Monday, August 23, 2010

Gratitude for the Earth: Harnessed Power!

Nature does nothing uselessly.

I used to hate cleaning the house when I was a kid. To be honest, I probably never cleaned the house as a kid. The smells from chemical cleaners made me nauseated and sick. But my mom was a junkie for a streak-free shiny home so she chemically pulverized whichever home we were living in at the time with an armory of Windex, Mr. Clean, Green-All, and Comet. I found any reason to leave the house and avoid inhaling the fumes for as long as possible.

It was the same story with classrooms. I could smell the Clorox bleached desktops and flooring every Monday morning. I got headaches and nausea. I was lucky though, and never developed asthma which is now on the rise, tripling in the last two decades. Literature attesting to the harmful effects, both on people, pets and the environment, because of chemical cleaners or other chemical solvents is on the rise. When I lived by myself, I was my only concern and I was able to clean (or for that matter, not clean) in the manner I wanted to. Now that I live with Clint and cleanliness concerns more than a one bedroom rental I had by myself, I have had to get creative with cleaning.

One word: Vinegar. I am amazed. What used to be an ingredient in my dumpling dipping sauce is now the main bacteria fighting agent in my household. Nature has provided a solution for everything!

What used to be needed:

Clorox bleach, fabric softeners, Windex, Comet, Ajax, Resolve, etc.

ALL that power is now harnassed in a simple solution of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part distilled (I use Brita filtered) water. It cleans EVERYTHING! I use a plain white cloth and this bottle of magic around the house to clean the windows for streak-free shininess, pet stains (it both lifts stains and neutralizes odor), and disinfecting hard surfaces (bathroom sinks -> kitchen counters). A tablespoon or two in your laundry makes for a fabulous fabric softener. I use baking soda and vinegar to unclog shower drains and I use a cup of vinegar in the toilet to clean the toilet (in a last ditch effort, I once left bleach in the toilet overnight... we came back and it didn't do anything. A week later, a lightbulb moment led to an idea to soak vinegar in the toilet and it worked!)

Ah vinegar... while cleaning the house now makes my mouth water because of the aromatic reminder of dim sum, the smell goes away in minutes and all that's left is a non-toxic clean home.

(Other non-toxic, cheap, genius ways of cleaning the home: baking soda. A non-toxic, fragrance free replacement for deodorant: baking soda and corn starch.)

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