March 2, 2014

Green Your Spring Clean

There's nothing quite like the looming need to file taxes to motivate me to tackle the rest of my to do list. And while spring cleaning may be pushing it - the sleet is upon us, snow called for later - cleaning is what I am doing.

That beautifully orange bathtub in the first pic is courtesy of the high iron content in our water. After a cleaning, it starts to turn orange within two days. Yes, it's gross. And, yes, we're considering an iron filtration system for the house. But until the budget allows for it and until we find a system that doesn't generate obscene amounts of waste water, this is the state of things.

I'm sharing this slightly embarrassing evidence of my slatternly housekeeping because these pictures illustrate the nefarious bane of many of us: hard water build-up, aka lime scale, aka soap scum. Yes, on top of iron rich water, we have the hardest water around. What you are looking at is an incredibly durable layer of lime scale tinted orange by iron. 

If you have hard water build-up, you know it can take an inordinate amount of scrubbing to rid your surfaces of it. The commercial cleansers made to combat it make me feel sick. Especially when used in a tiny space with no window. But, you can eradicate lime scale with a gentle swipe of a cloth with non-toxic, regular household items.

I spray the surface with white vinegar, allow it sit a bit, then wipe with a moistened cloth sprinkled with baking powder CORRECTION: baking soda. That's it. No harsh, toxic, expensive cleansers. No scrubbing until your arms feel like they will fall off. No scratching of porcelain, ceramic, fiberglass. The scum wipes off with little to no effort. Depending how long it has been since I last cleaned, it may take two rounds of spraying with vinegar before the scale will disappear with a effortless swipe.

As you can see, this treatment doesn't quite work on the caulk seal between the tub and the surround. I don't know if it's permanently stained or what. Any ideas?

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