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I made the mistake of purchasing the kind of kitchen sponges which say that they have been treated with something to prevent them from getting bacteria ridden — I just grabbed what they had on the shelf at Aldi.  These sponges manage to go bad more quickly and smell more unpleasantly than any other.  Today when I pulled the second out of the bag it immediately  made my kitchen smell like rotting man made sponge, not exactly smell of baking goods, stewing soups, or the lemony clean scent one wishes to achieve in the kitchen.  I washed and washed it with dishsoap but to no avail: it just smelled like rinsed rotting man-made sponge.  I was unsure about washing dishes with it — I remember Rose’s post about drying sponges in the sun, but there was no sun and no time to dry the darn thing.  So I remembered my own comment on Anne’s post about toilet cleaners and recalled  to mind that I had read something about vinegar killing 99 percent of bacteria on contact.  I doused the sponge with red wine vinegar, and then played with it in a little tupperware of water. It was a great blue whale in a small amusement park setting.  My heart was wrung with pity.

When I was all done playing Sea World I rinsed the sponge out again with fresh water and voila!  Clean smelling sponge.  Non scented.  I set it free in the ocean of the kitchen sink.

The point of this post is to direct you to this article on household vinegar as a cleaner.

Incidentally you can also give a little vinegar and water for sore throats and things, and now I understand why.

We don’t even own a deep fryer but for some reason, I have the hardest time keeping grease stains off everything—my clothes, being the obvious place where it lands; my cloth napkins, being another obvious place; and my walls, which is perhaps a less common problem. (I hang up my cast iron skillet, which I have to re-season with vegetable oil after each use, on a nail on the wall; somewhere along the line the grease rubbed off onto the wall in a near perfect circle, and nothing I try can remove it without posing a high risk of removing the paint as well.)

So, does anybody have any tried and true remedies for getting grease out of any of these three surfaces? I have a slightly effective way of getting stains out of my clothing, even after it’s been in the dryer: I wet the spot, rub it with dishwashing liquid, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then I sprinkle borax liberally over the stain, rub it in gently, and wash in warm to hot water. I haven’t seen any complete transformations with this method but it does seem to lighten the stain significantly.

UPDATE: Greased Lightning hath wrought a miracle on my napkins. They were formerly besotted with heat-set stains (I was fairly sure it was some sort of grease stain), but now, after one more wash post-application, I can only see one or two discreet stains left. I’d call that a solution. Thanks again Susan.

“Recipe for washing clothes

1. Build fire in back yard to heat kettle.

2 Set tubs so smoke won’t blow in eyes if wind is pert

3. Shove one who cake of lye soap in boiling water.

4. Sort thing. Make 1 pile colored, 1 pile white, 1 pile breeches and rags.

5. Stir flour in cold water to smooth. Thin down with boiling water. Starch.

6. Rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard then boil. Rub colored but don’t boil. Just rinse and starch.

7. Take white things out of kettle with broom handle. Then rinse, blue and starch.

8. Spread tea towels on grass; others on fence.

9. Put rinse water on flower beds.

10. Scrub porch with soapy water.

11. Turn over the tubs to drain.

12. Go put on a clean dress. Smooth hair with side combs. Brew tea. Sit and rest. Rock a spell. Count your blessings.”

-anonymous note (c. 1900) on display at the Whistler Museum and Archives, in Whistler, British Columbia

I found this in a magazine I was looking through the other day. Thought I would share this with you all. The article goes on to say, that Mondays was wash day. Sunday, you wore your best (and the only thing clean!) and had a big dinner. That night all clothes were put into the kettle to soak. Since this was an all-day event, cooking was out of the question, so I’m guessing they ate leftovers or whatever they could find from the day before. The day of rest was also a day to build up your strength and stamina for the next day of washing. “It took considerable strength to scrub clothes up and down a washboard and then run them through the treacherous wringer. As soon as the family had any discretionary income, the lady of the house used the surplus to hire a laundress.” Amazing, read #12. The last she does after such a day of hard work (esp. if she had little ones around) is to count her blessing. I know that I am counting mine. I don’t mind now the 3 or 4 loads of laundry I do each day. And very thankful to the Lord for allowing mankind to come up with something like the washer (and dryer, though I love hanging my clothes out on the line)! Though the rest of you might enjoy this…

I don’t know about you guys, but our water bill seems to be steadily climbing these days.  I don’t know if it is the growing laundry piles and sinks full of dishes due to a growing family or if we are doing something wrong.  Does anyone have any suggestions for conserving water?  We do have a pond that needs to be filled up from time to time, especially in the summer, and chickens and rabbits that need their water containers filled a few times a week.  And, there is always the fish tank in the house that needs to be refilled sometimes. Not to mention the occasional garden watering. But, the water that the animals, fish and pond take up are really very minimal.  Is anyone else having this problem?  Maybe it is just the bad economy carry over to the water prices.  Any thoughts?

