We’re working through Tsh’s ebook One Bite at a Time together. Join in any time! You don’t have to do the tasks in any specific order, so even though we are on Project 24, you can easily jump in now. We’re taking it slow, and I’m always honest about what works for me and my family. Buy the ebook here for only $5 and play along!
Having grown up in a culturally traditional Portuguese home, I was raised on the notion that nothing smelled quite so sweet as the scent of bleach and Pine Sol wafting through the house. The only thing better was the smell of bleach, Pine Sol, and some kind of soup boiling on the stove, wafting through the house.
So, when I grew up and had a place of my own, I adopted a similar principal. The harsher the chemical the better, right? My college apartment was probably the cleanest and most sanitized apartment in town. Mind you, I didn’t have kids yet, so this wasn’t a difficult task. Or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
In college, I was friends with the naturally gorgeous and hipster-granola Brianna. Brianna was that girl you wanted to hate because she basically rolled out of bed every morning without a stitch of make up on and looked like a model for a J. Crew catalog. Plus, she drank chai and knew about organic before it was hip to buy organic, and talked about flax seed before anyone had even heard of flax seed.
When I turned 21, while my other friends were buying me drinks, or the ever classic martini shaker, Brianna bought me a book filled with non-toxic cleaner recipes. The inscription on the inside cover read: “I know this isn’t the most glamorous of birthday gifts, but I hope it proves useful. My regards, Brie.” What college student do you know signs with “my regards“? Brianna did. Because Brianna was hip and cool like that.
I thanked her for my unorthodox gift, flipped through the pages once, and then shoved it in a drawer. The book moved with me from home to home, pretty much accumulating dust in each different space.
Until one day, many years later, when I wiped off my kitchen counter with some kind of bleach-based cleaner, and then set up my infant son with some Cheerios right on the same counter I had just wiped down with enough chemicals liable to kill a horse.
And I realized something… Why on earth do I find it necessary to do daily maintenance housekeeping with cleaners that were so harsh? Did my counter really get so gross in 24 hours that it was deemed “bleach-worthy”? And then I watched my son crawl away, on floors where I had used some kind of fake pine-scented fluid all over… and then sit up and begin sucking his fingers. So so so gross.
It was then, seven years later, that I pulled out that old birthday gift. I assembled my supplies and hunkered down. Turns out, all I really needed was baking soda, vinegar, and some scented oils, and within an hour I had everything made.
My son is now five, and guess what? I still make a vast majority of my cleaning supplies. Granted, there were some recipes that I felt didn’t quite do the job I wanted, and every once in a while, I feel like a good scrubbing with store-bought stuff needs to happen. But for everyday use, I’m a baking soda and vinegar convert.
I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced to throw out the bottle of bleach completely, but it doesn’t get pulled out very often, and that’s gotta count for something, right? I’ve also since become a huge fan of the steam mop. No chemicals. No cleaners. Just really hot water that dries really fast and keeps you from reusing nasty, dirty water that you have to wring out.
So thank you, Brianna, wherever you are. You and your granola, hipster ways are still alive and well in my home all these years later. And I still have that martini shaker too. Just so you know.
Have you tried making your own cleaners?
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