It is always a dilemma for those of us who want our world to be clean and really clean when faced with choices of what to use while considering both our own health and our environment. I have found, over the years, that many cleaning products sold in retail stores are sensitizing at the least, generally toxic and often downright dangerous. As a young woman, I made my living cleaning other people’s houses and made quite a good living at it. It was hard work, of course, but not bad for your health in that regard. Yet I was exposed to some of the most dangerous solutions made by man; germicidal algae destroyers, scum strippers, wax removers, wood stains, aluminum greasers and shiners, as well as the regular old poisons, bleach and ammonia. I remember smoking my cigarette through bleached white fingers. And, over time, I would get dizzy, nauseous, light headed, breathless and downright stupid, just out of the blue and often after scrubbing down a couple of houses. In time, even our customers began to complain. Being clean, I learned over time, did not necessarily mean sandblasting the world with chemicals.
Of course, smoking didn’t help, either. Thank God I was able to quit.. and no longer do it. So no comments about that, please! And look for my future post, coming up shortly, on the toxic chemicals in cigarettes and some natural, non toxic and herbal recipes for your own safer, cheaper, homemade cigarette. But it wasn’t until cleaning chemicals became a real problem for my health that I began to make different choices. It is just too easy to snatch up the bottle of ammonia to clean the windows and the bleach to clean up the countertops. Commerical products are cheap and accessible, ready to use and easy to store. Just push a button or pull a trigger and wipe! Wow. Everything is clean… and possibly dangerous. If you are curious about what I am talking about here, then read my posts on detergents , air fresheners and dangerous chemicals and how they affect you and your family. And when you are ready to consider a simple, easy, inexpensive and non toxic solution that will tackle just about every cleaning problem you have, then read on. I even have a recipe for you to try today.
I had sort of heard of washing soda when I was younger. It was considered a homey, old fashioned, southern poor type of cleaning tool. Only if you didn’t have the money to buy the fancy boxes in the grocery store, folks down here in the south used washing soda. It was a hallmark of poverty and of simplicity. You just hadn’t arrived; you hadn’t come into the new world of the 20th century– in my opinion long to be known not only as the industrial age but also as the chemical age. And at that time in history, stuff like washing soda was pushed aside in public favor as people turned more and more to fancy commercial products in attractive packaging to clean their home and save them time.
But did you know that washing soda is sodium carbonate, a safe salt compound that has been used as a water softener. Washing soda, in fact, is in the same family as baking soda but has just been processed differently. It is much more caustic/alkaline than baking soda, having a pH of 11, and even though it doesn’t give off harmful fumes, you do need to wear gloves when you are using it. It is just as tough as the bleach and ammonia you’ve been using but it’s a lot safer. In general, washing soda is found in the laundry section of most supermarkets. Arm & Hammer makes it and packages it alongside baking soda and some stores have their own brands, as well.
Here’s the surprise I am sure you didn’t expect: washing soda cuts grease, cleans petroleum oil, removes wax or lipstick, and neutralizes odors in the same way that baking soda does. Just be careful not to use it on fiberglass or aluminum and never on a waxed floor, unless you want to remove the wax! Here is a quick recipe for a soot and dirt remover using basic washing soda:
1 bucket warm water
1/2 cup washing soda
Mix the washing soda into the water really well, making sure it’s blended. Put on a pair of gloves before grabbing the sponge or rag. Soak the rag or sponge in the liquid and then use it on surfaces. This mix is best for general dirt, even grime and soot, on everyday plain and painted surfaces. Just be sure to rinse it really well when finished.
If you’re tackling a bigger, tougher job, then make the mix thicker. Use less water and more soda until you have a pasty mix something like “soft scrub”. Spread the paste onto the stained surface and leave over night. Dampen it every so often with a spritz of water from a spray bottle. In the morning, simply rinse away.
CAUTION: Only use the paste mix on surfaces like glass, stone, unpainted ceramic or tile. This mix will actually peel off paint or wax so DO NOT use on painted walls, painted tiles or waxed surfaces like floors. If you are worried about a certain surface, such as a counter top or other valued area, check it every so often to see if the stains and dirt have been obliterated and rinse off as soon as possible. Otherwise, do not use soda on surfaces you are not sure about.
To get a cheap box of washing soda today, visit Amazon.com