Friday, August 26, 2011

In My Cabinet...

UGH.  It's been one of THOSE mornings, ladies.  I feel like shoving my head under a pillow and screaming at the injustice of it all.  Today, my toddler opened the day by dumping a full glass of chocolate milk on his lap.  Not an accident.  He watched the liquid pour, and he was smiling.  I reprimanded him, and made him clean it up.  Not twenty minutes later, he poured a glass of apple juice onto his legs and all over the floor.  Icky.  Sticky.  Apple juice.  I made my toddler clean up the mess and stripped him down to his diaper for 10 minutes.  "You can't wear clothes if you're just going to get them wet," I said.  That was punishment enough.  My boy detests going without clothing.  He huddled up on the floor and cried big crocodile tears.  Meanwhile, I nursed my baby one-handed while crouching down and helping my boy mop up the juice.  Inside, I thought, "How did it come to this?"

Now my floor is gross-sticky.  No matter how many times I go over it with a wash rag, my feet still stick to the floor.  So, now let's head into our main topic of discussion.  Kitchen cleaning products.  Oh yes.  We're goin' for all sorts of excitement today.  Half kidding.  Half completely serious.  I'm all for it on days like today when I'm in a cleaning pinch.  So, here we go.  Here's my Cleaning Cabinet Top 5...

1. Disinfectant wipes.  Usually the Clorox variety.  They're so darn useful.  As an added plus, they're great for introductory toddler chores.  One of my boy's favorite chores is to take a disinfectant wipe and wipe down all the doorknobs.  It's something easy, I usually don't get around to doing it, and who cares if he misses a spot?  Perfect for toddlers.

2. Bleach.  Whenever I'm working with raw food -- veggies, fruits, but especially meat -- I fill the sink with diluted bleach and bomb my kitchen afterwards with it.  Let it sit  for 10 minutes, then wipe down with hot water.  Heat will accelerate the breakdown of hypochlorite in bleach and make bleached surfaces safe to touch as soon as it dries.

Oh, added tip.  Remember the last time your kid threw up in the car?  No?  I try not to remember stuff like that either.  But when it happens, strip the cover off (throw in washing machine) and soak the plastic part in the bath tub in a diluted bleach for 10 minutes.  Make sure you scrub the shoulder straps.  Rinse with hot water.  Your baby's car seat will magically smell like nothing ever happened.  I speak from experience.  I may have sung hallelujah to bleach that day.

3.  Distilled white vinegar.  Oh, this baby has so many uses.  It's cheap.  It's powerful.  It's chemical free.  To deodorize a yucky drain, pour one cup of hot vinegar down the drain, wait five minutes, and rinse.  To clean out a chalky dishwasher, throw in a cup of vinegar and run a cycle empty.  To clean cloudy glassware, soak a cloth in vinegar and wrap around the dish.   To remove odors from a lunchbox or plastic food containers, wipe down with vinegar and leave a rag or piece of bread soaked in vinegar in it overnight.  For more ideas, click HERE.  Oh, and about that apple juice mess I mentioned above.  It can be easily cleaned with a homemade vinegar-based cleaner.

BASIC FLOOR CLEANER: Combine 1 cup white vinegar with 1 gallon warm water.  Use on vinyl surfaces.

WOOD FLOOR CLEANER:  Combine 1/2 cup white vinegar with 1 gallon warm water.  (When cleaning wood floors, make sure you don't saturate the floor, since wood soaks in a lot of moisture.  Dampen sponge, wring out into a bucket, then scrub.)

4.  Ammonia.  I know.  I freaked a little about buying and having ammonia in my home at first.  "It's not safe!" yelled my brain.  Calm down, brain.  If you look at the ingredients list of most household cleaners, more often than not, ammonia's already in there.  The reason is that very few surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected well without it.  Wood.  Steel.  Kitchen countertops.  Refrigerator doors.  All clean well with ammonia.  Just make sure to mix your cleaners in a well ventilated room and keep it safely stored away from baby hands like you would any store-bought cleaner.

For you curious folk, you probably wondered, what's the difference between bleach and ammonia.  They both clean and disinfect, right?  Well, yes, but there are subtle differences.  Sparing you the details, we'll just say that because of their chemical make-up BLEACH IS A STRONGER DISINFECTANT.  Ammonia still kills germs, but not with the gusto of bleach.  The benefit of that is that ammonia will clean surfaces without discoloring them.  Bleach will sometimes cause discoloration or lightening.

