A Skeptic's Grand Experiment: DIY Cleaners

    [fa icon="user"] Julia Condon [fa icon="folder-open'] Baking Soda, Vinegar, Cleaning Products

    Myth Busting: College Apartment Style 

    Savvy is touting that baking soda and vinegar are the magical products of the week. Yes, baking soda, like the stuff you put in cookie dough, and vinegar, like the stuff you drizzle on your fries.  They are raving about how baking soda and vinegar could be used to clean almost anything! I was hesitant to believe the whispers of the superpowers of such basic products, so I armed myself with a box of baking soda and a bottle of white vinegar. I was nervous to begin my mission and appropriately dubbed it “The Grand Experiment.” 

    I must confess that Clorox wipes and Pinesol had, until the commencement of my experiment, been good friends of mine. Begrudgingly, I hid these products under the sink, (perhaps untruthfully) promising them I would see them again soon, as I had my doubts that baking soda and vinegar would win me over when disguised as cleaning products.

    Jackson Pollack Has Nothing On These Gals

    My roommates and I cook on the stove for nearly every meal, so by the end of each day it looks as though it has been the victim of a violent food fight. Regardless of how much scrubbing we did to clean it the night before. The scrubbing power of baking soda mixed with a little water on a rag on the stove top was something akin to using steel wool on a pan you accidently burnt food onto. Watching gunk come off with such ease was weirdly exhilarating. 

    My next move was to clean the counter tops. Second in sloppiness only to the stove top, the counter is typically covered with a diverse array of food splatter, making us the Jackson Pollacks of counter top art. To wipe away the splatter masterpiece, I wet a rag and liberally sprinkled a handful of baking soda on the surface, still riding off the high of cleaning the stove top. When I ran my hand along the counter top after wiping it down, I was displeased to find baking soda brushing off on my fingertips. It would be easy to reach for the Green Works cleaner, tossing the baking soda in the trash while telling myself I would be done with the whole process. That would be taking the easy way out.  This was supposed to be a challenge. I decided I should perhaps be a little more conservative with my baking soda use. Instead of pouring I now sprinkled baking soda onto the counter top with my fingers like a faerie spreading pixie dust.  Lesson learned. 

    Internet Pranks? 

    I also decided to throw my dirty clothes in the wash with a mixture of half laundry detergent and half baking soda. I was definitely skeptical of this one, thinking it may be an Internet prank with me the witless victim. Not only did the school’s washing machine not break, but my clothes didn’t come out of the wash with a film of baking soda on them.

    In fact, they felt and smelled fresher than usual.

    The next move beyond the kitchen and laundry room was the bathroom. A the faerie dust of baking soda erased the ring inside the toilet and scrubbed away the gunk in the sink and on the counter top. I used a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar to wipe down the mirrors (a tactic that was later equally effective on windows) leaving a streakless view of myself.

    DIY Emojis

    In an effort to spare you the visual discomfort of viewing my dirty sink/stove/counter tops I have included only “after” images in this post, adorned with cute emojis to emphasize the cleanliness of the final display.




    Personally Speaking...

    By the end of the experiment, I was sold on cleaning with baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda is unequivocally the perfect agent for scrubbing off gunk. Wiping surfaces with vinegar and water on a rag is probably the smelliest interpretation of a Clorox wipe known to woman, but nonetheless effective in doing the job. This is not to say I will oppose my roommates when they pull out the Clorox wipes in spite of the scent of vinegar or the matte finish an overdose of baking soda wash tends to leave on the counter tops, but when I clean, I will always reach for a bottle of vinegar and box of baking soda before any name brand cleaner.

    I may mourn the loss of the days when my kitchen smelled like pine tree or synthetic lemon but the cleanliness of the surface will outlast the vinegar scent, I can assure you. I can sleep easier at night knowing the cleaning products I use don’t contain potentially harmful chemicals. If you are seeking to make a little change in detoxifying your life, cleaning with baking soda and vinegar is the perfect place to begin your journey.

    Love Julia's heart-warming and playful voice? Our enthusiastic college writer contributed one of Savvy's most popular blogs,"When a Pop-Tart Fanatic Grows Up."  

    Our blog, the Savvy Path, focuses on one theme a month. Learn together, makes some changes, move forward. Nice and easy.  Stay tuned as we explore budget-friendly cleaning ideas, tips and products.  



    Julia Condon

    Written by Julia Condon

    Julia is a Bostonite through and through who enjoys yoga, cooking vegetarian meals, and being outside (yes, even in the freezing New England winters). She spends most of her time at the keyboard whether she's blogging for Savvy or drafting then deleting the next Great American Novel in a never ending cycle.

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