This week highlights game-changing cleaning products, tools, and techniques that have improved my life and infused extra sparkle into my home.
Zoflora is a UK-based fragrant disinfectant product that's been around since 1922 and is beloved by the lucky Brits who get to buy it for £1 a pop. Chic fashion blogger Lydia Elise Millen gushes about Zoflora regularly, as does the cleaning guru Mrs. Hinch (a discussion on her to follow).
Zoflora is offered in 20+ scents, including hyacinth, sweetpea, and warm cinnamon. These are not your usual disgusting floral cleaning smells.
I found a seller on Amazon and purchased a box of various scents to try. The British girls (who have the luxury of buying Zoflora for comparable pennies in their local supermarkets) recommend pouring a few capfuls down drains and into the toilet to soak, providing hours of lovely fragrance in the room.
In contrast, since that is literally pouring money down the drain at the up-marked rates available to Americans, I'm making mine last as long as possible by diluting the concentrated product in spray bottles and using as an all-purpose cleaner.
There are Facebook groups for Zoflora fans - one topic of conversation being what each individual identifies as his or her favorite scent, something people seem to feel strongly about. So far, I've equally loved each of the scents I've tried.
Vinegar is the single most versatile and effective cleaning product, apart from maybe dish soap. Google how to clean any given surface, stain, appliance: usually the answer is vinegar mixed with water or baking soda.
That Windex exists at all is an insult to intelligence.
Vinegar is an excellent natural cleaner to incorporate into your routine if you worry about breathing the toxins from off-the-shelf products. I find that the smell doesn't linger.
Mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle for cleaning glass, or combine vinegar with baking soda to de-gunkify drains (don't put the two together in a bottle unless you're hoping for something to explode).
Last weekend, I learned that adults are supposed to clean the toilet tank at least twice a year, omg. It's not as daunting as it sounds, but I did definitely read the instructions out loud to Peter and make him do it.
Turn off the water supply to the toilet, flush a couple times to drain the water out of the tank, and then pour vinegar into the tank and let it sit.
Vinegar is also the recommended solution for cleaning your humidifier.
True story, a few days ago my 6 gallons of vinegar arrived in a box, unfortunately not unmarked, that clearly advertised the contents and quantities of how much vinegar I was bringing into my home. The delivery guy and neighbors must be wondering, I imagine.
Available on Amazon.
Another item that I buy in the biggest boxes available. Sprinkle baking soda on your carpet, on your mattress, in your husband's shoes :), let it sit to absorb the odors, and then vacuum.
Mix baking soda with vinegar to form a paste and scrub that on your shower door to remove mineral stains.
Most importantly, baking soda has decreased the number of times we have to use dreaded Drano or worse, snake the drain.
Dump a pile of baking soda on top of your drains, pour vinegar on top, enjoy the fizzing reaction, and let it sit for 15 minutes before pouring boiling water down to wash it all out.
I regularly treat the kitchen sink to a vinegar/baking soda party because foods can build up and rot in the drain, causing gross smells.
Large boxes available on Amazon.
Reusable bottles are a must. I enjoy this particular bottle because the spray nozzle distributes liquid with high pressure, and the handle doesn't wear out over time.
I currently have 4 bottles under my sink: one with vinegar and water; the second is a combination of fabric softener and water that I use to spray upholstery; the third is just water to spray plants; and the fourth is a mix of concentrated all purpose cleaner diluted with water.
Available on Amazon Prime.
This is the most non-natural, chemical-ly product I'll share, but I have to mention it because it works wonders. I purchased this as a last effort to rehab my bathtub, which was showing age with unappealing brownish streaks that no amount of scrubbing and product combos improved.
I poured Weiman all over the tub, let it sit, and, voilà, looks like new. Apparently boat owners use Weiman to polish their yachts, fancy.
Available on Amazon Prime.
These guys have functional design figured out. Meaning, they actually thought about how products are used and put brain effort into how to improve them. Has anyone else spent real time considering the toilet brush?
For example, Simplehuman magnetized the handle of the toilet brush and the caddy so that you can pick them both up with just one hand.
I recommend all of the below:
Simplehuman toilet brush, $24.98
Simplehuman plunger, $29.99
Simplehuman mini trash bin, $19.99
My mom (hi mom) gets me the randomest stuff, all of which I tend to dismiss upon first receipt (I really do own sufficient flashlight keychains at this point), but inevitably, she's always right: the random stuff works.
One such treasure is this magical kitchen scrubber. I'm truly fascinated that a delicate, dinky little plastic square is so effective at removing grit from dishes and pans ... without scratching them ... how?
You simply will not have to put effort into scouring dishes again after owning one of these. I've removed burnt oatmeal fused into the pan with a few strokes of the Skoy.
Skoy is an environmentally conscious company that employs people with disabilities. Learn more about them and their products on their website.
Infinitely better at cleaning glass without leaving behind lint. Wash + reuse.
What is this witchcraft? A friend told me about Mr. Clean eraser sponges last year when I was complaining that our white painted walls would soon need another paint job because of all the scuffs that I couldn't wipe away. Like the bathtub, I'd tried every combination of cleaner I could think of, but black smudges from our life colliding with the walls wouldn't even fade.
I purchased the erasers on her suggestion, and the wretched smudges wiped clear off.
The sponges remove usage stains from white plastic light switches, AND they erase scuff marks from patent leather shoes. Available on Amazon.
I imagine we are all facing new inner choices as a result of Amazon Prime. Mine recently was "am I actually lazy enough to order replacement mop heads for my Swiffer online rather than walk a few blocks to CVS?"
Happily, that sloth led me to discover a more eco-friendly substitute for plastic single use mop heads. These work with the Swiffer and a variety of mop tools. Wash + reuse.
Shop on Prime here.
Lavender used to be my favorite scent of the Mrs. Meyer's range, until this spring when I discovered the limited edition lilac fragrance. God forbid the company actually phases this out.
I previously bought (again, in bulk - I currently have 6 bottles of the lilac dish soap under my sink) directly from the Mrs. Meyer's website, however it is now conveniently offered on Amazon Prime. Because it's one of their fringe scents, you won't likely find it sold in stores.
I purchased a lilac cleaning set for my mom, who mirrored my behavior when she told me that she finds herself dumping more dish soap than necessary on the dirty plates for the pleasure of the smell.
We usually don't speak about cleaning products to each other do we? The conversation is changing thanks to an Essex woman named Mrs. Hinch. Her 1.2 million Instagram followers, including myself, are hypnotically sucked in to her daily InstaStories in which she enthusiastically films her cleaning techniques and favorite products.
I do experience some horror watching her scrub cleaning agents with her bare, perfectly manicured hands (why no gloves!!), and yet Mrs. Hinch is responsible for lifting the taboo off the subject of cleaning one's home.
Rather than regard cleaning her home as a tiresome chore unworthy of her time, she instead blasts Drake while gleefully polishing her sink and - to some people's utter amazement - has named her products ("Minkeh" the sponge, "Dave" the duster, "Sharon" the vacuum).
Watch her Product Tutorials under her Highlighted Stories and you'll find yourself itching to accumulate a "Narnia" (what she calls her pantry) of cleaning products.
I shouldn't confess this, but: I have looked for every single item on her recommended list (not healthy, I know). Sadly, there's almost no overlap of UK products available in the American market.
The Internet came through, however, and American Mrs. Hinch fans have already posted US equivalents for each of her recommended products.
Thanks for sticking along, talk next week!