Posts Tagged cleaning

September Test Product: Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel and The Great Liquid Dishwashing Soap Theory

Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Gel

Can it really stand up to my crappy dishwasher?

Usually I try to choose my test products after consulting with friends, family, and perusing product reviews. But I chose this month’s test product in a fit of selfishness, after a bout of extreme frustration with a recalcitrant appliance.

Namely, I had had enough of our absolutely awful dishwasher and I felt that there just had to be a better solution out there.

Our kitchen is an older one, and the dishwasher we have is challenging, to say the least. Small and noisy, it’s really good at baking food onto dishes, but absolutely horrible at washing the food off. In fact, lately I feel that whenever I empty the dishwasher, I have to hand wash about half the dishes because there’s layers of grime, baked-on crap, and food particles left over them (that a certain someone does not believe in rinsing dishes before he puts them in the dishwasher only adds to my ire).

I can’t really say what all is wrong with the dishwasher (poor water pressure and inadequate washing mechanism comes to mind). But the biggest problem that I could identify (without an in-depth knowledge of product design) is the soap dispenser. Contrary to its name, it doesn’t actually “dispense” the soap on a regular basis. Instead, after doing a load of dishes, I’d find a big chunk of calcified powdered dishwashing soap sitting in the little dispenser. It looked like the dispenser was opening most of the time, but the soap powder stubbornly refused to, well, dispense.

So last week, fed up with yet another load of washed-but-not-actually-washed dishes, I decided to try a new tactic. I wondered if I could ameliorate the problem with a new product: liquid automatic dishwasher soap. Theoretically, the liquid soap could just ooze out of the little compartment, bypassing the inadequate dispenser. It was so simple, and yet, so brilliant.

But does the great liquid dishwashing soap theory hold water?


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Exorcising Your Inner Closet Demons (or, How To Clean Your Closet)


Time to face the closet demons.

It’s almost fall, and you know what that means—it’s time to pack up your bathing suits and summer shorts and bring out the long pants and wool jackets that will stand up to the colder evenings. Here in DC, I am savoring the feeling of actually being a little chilly in the mornings—or, at the very least, I can step outside my apartment without being hit by a sweltering heat wave that ruins my makeup before I get down the block.

But it can be challenging to face those winter clothes that have been languishing away at the back of your closet. Especially when you realize that you don’t actually wear half of the clothes in your “winter wardrobe” and you’re only holding onto them for strange, unjustifiable emotional reasons like “I wore it on my first date with my boyfriend,” or “it was a gift from my mother and I can’t throw it out,” or “I’m going to fit back into those pants after I lose ten pounds—honest, this is the year!”

Thankfully, one of my coworkers gave me a copy of September’s Body+Soul magazine, which has a no-nonsense article on how to get over the emotional hang-ups that come between you and a clean closet. The magazine is an offering from the Martha Stewart empire that looks at wellness, cooking, and lifestyle tips for the middle-class hippie set.

The article has six tips that will help you let go of your useless-but-highly-sentimental clothing items and turn your closet from memory lane into a functioning wardrobe.

Six Tips For Cleaning Out Your Closet and Exorcising Your Inner Closet Demons:

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August Test Product of the Month: Homemade Vinegar Window Cleaner

Window Cleaning Solutions

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Window Spray vs. Homemade Vinegar-Water Window Cleaner

Since people seemed to get a kick out of last month’s Test Product (baking soda and vinegar), I decided to see what other homemade cleaning products I could test around the apartment. In my online research, I came across this web site that recommends using a solution of equal parts vinegar and water to clean windows and glass. Intrigued, I decided to test it against Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Window Spray, which I mostly bought for the retro packaging, claim that it only uses “naturally occurring” ingredients, and promised lemon-verbena scent.

I tested both products on our bathroom mirror, which hasn’t been cleaned for the last week, and our bedroom mirror, which hasn’t been cleaned since god-knows-when and was covered in a film of gray dust.
How did the vinegar-water solution hold up?

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Fuzzy Green

Whenever I’m in need of a new cleaning solution, I’m inevitably drawn to the green products I see on store shelves. I’m intrigued by their slick packaging, pretty colors, and minimalist design. Even so, part of me always wonders: just how green is this product? Do the clean lines and pastel colors of the Method cleaners really mean that they’re going to be better for the environment? I always mean to research the product in question so I can make the right choice the next time I’m at the store, but I almost never do, and always end up buying the same old thing.

So I wasn’t surprised at the findings in this Brandweek article, which I came across while researching the July Test Product of the Month, and which confirmed a lot things I already suspected about the current frenzy for “green” products.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I think that any big movement that gets the country thinking about how they can help the environment – no matter how shallowly it’s treated in the press – is a good thing. After all, people will never act unless they’re informed about a problem, and will never change their habits until they feel pressure (peer, financial, political or otherwise) to do so. So if the media creates a trend that makes people feel guilty about driving big cars and wasting gas, and it results in increased funding for public transportation, smart community planning, and less air pollution, then I’m all for it.

However, I wasn’t surprised that the consumers in the Brandweek piece were, at best, befuddled about green products – what they are, what makes them “green,” and even which products are environmentally friendly.

The article reported on a study called Eco Pulse, which was conducted by the Shelton Group, and which surveyed consumers about their green buying habits. Not surprisingly, while consumers indicated that the environment was an important consideration in their purchasing choices (49 percent), only a small portion said that environmental concerns actually drove them to buy different products (21 percent). And only seven percent could actually name the green and/or environmentally friendly product they supposedly changed their habits to buy.

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Test Product of the Month: Good Ol’ Fashioned Baking Soda and Vinegar

Since many of us are overwhelmed and, perhaps, in awe of the huge number of cleaning products that are regularly introduced on the market, I’d like to take away some of the pain by testing the products that intrigue you, yet you’re not quite ready to shell out for. So, each month, I’ll be testing a new (or, in this case, old) household cleaning product, and give a verdict about its potential to revolutionize your cleaning routine. Read on for this month’s product: Good Ol’ Fashioned Baking Soda and Vinegar.

By now, I’m sure that you’ve read so many terrifying reports on the toxic effects of common household cleaners that you wake up with nightmares about being chased around by giant Windex bottles, getting cancer because you smelled some oven cleaner, or crippling your children with asthma because you febrezed their cribs too often.

In response to the Great Household Cleaner Fear that has gripped the nation, there has been a slate of articles appearing in the press extolling the virtues of homemade cleaning products. According to these reports, creating your own cleaning products is a safer, less toxic, cheaper, and just as effective alternative to using toxic and harsh cleaning products that may or may not hurt the environment and your health. And while I’m definitely down with using cleaning products that are cheaper and won’t give me a rash if my skin happens to come into contact with them, I’ve always wondered if they actually work.

So this month’s test product is an old standard that often crops up in these little “make your own fabulous cleaning products” articles: baking soda and vinegar.

Yes, that’s right, that crummy little box of baking soda that you keep in the fridge to keep your roommate’s leftovers from growing eyeballs is the solution to all your cleaning woes. I decided to use the baking soda on our kitchen sink and the bathroom sink/countertops, since they both haven’t been cleaned in a bit (really, the kitchen sink really doesn’t get cleaned nearly as much as it should and the garbage disposal really smells a lot of the time). I found the recipe for my baking soda cleaning solution on an online baking soda book by way of The Simple Dollar, which often has little features on frugal homemaking tips.

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