Tuesday, September 21, 2010

God Likes Clean Vegans

"Cleanliness is Next to Godliness."

There are so many reasons why that statement is true.  I have trouble being godly and I have trouble with the whole keeping my self, my house, and my stuff clean all the time thing.

I mean, I can clean like a champ once per month on a high caffeine consumption day, but keeping things together and tidy and sparkly...every day?  Yeah, that is a very tall order I haven't learned how to fill, yet.  It's a lot of work to do all that when you have a husband, a beagle, a kid, and a natural predisposition for general sloth.

I know.  You thought I was the second incarnation of Martha, didn't you?  Oh, don't be sad.  It's okay.  It's kind of a vibe I cultivated so that my friends and family wouldn't figure out I was lazy and refuse to love me.  I should probably devote some time to these issues in therapy, but I'm just too gosh-darned busy for that kind of introspection right now (note:  that was humor).  The point is:  I'm not like Martha, and my home has probably been cleaned in a manic frenzy which ended less than 5 minutes before you arrived...every time you have ever been over to my house.

I know it's a lot to take in.  Just breathe.  The shock will pass.

As I begin to mature, and as the general quality, cost, and sentimental value of our possessions rise, I'm getting better at handling my home like a grownup.  I'm not as lazy about housework as I was 5 years ago.  I take better care of the house in general and my family in particular.  Since becoming vegan, I have been altogether more conscious and conscientious in my general efforts toward organizing our little Nix corner of the world .  I don't think that's a coincidence.

Cleanliness is next to godliness because, when your home and body are clean and cared for, the mind will slow down and focus on important things.  Order in the home lowers anxiety, and it happens automatically.  Think about the last time you really scrubbed down a room in your home.  When you were finished, and you looked over all the sparkly surfaces with the pleasant scent of cleaners lingering, possessed with full confidence that everything in that room was clutter-free and in its rightful place...didn't you immediately feel the tension just leave your body?  Order and cleanliness are things you need for any decent spiritual and philosophical reflection.  If you keep an orderly house, an orderly mind inevitably follows.  When your thoughts are clear, you can pray better, you will feel better, and you will be better able to care for others.

So, let's talk about cleaners, shall we?

Homemade Vegan Cleaners
My friend Bunnary and I have an obsession with vinegar.  We read a site with 1001 tips for using vinegar around the house, and got a bit ridiculous about it.  In that process, we have learned a lot about household cleaners and how to keep things tidy the old school way.

Let me recommend the following cleaners to you.  You will need to buy a few plastic spray bottles from the gardening section of your favorite department store, and you probably have the rest of what you need already hiding out in your home.  These cleaners are seriously cheap, completely safe, and they can outperform and totally replace about 2/3 of the products you have cluttering up your cabinet and shelving space.

Bye-bye Windex!
and 409 and Clorox counter wipes and Lysol and CLR and Jet Dry and Brasso and Tilex and...

To get you started, you will need a nice all-purpose glass and surface cleaner.  Look no further than white distilled vinegar.  In a spray bottle, mix 1 part vinegar to 1 part water.  This will clean mirrors and glass better than ammonia products at a fraction of the cost.  In addition to glass, you can use it to shine surfaces.  I have metal and Formica counter tops.  On both, the vinegar cleaner gets up the grease, kills the germs, and leaves a nice sparkle.  The aroma of vinegar might not be your favorite, but it dissipates in less than an hour, and all that's left is clean.  Plus, if your babies or pets get ahold of it, you don't have to be frightened.

Vinegar can be used for many things around the house.  You can boil vinegar water on the stove to remove odors, spray it in your trashcans to deoderize and kill germs, and repel ants by spraying it full-strength around the windows and pathways they use in your kitchen.  It's a miracle product...for about $2/gallon.

Adieu, Mr. Clean!
and Fabuloso and Mop n' Glo and Spic n' Span and Resolve spray

I have just discovered a new floor cleaner.  I got this tip from Martha's Homekeeping Handbook, and it is really fantastic.  I've used it to scrub fingerprints and schmoo from the walls, degrease my kitchen stove, and as the title would suggest...to clean floors.  It's very easy to make.  In an empty, clean spray bottle, mix 1C water, 1C rubbing alcohol, and 1C white distilled vinegar.  To this, add 9 drops of your favorite dish liquid.  Voila!  Clean floors, walls, toilets, sinks, and doors with it.  You can also use it to very effectively pull up stains from carpet.

Adios, Pine Sol!
and Magic Eraser and metal scrubbers and Goo Gone

Allow me to introduce one of the oldest, most familiar, yet for some reason the most elusive cleaning products in human history.  Meet pine oil.  My darling friend Meghann introduced me to pine oil.  He is my friend, and he can be your friend, too!  Now, I'm not talking about Pine Sol.  I mean pine oil.  It is a highly-concentrated cleaner that is usually sold in bulk to industrial cleaning companies.  They use it in hospitals, schools, and nursing homes for both its anti-bacterial effect and strong scent.  Pine oil, when you open the gallon jug it typically comes in, is an amber liquid with a pine scent so potent it will make your eyes cross.  A modest cap full added to a spray bottle filled with water is all you need.  The thick golden fluid will immediately turn the water into an opaque white liquid resembling milk.  That's what you want, and if your pine oil doesn't have this effect...then it isn't real pine oil.

For some reason, pine oil has fallen out of fashion in favor of the pre-diluted brands of cleaners we buy in department stores.  Yea, Capitalism.  It's a real shame, though, because pine oil will do the toughest jobs in your home all by itself.  It doesn't need all the other stuff the companies mix it with to make a marketable product.

I have used diluted pine oil to clean crayon and sharpie marker off walls and floors.  I have used it to get dried carpet glue up off of tile.  I have used it to clean up rotten potato residue off the floor of my pantry (oh my dear God in Heaven...that smell was the worst thing I've ever dealt with).  Basically, if the job is nasty or smelly or requires the big guns, pine oil will get it done.

Pine oil is not toxic and it is a natural product refined from pine trees.  Don't allow your pets and children to consume it.  It will make them vomit from what I understand.  It is totally safe otherwise, and you can use it with confidence.  If you have trouble finding real pine oil to purchase, you can order a gallon jug of it here.  Note that Pine Sol and the popular-with-green-types brand called Super Pine contain only negligible amounts of pine oil.  Though effective cleaners in their own right, neither of these brands is the real deal, and both are considerably more expensive in the long run than a plain gallon of pine oil...which will last an average household for YEARS.

Tot Ziens, Ajax!
and Comet and Soft Scrub and Brillo

When nothing but an abrasive scrubbing cleaner will do, you don't need anything but good old baking soda.  Some baking soda on a sponge or scrub pad with water and a bit of dish soap (or the floor cleaner I described above) will scrub and shine steel sinks and appliances, floors, tile, grout, etcetera.  You just don't need those other things.  If you really like your abrasives, may I recommend the Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day brand.  Her cleaners are safe, vegan, and they all smell gorgeous.


I hope some of you like this post and will try some of these natural cleaners.  I'm quickly learning to use them in place of almost everything else on the cleaning aisle.  Let me know how it goes...and remember that God likes clean vegans.  /wink

1 comment:

  1. When you mix soap and vinegar together the properties of the vinegar (destroying aminos) unbind the soap and it makes both substances inert.