Go green with a clean shower

Before discussing the eco-friendly way to clean your shower, I should mention one fact: I've got a thing for worn-out undershirts. Since the time when my kids grew past the cuddly onesie stage, my attachment has evolved from emotional to practical. Well-aged cotton T-shirts are absorbent and lint-free, making them the best type of cloth I've found for cleaning house -- everything from the desktop computer to the bathroom. I especially like them for cleaning my shower the eco-friendly (and easy) way. In combination with a little naturally antibacterial vinegar, old undershirts cut into convenient-sized rags are terrific for both disinfecting and removing mineral scale. Here's how.

Shower Doors

When I bought my home, I "inherited" a shower stall that has acrylic doors. In theory, shower doors look nicer than curtains. However, in practice, mine had been sadly neglected, and were dulled with mineral deposits. A good wipe-down with heated undiluted vinegar and a T-shirt rag (which doesn't scratch acrylic or glass doors) gave them a whole new lease on life.

If the doors were bad, the tracks they slid along could politely be described as "revolting." To those, I applied a coating of vinegar, topped off with a generous sprinkle of baking powder, and left the whole mess to percolate overnight. It took a couple of applications, but the difference this treatment made was amazing.

For routine maintenance, keep a spray bottle of vinegar mixed 1:1 with water in the bathroom and use it to spritz the shower doors occasionally. If you have the time and the inclination first thing in the morning, you can also use one of your rags to wipe off the water drops after your shower. Drape the cloth over a squeegee, if you like, to make your job easier.

Shower Curtains

To prevent the formation of mold and mildew on fabric shower curtains, keep your bathroom well ventilated and close the curtains after each use; otherwise, mold will tend to grow in their folds. Toss the shower curtains in your washing machine every six months or so. Then fill up the washer with used undershirt cleaning cloths or soiled towels. Add one-half cup vinegar to the rinse cycle and wash on the "hot" setting.

Showerhead

Lime scale on your showerhead not only looks ugly, but it can impede the flow of water, leaving you with an unsatisfying trickle. Saturate a T-shirt rag with vinegar and wrap it tightly around the showerhead, covering the spray holes completely. Leave on overnight to dissolve the mineral buildup.

Faucets

Scale can affect shower faucets as well, making them dull and dirty looking, especially if your locale has particularly hard water. Restore the gleam of chrome and nickel faucets with a vinegar scrub. If they are very encrusted, use the overnight vinegar wrap described above.

Clean the faucet aerator by soaking in vinegar to cover for 30-60 minutes. Then wipe and replace.

Mold on Shower Tiles and Grout

Spray full-strength vinegar onto mold which affects grout and ceramic tiles. Leave for one hour, followed by a good hard scrub with a brush to thoroughly clean the tile. (Wear a breathing mask and rubber gloves for the task). Your tile grout may need resealing after this kind of treatment.

Consider installing a bathroom exhaust fan or a dehumidifier to reduce ambient moisture, which provides the perfect environment for mold growth.

Cautions

Avoid applying vinegar to any type of natural stone tile or countertop, such as marble, travertine, or granite, because the acid will etch -- and ruin -- the beautiful stone surface.

Never, ever use bleach together with vinegar (or any other type of acid, for that matter). The mixture will produce toxic chlorine gas, which is extremely dangerous to the human respiratory system.


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