When I was pregnant I took my vitamins religiously. I did not drink, or take drugs other than the occasional Tylenol (incase you are wondering, I am not normally a recreational drug user. When I say "drugs" I mean cough syrup, pain killers type of things). It was important to me that I give my babies their best start. When they were infants I agonized over what they ate, was it too soon? I made my own baby foods, carefully selecting farmer grown, and when possible items from my parents own garden. Before you begin to think that I am super mom, let me assure you that I also bought baby food from the store. As much as I would have liked to make everything from scratch, I didn't always. That's why it's called "convenience" food.
Now that the kids are no longer babies, I am not as careful, and maybe I should be. Somehow surviving infant-hood was the goal, and when they did I felt like I had survived the test. Ever so gradually I became less vigilant. I mean don't get me wrong, I don't let them have knife fights and drink beer... I've just gotten lazy if truth be told. I have a busy life, and I rely on the fast and easy foods all too often (i.e hot dogs...a.k.a mystery meat). Lately it feels like I'm never home long enough to make a meal from scratch. I have that feeling of guilt that I am filling them with questionable ingredients, but at the same time... well you know.
When I can I try to make my families meals from scratch. I like to be able to pronounce the ingredients in the foods that I feed my family. Although I have always tried to prepare my meals from scratch until recently I never really thought about cleaning products. If I were being completely honest I guess that my thinking was that the stronger the chemicals, the better the clean. I began to slowly change my thinking when my friend who has a degree in museum studies told me that they are not allowed to use Lysol when they are storing museum items. The chemicals break things down too much. If the chemicals leave too great a trace for "old" items.... what are they doing to my kids?
You would think that after that discussion I would have quit the chemical cleaners cold turkey... but I didn't. My fear of germs was stronger than my fear of chemicals. I felt like the alternative was to use "natural" cleaners that would not disinfect, or clean properly. I did buy some of the "green" cleaners. The problem with the "green" cleaners is that they are generally more expensive than the non-green cleaners. Sometimes I would lapse and buy my tried and true chemical cleaners.
My turning point came a few weeks ago. I volunteer in Elly's classroom one morning a week. I was cleaning the tables after the kid's had had their snack. I sprayed the bottle and out came that familiar aroma of vinegar. Vinegar stinks. I don't know what the rule is in our school board, but I have since found out that the Toronto School Board only allows the use of non-chemical cleaners in the kindergarten classrooms. Although I don't care for the smell of vinegar, I had complete respect for the fact that they were using all natural cleaners around little people and their relatively new immune systems
It was shortly after that I saw one of my friends post a picture of homemade cleaner on Facebook. They had put white vinegar in a jar, and then placed orange and grapefruit peels in it and soaked it for a week. Hmmmmm, it's not like it would be expensive to try, and if it was an epic failure, I was only out virtual pennies. The next day I pulled out my mason jar and another prettier jar. I filled them with inexpensive white vinegar. In one jar I placed lemon peels, in the other I put a combination of grapefruit and orange peels. I put them in the window and then let them sit for a week. Each night I would take the lid off and take a sniff. Each day the smell of vinegar would gradually disappear. It looked really pretty when the sun would shine in through the window.
When a week had passed I took the peels out of the jars. The smell of the lemon/ vinegar was heavenly. There was no trace of vinegar smell, only the fresh clean smell of lemons. In the orange / grapefruit and vinegar, there was bit of vinegar smell still. The colour of both of the mixtures was a sunny yellow colour. Over the week some of the peel had gathered in the jar, leaving white specks.
To remove the specks in the mixture, I used a coffee filter and strained it. This is not a job for the impatient. My first try I placed the filter carefully in the top of a Powerade bottle. This was a bit messy. On try number two I washed out the now vacant jar, and put the filter over the top. This was much faster and more efficient. At the end of the week I had two Powerade bottles full of cleaner. It smelled beautiful and fresh, and it was all natural. There was nothing in them that would cause any sort of respiratory distress. There are no chemical residues. Both vinegar and lemons are natural antiseptics, and inhibit mold growths. I actually feel good about using this around my kids. It cost so much less than harsh chemicals, and less still than the so called "green cleaners". The time it took me to make the both batches was minute. It seems to be a pretty job cleaning to boot. I think I'm sold. Now I am wondering what other things that I can soak in vinegar to make cleaners with.
It's that time of year again when I ask you to vote for me. Last year I made it to the top
25 for the Top Mom's of Multiples. I'm asking for your help again this year.