Executive Pagan

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Kitchen Druidry – low-chemical cleaning

Posted by Erik on February 24, 2009

A few years ago we made a serious effort to reduce the number of cleaning products we use, particularly those containing toxic or harmful chemicals. In the process, we discovered a couple of things – first, that we don’t clean nearly as much as we should :)… and second, that baking soda and/or hydrogen peroxide will clean almost anything. I can get pet stains out of carpet and upholstery with peroxide and a damp rag (hairball residue, mostly, although it works on urine as well), and baking soda will clean any hard surface, with enough elbow grease – even the stove top without scratching, if I scrub longer and more gently.

We still have need of some commercial cleaning products – I haven’t found anything that gets stains out of clothing as well as Zout, for instance – but overall we’re a *much* greener household than we were five years ago, and that’s better for everyone. And the quest continues – for instance, just the other day I read about a manual self-clearing drain trap that sounds quite interesting, but I’m hesitant to lay out that kind of money until I learn whether it actually works… so if anyone knows about this product or a similar one, please comment!

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5 Responses to “Kitchen Druidry – low-chemical cleaning”

  1. R.D. Hammond said

    Ooh! Good topic. I’ve been researching this for a year or three now myself.

    As you’ve already discovered, baking soda in a bucket of warm water will literally clean anything. (I use it mostly for mopping and surfaces.) For the tough stuff, you can make a scrubbing paste by wetting some baking soda on a rag.

    Vinegar also works as an all purpose cleaner. I use a half-and-half solution with newspaper buffs for window washing. Steamed vinegar will also get odors out, including tough ones like urine and smoke. (The smell of vinegar eventually goes away and takes the odor with it.)

    It’s slightly more toxic than any other ingredient on the list (a tablespoon straight ingested will make you tremendously nauseous, more than that is life threatening), but borax does a GREAT job of disinfecting, as well as scouring porcelain. Some borax in warm water is a great way to clean bathrooms.

    If you (or anybody else) is further interested in this stuff, you can check out “The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing” by Michael Dejong. I keep a copy on my kitchen counter, and it’s a great quick reference guide.

    I remain dubious about the borax-and-baking-soda dishwasher powder, however. I’ve never gotten it to work even halfway decently.

  2. executivepagan said

    We use borax as a laundry additive; I’ll have to try it in the bathroom next time (I’ve been using straight baking soda). Thanks for the tip!

    The baking soda paste is also good for getting stains out of countertops… but I still use Dawn for the dishes.

  3. R.D. Hammond said

    I’m switching back to Ivory for dishes. I tried an “organic” pine cleaner for a while, but all it does is make my pots smell very strongly of pine when I’m trying to cook rice in them. Ew.

    Continuing the previous line of thought, you can put a tablespoon of vinegar in soapy dishwater to cut grease further and reduce sudsing. A similar spoon of baking soda also works to turn dishwater into self-scouring water.

    Also, you can use baking soda in warm water as an antiseptic gargle. I like to fill a spray bottle with a baking soda solution so I can clean my counters, then unscrew the top and gargle the “cleaning fluid”. It makes me feel hardcore.

  4. executivepagan said

    It makes me feel hardcore.

    LOL! Suddenly I’m reminded of the “extreme rice” bit from MST3K…

  5. Feral Boy said

    On a similar note, if your dog eats something he shouldn’t have,
    our vet recommended using hydrogen peroxide as an emetic. We used
    a teaspoon for a HUGE lab/mastiff once — be sure to ask the vet
    about dosage for yours! It worked extremely well, he
    brought everything up (we were afraid he had swallowed a popped
    ballon). Poor little guy didn’t trust his water bowl for about a day afterwards, though. :(

    — Feral Boy

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