natural laboratory: test bathroom

Natural cleaners: they work. But what works best? I let my bathroom get super grimy and disgusting – all in the interest of science, of course – so I could spend the entire weekend testing a few non-toxic cleansers. Now, because we are all friends, and friends share things that are maybe a bit difficult to talk about, I’m going to share with you something that I have only spoken about with my mother. And because it is so horrifying, I had to combine it with the after photo just to prove that I have recovered.

That’s right, I let my bathtub get this awful. It was sort of a gradual decline, and like the proverbial frog in heating water, I didn’t notice just how awful it was until it was almost too late. So armed with my vinegar, baking soda, borax, and determination, I set out to win the battle this using only this natural arsenal.

Baking soda, kosher salt, and water

The claim: cleans tough stains from porcelain and tile. The reality: this worked pretty well. I tried this on half of my bathtub, shaking out a bit of baking soda on the wet porcelain, followed by salt and a damp rag. I put in a moderate amount of elbow grease, but I was still left with some semi-icky staining.

Borax and castile soap

I already use Borax in my laundry. The claim is that it helps soap and detergents work better, and this was pretty well proven on the other half of my bathtub. The same amount of elbow grease applied to borax and soap cleaned the surface much better than the baking soda, so I finished the job with this method.

Hot vinegar: more than a great band name

The claim: hot vinegar cleans soap scum from tile and chrome. The reality: truth. I used this on my faucets and my shower walls, and not only did it clean my kettle when I boiled it, but the vinegar rinsed away old soap and left everything feeling clean.

Tea tree oil (or not)

The claim: tea tree oil kills mildew. The reality: tea tree oil is prohibitively expensive. As in, over $20 for a tiny dropper bottle. So I decided that if I was going to spend any money on this endeavor, it would be to take off the mildewed caulk and replace it. So that’s what I did. Turns out replacing caulk is as simple as scraping it off and putting new stuff on.

And that’s it. Caulking is actually super easy; way easier than grouting. So what’s your favorite natural cleaner? Did you spring for the tea tree oil? Let me know how it goes.

in March 21, 2013

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