Day 66–Healthier Cleaning

Cover of "Free To Be ... You And Me (1972...

“…So, the very next time you happen to be
Just sitting there quietly watching TV,
And you see some nice lady who smiles
As she scours or scrubs or rubs or washes or wipes or mops or dusts or cleans,
Remember, nobody smiles doing housework but those ladies you see on TV.
Your mommy hates housework,
Your daddy hates housework,
I hate housework too.
And when you grow up, so will you.
Because even if the soap or cleanser or cleaner or powder or paste or wax or bleach
That you use is the very best one,
Housework is just no fun.”

I grew up during the 1970s, when Free to Be You and Me was a television special that you DROPPED EVERYTHING to watch. With only four channels, there wasn’t much on television for children, but I ate up the positive affirmations and not-so-subtle feminist messaging, along with the catchy songs that I can still sing today. One of my favorites was “Housework,” with Carol Channing slyly explaining that only on TV did anyone love housework. And that’s only because they were getting paid to smile.

What does this have to do with our blog? Well, for a long time, I didn’t want my daughter doing any heavy cleaning because of all the chemicals in the cleaners (and also because she uses about a bottle of windex on each window). My husband and I tackled the housework together (in truth, he does way more than I do). In January, we got rid of our old cleaners, some of which were highly toxic, and replaced them with vinegar, borax, and baking soda. I’ve found that the vinegar smell doesn’t linger too long and the house doesn’t smell like a big salad (not that a salad smells bad…). And vinegar is an amazing cleaner of just about anything!

So what am I waiting for? Now that we have replaced all our cleaners with some form of white vinegar, we should be making the work more equitable. If my sweet ‘tween uses a bottle of vinegar and water per window, what is that…like 15 cents? And having everyone helping makes for a happier, healthier household all around (as long as I ignore the eye rolling). Cheers for Carol Channing and for cheers for white vinegar! Cue Carol for the big finish…

“Children, when you have a house of your own,
Make sure, when there’s house work to do,
That you don’t have to do it alone.
Little boys, little girls, when you’re big husbands and wives,
If you want all the days of your lives
To seem sunny as summer weather,
Make sure, when there’s housework to do,
That you do it together!”

Making a Clean Start

Did you know that there are no federal regulations for chemicals used in household cleaners? What is THAT about? Reading the warning “May be toxic to humans and domesticated animals” on a bottle of cleaner made me really consider how we clean our house and what we clean it with. After all, the “humans and domesticated animals” are the inhabitants I care about! So, today was D-day for cleaning out the storage area under the sink. It was scary, on many levels. But now we have cleaners that are mostly vinegar, borax and baking soda. Will they work effectively? Not sure, but I feel better about having my daughter help me clean knowing she won’t be exposed to phlates and other toxins. See the before and after pics. Before: I needed a caddy to carry all the cleaning supplies. After: much simpler and (hopefully) healthier.