Laundry Detergent without Borax:
Amount Needed Per Load:
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid castile soap
2 teaspoons of Dry Mix
Dry Mix Recipe:
1/3 cup salt
1 cup washing soda
1/3 cup baking soda *update 8/2012 I just started adding this to the recipe, can’t tell if it makes a difference but I feel good about adding another odor absorbing safe cleaner to the mix.
You might be wondering why not mix the two together and add them at one time. I found out that the washing soda doesn’t dissolve well in small amounts of liquid. In your large load of laundry it will dissolve just fine. So I eliminated the water in the recipe. Really why do I need to be lugging around a big jug of water I would rather use small amounts of concentrated soap.
This is after the Dry Mix was heated in water. Not dissolved at all.
Another method: I used my old Charlie’s Soap bottle because it has a measured pump on it. I calculated how much castile soap and water I would need for the 1 gallon bottle I had. If you are in the same situation, Charlies’s Soap dispenses 30 ml per load so fill the bottle with 4 cups castile soap and the rest with water. This is really only worth the effort if your bottle has a measured pump otherwise use the concentrated method above.
I washed my first load of diapers yesterday (a true test of washing ability) so I will let you know how well it worked. Check out my homemade dishwasher detergent without borax too.
Update 8/2012 – I’ve been using this for over a year now and really love it. Heavily soiled items I do use one or two more pumps. And I have found that it doesn’t clean fruit stains very well – that’s what the enzyme detergents do good at I guess. Stain treating is the only way to go. My cloth diapers are on their 2 year of heavy daily usage and are still clean.
As I mentioned in my last post I don’t use vinegar exclusively. I clean the kitchen counters after each meal with the hottest water, a scrubbing brush and good ol’ dish soap. I let it sit while I clean all the counters and then I dry with a clean dish towel.
In the bathroom, I do use Soft Scrub on my toilets. Robert usually takes this job because I don’t want any bleach fumes (baby on board). When the bottle runs out though I will probably switch to vinegar or I just read about using some other all nautral products like, lemon juice, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and tea tree oil. After the baby comes I will probably try some experimentation on what works best in the toilet. For now though, Robert does a fantastic job.
Now on a rare occasion when someone in the house gets sick, like with the stomach flu or a bad cold I do some disinfecting. While I don’t love using bleach I do use it. I think everybody dislikes it because it’s production is harmful to the environment but my main concern is what’s harmful to my family. So I use it occasionally and don’t really think twice about it. I figure that those pathogenic stomach flu germs are far more dangerous than the bleach. I dilute it to 3/8 tsp per cup of water. I put it into a spray bottle and clean all the light switches, door handles, toilets, counters and other areas where the sicky may have been. Bleach needs time to work so you can’t just wipe it right off. I try to leave it on for 10 minutes then wipe it off. On the toilet I just let it dry. This makes the job hands free and no possible way for cross contamination.
For the floors in our house we just discovered the Shark. It uses only steam to clean. How all natural can you get, huh? I’ll write more about the Shark later but I highly recommend it for all non carpeted floors, even hardwood.
During my first pregnancy I switched to all natural everything. This included cleaning products. I tossed my scrubbing bubbles, Windex, 409, Comet, Toilet Bowl cleaner and all the other bottles that cluttered our cabinets. In it’s place I used vinegar. I had friends tell me they used it to sometimes to clean and I thought – it’s edible so why not.
To my surprise the vinegar worked just as well as my assortment of hazardous household cleaners. I dilute it by half with water and use it pretty much everywhere. To clean an entire bathroom I probably use 3/4 cup vinegar and 3/4 -1 cup water. A $2.50 jug of white vinegar will last a very long time. Here’s how I use it:
- To clean the mirrors, just wipe with wet vinegar/water rag and use a dry rag to dry. Spotless, no streaks every time.
- Counters get wiped off with dry rag and then cleaned with vinegar/water rag. Bowl will sparkle as will the faucets.
- Inside and outside of tub can be scrubbed with brush dipped in the vinegar water.
- To clean outside of toilet, wipe with wet rag and then dry off. I do the toilet last then toss by vinegar/water solution, cause you don’t want to smear all those toilet germs all over the bathroom.
- To clean cabinets inside and out, use vinegar/water solution and wipe down the surfaces, then dry off. It’s important on wood surface, whether painted or not to dry quickly so it doesn’t start to absorb
- To clean the greasy area above the microwave, just scrub with wet vinegar/water rag. You may need to clean rag several times because the grease can be thick. Vinegar doesn’t cut grease as easily as 409 but with a little elbow grease it all works out the same in the end.
- Refrigerator, microwave and other appliances can all be wiped clean with vinegar/water solution, just dry off with dry rag
- To replace your rinse aid (which if you read the back of the bottle it says not to ingest which begs the question, why am I using it on my glasses and plates then?) just pour a few glugs of vinegar into the bottom of the washer. It will remove spots from your glasses, even ones that seem stained.
I almost forgot, the smell. Some of you may be turning your nose up at vinegar because of its potent smell. Well first, the smell doesn’t bother me because I love vinegary foods. It doesn’t even bother me while pregnant. It smells clean to me and clean things are less offensive I guess. While you are cleaning the smell is strong but once the surface is dried off it really cares no lasting smell. The bathroom may smell a little vinegary for an hour or so afterwards but this is because we have no windows in our bathroom or ventilation fans.
I have been asked before if vinegar disinfects. I have done very little research on the subject but I believe the answer is no. Not on it’s own. It reduces the amount of microbes (aka germs) but it doesn’t really disinfect. I read somewhere that spraying surface with vinegar an then another mild disinfectant like maybe lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide might do the trick. I want to try this out.
Now I don’t use vinegar extensively, in my arsenal are dish soap, bleach (I know I’m so bad), Soft Scrub, and The Shark. I will talk more about these tomorrow. By and large my favorite cleaning product is vinegar. I use liberally and I use it often. I save the chemicals for some of the nasty stuff that needs to be cleaned.