When it comes to keeping my apartment clean, I am all about the minor victories.
Like, cleaning out a single crisper drawer. Or making the bed. Or reuniting just one pair from my ever-growing bag of errant socks.
So you can imagine my delight when, just this past weekend, I achieved the minor-cleaning-victory trifecta: finding a way to scrub my bathroom floors that's at once more eco-friendly, less expensive, and just as effective as buying a fancy name-brand cleanser.
Like most almost no important discoveries, mine was born out of not wanting to put on pants to go to the grocery store. And a bunch of Google-ing. What I found was a basic formula for a household cleaner that can tackle most surfaces, minus marble and granite: one part white vinegar, to one part water. Aka, one ingredient I already had in my pantry, plus some water straight from the tap.
I wrangled a dusty glass spray bottle from the back of my cleaning supplies stash, filled it accordingly, and got scrubbing with a rag. Not only did it leave my tiled floor squeaky clean—even that one spot where the tiles meets the corner and cleaning dreams typically go to die—but it also worked well on the rest of my bathroom, like the tub, the shower head, the toilet, and the sink. Meanwhile, I felt great about using fewer chemicals and reducing my single-use plastic purchases to complete a cleaning task I face regularly.
While the vinegary scent dissipated not long after thanks to an open window, some sites (like Trash is for Tossers, a great resource for eco-friendly living) suggest adding a few drops of an essential oil to the concoction as well.
I have yet to try my new favorite green cleaner on hardwood floors, but I've read that the same vinegar-water duo is effective at a different ratio on certain finishes, to avoid stripping the wood: about 1/2 cup vinegar per gallon of water. Similarly, for tougher cleaning jobs on non-wood surfaces, the ratio should be adjusted to include more than one part vinegar to one part water.
All of which is information I've filed under "minor victories for next weekend."
Got a favorite green cleaner formula up your sleeve? Let us know in the comments.
Ella Quittner is a a writer at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.