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When I was about 19 and a half months pregnant with my first child, I had a freak out (if you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that ‘freak out’ is an understatement). I was cleaning the bathtub and was suddenly seized with a horrible thought: what if I didn’t rinse out the scrubbing bubbles well enough? What if I left residue and then I put the baby in the tub and gave her horrible chemical burns? I don’t want to be that mother! I called my Aunt Bonnie, my personal guru of all things domestic, and asked for a natural way to clean the tub. I’m sure she snickered, but she calmly suggested I scrub it with baking soda and vinegar. That’s what I’ve been using ever since to clean my girls tub.

These days the tv and magazines and Pinterest are flooded with ‘green’ or ‘natural’ cleaning techniques and tricks involving vinegar or baking soda. I don’t want to tout this post as green or natural because I think it implies I’m trying to be trendy. And frankly, I don’t think using the same thing to clean my toilet my grandmother used is trendy or hip. She certainly wouldn’t. She’d shake her head.

Please note: I know there are at least two of you right now thinking “Oh my God, I’ve been a guest in Jenn’s house and that dirty hippie cleaned the bathroom I used with vinegar! I’m surprised I don’t have flesh eating bacteria!” Please know that if you have been a guest in my home, I scrubbed every surface you touched with every chemical I could find to make it clean. I understand that some people need the clorox wipe guarantee of killing 99% of the germs, and I’m happy to accommodate.

Natural and Safe Bathroom/sink scrub

  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. dishsoap
  • Just enough vinegar to make a paste (think one teaspoon at a time)
  • Once you have your paste mixed together, use a wrung out sponge with a quarter sized amount to start scrubbing your tub/tile/sink/fixtures. Use as much as you need! Rinse with hot water.
  • The bonus: your kids can help! You don’t have to waste their naptime cleaning! As long as they aren’t eating handfuls of the paste, you’re good. So put those little ones to work (ps. this paste can get really soap bubbly, and my 2 year old loves it!)

Easy, fast shower scum remover (and all purpose cleaner)

  • 2 Cups vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dish soap
  • 1 empty spray bottle
  • Heat the vinegar for 2 minutes in the microwave (bonus: this helps deodorize the microwave). Carefully pour into empty spray bottle, add dish soap, shake vigorously. Spray over your entire shower, really coat everything. Be careful not to inhale too many vinegar droplets.
  • Let set for at least 10 minutes. Use a sponge to scrub wherever you think there might be a lot of buildup (tub rings if you have kids, around the fixtures and drain, etc). Rinse off everything with hot water.
  • The bonus: I promise you, this works. I tried it because we only have a clear shower curtain liner (it’s too dark in the shower with a curtain up and I don’t need anymore reason to fall asleep in the shower) and it got the liner the cleanest it’s been since it was out of the package. PLUS, whatever you have left over is great for cleaning counters and glasstop stoves (just leave it set for awhile on those baked on rings, then scrub with a little baking soda and wipe). Just be sure to wipe up with a damp cloth.
Counter/stovetop/sink/toliet cleaner and disenfectant

  • One small spray bottled full of vinegar
  • One small spray bottle full of hydrogen peroxide (a darker colored spray bottle) labeled with the contents.
  • Use this to clean counters, toilet seats, faucets, toilet handles etc. Use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect your cutting board.
  • I usually spray my bathroom counter, the toilet seat and the handle withy hydrogen peroxide and then vinegar and let it set while I clean the rest. Then I wipe with a clean, slightly damp cloth. Be sure to test in an inconspicuous spot first, since hydrogen peroxide may bleach some surfaces.
  • The Bonus: It’s cheap AND it doesn’t stink like regular disinfectants. If you forget to wipe it all up, nothing is going to happen, people rinse their mouths and ears with hydrogen peroxide for heavens sake.
  • A note on germs: I am not a scientist, a biologist or a chemist. I’m a lawyer and that’s what you’re getting a disclaimer. I, in no way, can guarantee the amount of germs or bacteria disinfecting in this manner will kill. I cannot say it will keep you safe from flesh eating bacteria or salmonella. If that lack of hard facts creeps you out, please keep cleaning with bleach or Lysol.
Quick Ring Cleaner
  • 1 Cup vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. baking soda
  • Place vinegar in at least two cup bowl or pyrex measuring cup an heat in microwave for one minute. Drop in your wedding ring. Add baking soda (watch it bubble up like a science experiment!)
  • Let set for five minutes, then rinse with warm water and dry. Note: I have a white gold and diamond ring and this has never harmed it. If you are the least bit worried this won’t be good for your ring (and if it has any soft gemstones it might not be good) please don’t try it.
  • The Bonus: When your ring is clean and sparkly, the diamond looks bigger! The warm vinegar and bubbles really get off the built up lotion, soap, diaper cream, etc. But please, please, once in awhile take your ring in to have the pros clean it and check the prongs. We don’t want any diamonds lost down the drain!

My Favorite Toliet Cleaner

  • 1/4 -1/3 cup borax
  • Put into toilet water, swish around with a stiff toilet brush. Before flushing, scrub sides and under the ring of the toliet. You can let the borax sit in the water as long as you like (keep the kids and pets away though). I usually let it set while I clean the other bathrooms.
  • The Bonus: This is the best toilet cleaner I’ve found and I’ve used a lot because I HATE toilet rings with a burning passion. I love that it doesn’t turn the water colors and it doesn’t smell like a gas station deodorizer cake. Here’s the secret: you have to use a good toilet brush, you have to scrub, and you have to do it once a week. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want a clean toliet, you gotta clean it regularly.