D.I.Y. Cleaners: For the Bathroom

Goodlifer: D.I.Y. Cleaners: For the Bathroom

Very few people I know actually like to clean their bathroom, but, it’s one of those necessary evils (unless you want to be stuck in bachelorlooville forever). What makes it even worse is that most conventional cleaners are toxic and may do more harm than good. Ever thought about why children these days have so many allergies?

One of the basic tenets of sustainable living is to ask yourself, what would my grandmother do? Why not take that one step further and actually ask your grandmother what she would do? (If your grandmother happens to be severely modernized and swears by Clorox, just keep on reading.) Those age-old recipes and remedies are age-old for a good reason, they work!

Using just a few things from your kitchen pantry, you can make most of what you will ever need to maintain a clean house. Not only are these DIY cleaners healthier, they can save you lots of money as well.

First of all, warm water and vigorous scrubbing are grossly undervalued and can accomplish a lot. I know what you’re thinking, all those natural options won’t give my bathroom that lemony fresh scent that I like so much. Well, guess what has a great lemony scent — Lemons.

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) has compiled a great list of cleaners here to use as a point of reference. However, that’s still a bit too much for me. I have found that all you really need are:

Baking Soda: cleanses, deodorizes, scours and softens water.
Soap: all-purpose. The unscented kind — liquid, flakes, powders or bars — is biodegradable. Castile Soap is a good option. (Avoid those that contain petroleum distillates.)
Lemon: acidic, anti-bacterializes, deodorizes.
White Vinegar: degreasing, mildew, odor and stain removing. Can also help get rid of wax build-up.
Alcohol: disinfecting. Great to clean sponges etc. one you’re done cleaning.

Lemons, your secret bathroom-cleaning weapon.

Lemons, your secret bathroom-cleaning weapon.

Liquid soap, bar soap, flake soap & alcohol

Liquid soap, bar soap, flake soap & alcohol

So, let’s get cleaning.

There’s no need to buy fancy cleaning supplies, just use stuff you have around the house. Old T-shirts, socks and towels (cut bigger ones into smaller pieces) make great rags, if you are craft you could also use these to make mops — just tie the ends together with string or a rubber band and attach to mop head. Toothbrushes make great detail-scrubbers and polishers. You know those mesh bags that you buy onions and potatoes in at the store, save them, cut into pieces and tie together for a great scrubber sponge. Speaking of sponges, don’t throw it out once you think it’s a bit too grimy, put some alcohol on it, throw it in the dishwasher, or boil it with some baking soda.

All-purpose Spray Cleaner:
Good to use on mirrors, counter tops and other flat surfaces. Mix one part vinegar and water in a spray bottle. If the surface you’re about to attach is really dirty, you can heat up the solution in the microwave for a few seconds to amp up the cleaning power (remove the sprayer part first). Spray on surface and let it sit for about 15 minutes. This helps soften soap scum and other gunk.

Toilet Bowl:
Let’s start with the most yucky one. Sprinkle baking soda in the toilet bowl and let it sit for 20-30 minutes (depending on how dirty your WC is), if needed pour some vinegar in there too and scrub. For the outside of the bowl, use the All-purpose Spray Cleaner above. If, for some reason (who know what), your toilet has a less-than-fresh smell, cut a lemon in half and rub onto the surface. Lemony Fresh!

Sink and Tub:
This is where baking soda is your best ally, sprinkle some on a damb sponge and rub. If your tub is really dirty you can either mix of baking soda and water into a paste, apply and let sit for 10-20 minutes before proceeding to scrub, or you can wipe the surface with vinegar beforehand (this can break down tile grout though, so use caution). After this, I like to rub the surface with a lemon (grapefruit and lime works just as well) cut if half. Lemon has bleaching properties (remember how you used to squeeze it in your hair to get that beach blonde effect) and, again, will make it smell nice.

If your drain is lightly clogged, get out the plunger. If that doesn’t do it, try mixing 1/2 cup of salt into a gallon of warm water and pour slowly down the drain. If it’s really clogged pour 1/2 cup of baking soda directly down the drain, follow with 1/2 cup of vinegar, wait about 15 minutes then pour boiling water to clear the residue (not recommended for plastic pipes).

Spray with your All-purpose Cleaner and rub with a sponge. If needed, sprinkle some baking soda on the sponge to get rid of tougher stains. Now, this is where lemons are your best friends. Cut one in quarter wedges and rub onto the grout in between the tiles, and watch all that black moldy stuff miraculously disappear. Wash it off with a sponge. Have those mildew-resistant shower curtains you bough started getting a bit black (mildew?) around the bottom, just scrub them with an abrasive sponge and they’ll look almost new.

Faucets and other shiny things:
Use the All-purpose cleaner and, if they need some polishing, put toothpaste on a rag, or old toothbrush for detailing, and rub.

Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with a gallon of water and spray. Wipe off with an old newspaper, this avoids getting streaks or fiber residue and leaves the mirror shiny and clear.

Time to look at yourself and say “Good job!” Isn’t it nice to not feel dizzy after cleaning? Now, relax with a warm bath in your spanking-clean tub.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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  1. The “Mildont” (at http://www.mildont.com ) was mentioned this past weekend in the NY TImes, keeping mildew out. Any feedback would be appreciated.

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