And for once I was SuperMom

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cleaner Things

It was late, the coffee pot was gurgling away.  A late night cup of coffee, to keep me awake to do creative things?  Nope, instead of the robust brown smell of coffee steaming out, a thin stingy smell of vinegar and stale coffee bit at my nostrils.  I was cleaning the machine, that brings me so much life, a small-ish scoop of baking soda in the basket and a splash of white vinegar in the water, hit brew, and the liquid that is brewed is far from drinkable.
I've used that grade school science experiment kaboom of baking soda and vinegar to clean out the blocked holes in my shower head as well.  The pop seems particularly effective as getting rid of hard water deposits.  Or the scrub brush I jammed in the holes afterward were effective at cleaning hard water deposits, who will ever know?

That particular night I was bit heady from reading too many blogs that espouse the wonderful combination of baking soda and vinegar as a cleaning powerhouse.  I picked up my kettle, if it worked on coffee pots, why not kettles?  
A few minutes later while I was scrubbing the kettle with real soap, with toxic bubbly phosphates and all, I thought about all the times that these all natural cleaners don't work and how, sometimes, you just need some bleach.

Like the time our High Efficiency clothes washer started to smell bad.  Which meant that, you guessed it, our clothes started to smell bad.  I, sheepishly, Googled this problem, what was I doing wrong?  Are we that dirty?  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is a fairly common problem, there is even products created to abate that smell.  Being wary of spending extra money on a cleaning product that might not work I clicked around until I found a blog that told me I could just use white vinegar and run the machine on hot.  I thought, 'that's cheap, I have vinegar, can't hurt anything.'  So I poured half a gallon of white vinegar in there and hit the hot button.  One cycle later our washer no longer smelled.

But then there was the time I made orange vinegar.
Every time I peel an orange I look at the peels and think, this is a valuable resource.
Seriously Lara?
You've no idea how cheap I am.
And I love the way orange zest tastes.
Or candied orange peel.
Really?  I thought only old people liked that?
Yep.  And me.
The last time I was climbing the stairs to clean our upstairs bathroom, the handles of the four different cleaners that I require for a clean bathroom were cutting into my fingers, and I thought, 'there has to be a better way.'
Then I was looking at that orange peel, I think I must have Googled 'how to make cleaner from orange peels.'  Then I found orange vinegar.  The next time I climbed those stairs with all my bottles, a new bottle of homemade orange vinegar was among them.  I eagerly sprayed it on my sink and wiped away.
A few moments later when I was re-wiping the sink with actual bathroom cleaner, I thought, 'maybe this isn't the wonder cleaner that the blogger promised....I remember using vinegar to clean things when I was a kid....what were those things...?  Tile floors...but we only have tile in the....BATHROOMS!!!'
Eureka, I may have found one purpose for that stuff....

I'd like to wean myself off of those disposable Clorox wipes.  The first time I saw them I thought, 'those are so bad for the environment, how could anyone use those?!?!'  Judgment.  
Then I potty trained.  
And, look, you just throw the poop away.  It's all clean and all gone.  It's like that trashy TV show.  you just can't stop.  You know it's bad for you, but you just can't look away.  I keep buying those wipes, and thinking, 'I'll stop when they're all potty trained.'  Or, 'I'll stop when they stop spilling milk at the table.'
I am never going stop.

Still every time I open the cabinets and look at all my different sprays for every different surface, I think, 'there has to be a better way.'
They're just cleaning supplies, Lara.
Yeah, but something about ALL of them bothers me.
Yes, I mean fifty years ago we weren't using disposable wipes for everything!  Right?
Yeah, but I bet if Grandma had them she would've used them.
Maybe.  I've found that some people that have gone before us are much more wise about seeing the consequences.  The big consequences.  Like all the bottles from these cleaning products piled up in landfills.  Like all the toxins that we're wiping over all our surfaces.  All the silly excess, two cleaners where one would work just fine.  Complex products for one specific purpose.
I suppose that just bothers me.
During my semester abroad in college, I did a home stay in a remote village in Tanzania.  At the end of the week when we asked where to throw our little baggy of trash, from our baby wipes and q tips, our host father just motioned at the front yard.  There was no bin.  There was no trash in the yard.
We produced trash.  They, seemingly, didn't.
That stayed with me.
What other things do we have that aren't necessary?

Like when we have two pairs of shoes.  When we could have one.
When we produce more trash, by buying two things, when we could buy one.

If only that orange vinegar could wipe out my bathroom sink better....

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