Since Elizabeth is posting about cleaning supplies, I thought it appropriate to pass along this website that Mary recommended to me.

http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/laundrysoap.htm

This link will show you how to make a simple laundry soap with just three ingredients. It is pretty simple and doesn’t require much time. I made a batch of the soap about a month ago, and I am just now starting to run out. Once you purchase the three ingredients, you will be able to make several batches before going back to the store. I think Mary said that they lasted her about a year. All of the necessary cleaners in the recipe only total about $7-$8. It is a very frugal way to get your cloths clean.

The three ingredients are soap of some kind(Ivory),borax(for whitening), and washing soda(deodorizer). As I said, we have been using the homemade soap for a month now and I have been quite pleased with it. I have to add a little extra borax and washing soda to Joshua’s diapers, but let’s face it the baby uses them for his commode!!:-)

The ingredients are also quite mild. They don’t seem to irritate anyone’s skin, which is a plus with us since we have eczema in our family.

Here are a few principles and practical suggestions taken from chapter 9 of the aforementioned Germ Proof Your Kids (Harley Rotbart, M.D., Washington, DC: ASM Press, 2008).

– There are two main factors in keeping a truly clean home: one is using the right kind of detergent (see below); the other is establishing a consistent schedule for cleaning each room of the house. The doctor recommends the following as a “reasonable regimen”: clean kitchen sinks and countertops daily; bathroom sinks, countertops, and flush handles three to four times each week; toilets, and kitchen and bathroom floors, weekly. The bedroom and playroom of a sick child should be cleaned twice a day.
– For handwashing, use regular soap— that is, the kind that works by lifting and removing dirt and germs rather than killing them—until we have more conclusive evidence that antiseptics/antibacterials are more effective. He recommends liquid rather than bar soap if possible, to avoid the obvious pitfall of picking up new germs. That said, it never occurred to me that liquid dispensers can become contaminated, too, and so require some vigilance. 1) Don’t just top off refillable dispensers. Once they are empty, the bottle and pump should be thoroughly washed. 2) Between refills— and the doctor suggests “once a week, at least”— the pump surface should be washed and disinfected.
– In lab experiments comparing cleaning and disinfecting agents, bleach is most effective against Staphylococcus aureus and gastrointestinal germs; ammonia and phenol products are less effective but they also substantially reduce bacteria counts; and such darlings of green and/or frugal housekeepers as baking soda and vinegar simply do not work for these purposes.
– Germs love moisture, and moisture is abundant in the kitchen and bathroom. Ninety percent of gastroenteritis cases caused by salmonella occur at home, probably due to the practice of transferring germs from the sink to the counter via the used dishrag. Rotavirus, the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis worldwide, can last for days or even weeks on moist surfaces in the bathroom, and beyond: think faucets, sinks, toys, and diaper-changing areas.
– It’s a good idea to keep the toothbrushes as far from the toilet as possible; at the risk of sounding indelicate, the germs propelled into the air after flushing won’t cause any problems as long as you don’t ingest them.
– Kitchen sponges should be either discarded and replaced every day or two, or sterilized. (In my experience, the sponge will have to be discarded anyway after a couple uses and subsequent soaks in a bleach solution; this seems to cause my sponges to break down rapidly. Maybe they’re just too cheap.) Or, you could microwave the sponge *while wet* for 2-4 minutes, and that will drastically reduce the germ count.
– Use kitchen rags once, or at most for one day, before laundering them. Don’t use the rags you used to wash dishes to clean the counters, and vice versa. (I have been advised elsewhere to use a bristle brush: you won’t do so much replacing of sponges, or laundering of possibly contaminated rags, and it doesn’t trap bacteria as well as sponges or rags.)
– Use hot water and/or bleach whenever possible in the laundry.

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