Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Super Duper Awesome Possum Green Cleaning Campaign: Part 3

Whew, it has been a crazy month!  Between family gatherings, local events, and my son's lacrosse schedule we have been some busy little birds around here, and that doesn't leave much time for updating.  But I'm back today, and I'm going to share my remaining "green" household tips to wrap up my green cleaning awareness mission.  This post is kind of a long one, so bear with me!

One of the most toxic, lethal cleaning products on the market is drain cleaner.  First, let's talk about the chemistry behind your typical drain cleaning product.  Do you remember talking about acids and bases in science class as a kid?  There's usually lots of discussion about how acids can burn the skin... but no one really ever mentions (at least not until you take a higher level chem class) that bases can be pretty dangerous too.  Bases consume hair and fat, and in strong enough formulations they can actually eat through skin.  D:  Ew!  This property is what allows drain cleaner to power through clogs, and while it's nice to be able to dump something into the sink and call it a day, do you really want to bring a flesh-eating chemical into your house?  Um, yeah, I definitely don't.  As an alternative to using harsh chemicals to clear your drains, you can utilize a two-step process to remove any obstructions.

First, you'll want to pick up a tool known as a "drain snake".

For about $2.50 USD at the hardware store, this little doodad will allow you to remove small obstructions from the drain, such as hair clogs.  Follow the instructions on the package to clear these items from the drain.  Fair warning:  the stuff that comes out of a clogged drain isn't pretty.  In fact, it's pretty much disgusting!  So you'll want to be reaaaaaally careful and wear rubber gloves.  Have a trash can ready so you can easily dispose of the grunk that you pull out.

Next, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into your drain, followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar, and stop the drain by stuffing it with an old rag.  Leave the mixture to work for about ten minutes, then return to the drain, remove the rag, and run the faucet on the hottest setting for about two minutes.  At this point, your drain should be completely clear and working really well- if for some reason it's not, you likely have a serious clog on your hands and should probably give your favorite plumber a call.

While we're in the bathroom, let's talk about some of the alternatives to harsh bathroom cleaners.  One of the harshest but most popular chemicals used in bathroom cleaning is bleach.  While I love love love the cleaning power of bleach for the bathroom, the toxic fumes it releases are horrible!  As an alternative to bleach, you can utilize hydrogen peroxide- simply pour it into a spray bottle and use it to spritz your shower and tub, sink, and toilet.  You can also use white vinegar (I like to use 1/2 cup mixed with 1 cup of water) to clean and disinfect your bathroom- spray the surfaces with the mixture, let it sit for five minutes, then wipe with a clean, damp cloth.  It works especially well on mirrors- I love how streak-free and clean they get!

Another great place to use this vinegar-water mixture is in your kitchen.  I use it to disinfect my counters, tables and chairs, and in my refrigerator and freezer.  Simply spray the surface with the vinegar-water mixture, let it sit for five minutes, then wipe it away with a clean, damp cloth.  As an aside, vinegar is also great for cleaning your microwave.  Heat a small bowl filled with 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup vinegar on high power for about 3 minutes.  When the cycle ends, leave the microwave door shut for 15 minutes, then open, carefully remove the hot bowl (use potholders or an oven mitt!) and wipe the inside of the machine down with a damp cloth.

I hope that if you've read through this series you have found it helpful!  Hopefully I'll be updating more frequently soon with the kids being in school.  I've got so many more ideas and projects I'd love to share!  :)