I can’t believe I’m even writing about this, but it’s an extremely easy way to reduce your impact on the environment. So today’s post is about…cleaning the bathroom. Excited? I’m not. I particularly hate cleaning my bathroom, and have this aversion to brining out the sprays, the mildew remover, the soap scum scrubber, and the toilet bowl cleaner and spending time cleaning the one room in my house where I spend the most time getting clean. But as much as I am not a fan of the chore, there is someone else out there who dislikes it even more—Mother Earth. Because long after our sinks, tubs, and tile emerge sparkling clean, all those cleaning agents swim down the drain, out to septic tanks, and slowly leak into the environment.
However, there’s an unbelievably simple way to avoid the bathroom guilt trip that won’t cost you an arm and a leg (as certain environmentally-friendly cleaning products will). It comes in a small orange box, has just one ingredient, and isn’t found in the cleaning aisle of your grocery store. This wonder agent? Baking Soda.
Baking Soda is the household name for sodium bicarbonate, a naturally occurring mineral that is safe to eat and non abrasive on the skin (arm and hammer actually touts baking soda’s beneficial effects), and ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE (whohoo!). Commonly found in the baking aisle, baking soda is commonly used to help dough rise. However its uses are seemingly endless (there is an entire book devoted to what you can do with baking soda), and include cleaning tile, tubs, and floors.
I decided to test this wonder powder for myself, putting it to work on a bathroom that hadn’t been cleaned in all of July, even after July 4 weekend when at least 10 people passed through our apartment, a good number of them showering or shaving once or twice. I set to work on my tub first, mixing about a ½ cup of baking soda with enough water to form a pasty consistency (which is not a lot of water). A few “wax on, wax off” cycles of the sponge, and I was shocked to see the gray soap scum seemingly disappear. Soon the chrome was sparkling, the mildew between the tiles gone, and the tub whiter than it’s been in a while.
Need a little more excitement? I recommend this handy and frothy alternative to drano:
Pour a cup of baking soda down the bathroom sink; chase with a cup of white vinegar. Watch with excitement as the concoction foams up around the drain (ok, maybe not that exciting, but does your drano do that?). Let it sit for ten minutes then flush it away with warm water.
So, in the interest of brevity (who wants to keep writing, or reading, about cleaning the bathroom?), I’ll leave it at this: Next time you are in the supermarket, pick up an orange box and keep it under the sink, so that next time you feel compelled to clean your bathroom you can leave those bottles and sprays alone. Or even better, check your fridge--baking soda's deodorizing power only lasts for about three months after a box is opened, but can still be used to scrub that tub long after this.
For the lazy who have skimmed to the bottom of this post, here’s why baking soda is worth a try in a nutshell:
- It’s no less effort than using any other household cleaner, and has the added bonus of not leaving your hands smelling like chemicals when your done.
- You save both time and money by not having to purchase 10 different kinds of products to clean your bathroom, or even spend time in the cleaning aisle of the grocery wondering which one to buy).
- You will have the guilt free knowledge that you just saved gallons of chemicals from entering our soil, streams, and air.
- You have the added bonus of knowing you are avoiding packaging waste—arm and hammer baking soda is boxed in recycled cardboard.
8/2/06-update: You don't have to limit yourself to baking soda either--I just stumbled upon this handy resource with all sorts of household concoctions.