Friday, August 14, 2009

Vinegar, Salt & Baking Soda: green cleaning

A big part of the green movement is about keeping the spaces in which we live and work healthy. One way to do this is to avoid buying products with toxic chemicals.

Most people these days have forgotten what our grandparents or great grandparents knew: most things can be cleaned and disinfected using distilled white vinegar, ordinary table salt, baking soda, or some combination of those things.

Vinegar kills bacteria and breaks up some stains and messes due to its acidity. Lemon juice works the same way. Either of these can be used to disinfect countertops or (with a little oil) to polish wood. Vinegar may smell a little harsh at first, but when it evaporates, there is no odor left. More here. Way more than you can possibly use in one lifetime here.

Salt kills bacteria by drawing all its water out, and this is why food has been preserved in salt for thousands of years. Also, the course grains can be used to scrub tough stains (such as pots and pans), especially with a little vinegar or other slightly acidic substance. More here.

Baking soda draws grease stains out of anything, and many commercial cleaning products have baking soda at their base. It can also be used (with vinegar) to break up simple clogs in kitchen and bathroom sinks. But, it is not very effective on really bad clogs. More here.

You can buy these items in bulk for practically nothing, and reduce your waste stream by replacing all of those small bottles of specialty cleaners. Imagine replacing all that junk under your sink with just a bag of salt, a box of Soda and a 5 gallon jug of vinegar. And instead of being toxic, all of these are things you can put in your food. You can literally eat a teaspoon of it with no negative impact to your health (I wouldn't do it though, it would probably be unpleasant).

I will be posting stories of successes and failures cleaning with these things in the future. Though probably not many failures: I have found very few messes that could not be cleaned using these three products.

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