Cleaning Confession #1 - Bleach

So, let me preface this by saying that I know a lot of people love the smell of bleach.  I know that it fills your heart and nose with happiness to smell it and know that something has been cleaned. I am happy for you, I really am.  

And, if you are just joining me, HERE is a link to my first post about my latest crazy experiment adventure. 

I, on the other hand, loathe the smell of bleach.  If I was a spy and the other side captured me, they could break me just by threatening to open the bottle. I become melodramatically convinced that I am going to die when I smell it.  I open windows; turn on fans; and begin to loudly wonder, "What's that smeeeeeeeeeeell??"  You don't believe me? Ask my mom, she has witnessed more of these outbursts than anyone else I know.  I am not proud of it, but I hate the smell that much. 

Those who love the smell of bleach may think, "What a nice photo of a bleach jar." 

"SEE? I am NICE! “ It says.

I also loathe the smell of ammonia, but that is a story for another day.  

I have wandered most of my life wanting to have a clean house, but deep down loathing how it smells afterwards.  When I started hearing about the power of vinegar to clean and sanitize, I was not convinced.  (Do check out this post I found at the Code Red Hat, about what NOT to do with vinegar.) I had been brainwashed by all those ads produced by the bleach people indoctrinating me into thinking that nothing could clean as good as bleach (powerful marketing), even if I loathed it. I blame the spy dudes, they do all kinds of sneaky stuff.

Eventually I overcame my fear that my house would never be clean again and that the germs were going to start forming armies to invade and conquer anywhere that was cleaned with anything other than bleach.  I have been primarily using vinegar and baking soda for awhile now and I am happy to report that the germ armies have not invaded and my house smells better.  There is no longer a lingering odor of bleach fumes wafting through the hall (except when my mom washes her whites) and that makes me happy. 

That is not to say that I have been exclusively a vinegar girl.  I think that prior brainwashing sneaks back in from time to time, but part of this new experiment is to see what I can make and use myself without going completely loony and I know that cleaning with bleach will make me happier.  I mean, what is the point of being miserable with my homemade version of something just because I am stubborn or fixated on being entirely chemical-free? If I can take it, great. If not, I am not going to feel guilty about it. I have to do what works for me. 

This weekend I used a recipe I saw on a Pinterest board that called for using Borax, baking soda and vinegar to clean my toilet. I have seen alot of recipes, but this one stood out because of the addition of the Borax.  I live close to Death Valley and immediately thought of the 20 Mule Teams.  There is even a Borax mine over there, but it is not operating any more. 

I went out and bought a big old box (Walmart was out of small ones) and a giant box of baking powder.  Followed the directions (they are below).  My toilet is clean and does not smell like bleach - yay! 

I was going to take before and after pictures, but a) I could not get over the ick-factor that I was taking pictures of the inside of a toilet (I know what happens in there.) and b) it was not really "dirty" to begin with, so no one was going to be impressed by any shots I took anyway. That said, I am not letting my toilet get nasty looking just to demonstrate it for you.  You will just have to try it yourself, or ask someone you know to let you test it in their toilet. If you feel the need to post before and after shots, go for it. 

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  Let me take a moment to talk about the things on this blog and on my Pinterest boards.  I am not a chemist, and by no means the smartest person you know.  Just because you see it written down, somewhere does not mean it is for you or that it will work in the same way. This is my journey and my experiments and I enter into them at my own discretion and risk and so should you.  

Now, back to the fun stuff.  Here is a link to the original blog post, HERE, for those of you not as obsessed with Pinterest as I am.  Plus, the He and She Eat Clean blog is just cool and worth checking out:

Toilet Bowl Cleaner (As described on the He and She Eat Clean Blog)

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup Borax
1 cup white vinegar

Directions (by me, they were much fancier on the blog):  Dump the baking soda and borax into your toilet bowl, swoosh it around a little (but do not scrub yet).  

Then, my favorite part, add the vinegar.  Watch and listen while it makes a very satisfying swooshy sound and bubbles up.  Wait, for 30 minutes, then scrub and flush. 

I made my mom try it in her bathroom, which gets more use, and also resulted in a clean toilet.  Neither of them was very "dirty" to begin with. 

A good scientists thinks about their experiments and ponders the results.  I am not a scientist, but I do think it is important to think about whether or not I would use a recipe or method again.  


I do not know the science behind this, why the Borax is necessary or even if it is.  But, there is no lingering odor of bleachy toilet bowl cleaner in the hall and I did not have to open my windows today, so I call that a success.  I would even call it a happy-dance level of success.  I will definitely continue to use this one, or at the very least a variation of it. 

I have seen other recipes that just used baking soda and vinegar, which I think would be just as effective. I have seen some variations that add a couple of drops of essentials oils to the mix or lemon juice.  I might try a few of those later, but I was intrigued by the addition of the Borax, so I went ahead and bought some.  It is also included as an ingredient in a few other experiments I have my eye on.  

I apologize to those of you who might want to know about the cost breakdown.  I am only mildly interested in cost.  This is what I paid for the entire boxes of stuff:  a big box of baking soda at Walmart for $2.00 and the Borax was around $4.00.  I already had the vinegar, but I do not think that costs that much either, a couple more bucks.  

I have no idea how much my toilet bowl cleaner cost, we buy it at Costco; it is the Clorox (aka bleach) toilet bowl cleaner.  

Overall, the costs seemed to me, so I went with it.  If I start to feel like I am spending more on products than I did before, I might consider keeping track a bit better and if I do, I will share it with you.  

Incidentally, I used the same mixture as the recipe on this post on my clogged drain in my tub.  It was really clogged, so I had to do it twice, but it worked! And smelled waaaaaaaay better than Draino. 

If you want to follow my cleaning board you can find it HERE, (You will need a Pinterest account to view my board. Most of the pins are DIY, but not all.  I'm not all DIY all the time kind of girl.  NOTE: I do not endorse the validity or workiness of any of the things on my Pinterest boards - Use at your own discretion and risk.) 

Have fun cleaning! 


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