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Non-Toxic Drain Cleaning

August 8th, 2012

Back when I first started the non-toxic cleaning series, someone requested a drain cleaning post. A great topic since drain cleaners are among the most toxic of household chemicals, you definitely DO NOT want to keep them around. Not only are they very dangerous and caustic, they’re not good for your plumbing. The people we purchased this house from used drain cleaner instead of cleaning out the drains and it actually ate through the metal in the shower drain and caused leaks in the pipes.

Most of the time drain clogs are caused by hair and soap scum buildup. It’s easy enough to clean them out by removing the stopper and using a wire hook to pull out hair. Not a pleasant job to be sure, but not as yucky as all those caustic chemicals. We use a piece of a wire coat hanger that we cut and bent into a hook. It resides in our bathroom cabinet for drain cleaning.

If drains are still running slowly follow this process:

  1. clean hair and other debris from drain
  2. pour a stock pot full of very hot water down drain
  3. let sit a few minutes
  4. put a half cup of baking soda down drain
  5. pour a cup of apple cider vinegar down drain
  6. after a half hour, put another stock pot of hot water down drain
  7. check drain to see if there is any visible debris
  8. if you see debris, remove it
  9. check drain flow, if still slow, repeat steps 1-8


Following these steps will clear most drain clogs. I’ve had great luck using this system, it works great. Mr Chiots has been very impressed with how great it works!

If you have a problem with clogged drains, consider adding a product that contains beneficial bacteria regularly. Just like regular consumption of yogurt and probiotics helps our digestive system, the same can help with your drains. Here at Chiot’s Run I use FLOW from Gardens Alive once a month in our drains. It keeps the them flowing freely and thus we no longer have issues with clogged drains. Once our kitchen sink was horribly backed up with a clog was somewhere in the long run of pipe between the sink and the big sewer line in the house. We tried everything, including a pipe snake to no avail. At our wits end, we tried this stuff and it worked.  Ever since then we’ve been using it as drain maintenance.

To keep your drains clean and running smoothly, clean hair, soap and other things out of the drains regularly to keep them flowing well. Pouring hot water down the drain every so often to keep things running smoothly and will help you avoid future clogs.  You can also use the process above every few months to keep drains clean.  If you do experience a backed up drain, don’t reach for the drain cleaner.  Try the baking soda/vinegar method above.

Do you ever get clogged drains? Any tips/tricks for non-toxic ways to clear them out?

NON-TOXIC CLEANING SERIES
Stocking Your Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit
Learning to Love Castile Soap
Make Your Own: Foaming Soap
Make Your Own: Infused Vinegar
Make Your Own: Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Make Your Own: Color Safe Oxygen Bleach
Non-Toxic Bathroom Cleaning
Friday Favorite: Charlie’s Soap
Friday Favorite: Twist Sponges
Homemade Whitening Scrub
more to come…

Non-Toxic Bathroom Cleaning

April 11th, 2012

For most people, bathrooms probably top the list as the least favorite room to clean. It also tops the list as the room people most feel they need toxic cleaners to get rid of the baddies. There seems to be this weird fear of germs that’s been cultivated in our society. Truth is, your kitchen sink is just as dirty or even worse than your toilet, *gasp* I know. You’re more likely to get nasty germs eating out, or from grocery store produce than you are from your own bathroom, so lighten up. No need to use toxic cleaners that are doing more damage to you than any kind of germ would. Bleach and toxic cleaners are hard on your liver and your lungs, so switch to something lighter and your bathroom will be just as clean and you’ll save yourself some medical bills later!

I’m actually not much of one to worry about germs, I focus more on eating healthfully to build my immune system than I do trying to eliminating every single germ from my house. I personally believe being exposed to germs is actually good for you. That being said, I scrub the toilet weekly and spray the kitchen counters with vinegar if they’ve seen raw chicken, but you won’t find me spraying down the toilet handle or the doorknobs with lysol every day and you’ll never smell a whiff of chlorine bleach in my house.

