Easier Than You Think - Keeping Your Bathroom CLEAN Without Chemicals
When you open your cleaning cabinet to freshen up your bathroom, does a wave of manufactured “clean smell” wash over you – and do you find yourself thinking “whoa - that can’t be good for me?”
It’s not – the toxic medley of "fresh" odors is full of toxins
and chemicals that can slowly wreak havoc with our health. But up til now,
you’ve continued using the same collection of supplies, because the
lemony-clean smell of the familiar is so much easier to deal with than the
It's time to get rid of them. The scrubbing bubbles, the green gel, the purple spray…Get rid of them all! (I know – it seems wasteful, doesn’t it? Your frugal mind is telling you no - but you can do it!) Liberate your family from all that sodium hypochlorite, formaldehyde, trichloroethane and other multi-sylabic toxins lurking in those innocent-looking cleaning products. Toss them and don’t look back. (And by toss them, I mean take them to your local hazardous waste collection center – you definitely don’t want them leaching into your water supply!)
You’re now staring at an empty cleaning closet or cupboard (you wild woman, you!), and you’re wondering what the hell you’re going to use to keep your bathroom clean. You cringe a little, thinking of stinky hippy bathrooms. You wonder if you should have saved all those tried and true chemicals just in case… You simply can’t live with a smelly bathroom. You can’t, and you won’t. And you won’t have to – I promise. Here’s how:
In the place of all those chemical laden cleaners, you need two spray bottles.
The first bottle you’re going to fill halfway with vinegar. Personally, I like to use organic white vinegar, but apple cider or coconut vinegars work well too, and have their own pleasant scents. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. This is your new glass cleaner. Newspapers are a great medium for wiping your mirrors and windows clean. They don’t streak, don’t leave lint behind, and you’ve probably got plenty of them lying around waiting to be recycled anyway. Microfiber cleaning cloths also work very well – and they’re almost infinitely re-usable, so you’re not generating any trash that’s going to end up in the landfill.
In the other spray bottle, you’re going to put a small amount of a concentrated all-natural cleaning liquid. My personal favorite is a lovely lavender-smelling concentrate made by Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Day, though there are now many green-friendly options to choose from. Seventh Generation, Biokleen, Dr. Bronner’s, and a growing legion of manufacturers offer lots of great all-natural cleaning products. Keep trying something new, until you find one you just love. Follow the product directions to know how much concentrate to use, then fill your spray bottle the rest of the way with water. This is your new clean-everything all-purpose cleaner. This is what you’ll use to clean your sink, toilet, shower and tub, and floor.
Some Helpful Products:
A word about cleaning cloths. Many of us have grown up hooked on paper towels. The idea of simply throwing away all those germs you’ve just wiped up – especially “bathroom germs” - really does seem like the easiest solution, doesn’t it? But all the waste this generates is terribly unkind to the planet – and your pocketbook, when it comes down to it. The average American family uses almost two rolls of paper towels a week – about 100 rolls per year. A little more than a third of materials going into landfills these days is still made up of paper products – and paper towels make up a sizable percentage of that. With a few simple household changes, we really can make a difference in those statistics.
So – instead of a roll of paper towels, I keep a small wicker basket filled with clean folded rags. If you want something a little more chic, it’s easy to find inexpensive and cheerfully-colored cotton or hemp cleaning cloths online. As you’re cleaning your bathroom, use one for the sink. One for the shower and tub. One for the toilet – work your way from the top down, lifting the cover, then the seat, and wiping as you go (If you really have a hard time with the idea of washing and re-using a cleaning cloth, the toilet surfaces are the place to splurge and use one paper towel). Last, use another two or three cloths for the floor (including all the mop-boards) depending on the size of your bathroom.
For tougher-than-usual stains, requiring a stronger scrubbing power, you can always sprinkle a little baking soda on the affected surface. Spray the area lightly with your vinegar and water spray, and give it a scrub. (The baking soda and vinegar combination works well for clogged drains as well – pour one cup of soda down the drain, and follow it with a cup of vinegar. It will fizz, which is what you want. Let it sit for half an hour or so, then chase it all down with hot water.)
As one additional tool in my green clean arsenal, I also put a very small amount (a couple of teaspoons) of the concentrated cleaner into the well of a dish wand – yes, a dish wand, like you use to wash your dishes. This lovely little tool is my “shower wand”. Fill the well the rest of the way with water, and you’re ready to go. I tend to keep it hanging (brush side up, so the liquid doesn’t drizzle out), in the shower, making it easy to give the walls a quick scrub while I’m in there. You can also give tiled walls a quick spray with your vinegar and water solution when you’re getting out of the shower – doing this on a regular basis will help keep mold, mildew, and water stains from ever getting started.
While you’re thinking about the shower - now is a great time to take a look at your shower curtain. Is it made of vinyl? Studies have found that PVC shower curtains contain phthalates (which have been clearly linked to birth defects) and other toxins, which are released into your steamy shower air over time. Recycle the old one, and replace it with one made of organic cotton, or hemp.
Once or twice a week, clean the bowl of your toilet with full-strength vinegar. Flush the toilet to empty the bowl. Then pour in some vinegar around the sides, and give it a good scrub. If you find that you have particularly tenacious hard water stains, there are several all-natural pumice products that work absolute wonders. My favorite is the Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover, marketed by US Pumice.
This should be all you really need to keep your bathroom clean – safely, without chemicals and toxins, and without giving in to scum or stains. Good luck, and feel free to send me your own all-natural cleaning solutions – I’d love to hear them!
More by this Author
So you want to put up a bat house. Good for you! Bats are marvelous little creatures that play a highly important role in our ecosystem. They can also play a wonderful part in minimizing the population of biting insects...