Weather Forecast


Dumping harsh chemicals for milder alternatives

When I was akid, my mom taught me to clean with chemicals. We used Mr. Clean on the kitchen floor and Lime Away in the bathtub. There was always a bottle of bleach under the sink.

 Now that I have my own place, Itend to shop for cleaners the same way. But when my editor assigned me a story for Earth Day, I thought it might be a good opportunity to ditch the chemicals in favor of something greener.


 I scoured Pinterest for eco-friendly cleaner recipes and put a call out to my Facebook friends.


 While there are more ways than I can count to clean your home without harsh chemicals, the easiest and most common one seemed to include baking soda and vinegar.


 On a recent Saturday morning, I dragged my poor husband to the grocery store to stock up on these two. I bought lemons as well, but we’ll get to those later.


 Then I rolled up my sleeves and got to work spring cleaning the kitchen.


 For anyone who might have been sick that day in fifth grade, combining vinegar and baking soda createsa chemical reaction and bubble up furiously.


 I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun dusting baking soda on the drip pans from my stove, then dropping them in the sink filled with diluted vinegar.


 That worked surprisingly well, by the way. Ilet them soak fora while, then most of the grease and grime came off. Of course, the drip pan from the elementI use most is not perfectly sparkling, but it’s a dramatic improvement.


 While they soaked, I tried to work on my oven. As Pinterest suggested, I sprinkled baking soda all over the inside then poured vinegar on top and tried to spread it evenly throughout. Then I let that sit fora few hours and scrubbed it.


 This was the most disappointing result of the day, but ultimately my oven is cleaner than when I started. It wasn’t completely effective on the two worst areas of the oven, but I think ifI add salt and steel wool to the mix, next time they might come off.


 For the counters and other surfaces, I was impressed by how well baking soda and vinegar cut through grease and left a nice shine on everything.


 Overall, it was a successful day of “green cleaning.”


 The best experiment of the day involved the lemons.


 I had intended to use the juice to cut hard water marks around my sink, but after I used baking soda and vinegar, that didn’t seem to be an issue anymore.


 So I made lemonade.


 Then I put the peels in a bowl of vinegar as an air freshener.I left it sitting out overnight then poured it in the garbage disposal. Not only does our apartment smell fresher, the garbage disposal is sanitized and fresh, as well.


 After this experiment, I’m going to keep trying to move toward more natural cleaning products for two reasons— it’s safer for the earth and my family, and it’s less expensive than chemical cleaners.


 Mr. Clean, please consider this your “Dear John” letter.