Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm a Believer

Yesterday, I was at my mom's house going through all the crap I've stored in her garage for the past two years, and I found these pretty wood flowers I had bought at Ikea four years ago.

Yeah I know, wood flowers, but trust me, they are pretty! They are bright blue and red. And they liven up a place. And I'm bad with real flowers.

Anyway, here they were in the garage collecting dust. (I'm surprised they survived the purge two years ago when I moved out of LA ... I guess this tells you how attached I am to stupid $2 wood flowers.) But other than the dust, they still looked good, and I decided that I wanted them for the new apartment. I figured I'd rinse them in the kitchen sink, let them dry off, and I was sure they'd look as good as new.

I had almost finished washing the flowers when I noticed to my horror BRIGHT BLUE DOTS all over my mom's WOOD floor. The stupid Ikea flowers had leaked dye onto the floor. My MOM'S FLOOR.

Now, many of you are moms. And when your children do something, like say, ruin your wood floors, you probably sigh, and are sad, but mostly let it go. Because it was an accident, and they did apologize, and also, your child is four.

Let me tell you, that I am pretty sure this doesn't work when your child is 31.

When your child is 31, I am pretty sure you get REALLY REALLY MAD at said child because HOW DID THEY NOT NOTICE THE BLUE DOTS EARLIER?! And what were they doing washing the flowers in the kitchen sink? After all, said child has her own kitchen sink. Why didn't she go home and wash her flowers there?

(I would like to state for the record here that my mom is actually very, very nice. But she does think both of her daughters are prone to extreme carelessness which may or may not be fair. Also, I think she incorrectly assumed that once her kids hit ten they would stop destroying her kitchen floor.)

So, I freaked out for a few minutes, and then ran to the laundry room to find some cleaner. I got out the nasty, toxic, wood cleaner, dumped as much of it as I could on a rag and set to work.



Then I got some regular soap and water, and tried that.


Then I decided that the Internets must have a solution. So I got online and frantically searched for how to remove dye on wood.

One website advised me to create a paste with a tablespoon of baking soda with a table spoon of vinegar and then scrub the paste on to the wood with a tooth brush.

I honestly had pretty minimal hope for this. After all, the nasty toxic chemicals hadn't worked. Why would stupid baking soda and vinegar? I know people claim they are natural cleaners and work wonders, but I've never completely bought into it.

BUT, at this point I was frantic and desperate.

So, I grabbed a toothbrush, the vinegar, and baking soda and started scrubbing.

And, I am not kidding you, it worked like an eraser on pencil.

It was THAT easy and THAT instantaneous. The vinegar and baking soda picked up ALL that nasty blue dye RIGHT UP.

Ten minutes later, the kitchen floor was completely clean but smelled like fish and chips. Fifteen minutes later, the smell was gone. Twenty minutes later, my mom was home, and I was bragging to her about the miracle that is baking soda and vinegar.

Crisis averted.

And now I'm a believer. No more spending tons of money on expensive eco-cleaners. I'm going with the vinegar and baking soda. Cuz they're safe, cheap, effective, and while I'm cleaning, I can dream of fish and chips. What else can you ask from a cleaning solution?

What are your homemade cleaning recipes and do they work?


Anonymous said...

Please tell me my kids aren't still going to be wrecking all of my stuff when they are 31. :-)

I love my steam mop... it wasn't cheap, but it is easy and doesn't use any yucky chemicals.

Rosa said...

I am too lazy anymore, but I used to use a baking soda-water-vinegar-borax solution in a sprayer, from a Women's Cancer Action recipe I got back in the '90s. I should dig it out and post it.

But generally I just use water and vinegar in a sprayer, and sprinkle baking soda out of a reclaimed plastic shaker (parmesan cheese container, usually.)

Oh, and oxyclean or other brand name of powdered nonchlorine bleach, for anything with protein (blood, pee) and commercial detergent (Dawn) for really greasy stuff. Like if someone smears bike grease all over the floor instead of laying down the cardboard before fixing bikes in the living room.

ruchi said...

Hmm. I read on Fake Plastic Fish that mixing vinegar, baking soda and water didn't actually work which surprised me since the paste worked so well. How did it work for you, Rosa?

Rosa said...

The spray worked pretty well - I think when you mix it you lose the foaming chemical reaction but you keep some scratchiness.

Mostly it worked to keep my roomates from going to the chemical stuff - I actually started coloring it different colors - a blue food coloring bottle in the bathroom, a pink one for the carpet (because my roomate's favorite carpet cleaner was pink) etc. That made them all willing to use it (smells do that for some people, lemon smells like "clean" to them.)

I do like the vinegar-water sprayer, just because it keeps me from going through quite as much vinegar. I am canning pickles right now and using 2 or 3 quarts a day for that, but even in a usual week, if I don't water down the vinegar I go through about 16 ounces just in cleaning.

Mary H said...

I use a lot of baking soda and vinegar, together and separately, for all kinds of cleaning. I love the smell of vinegar!