Friday, April 24, 2009

Cleaning With Salad Dressing

Summer is here and so is the dirt! In our family, summer means no shoes, as small a shirt possible (for me) or none at all (for the boys), cut off pants, lots of playing in the yard and garden, and bikes, bikes, bikes. The screen doors open and the windows are left unlatched so that the house is breezy and warm; the clothes are hung to dry in the yard; we play significantly more; music pours out of our outdoor speakers; generally the atmosphere around here breaks loose from being closed up through the fall and winter. This means fun but also dirt, grass stains, dust, debris, and smudgy hand prints all over the house. Personally, I think it is well worth the trade.

For Bell Bell, summer means lazing around the house, preferably the laundry room sink, basking in the sun and shedding her fur everywhere. Guadie prefers the yard under our giant azalea we have named "Big Boy" but shedding all over none the less. If only I could do that, minus the fur that is. For me, summer is a shift in cleaning up fur as well as much more fun that hibernating in doors over the winter.

When I first moved in with Jules, I was amazed at the sheer number of cleaning products he had under the sink. There were at least 10. I usually stick with about three: Windex, bleach, and wood polish. When the floor started to look dull, I embraced Quick Shine as well. Those seem to clean most everything. I'm sure there are specialty products out there that are necessary for certain surfaces (just like bleach can't be used on our hardwood floors) but we have a fairly simple, none specialty house so I'm just not aware of them.

Around here, I began cleaning the floor with Murphy Oil as I'm sure most anyone who has owned hardwood floors has done at some point, but the stuff is expensive! So I began to search for other alternatives that wouldn't kill our floors. I'm not one for chemicals (my skin freaks out with hives) so as basic as possible is the route most traveled around here.

When I first read about alternative floor cleaner, many contained large amounts of water. This made me nervous. Water and hardwood floors are sworn enemies! But cleaning with water made much more sense than cleaning with salad dressing. Yes, salad dressing. Equal parts white vinegar (Do Not Use Apple Cider, Red Wine, Balsamic) and vegetable oil (olive oil, baby oil, mineral oil) can be sprayed onto your floors and then buffed clean with a mop or towel as a homemade alternative to expensive or chemical cleaners. The idea seemed crazy. Oil and Vinegar, really!?! But I read it time and again. So I tried it when Jules was at work in a small corner to see if it would kill the floor. I would suggest this to anyone before they use alternative products, wither they are home cleaners, lotions, laundry detergent what have you. Always try a small spot to check before diving in full bore. Needless to say, it worked. In fact it worked so well that I didn't have to use the Quick Shine at all. Even Jules (the household skeptic) commented on how great the floors looked. Salad dressing, who knew!

Not only are vegetable oil and white vinegar exceptionally cheap, they are something we most always have around so there is not worry about running out of them when needed. Basically, the vinegar cuts grease and grime while the oil polishes. Together they work wonders without any harmful water to ruin your hardwood.

The drawback is that it's stinky to an extent. Let's be real, you are using a vinegar which doesn't necessarily smell the best. In less than 20 minutes however, the floors are dry and the smell is gone. Secondly, you are going to need to shake the bottle up repeatedly because the mixture separates. Though I used an old 1 pint vinegar bottle and poured the cleaner directly onto my rag, a spray bottle would probably work wonders and make the job much faster. We just didn't have one in the house. Regardless, I'm going to be hard pressed to find another product that makes the floor look anywhere near as great! User beware: this product works so well you are going to want to dance across the floor in your socks and undies like Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

So let the freedom rock and gangster rap flow through our backyard and the dirt fall where it may. My salad dressing and I will take on the fur, the grime, and the smudgy hands! The summer has come and we can't wait to get out and play!

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