The Clash of the Cleaners


I am either weird or neurotic. Or both. Who gets excited about cleaning supplies?

I went to Target the other day to pick up a few necessities that I can find there for the right price, and I found myself drawn to the cleaning supplies aisle. "Traitor!" I thought. But I couldn't help but be lured by the beautiful colors, alluring scents, and pretty labels of relatives of what I use nearly on a daily basis. (I am won over by aesthetics.) My homemade cleaning supplies, meanwhile, have found homes in rather shabby vessesls - reused plastic squirt bottles (see above right), circa a few years ago, so I coveted these visually appealing products.

Weakness/Curiosity

I succumbed and bought one of the bright, citrusy all-purpose cleaners with a cool label and a promise that it was non-toxic and free of ammonia, bleach, and all sorts of other harsh things. Besides surrendering to an impulse buy, I was also curious as to whether this commercial cleaner was indeed better than my homemade all-purpose cleaner.

The Test

I got home and excitedly (albeit nerdily) grabbed a clean rag and started on my kitchen cabinets with the lemon-scented infiltrator, admiring the smell. I squirted and started wiping, and immediately noticed a little bit of streaking. Hah! Vindication. Mind you, it was not bad streaking (except on stainless steel, which it claimed to be good for cleaning; the streaking there was highly visible), but I don't like any, and my own humble all-purpose cleaner leaves not an iota of residue. I actually went back with a washed and rung out rag to wipe off remaining residue, but not the smugness on my face.

Counterintuitive Logic

I had read about this phenomenon in other blogs, that once you started making homemade cleaners, commercial cleaners just aren't as good. It's the opposite of what I would have thought - commercial just seems to have such a high performance and official stamp on it. And yet, it's no wonder that commercial cleaners leave a residue, or that they loudly tout the fact if they don't (but they still do). There are so many other ingredients in commercial cleaners, how can you expect to wipe them all away?

The Power of Vinegar

I certainly can't claim credit for the ingredients of my cleaner, but I can promote the cleaner glowingly. Vinegar is an amazing cleaning agent. And aside from orange peels and water, it gets the credit for cleaning glass and wiping away grime, grease, residue, dust, cat vomit, spills, stains, and all sorts of little or big messes around the house. And while it may not have one of those amazing, lingering, storebought smells, it does leave everything fresher than before. (Furthermore, with all the reading I did about off-gassing for the last post, I can't help but wonder if the smells left behind from commercial cleaners are no good.)

That's not quite it for the store-bought cleaner, though. I will finish this bottle of cleaner, as it does a decent job. And though minimal streaking is good, no streaking is great; so without regret, I will happily resume my relationship with vinegar.

I may upgrade my cleaners' vessel situation, though.

*I challenege you to try out a commercial cleaner, and then try these homemade cleaning recipes if you haven't already. Let me know which ones you like better. Or share your killer cleaning recipes.

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