2 T ammonia
1 tsp dish detergent
2 cups rubbing alcohol

In a clean, gallon container, combine above ingredients and fill the rest up with hot water.  Put in spray bottles to use.

3 T ammonia
1 T vinegar

Combine above ingredients in a spray bottle and fill the rest up with water.  (I can't believe I used to pay so much for Windex.)

5.  Baking soda.  Baking soda has scrubbing power but won't scratch surfaces (use in place of Comet).   You know those hard-to-clean grease spots above the stove?  Baking soda will take care of it, no problem.

1/4 cup baking soda
1 T liquid detergent.

Combine above ingredients.  Add white vinegar until creamy texture and use to scrub kitchen stains or clean the oven.

Finally, because this post somehow morphed into a homemade cleaner article, take a gander HERE for a recipe to make your own baby wipes.  I would just add a few drops of baby lotion for moisturizing properties and a splash of rubbing alcohol (about a teaspoon) to keep mold from growing and give your wipes a bit of disinfecting power.  Other than that, I could show you how myself, but this gal already did a great job and...well...I've still got sticky apple juice that needs to be scrubbed off the kitchen floor...

In the meantime, the discussion's open.  Homemade or not?  How do you get your cleaners?  Why?  If you've never tried making homemade cleaners, did this post compel you to give it a try?  Let's hear it!  And in the meantime, happy cleaning.  I keep telling myself that to kid myself into liking it.


SPECIAL NOTE:  Never, EVER mix bleach with any acid, like ammonia or vinegar.  In fact, play it safe and never mix bleach with anything besides water.  Chemical reactions that result from mixing could be very dangerous.



Rebecca said...

Ooo I love this post! We recently got rid of all our cleaners and have switched to all homemade non-toxic cleaners. Funny thing is I was thinking about doing a similar post on my own blog!

I totally agree with you about how awesome vinegar is, and baking soda is a close second. The possibilities are endless with these two! Cleaners, Toothpaste, Deodorant, Shampoo, etc. etc. etc!

For me I pretty much use diluted vinegar (1:1 water to vinegar) as an all purpose cleaner/disinfector. It gets my mirrors, bathroom, sinks shinier than any other cleaner I had before! Although vinegar disinfects it probably would be better to add grapefruit seed liquid extract,tea tree oil, or other essential oils to add some extra disinfectant to it (which reminds me I need to go buy some :). You can also add a bit of mild liquid soap/detergent to it too. For softscrub (for bathtubs and ovens) I use baking soda mixed with a little water. Also for ovens I hear scrubbing with a cut-in-half lemon with baking soda works really well.

This website has a lot of cleaner recipes if you're a big fan of essential oils:

Thanks for this post, Alyssa! I didn't know that heat makes bleached surfaces safe to touch as soon as it dries. I've always been so terrified of it but there are definitely times when it's necessary so that is really good to know!

Alyssa Harper said...

Thanks for your input, Becca! Half-half vinegar water is WONDERFUL for an all-purpose cleaner. My ONLY complaint is the smell. I'm not a huge fan of vinegar smell. Doesn't stay around after it's dry, but while I'm cleaning, it's wet and To mitigate the smell, a lot of people add essential oils to it, like orange or lemon to give it that fresh, clean scent we all know and love. :)

It's SOOOO much cheaper to do cleaners the homemade way. I wish someone would have made me take and intro-into-cleaners course before getting married. :)

Tannie Datwyler said...


Delia said...

This is a great post. Very thorough and informative.

Just a note about homemade baby wipes. They develop mold very quickly. Even in dry high desert Utah, I've had it develop within about a week. So I stopped making my own. If you do want to do it I would personally suggest making them one batch {half roll} at a time so you can use them up before they go bad. Jerilynn did a post on them a while back when she was on the panel and suggested using Viva paper towels which feel almost like cloth. I really liked that feature and it was about the same price as Bounty. :)

Alyssa Harper said...

Thanks for the tip, Delia! I just added a bit to the post, suggesting to add rubbing alcohol to the recipe (about a teaspoon is all it takes) to keep mold from growing. Plus it disinfects, so it's really a win-win, right? Some babies with especially sensitive skin don't like the alcohol, but I've been using wipes with alcohol on my kiddos since birth, and they've been just fine.

Tannie Datwyler said...

So, I've never tried many of the vinegar tricks, but I decided to give it a go. My glass cups are all VERY cloudy with hard water stains, so I soaked them in vinegar and warm water and I was AMAZED to see that they came out clear. Thanks for the tip - I was ready to buy a new set of glasses!!