Monday, 4 June 2012

Part II of “Dry Clean Only” And Other Myths

Note:  I didn’t post yesterday as I said I would.   I was feeling a bit fatigued and achy so took it easy yesterday.
Recently while doing my shopping on the Albert Heijn website I was looking for my old Ajax cleaner and saw something called “Cleaning Vinegar” (it actually says Schoonmaak Azijn)  but I’ve translated it for you.  

 It only cost €. 41 (41 euro cents) as opposed to the  €1.89 for the Ajax.  I decided to give it a try since I’d used vinegar here and there in the past for cleaning and it was very effective.  This product didn’t disappoint and in fact has  simplified my cleaning product supplies and saved me a bit of money ON TOP of cleaning just about everything much better than Mr. Muscle, Ajax , bleach, etc.
First test for it was a very serious build up of whatever it was that constant water under my dish drain had caused on my counter top.  (It’s called “kalk”here.)  I put a bit of the vinegar neat (undiluted) on the surface.  I left it a couple of minutes and started wiping it off.  I could see immediately that the “kalk”had started to dissolve.  In fact, the dissolving of it had caused it to spread a bit.  I figured that an abrasive was needed so I poured some baking soda on top of the vinegar,.  It started to foam and fizz immediately and that was a bit alarming so I stepped back  from it.  :-p  The foaming and fizzing calmed down after a few seconds so I just left it all for about 15 minutes.  I got out a little scrub brush (from Fuller Brush Company) that my dear friend Edith had sent me from the USA a few years ago. (Why oh why don’t they export their products??  I  applied a bit of elbow grease (as much as I can with my weak wrists) and saw the “kalk”start disappearing.  I kept at the scrubbing and pretty soon I was seeing a surface that I’d never seen before on that part of my counter top.  It was miraculous!  I wish I had taken a before photo to show just how cruddy it was but no photo could ever show how hard caked on it was.  But here it is the after shot.  And this is it a few weeks after this intensive scrubbing session.
I used the vinegar neat again to clean the cooker hood.  A film left by the ineffective product we used last time  (Pink Stuff) had been added on top of the grease and grime from usual use collected over a couple of weeks.   The cooker hood was shining like new in no time. 

The smell of the vinegar wasn’t pleasant though so I though I’d dilute it  1:1 with tap water in a spray bottle.  I also added some lavender and lemon essential oil for fragrance, further cleaning properties and anti-bacterial properties.  This spray bottle has become my all purpose cleaner now.  It cleans everything from windows to bathroom fixtures.  I’ve used the vinegar diluted in water in a bucket with some pine essential oil on my laminate flooring.  I’ve used it in a “maintenance” wash in the washing machine which I do every month to keep it smelling fresh.  (Empty machine, dosing cup full of vinegar and a bit in the drawer too and set to the highest temperature.)  The windows were a real revelation though.  It cleans quicker, faster than Windex or other commercial window cleaners and only has to be sprayed on once even on the dirtiest of windows/mirrors since it leaves no smears after you wipe it away.  Tip: using newspaper to wipe adds more to the shine. 

Slowly but surely the space under my sink is getting bigger and bigger as I use up all the old stuff and replace it with my vinegar, baking soda and small brushes for cleaning. 

 I’ve since discovered that lemon will also help dissolve the “kalk”and have used that along with the other things for the “kalk-y” caked up taps in the shower room.  Some of it has been here for years, way before us, so it will never all come off.  But it looks reasonable now and very shiny.  In fact everything in my house is looking quite shiny these days!  Last thing in the kitchen at night  I use my spray to clean the sink and counter tops with my dish cloth.  It doesn’t make the colours of the cloth fade ( I crochet them with colourful cottons) and it also makes it fresh smelling and I have to admit to using the cloths for two or three days now instead of a clean one every day so I’m saving a bit on laundry, too.  Win/win all around!!! 

I hope this two part post has inspired you to question some myths that the dry cleaning and companies selling cleaning products tell us.  You don’t need to spend a fortune to have your house and clothing clean and spotless.  Just a couple of cheap, natural products can do that job for much cheaper and in my experience much more effectively.  “Dry Clean Only” doesn’t always mean that.  I wouldn’t machine wash a wool winter coat, a man’s suit  or anything like that but simply shaped items in solid colours can  often be despite what the tag says.   You’ll have to look over your garment before you do what I did.  Does it look fragile?  Is it very old ?   If not, make sure that you have detergent for delicate fabrics and a washer that can do a cold wash and gentle spin. If so, go for it!

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