In recent times, I started to be more conscious about the environment and what I, as an individual, am doing to it. Because in the end, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? We can keep talking about the enormous shift in mindset that humanity will have to put in place to change things around for the planet when it all really boils down to what you and I are doing to the planet. Some of us have more power to change things than others, but we are essentially all empowered to have a say through the choices we make every day.
A clever friend of mine started a group on Facebook called “Pledge my age” and it asks from its followers to post one positive change in their behaviour toward the environment for each year they have lived. Inspired by this idea, I decided not only to follow this group but also to create regular posts about the eco-friendly practices I have heard of, tried myself, those that worked for our family and those that didn’t. Perhaps together we can think of some sustainable alternatives.
I will start today sharing my passion for a product you either love or hate and that we all come to hear about at some point: white vinegar.
I will start by stating what I have found from my own, personal research: white vinegar disinfects, whitens and softens fabrics. It is great as a household cleaning agent, it gets rid of many stains and it even disinfects minor wounds naturally.
Now the ugly bit: vinegar is not everyone’s favourite fragrance. But then again, it contaminates less than bleach and doesn’t stink any worse. Here’s how vinegar is used around my home:
As a multipurpose cleaner
This is where you will need to disguise the *very* strong smell of vinegar. I add lavender essential oil (15-20 drops) into a spray bottle containing one cup of water and one cup of white vinegar. This is the mix I swear by when it comes to dusting, wiping surfaces, cleaning bathrooms and even the kitchen. I have used it on smooth wooden furniture and laminate flooring, but I guess it’s a good idea to try on a small portion first if unsure.
To get rid of limescale
Wash your bathtub or shower plate with vinegar and water and you’ll be sure to clean surfaces and disinfect; don’t let the lack of foamy water or bubbles deceive you. We usually spray the whole area, let it act for a bit and then wipe/rinse; we only repeat this once more.
A side effect is getting rid of limescale. Try a little experiment: clean everything but the drain hole and you’ll see that as the vinegar naturally goes through it, all the limescale disappears on it and you get a shiny, grease-free drain hole (and bathtub) with no effort (or very little).
To clean floors
Again, you can use the same mix of vinegar, water, and lavender oil. The only thing to keep in mind is, on white flooring you will see marks, but they’ll be gone by the next day. I guess it’s better on patterned, wood-like flooring.
As a drains un-blocker
For this one, you need to use equal parts of white vinegar and sodium bicarbonate (aka baking powder). First, pour the vinegar on the blocked drain and then the baking soda: a fizzing sound will let you know something’s cooking 😊 –and you will see it too. Make sure to pour the vinegar and bicarbonate a bit at a time so you can control the mounting fizzing and check the effectiveness; it will also help you estimate whether you will need to pour in some more.
Unlike with common products for unblocking drains, you can do this as much as you like since it won’t corrode your pipes.
To get rid of shirt stains
This is one where you’ll need to pour in some elbow grease (not much, promised), but to a good end: it works. I have used all sorts of detergents to get rid of the yellowish stains under arms and on shirt collars, to no avail (won’t say whose shirts, just that our subject is male, in case you wondered). With this simple routine, you can have sparkling shirts in a breeze and you won’t need to do it often, I do it every 2 months or so. So here goes, the magic trick:
Sprinkle sodium bicarbonate on the areas of interest
Spray your vinagre+water+lavender oil on top and watch the fizzing build up. You can decide how much of it you want to put in. If needed, add some more baking soda; there ‘ll come a time when you’ll know how much to put into it.
Let it sit (roughly 30 mins)
Use the “puree” on your shirt as a scrub and rub *gently*, as some fabrics may be more fragile than others.
The greasy stains on collars are guaranteed to disappear with such a simple action. Armpits may take longer to get rid of, but they will seriously improve.
To clean the fridge
Using detergents on the fridge can generate nice little friends such as mould and bad smell over time. The trick here is to use a mix of water and vinegar (equal parts). Just spray it or rub it in the sink or do it whichever way you prefer. Nice and easy.
So where do I buy white vinegar?
Well here at Casa Tweaks, of course! No, seriously, I get it online. We have been unable to find it in bigger sizes in stores but if I do, I’ll be sure to post here. There are some very good offers out there and white vinegar always goes a long way –while contaminating less than any of the more conventional cleaning products available in the market. Same applies to Sodium Bicarbonate, you can find generous sizes for a very reasonable price.
We will discuss Sodium Bicarbonate in another post, in the meantime try some of these tips and see what works for you and what doesn’t. And if you know of other tricks that can be useful at home, please make sure to comment as we are all interested.
Ana Lucía Medina