Windows, newspapers and sheep

Yesterday I could not escape it anymore, I really had to clean my windows. I postponed it as long as possible, but sometimes you just have to face the music … Yesterday was that day. The windows of our house were too dirty! I almost couldn’t see the last rays of the summer sun, or the super cute black sheep across the street anymore. Ok it’s a bit exaggerated, but truth is that they were dirty and needed some serious cleaning.

Luckily, last year I discovered a method that made cleaning the windows a bit less frustrating and also super frugal. Believe it or not, by using newspapers! Maybe most of you will already know this trick but for the ones who don’t know or never tried it, let me explain and hopefully convice you to do it as well. It’s super handy because it leaves no stripes on the windows (I always had trouble with that), and it costs no money since you don’t need fancy, often toxic, or expensive cleaning products. I read the tip in the book: “Superscrimpers: Live Life for Half the Price” by Eithne Farry. A very intresting book with lots of money-saving tips. I was quite suspicious about this tip but tried it anyway (I had nothing to loose, except some old newspapers). I frowned, cleaned, and overcame.

All you need is:

  • a bowlIMG_1314
  • a rag
  • water
  • vinegar
  • old newspapers (I don’t have a subscription on a newspaper. However, every week we get the local newspaper from “Leuven” in the mailbox. It’s free for all the residents, and informs about everything that’s going on in the neighbourhood. So after a while you get a pile of old newspapers)
  • and of course a (dirty) window

What happens next is quite obvious. Add water and some vinegar in a bowl. Clean the window with lots oIMG_1320f water. Make a small ball of some pages of the newspaper and dry the window with it (when the paper is getting too wet take a new one). And you’re done … It’s super easy and you really don’t need anything else to make your windows nice and shiny :).

I don’t know if you can see it on the pictures but my window is really clean now. I’m able to see the sheep across the street again.
So, thats’ one window down, 10 more to go. I don’t know if I will do them all today, there so much more to do on a free day (yes I have to admit that i’m procrastinating right now while writing this blog. It’s so mucher nicer to write about cleaning the windows than actually cleaning them). I’m also not looking forward to the last window of the house, the ceiling window in the kitchen… I think I will leave that one for another day, maybe in the next ten years or so (or leave it up to my boyfriend who’s not afraid of climbing on the roof).

Now you nIMG_1322ow everything that there is to know about cleaning the windows. Sorry if this is a somewhat boring post, but I really wanted to share this tip since I was quite suspicious at the beginning but really prefer this method now.

Did any of you already washed your windows like this? Or do you know a better method? Let me know.


The power of vinegar and soda crystals

At the moment I’m immersing myself in the world of home made cleaning products. I still use a lot of commercial products which I think could easily be replaced by home made alternatives.

The use of these commercial cleaning products has become a bit of a habit over the years. When I went living on my own, I went to the store to get all the basic stuff you need in a household like for example a bucket, a bristle, dishcloth and cleaning products. Until then I had no clue what products I had to use for the laundry or for cleaning the floor. With some help of my mother I got familiarised with all the different kinds of products, and discovered that there’s a specialised product available for every different thing.

In the following months and years I learned how to take care of my household, while combining it with a fulltime job. Cleaning and using all these different products just became a habit. I really never wondered about whether I needed them until a few months ago when I finished my PhD and had some time to relax and do absolutely nothing. I started wondering about the usefulness of all these products. After googling a bit, and seeing the amount of home made alternatives, I decided to try to replace all the commercial products by less chemical, and less expensive alternatives. It appeared that white vinegar and washing soda are wonderful cleaning products. I’m still no expert in these ‘home made’ cleaning products, but I thought to share some of my experiences and insights on white vinegar and washing soda:

White vinegar
White vinegar has so many uses!

1) You can use it as fabric softener. The vinegar removes soap residue and secures the colour, so your clothes will be soft and are less likely to lose their colour. To Vinegaruse vinegar as fabric softener just pour a small dose in the fabric softener dispenser (do not add it straight with the clothes). Your clothes will look great, will be soft, and don’t worry, they will not smell like vinegar.
[White vinegar=0.33€/litre versus fabric softener=0.11€ per dose]

2) It can also be used as a cleaning product. You can throw away your product for cleaning the kitchen and bathroom as a mix of white vinegar does the trick. The bath, shower, sink and countertop looked as clean as when I cleaned it with a commercial product, although you shouldn’t use it on a granite or marble countertops. Pour a mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and you are good to go. One problem though is that your kitchen or bathroom will have the typical smell of vinegar afterwards. Apparently adding a dash of lemon should improve this, though I haven’t tried it myself just yet.
[White vinegar=0.33€/litre versus kitchen product=5.50€/litre and bathroom product=5.30€/litre]

3) vinegar also can be used as a limescale remover. For example when you have a limescale tap or showerhead, soak it for a few hours in vinegar (or a mix of vinegar and water) and afterwards wipe it clean.
[White vinegar=0.33€/litre versus limescale remover=4.98€/litre]

Washing Soda
Apart from vinegar, there is also washing soda or also called soda crystals (sodium carbonate, Na2CO³, different from baking soda).Soda

1) Washing soda is perfect for unclogging the pipes. It dissolves grease and loosens dirt in the drains/pipes. Cook 1 litre of water, add a cup of washing soda and pour it in the drain. Repeat a few times until the water runs smoothly through the drain. Be sure not to use washing soda together with a commercial drain cleaner since there can be a chemical reaction. As general maintenance you can pour once a month the mix of washing soda and hot water in the pipes.
[Washing soda=1.40€/kilogram versus unclogging product=2.35€/litre]

2) Cleaning the washing machine and dishwater. Washing soda can also clean your washing machine and dishwater. For the washing machine pour a cup of soda soda2in the drum and run an empty cycle on 90 degrees. The soda will clean the drum, remove odours and prevent limescale build-up. For the dishwater add half a cup of washing soda in the product dispenser and run a normal cycle with an empty machine. Yesterday it was the first time that I tried it and my machines looked really clean. I however could not check the effect on the limescale build-up.
[Washing soda=1.40€/kilogram versus limescale remover=5.75€/kilogram]

3) You can also use the washing soda as laundry detergent for white clothes. The soda makes your laundry more white and helps to removes stains. But only for white laundry, don’t use it for coloured laundry since it will make the colour fade. Put some washing soda in the main dispenser where you normally would put the detergent, and wash the white clothes as normal. I tried it and my clothes looked very good, there was no bad smell, and (maybe it was self fulfilling prophecy), I had the impression that the yellowish (sweat)stains in my t-shirt were faded somewhat …
[Washing soda=1.40€/kilogram versus laundry detergent=0.25€/dosis]

4) Washing soda can also be used for cleaning the toilet. You can flush some soda crystals to clean/unclog the pipes. I also noticed that you can clean stains on the pipe itself (the part of the pipe in the toilet that is still visible). Pour a cup of washing soda in the toilet, let it sit for a while and flush after a few hours. Clean the toilet with a toilet brush, and you will see that the pipe is clean again.

Apart from these usages mentioned above, there are also so many other things you can do with white vinegar and washing soda. At the moment I only tried the ones explained above.

Do any of you use home made cleaning products? What are your experiences? All tips are welcome!

Frugal Fiona