5 Favorites – Cleaning Supplies

I’m stuck somewhere between a fairly typical spring cleaning marathon (which happens about this time every year), and a mysterious serenity towards my housekeeping skills (which have mysteriously improved lately). I also haven’t posted in about a week, so I need to get off my duff and do something about that. So here are my five favorite cleaning supplies.

OXO Heavy Duty Scrub Brush and OXO Deep Clean Brush Set
I really love these brushes. I’ve used a lot of heavy duty scrub brushes, but have always hated them because they tend to tip over when I’m scrubbing vigorously and I would stub my thumb. Which hurt. A lot. This brush didn’t, and that’s enough for me to love it and recommend it about all others. I love this brush. It fits nicely in the hand and cleans up afterwards nicely.
The deep clean brushes are similarly comfortable to use, and very good at getting into all the small awkward spaces where I used to use old, expired tooth brushes. But these are better. I don’t have quite as much to rave about for these. The little scraper on the end of the small one is nice.


Mrs. Meyer’s Rosemary All Purpose Cleaner
I held out against the whole "green clean" phenomena for as long as I could, but finally was sucked in by just liking their lemon verbena scent. And I discovered their concentrated cleaner was extremely economical. I’ve been working on the one bottle of lemon verbena for almost two years.
But I’ve discovered the rosemary scent, and I will never go back to lemon verbena. Lemon verbena is too sweet, and I feel like it only fits in the kitchen, so I never used it in the bathrooms. (Yes, I’m weird about these things.) But the rosemary is a wonderful, fresh scent I can and will happily use anywhere. It just fits everywhere in my house.
…this sort of thing is oddly important to me.
Anyway, the diluted all purpose cleaner (1/4 cup to a full 16oz. spray bottle) works well enough for light duty, regular cleaning. For heavy duty cleaning of things that haven’t been cleaned as often as they should, I just don’t know if the diluted cleaner can handle the job. I have a filthy bathtub to clean though, so I’ll try it and report back.


Bleach, ammonia, and vinegar.
All of these items have their place and proper use in cleaning. They’re effective, inexpensive, and widely available. Lots of people give these chemicals the hairy eyeball and think they’re dangerous because "CHEMICALS!" Nonsense. They are quite safe if you bother to understand them and treat them with appropriate respect. Bleach is a base, sodium hypochlorite. Ammonia and vinegar will both act as acids when mixed with bleach, and will release mustard gas. This is bad.
When in doubt, the safe rule of thumb is "don’t mix bleach/ammonia/vinegar with any other cleaning product, only dilute it with water." And follow safe dilution methodology! Always add the bleach/ammonia/vinegar to the water, never water to the bleach. This gives you more control.
Bleach is an excellent surface disinfectant in a 3% solution. Preclean the surface with soap and water, rinse, and then apply the bleach solution for 5 minutes to disinfect. Rinse and dry.
For Clorox Concentrated Bleach (8.25% sodium hypochlorite), a 3% solution is 1 1/2 tsp per cup of water or 1/2 cup per gallon. For other brands you’ll need to check the concentration of sodium hypochlorite on the label and use the concentration formula (bottle%)*(V)=(3%)*(Total Volume). Solve for V, which is the volume of straight bleach you need to add to the water.
10% ammonia makes a good all purpose surface cleaner and mild disinfectant. Dilute one part ammonia with two parts water and use it in a spray bottle.
Vinegar can be used on hard water stains, although extreme hard water build up may need multiple applications to remove. I tend to use the extra strength pickling vinegar with 9% acidity, straight for heavy build up, and diluted 1:1 with water for other applications. But it’s not a great disinfectant.


Barkeeper’s Friend (both the powder and the liquid).

This cleaner is oxalic acid. It is great for gentle scouring applications, and for rust or lime removal. The liquid soft cleaner applied with a brush will clean soap scum and hard water stain off of glass shower stalls in an amazing and miraculous fashion. I just cleaned my shower with it, the glass was so fogged with soap scum and hard water stain that it looked like it was supposed to be frosted glass, but it’s almost entirely clear now.


Microfiber cloths.

These don’t have to be fancy. I just bought a bunch of packs at our local Fry’s. I use them as reusable Swifter cloths, dusters, to clean baseboards and grills and fridge condenser coils, to polish windows and mirrors after cleaning… They’re fantastic and versatile and reusable.

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8 Responses to 5 Favorites – Cleaning Supplies

  1. Mad Auntie Mo says:

    Prep Staff here in Intro Bio has come up with a mixture of alcohol and vinegar that beats commercial disinfectants at killing germs and doesn’t streak. Want me to find the recipe?

    • GeekLady says:

      Absolutely! Isopropanol or denatured ethanol?

      • Foxfier says:

        For kid environments (which seems to be the folks who use vinegar) I’d guess denatured?

        • GeekLady says:

          Either one is poisonous when ingested. They denature alcohol by giving it an additive that’s poisonous and/or nasty tasting but theoretically inert (traditionally methanol) to discourage consumption and avoid paying liquor tax.

          • Foxfier says:

            *nod* Bet there’s a list of the ones that just taste nasty.

            • GeekLady says:

              Probably, but I doubt it’s widely available. It’s easier to just use isopropanol, which is in the 1st aid section at the store.

              …huh. Apparently denatured ethanol is also considered rubbing alcohol, just like isopropanol. I’ve only ever seen isopropanol sold as rubbing alcohol.

              • Foxfier says:

                The stuff in (most?) hand sanitizers is denatured, too.

                Daughter ate some and we had some rather scary wait time on the phone before the woman said “Oh, just a squirt or two, and she’s that big, it’s not enough to get her drunk.”

                I really, really, REALLY hate the “if any is consumed call poison control” non-information on packages.

              • Foxfier says:

                I’ve been told that what makes it “rubbing alcohol” is that there’s other stuff to make it easier on the skin.

                I suspect it’s a YMMV thing.

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