Bathroom Essentials

Courtney Miller

My cleaning-related research produced a couple of fruit-related ideas that I wrote about in my last blog. While these methods are über-accessible and work well enough for the average homeowner, they don’t produce the professional results that I’m after in other people’s homes. My experimentation has succeeded, however, in producing two new staple products for my own personal and professional purposes – my new bathroom essentials.

Glass Cleaner

Hands down, my favorite discovery and the unequivocal best glass cleaner ever is hydrogen peroxide. I added it to my carrying bucket in experimenting with shower cleaners, because I had read that it foams when sprayed on shower tile and rids the tile of mildew and mineral deposits. It was a major flop on both claims – no foaming (further research indicates that it only foams on living cells) and no real cleaning power. But when I ran out of glass cleaner on the job a few weeks ago, I tried it on a bathroom mirror and voila! An easy clean with absolutely NO streaking!

I’ve developed a fairly elaborate glass-cleaning method that gets rid of the streaking that eco-friendly glass cleaners often leave behind. But hydrogen peroxide doesn’t even require this method. I haven’t attempted a side-by-side trial but I think it could outperform Windex. Plus, it’s a naturally occurring compound – it’s just a water molecule with an extra oxygen atom – it has no added chemicals, and it’s odorless, so it’s easy to add your own scent. The cost-effectiveness is also amazing – 89 cents for a 32-ounce bottle, versus $4.69 for Seventh Generation and $2.00+ for Windex. Vinegar is slightly cheaper ($.02/oz) but its odor is abrasive and, in my experience, it streaks easily.

Due to its natural properties, hydrogen peroxide doesn’t evaporate quickly, as do our store-bought products. So here’s my recommended cleaning method: spray the solution on the glass, rub in circles to remove grime, wait a couple of minutes to allow some evaporation, and rub dry to prevent water marks. If you want a scent, add 10-20 drops of lavender.

Best glass cleaner ever – try it!

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Toilet bowl cleaners are a tricky thing – they need to be sufficiently viscous to adhere to the bowl and hardy enough to break down some pretty nasty deposits. So it’s more difficult to find a truly eco-friendly product and very difficult to make your own. Every store-bought product I’ve found contains extra ingredients that act as thickening agents (xantham gum in eco-friendly options) and the conspicuous-sounding “natural fragrance” instead of or alongside essential oils.

I’ve discovered a dual-assault method that’s become my new eco-friendly-DIY favorite, however. Primary attack: a powder cleaner called BonAmi. Added support: vinegar + essential oil.

A chemical-free version of Comet, BonAmi has been around since 1886; and it’s maintained nearly the same recipe throughout that time – plant-based (read: coconut or corn) surfactants are cleaning agents, soda ash and baking soda are basics that neutralize the acidity of the cleaning agents, and feldspar and limestone are abrasives. It’s not perfect (even naturally-derived surfactants aren’t ideal), but I’m willing to sacrifice a bit on a toilet bowl cleaner. Because it’s a powder rather than a liquid, it doesn’t contain thickening agents; it allows for more eco-friendly packaging (a recyclable metal can); it’s scent-free; and the abrasive qualities of the mineral ingredients scrub a toilet super-clean.

The vinegar adds some extra strength by fizzing when it comes into contact with the BonAmi, and some extra coverage – if you re-use an old toilet bowl cleaner bottle, you can squirt the vinegar up under the rim, an area that’s inaccessible to the powder. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil to the vinegar to provide the toilet with a pleasant smell. I like something potent but earthy, like pine or frankincense.

Here’s the method: Sprinkle BonAmi around the toilet bowl, avoiding the water to the best of your abilities. Let it sit for a few minutes while you clean the rest of the bathroom. Squirt the vinegar solution under the rim. Give it a few seconds to fizz. Scrub and flush.

Let me know how you do!