I’ve been experimenting with simple ways to make eco-friendly cleaning products or co-opt common items for use in cleaning endeavors. I’m sure you’re aware of the cleaning power of lemons (they work especially well as a copper cleaner) but here are a couple of other fruit-related cleaning ideas:
1. Shower Cleaner
Cut a grapefruit in half, pour some coarse salt on one cut side and some additional salt in the bottom of the tub or shower. Squeeze the juice out of the fruit as you scour the surface tile, picking up more salt as necessary from the tub.
This is a surprisingly effective method for giving your shower a basic clean – it removes soap scum and mineral deposits from tile and tubs. And the olfactory benefits are unrivaled! It’s also completely toxin-free, and just about as friendly to the environment as a cleaning agent could be, especially if you compost the rind when you’re finished.
The downsides: It’s a bit expensive, an estimated 75 cents to a dollar per use (one use equals half of a grapefruit). Most bottled green-cleaning products cost half that. * Following the method above leaves some pulp behind. It wipes off of smooth tile fairly easily but rough shower tile made of natural stones really likes to hold onto the pulp. * The method above works well for a basic clean but it’s only partially effective at removing the mineral deposits from your metal shower fixtures, and it doesn’t touch grout gunk at all. You’ll need a supplement for a deeper clean.
2. Stainless Steel Polish
In researching a DIY stainless steel polish, I came across a recommendation for baby oil. While baby oil is DIY, it’s not eco-friendly – not only does it contain an awful chemically-derived fragrance, but the “mineral oil” that serves as the active ingredient is petroleum oil. Disgusting!
So I turned to natural, edible oils – canola, vegetable (soybean), coconut, grapeseed, and olive. Under 70 degrees or so, coconut oil is a solid, which isn’t ideal for cleaning purposes; the methods employed for growing soybeans and, to a lesser extent, canola flowers are awful for the environment; and parts of Spain and Italy are experiencing severe water shortages due to irrigation techniques for olive tree groves. Grapeseed oil, however, is a great option for an eco-friendly product. Grape seeds, along with stems and skins, are a byproduct of the wine-making process. These materials are cold-pressed so that what would otherwise end up as waste is repurposed as an oil.
Cleaning method: Wipe down your stainless steel first, with water or glass-cleaner to remove any gunk. Then pour a small amount of oil on a rag and rub in the direction of the grain of the steel. It works very well as a polish – the lack of cleaning agent in the oil prevents the streaking that can often occur with store-bought products, which clean and polish in one.
Downsides: Requires the extra step of cleaning first and then polishing. * Requires more elbow grease than usual, as the oil needs to be rubbed into the surface more vigorously than does a traditional stainless steel polish.
That’s it for now! Try these techniques and feel free to post comments about your experience.