Sunday, January 15, 2012

Honey, smell the carpet! (a.k.a. finally admitting that homemade cleaners work)

I've always liked the smell of clean.  Soft Scrub, Tide (original scent, of course), Pledge lemon furniture polish...  They remind me of growing up and coming home to a clean house that I didn't have to clean.  Good stuff.  Then when Teacher Man and I were married, the smell of clean was whatever was cheap as we cleaned our tiny married student apartment. And then, I found out I was pregnant, and I was inundated by a long list of chemicals and products that I should not subject my unborn child to. This started me thinking. Should I really be subjecting anyone to these chemicals?

Thus launched my love affair with Green Works products.  Yes, I know Clorox owns the company; but the products and their ingredients are completely safe for my family.  Plus, I loved (and still love) the fact that my home smells like a lemon when I'm done cleaning, but they're expensive.  Really expensive.  Don't get me wrong! There's no way I can use the old cleaners with their strong chemical smells and toxic residues (have you met my floor-licking son Benjamin???), but I just wasn't crazy about the prices.

About the same time that I was re-evaluating my cleaning budget, I read Tsh Oxenreider's book Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living.  In all honesty, it was love at first read.  Tsh started big picture with evaluating goals as a family and then got into the nitty gritty of making the arrangement and cleanliness of the home conducive to those goals.  Though this was only a small component of the book, Tsh did give several recipes for homemade cleaners.  I thought, "Well... she's been right about several things in the book so maybe I should actually give it a shot."

No, I didn't throw away my Green Works; but I did try a couple of the recipes because I'm cheap and so are the ingredients for the cleaners.  And I don't like have a thousand products under my sink. Sometimes, using her recipes for cleaners meant I could use less store-bought product to clean.  Other times, I could get away with just using her very inexpensive cleaning recipes.  But I wasn't totally convinced, and I despise the smell of vinegar; but, as I said before, I'm very cheap.  This leads me to last night.

After spending the whole morning with my friends who are totally on the "Homemade Cleaners Train," we had a little in-home crisis in the evening.  Poor Ben lost his supper all over the carpet, leaving a giant mess and the world's worst smell.  I went to work with my store-bought cleaner but could not get rid of that awful odor.  It was getting late, I was tired, and it was cold and snowy out.  I had no desire to walk the carpet cleaner aisle in search of a solution so I did what every self-respecting woman in the 21st Century does.  I went online.  Lo and behold, Mr. Internet told me I could make a paste of baking soda and white vinegar and scrub it into my carpet with a toothbrush to take away the stain and the smell.  Then when it dried, I could just vacuum it up.  Vinegar's cheap.  And so is baking soda.  So I set to work!  Honestly, I was pretty sure my carpet couldn't smell any worse.

After about 5 minutes, I started yelling at Teacher Man, "Honey!  You've got to come smell this carpet!"  Please keep in mind that Teacher Man had smelled the carpet about an hour prior when it was making the whole house reek so it took some serious trust for him to approach the toxic zone.  He sniffed in the general vicinity and said, "Nice job, hon!  It smells great!"  Was I satisfied?  Of course not.

"No, you have to get down close to appreciate it.  It doesn't smell at all."  Ah... true love.  Teacher Man got down on his hands and knees and smelled the carpet.  Then, he gave me his I-love-how-happy-these-weird-successes-make-you smile and confirmed that indeed the smell was gone and the air was once again fit to breathe.  Sigh.  I love that man.  It's the little things, ya know?

Anyways, today as I disinfected the bathrooms and kitchens (something I always do when anyone in the family is sick), I used a homemade all-purpose cleaner with a few drops of tea tree essential oil.  My house smells good, and I got to be cheap.  As a side note, Miller's Variety Store in Plevna sells essential oils for a ridiculously low price ($3-9 a bottle).  Yet another reason that you should probably head out there and park your van next to the hitching post.

I still love the smell of Green Works, but I can do without the smells of chemical cleaners now.  Too strong. And did I mention that I'm cheap?  So I'm thinking I'll need to play around with essential oils until I can get that lovely citrus smell in my homemade cleaners that I love so much in the store-bought ones. But until then, feel free to come over and smell my carpet.  Ah... the sweet smell of victory.

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