My Cleaning Dilemma

These aren't my cleaners but this is what my setup looked like.

These aren’t my cleaners but this is what my setup looked like.

After nearly a year of making my own orange vinegar cleaner and using it to clean the kitchen and bathrooms and anything else that needs cleaning, I’m calling it quits.

It all started when a well-meaning friend came to visit. She walked in the door and the first words out of her mouth were, “Oh. I can smell you use bleach to clean your house.” The words were dripping in disgust. “I quit using bleach years ago. I just can’t expose my family to that.”After she left I did a little internet research to see what all the fuss was about. She was right; bleach is scary stuff.

Around the same time I saw something on facebook about how to make your own orange vinegar cleaner. This was good because Josh hates the smell of vinegar. Truthfully, so do I. Just about the only thing I like about cleaning is the fresh, clean smell afterwards. Vinegar just doesn’t do it for me. It’s incredibly useful in more ways than I ever imagined, but it just doesn’t smell good. The orange vinegar cleaner promised a fresh citrus scent.

Sadly, it didn’t deliver. I tried several different methods, each with varying success, but never really achieved the fresh citrusy scent I longed for. Terrified to return to my good friend bleach, I tried to convince myself I’d learn to love it. But I didn’t. Yesterday, while I was scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing the shower (vinegar takes more elbow grease than bleach), I literally threw in the towel. I hated the smell; I hated the extra work; I just don’t like this approach to cleaning.

I dug through the cleaning cabinet, desperately hoping there was some chemical I accidentally left behind when I rid our house of all the toxic cleaning agents I was so very attached to. Success! In the very back there was a can of Scrubbing Bubbles. I sprayed the shower down and mere minutes later I had a lemony fresh, sparkling clean shower stall. “That’s it,” I said, “I’m through with green cleaning. I’m too busy for it and not satisfied by it.” I went and threw out all the jars of orange vinegar cleaner that were marinating in my pantry. (Perhaps that was a tad dramatic, but what’s done is done.) I told Josh about my reversion. He laughed and said something along the lines of, “I told you so.”

I was liberated! I was relieved! I was going to write a blog about how you can still be a good mom and clean with bleach! (And Pine-Sol, which is my very favorite cleaner in the whole world!) Then I made the mistake of linking the harmful effects of bleach to the beginning of this article.

no toxic cleanersI really don’t want that in my house. (Even though I already had Josh bring home a bottle and have used it several times in the few hours it’s been in my house.)

What’s a busy mom to do? I’m riddled with guilt either way. I don’t want to be slowly poisoning my family. But I also don’t want my family living in filth, which tends to happen when I take the naturally cleaning approach. Because it takes extra work and doesn’t leave me with the victorious smell of clean, I just put it off. And then things get nasty. Yesterday, there was pink mold growing on the edge of the shower when I started cleaning! I’m pretty sure I heard somewhere that that’s toxic too.

I clearly don’t have the answers on this one. Maybe I’ll go back to my baking powder pastes and vinegar sprays. Maybe I’ll give hydrogen peroxide a try. Maybe I’ll just use the cleaners I like, but leave the windows open those days. Maybe I’ll just use the cleaners and try really hard to forget what I’ve read about them. I just don’t know…

Who knew cleaning could be so problematic?

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