Fewer 4 a.m. hairballs (Day 186)…

September 2, 2007


Cat owners know there’s nothing more rewarding in life than falling asleep with a furry ball of love purring by your side — then suddenly waking up at 4 a.m. to the sound of: gyugck, gyugck, gyugck …. BLECH!

Ah yes, the hairball.

The best part is when you get to lie there in bed, trying to guess from the volume and intervals of retching whether you’re about to find your cat’s present on the bathroom tiles (excellent), hardwood floor (pretty good) or carpeted stairs (brutal).

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy trying to explain to Sophie that, if she’d just make sure to barf on a hard surface, I wouldn’t have to use so many paper towels to clean it up. So I’m going to be more proactive as of today, taking the preventative route of grooming her more often, which means there will be fewer hairballs and random tufts of dander-laden fur to clean up.

Plus she loves being brushed, and a happier kitty means a happier owner.

My undies get the cold shoulder (Day 159)…

August 6, 2007


For years now I’ve washed most of my clothes in cold water, but if I was ever cleaning something really icky — like the bath mat Sophie just pooped on, for instance — I would often use hot water. Somehow, it just got into my head that a hotter temperature would kill off more germs. As well, for whatever reason, the “delicates” cycle on my machine uses lukewarm water instead of cold, perhaps because it’s thought to be more gentle on finicky fabrics like silk.

But enough of this — cold water is just fine, especially seeing as it has plenty of detergent swirling around in it anyway. My precious unmentionables can suck it up and go in a regular cycle (at low water level, of course) with the rest of my clothes and warm up on the drying rack later. And the bath mat? Well, I’ll just have to convince myself it’ll get as clean as it did before… maybe I’ll throw Sophie in there with it.

Some new goo for the loo (Day 151)…

July 29, 2007

toilet bowl cleaner

Not to get too graphic, but this whole let-it-mellow thing doesn’t exactly make for a pristine toilet bowl. So it wasn’t long before I finished up the last of my toxic, abrasive cleaner and had to go find a less cancer-causing alternative. I immediately turned to my new favourite eco-brand, Ecover, which makes a natural product that comes in one of those strategically angled bottles — and I’ll of course refill it if I can find toilet bowl cleaner in bulk. It smells of pine, which I’m not so into, and required slightly more scrubbing, but overall, I’m satisfied.

Swiffer miss (Day 132)…

July 10, 2007


I remember when the original Swiffer dusters first came out. I saw the commercial on TV and thought, “That’s the dumbest thing ever — who the hell would waste their hard-earned money on such crap?” Of course, that’s what everyone said about bottled water, and now look where we are. It’s the sad truth: we can be convinced by marketers to buy just about everything, from cheese in string form to yogurt in plastic tubes (as an aside, is the term “Go-Gurt” not the most unappetizing thing you’ve ever heard of?) and, yes, overpriced pieces of cloth that do pretty much the same thing as any other piece of cloth, except with words like “electromagnetic,” which make them sound fancier.

I’m as much to blame as the next person — I was lured by the whole concept of capturing dust rather than just dispersing it about the room with a bunch of feathers on a stick. I’ve been using Swiffers for years now, like they were as essential as a sponge or a broom.

But no more: I tried out the E-cloth on all my dusty surfaces and it works just as well. Another point for the green team, another product that — ironically — bites the dust.

Photo swiffed from the company website

So clean you could eat off it — and not have to call poison control! (Day 129)…

July 7, 2007


I’m loving my E-cloths, but there’s something to be said for not only having a clean kitchen and bathroom but a clean-smelling kitchen and bathroom, and unfortunately the scent of water is a bit, well, lacking. So I went out to invest in a super-mild, all-natural spray cleaner that would give everything that little twinkle you see in all the commercials and leave a fresh smell.

The one I went for is from a company called EcoMist (read more about them here … or don’t, because the video on their homepage is like cinematic ipecac), which says its product line is entirely plant-based and “utilizes the science of nano-colloidal technology” (whatever the heck that is), and is recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as food-surface safe.

