baking soda and vinegar: your new best friends. Here’s the first reason why

Fact: drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners are the most toxic household cleaners most people bring into their homes. They are highly dangerous if ingested, inhaled, or brought into contact with our skin, eyes, etc.

Most people use caution with oven and drain cleaners, but toilet bowl cleaner seems slightly more innocuous. It’s kept away from children, naturally, but pour, swish, let it sit, flush, not much to think about right? And really, nobody wants a stained toilet. Bleach is our friend right?

Somewhat. Y’all know I’m not afraid to use bleach on occasion. But chlorine (which is found in drinking water in small amounts) and highly acidic cleaning agents found in toilet bowl cleaners mix to create chlorine gas (btw never mix bleach and vinegar, for this reason). Which is really poisonous, as in a weapon of mass destruction, as in not good for developing nervous systems, as in I don’t really want me or my kids breathing in even little amounts if I can help it. Obviously you’re not filling your bathroom with large amounts of chlorine gas when you clean. But we also know fumes of various types are being given off, which likely includes some chlorine gas and other toxic vapors.

So. What to use? Well, I do keep Clorox toilet bowl cleaner in my arsenal, and use it occasionally. But there’s a better, cheaper, safer option. This is the weekly treatment at my house. And it’s cool. Your bowl fizzes exactly like the volcanos you made for science class in third grade, and it’s just as exciting as it was back then. Or maybe I’m just a nerd. Don’t answer that. If your kids are old enough to help cleaning toilets, this would be a great way to get them excited about it.

Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda in your toilet bowl. Then follow it with 1 cup of vinegar. Feel a little rush of glee as it goes Alka-Seltzer crazy. Let it sit for five minutes or however long. Then come brush it. It will fizz all over again. So much more fun than the old toxic stuff right?


and way WAY cheaper.

Also, I can’t resist sharing a link to this product I found on Amazon, affectionately named Pumie like it’s part of the family. As far as I can tell it’s a standard pumice stone (like the ones sold at big box stores for a dollar?) attached to a handle. Feel free to jerry-rig your own; apparently this will remove any lingering stains that even industrial strength cleaners can’t. I’ve no doubt it works. My favorite part is the official description where it says “Pumie is safe for hands and safe for children and pets.” Indeed. Also, check out this ridiculously awesome Amazon review from one Gary Peterson, (emphasis mine):

“I’m a geologist, so please pardon the following analysis. Pumice is a natural volcanic glass and, as such, has just about the same degree of hardness (resistance to scratching) as the toilet bowl porcelain. The package says that the product is safe. Well, pumice is not toxic in any way so by safe they probably mean won’t scratch porcelain. But they then warn about usage on colored bowls, where scratching would be more evident. I suspect that the rather remarkable ability of this pumice stick product to remove that ugly stain is producing minor, mostly microscopic, surface damage to the interior of the bowl each time that it is used. Whether this makes any difference is open to question. If you replace your bowl every ten or twenty years, then go ahead and use it with vigor. If you expect the bowl to remain like new for the life of the house, you’re probably going to start to notice the scratching and it will probably give the porcelain a dull non-glazed finish. So what should one do? Well, I’m going to use it (sparingly) in that I won’t be around long enough to view the damage and even if I am, a toilet bowl isn’t all that expensive or difficult to replace.”

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5 Responses to toilet bowl volcano chemistry

  1. Rebecca says:

    Nice! I love how baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean so many things. And don’t worry, I’m a nerd too ;)

  2. Diana says:

    I’m so glad you shared this, Sarah! I’m new to the whole using Vinegar as a cleaning agent world. So far, I like it! I am especially happy at using Vinegar to clean the kitchen. But this whole toilet idea, that actually sounds fun too! Thank you for spreading your brilliance. :)

  3. Shelise says:

    I am Definitely trying this. Once I mixed windex with comet (not realizing what I was doing) and it was a HORRIBLE gassy smell. It actually scared me it was so strong. I’ve always wanted to try more friendly cleaning products but I’ve never known what to use.

  4. Diana says:

    Okay, so I just tried this method, and it was fun! It’s too bad Greg wasn’t home- I’ll have to make sure he’s around next time so he can watch the fizzing. There are some simple pleasures you just never get too old for. :) Thanks for sharing!

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