The best cleaning solutions are often the cheapest and most outdated

  1. ImageSo this week, after the wedding shower gifts and the wedding gift, the baby shower gifts, the birthday gifts, and the fancy cheese trays to accompany the birthday gifts, came the Father’s Day gifts, and ACK! the $5.95 greetings cards, to each and every dear cherished Dad.  So I gagged at my checking account, sobbed at my credit card balance and realized I was out of laundry detergent and our clothes were spilling out of their respective baskets. Did I panic? NO, I thought, stay cool. I remembered the wise lessons my mother taught me when I was poorer: poverty is no excuse for a filthy house. Good cleaning products are cheap and easy to come by, indeed many of them are probably hiding in our cabinets. And after using them I/we get to bask in the glowy feeling of pleasant pragmatism. So here’s list of my favorite old standbys which may not smell Lilacs, but they are effective, cheap, and better for the environment than most cleaning aisle products.

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Baking soda is wonderful. I buy the biggest cheapest box I can find. I use it as a water softener in my laundry and my bathtub. After you brush you teeth with it you’ll feel as if you just returned from a dental cleaning. Then dab some on that same old toothbrush and shine anything or clean out any dingy hard to clean place. And carpet powder, I know it makes your home smell neat, but those companies don’t release the ingredients in the carpet powders, not even Arm and Hammer. Regular old baking soda is an excellent safe substitute. But my FAVORITE ( most vain) way to use it, is as a face exfoliant. I use it daily, it’s very gentle and will leave skin feeling clean and nice and soft. That’s when I really start feeling the glow. It is a beautiful product. I know their are books devoted to baking sofa, so much more than I’m listing.

Image IVORY soap. It may or may not still float. But the real reason it’s still cool (since 1897) is not just because it’s cheap, not just because it reminds you of childhood, but also because it’s a wonderfully gentle laundry soap, and very effective too. I sink a bar into a large (pickle) mason jar of warm water, shake it and let it sit. After a couple of days, you can shake again and pour the silky liquid a 1/2 C-1C or so into your wash and it’s great. No bubbles. Perfect for cleaning baby clothes (though not for cleaning babies skin). I’ve also combined those last slivers of soap (differing brands) at the end of a bar rather than throwing them away to use. And of course, it’s a very affordable and amuch purer soap than those bottles of fragrant forest shower gels.

Image Good Ol’ Fels-Naptha, what a weird name, but what an excellent product. I have 2 children and they go through at least 3 shirts, two shorts, and 4 dresses daily.  And that is how I found this funky old stain remover. Some people add it to their laundry by grating it off. I’m way too lazy for that. But, after your child’s ice cream drips onto their new shirt, or you find melted candy in your pocket, then go to your sink, tear the end of paper off a bar of Fels-Naptha, wet the bar and rub it into the stain. Throw it in the wash, and viola! The stain has disappeared. It also claims to remove sweat stains. Wonderful stuff. Sorry Shout, I’ve found a new love.

Image White Vinegar, it’s not just for making pickles. I go through a gallon (of vinegar, not pickles) every two weeks. Good thing it’s so cheap. So I use to buy the prettily bottled fruit & veggie wash, no more. Now I use, 1/3 to 1, vinegar to water poured into a small cheap spray bottle (found in the hair accessory section). SO: spray peach, rub, rinse. Well done. And no, the peach will not taste like vinegar. But that’s just the beginning. Did you know that some clothes labels suggest dry cleaning for the simple reason that one color may fade into the next, like a black and white dress. Vinegar is the answer. Add a cup to your cold wash and it will keep the colors from fading. Anyone who’s tie dyed or colored Easter eggs will remember that important addition of vinegar. It sets colors. But remember, it’s the opposite of stain remover. It’s also excellent for removing the smell of mildew, think stinky wet towels.Vinegar, I know it’s excellent for your body too. Please research it if your interested.

In essence, when it comes to cleaning, keep it simple. There are more and more responsible brands out there such as Method, Dr Bronners, Mrs. Meyers, etc.. I love them, frankly because I love how they smell and look on my counter. But, for all practical purposes, keep it simple. I encourage you to continue researching this topic further online. There is a lot of great information out there. Other wonderful simple products? Bleach, Ammonia and newspaper for cleaning windows. But, don’t mix the ammonia and bleach, it’ll singe your eyebrows off, I speak from experience. Thanks for tuning in.

Please comment with your useful cleaning ideas, stories, and experiments, even the embarassing ones.  Like the time I used my laundry detergent in the dishwasher. The children loved it, and couldn’t restrain themselves from divulging our secret to my husband when he walked through the door. What’s wrong with a few bubbles! The floor had never looked cleaner.

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