Indeed, the ingredients consist of nothing more than corn, coconut extract, sugarcane, tree extracts and de-ionized water. Almost sounds like you could squirt it over a mesclun salad for a zingy dressing. And to top it all off, it’s also a local product, made in Woodbridge, ON — just outside Toronto.

It’s not exactly strong stuff: You can’t spray it on a glob of toothpaste and watch as it eviscerates it into liquid, and it feels less like you’re killing bacteria than just wiping it away. But there’s plenty of evidence on the company’s website that proves it’s just as powerful an antibacterial agent as the toxic brand name cleaners, and most importantly, it smells much nicer too.

I don’t know that I’m quite secure enough to eat an entire stir-fry off my bathroom floor, but if I did, at least it would probably have a nice coconut aftertaste. Oh, and I will of course reuse the bottle when it’s finished rather than buy a new one.

My dishes get a helping hand (Day 118)…

June 26, 2007


Another appliance bites the dust today, as I unplug — at least figuratively speaking, I’m not sure I can actually reach the socket — my dishwasher.

Now, I know there’s a lot of debate in the green blogosphere about whether dishwashers use more water than handwashing or less, but it sort of depends on the unit itself, how modern and efficient it is, whether or not you’re using the appropriate cycle and/or the air-dry function, the quantity of dishes getting cleaned, etc.

All I know is that my dishwasher sucked to begin with, and after I switched to Seventh Gen detergent, things got worse; I kept having to rinse everything beforehand, then soak the spoons afterwards to get all the persistent oatmeal residue off. On top of this, because I have so much stuff that needs to be cleaned by hand anyway, like my French press and champagne flutes, it would end up that there’d be a massive pile of dishes in the sink every night and only a couple stinky bowls in the dishwasher.

So I figure as long as I’m careful about how much water I use, keep it cold or lukewarm rather than hot, and rinse sparingly, it’ll be best to do my dishes with old-fashioned elbow grease.

Photo courtesy of Wenspics at Flickr

Take that, Magic Eraser! (Day 109)…

June 17, 2007


Sometime last year, I fell in love with the Magic Eraser. Watching as it cleaned grime from my tub in a single swipe and made the grout between my bathroom tiles as white as Ryan Seacrest‘s teeth, I’d hum the song “Do You Believe in Magic?” and silently respond, “You bet I do!”

Ah, but then the CBC came and ruined it all, pointing out that the reason it worked so well had to do with the carcinogenic tongue-twister of a chemical, formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer, which they don’t warn about on the label. Damn you, Wendy Mesley! (Although, I have to confess, I was mildly disturbed by the fact that the eraser also seemed to magically disintegrate after a few uses.)

So it was back to using a whole bucket of different cleaning products, with my primary tools being a sponge and some paper towel. I’d use the paper towels for cleaning the bathroom mirror, glass table and stove, kitchen counter, and to wipe things dry.

But then the other night, when I was at my parents’ place for dinner, my mother gave me this thing called an E-cloth, which she got from Tony at the Kitchen and Glass Place in Toronto, which is like Williams-Sonoma‘s cooler, more reasonably priced cousin. It’s made from some crazy scientific micro-fiber and promises to clean your entire house with nothing but water, so you save on paper towels and cleaning products.

Pshht, yeah right, I thought. Mom totally got suckered.

Still, I decided to try it out this weekend anyway, just so I could report back to her the extent to which she’d been suckered, and whoa — hold the phone. This thing kicks serious Sunday chores ass! I tested it out on the counter top: Good. Then I ran it over my stainless steel fridge: Excellent. Then I bolted upstairs to try it on my sink and tiles: Perfect.

I couldn’t believe it. This thing cleaned everything without leaving a single streak, and I barely had to run it over any surface twice. I didn’t use a single paper towel or any product, just water.

So my green change today is to only use cloths like these for household cleaning; no more paper towels.