The orange vinegar I started putting together at the beginning of January steeped for two weeks in a sunny window. It was time to filter it and start using it! I poured it through a towel-lined funnel into another mason jar, squeezed out the soggy orange peels and composted them, and was left with….
A half gallon of something that looked exactly like pee.
It smelled very orangey (under the sharp vinegar overtones), was kinda viscous, and when the light hit it just right I could see rainbows from the orange oils sliding on top. But still.
I put a label on it that said “Orange Peel Vinegar. Not Pee.”
Just in case, you know. My husband and friends already think I’m weird enough without that little potential misunderstanding, thank-you-very-much.
But before it got hidden away in the broom closet of shame, I embarked on my 2013 goal of using mostly homemade, baby-friendly cleaning products. I made two different kinds.
Experiment #1: Shower & Grout Cleaner.
The original recipe is for half and half Dawn and white vinegar, about as simple as it gets. You spray it on, let it sit for an hour, and then rinse off. I was really skeptical. Would you believe that anything homemade & nontoxic could make a dent on this hard water stuff?
Not me… not when my beloved (stinky, toxic) Kaboom had failed over and over.
The original recipe was so thick that it wouldn’t spray. I changed it to a 1:2 ratio, and still wished it were thinner. The idea, though, is that the Dawn lets the vinegar really cling to the tiles while it works – so I left it thick. I did have to smear it around with a brush to spread it evenly; maybe a paintbrush would be a better applicator.
The verdict: It Works!
After 1 or 1.5 hours I went back in and rinsed it off. NO SCRUBBING AT ALL. Color me amazed.
I cannot believe just plain old dish soap and vinegar did that effective of a job. And that there were no fumes and it’s perfectly safe to put the baby in the tub after using it, knowing she will lick all the surfaces. And talk about cheap! This formula is definitely going in my cleaning arsenal for keeps.
And check this out! I tried it on the grout in my entryway. It’s scrubbed quite regularly, but still looks dingy and dirty. I know it’s supposed to be whitish and not grayish because in the corners where there’s no foot traffic, it still looks bright.
I sprayed on my grout cleaner, left it an hour, then mopped it up. And look how clear the difference is.
Left = untreated, right = treated. I think that’s pretty amazing.
Experiment #2: All-purpose spray.
I put a single pump of dish soap (a teaspoon or two) into 3/4 cup orange vinegar and 1/2 cup water. It works great, about as well as the Mrs. Meyers’ countertop spray that I adore (but that is really expensive). It cuts grease quickly and does a good job removing crusted-on food from my ceramic cooktop. In short, it seems no better and no worse than any of the other countertop sprays I’ve ever used – but being so much cheaper (and eco-friendly to boot) puts it clearly ahead to my way of thinking. This is another one I’ll keep on making. (It does still mostly smell like vinegar though; next time I’ll add a drop or two of some essential oil for fragrance. The dish soap should emulsify it enough that I won’t need to shake it before each application.)
Two for two! My budget and my countertops are happy.