As with most things, it’s much easier to maintain clean than it is to clean a super dirty space. Scrubbing one week’s worth of soap scum is much easier than scrubbing off a months buildup. You’ll spend far less time if you do a quick clean-up each week than one big cleaning each month. It takes me about 5 minutes of actually scrub time to clean both of my bathrooms (not including mopping the floors).
Here’s the system I’ve developed for cleaning my bathrooms:
First: Pour 1/4-1/2 cup of vinegar in each toilet, let sit for about 15 minutes (if your toilet is really bad use up to a cup and let it sit overnight). If the level of water in your toilet is below the ring where the water normally sits, add a little water so the vinegar water covers this ring to soften it. Spray vinegar on inside of bowl above water line. While you let this sit, move on to sinks.

Second: Remove all items from sink tops and shower stalls; then spray the sinks, countertops and shower with vinegar, moving from one bathroom to the next. While I’m doing that, I also grab all the hand towels and put them in the laundry.

Third: Back in first bathroom, sprinkle baking soda in the sink, squirt some castile soap on my damp scrubber, and scrub the sink, counter, and faucet. Wipe down with a damp sponge and dry with a clean hand towel. Use this same towel to wipe down mirror, if you don’t use fabric softener in your laundry it will buff the mirror and take off spots since it’s slightly damp, no spray needed. If you use fabric softener or a scented detergent, buff with a microfiber or clean cloth. If the mirror is super dirty, give it a small light spray of vinegar and wipe away spots. Repeat in other bathrooms.

Fourth: Spray all parts of toilet with vinegar or homemade multi purpose spray. Next, sprinkle some baking soda in the toilet and scrub with brush. Dirt and scum should scrub away quite easily as the vinegar will help loosen dissolve lime and other minerals from hard water. If you have a distinct ring, try scrubbing it with a pumice stone or heavy duty scrubber (may require a long soaking with vinegar to loosen the minerals). If the toilet is really dirty it will take some elbow grease. Take this moment to remind yourself how much easier it will be if you clean the toilet weekly rather than letting it get to dirty (been there, and still occasionally do). Repeat in other bathrooms.

Finally: Sprinkle some baking soda and a squirt of castile soap on my scrubber then scrub the shower stall. Using an old yogurt container, I pour water on the shower walls to rinse soap away.

TIPS FOR MAINTAINING CLEAN:
*Put a Tablespoon of vinegar in your toilet every time you flush or every night before bed, this will help keep the toilet from getting as dirty. Clean toilet weekly!!!! If you let minerals build up in the toilet they will be much tougher to get off than if you just spend a few minutes cleaning the toilets each week!

*Use a squeegee to wipe water off shower walls when you’re finished showering – this will keep water spots and minerals from building up. A few seconds after each shower will save you lots of time.

*Use towel to wipe down faucet and sink top after using, this will eliminate a lot of the soap scum and hard water build up, if you have hard water this is the best way to keep the minerals from damaging faucets.

*Spray surfaces with vinegar and give it some time to work, let the vinegar dissolve & soften soap scum & hard water deposits to make them easier to clean.

*If you have hard water, make sure you spray vinegar around the faucet to keep hard water build up from occurring. This will also help your faucets last longer.

*Using castile soap is gentle on surfaces and won’t wear away the finish. If you use harsh abrasive cleaners you will wear away the finish on the various surfaces thus making your cleaning jobs much more difficult as time goes on.

*Toxic, antibacterial, smelly cleaners do not equal clean and will not get rid of more germs than vinegar and castile soap.

What’s your least favorite part of the bathroom to clean?

NON-TOXIC CLEANING SERIES
Stocking Your Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit
Learning to Love Castile Soap
Make Your Own: Foaming Soap
Make Your Own: Infused Vinegar
Make Your Own: Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Make Your Own: Color Safe Oxygen Bleach
Non-Toxic Bathroom Cleaning
Friday Favorite: Charlie’s Soap
Friday Favorite: Twist Sponges
more to come…

My all natural toilet brush was purchased from Life Without Plastic. Whenever something in my house that’s plastic breaks I find an all natural alternative. Love this toilet brush, works well, looks great and I love that there’s no container for the brush to sit in and get all funky. Never smells, no mildew, nothing weird – and I’ve been using it for 3 years. I have a few of their various cleaning brushes and scrubbers and have been happy with them all.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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