Sunday, August 9, 2009

Apartment Cleaning Smackdown - Rounds 3 & 4

With a week off, I continued my cleaning odyssey, attempting to use as many green cleaning methods as possible, and being honest about how well I fared. Thursday and Friday were my last days at home before my real vacation started, so I had to get the house finished. Here's how it went (I've divided my story up into green, meaning the greenest cleaning methods I know; light green, meaning I used somewhat green, or commercially-prepared "green" products; and red, meaning I used conventional cleaners).

Round 3 - The BedroomHere's my side table. Dust bunnies gone. Dust owls? Hmm ...

The bedroom was really a replay of the living room, so I'm not going to say much about it. Dusting, sweeping, mopping. About a week ago I washed the curtains. And I had a whole rigamarole involving my bedding ... but you will be able to read about that tomorrow. So, without much further ado, let's move on to the bathroom, linen closet.

Round 4 - The Bathroom
This little table was hand-painted by yours truly many years ago, and has traveled hither and thither with me for years, even though it doesn't match anything in my house. Still, it's perfect bathroom storage for your recycled toilet paper (there's a little cubby underneath).

I have a teeny-tiny bathroom that has a lot of issues. The tile is buckling. The floor is painted wood and has cracks in it. The room is unventilated, and so tends to get mildewy. And since Hurricane Ike, when I vacated the premises for a couple of weeks due to lack of power in the 90+ degree September heat, I've had hard water stains in the sink that have been impossible to remove.

Nevertheless, it is a happy place, just perfect for my girly routines. The tile is cute aqua, yellow and pink. The linen closet is within arms reach of the sink, so I can get everything I need. The light is great in the mornings. All in all, I can overlook all of those issues.
See the cute tile? And the cute owl soap dish? Have I mentioned that I like owls?

But it had been awhile since I'd given it a good scrub from floor to ceiling. Here's how it went:


  • I've been treating the mildew stains in the shower with undiluted vinegar (Seriously, I think vinegar can do anything). Each day I spray it on the grout where it is getting mildewed. This does seem to be working, albeit slowly. Because the cat loves to jump in the shower (as long as it's dry!) I'm leery of using more heavy-duty chemicals to get rid of the mildew, even though I know that mildew and mold are also bad for you.

Light Green:

  • I used Seventh Generation Tub & Tile Cleaner to clean the tub, sink, and outside of the toilet. And yes, I've given Seventh Generation a hard time, from time to time, for putting greener products out there that don't work too well (paper towels, laundry detergent), which I think might deter some consumers from using greener cleaning products (Envision Betty Draper, ca. 2009, saying, "you know what, screw Bounty. I'm going to try this 'green' paper towel," then getting it home, finding it doesn't work, and swearing off "green" for the rest of eternity, believing it to be simply a communist ploy to get everyone in America to have a dirty house and begin the slide into becoming dirty hippies. It could happen). All this, however, is to say that the Tub & Tile Cleaner really works. It uses the ubiquitous "plant-based cleaners," and without more research, I can't tell you more even from the material-safety data sheets (and people are never going to go green if they have to do a lot of research before they buy something. They just aren't). The Tub & Tile Cleaner has a pleasant "emerald cypress and fir" scent, which I love because it isn't checmically, and also sounds like walking in a forest. Thumbs up.
  • I used Clorox Green Works to clean the toilet. I know that many in the green community are pretty skeptical about the Clorox Green Works family of products, and some of my loyal readers (Thanks Mom and Melanie!) have disputed the effectiveness of the glass cleaner in particular. has a very thoughtful article about these products. Click here to read it. I feel better about them knowing that the Sierra Club - of which I am now a member, yay! - has endorsed these products in an effort to make greener cleaning more available to more Americans.


  • Here's where things got tricky. While organizing the linen closet, home to all of the health and beauty products I use rarely/never, I came across a conundrum I didn't know the answer to, and being computer-free for a week, couldn't research easily. There were a few bottles I threw away because, frankly, with my weak, post-sprain hand, I couldn't open them to clean them out and recycle. A few others contained medicine. I was going to just chuck the pills and recycle the bottles, but then my brain went into overdrive, thinking about the possums who eat the garbage in Houston, and how they might die from a mouthful of expired Zoloft. So I just threw the whole bottle away. They'll probably end up in some landfill, and the pills will stay in there until Wall-E comes along and decides to see what they are, and becomes a robot drug addict. However, it's what I did. Flog me now.

So, what are the results of the Apartment Cleaning Smackdown?

Greenest Clean: The kitchen! Cleaned almost entirely with vinegar, baking soda, and reusable towels, the kitchen is now Mother Earth's favorite place to come, hang out, and make martinis with organic herbs.

Reddest Clean: The bathroom! Read above to see why.

I enjoyed my super-clean apartment for one day, and then it was off on my vacation, where I will be hitting Spokane WA, Portland OR, and Long Beach WA. As I venture throughout my homeland, the Pacific Northwest, I'll certainly be taking pictures, looking for green happiness, and enjoying time with family and friends. You'll get to read all about it.

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