Clean it up: A Guide to Safe, Easy and Organic-Friendly Cleaners

Living in a dorm means that your rooms going to get gunky, dusty and stuffy quickly if you don’t clean it. You’re in a small, enclosed room with another person who may or may not be too fond of cleaning (most college kids aren’t). You do most of your cooking (via microwave) in your room and most of your food consuming activities in your room as well. Since you have a lack of cooking devices, ie toaster oven, oven, stove, etc., you have to quickly learn to get creative about the things you’re cooking. That leaves you with the microwave, the microwave, the microwave, and the, what’s that word… oh yeah. microwave. You also may have the added benefit of having a mini-fridge that you can stock with chilled goodies, dips and peanut butter. If you’re really lucky, your dorm will have a community kitchen that you share with a few other rooms that comes equipped with a stove and oven so you can cook your meals. I never saw any of my friends when they went away to college who had community kitchens but I heard they’re magical and convenient. Because let’s be real for a quick second, have you ever taken a peek inside a microwave that hasn’t been touched by the loving hands of a mother? It starts to develop layers of old, splattered food that gets cooked onto the inside with each and every use. Not to mention all of the greasy finger prints that builds up on the microwave handle and buttons.

Cleaning things such as your microwave in your dorm are exceptionally important for more than just being tidy, but also staying healthy. Do your best to wipe handles down and clean up old food to prevent germs and bugs from inhabiting your room. If you’re like me, you’re conscious about the things you use to clean your space and how harmful they can be to your health and your wallet. The high brand cleaners that we all are so used to using today are great, but they often contain harmful chemicals that can make us sick if we accidentally get exposed to them. If you’re worried about said chemicals and want to do something nice for your environment there are tons of organic and homemade cleaners/products you can make at home to save money and be a little more eco-friendly.  If you think you may be interested in creating your own cleaning supplies, read on for how you can safely make and use them.

1)      Teeth Whitening Treatments for $1.10?- To start, (this isn’t a household cleaner but STILL is helpful) if you’re one of those people who spend copious amounts of money on teeth whitening kits and strips, put your wallet away and step away from the register (or the checkout cart on Amazon!). What a lot of people don’t realize is that most of those teeth whitening kits used by the major companies are solely based off of Hydrogen Peroxide. You can buy this in a bottle for about $1.10 at your local drugstore. Some stores such as your grocery stores and CVS also have deals and coupons that will allow you to buy two for $1.00 or sometimes even three or four for under $3.00. Implementing Hydrogen Peroxide into your “teeth testimonies” will make your mouth LOVE you, and here’s why. Hydrogen Peroxide not only disinfects things such as your toothbrush and toothbrush case or holder, but it also cleans your teeth and strengthens your enamel to prevent cavities from forming.

Swishing with Hydrogen Peroxide in the morning and at night for about 1 minute each session not only helps to whiten your teeth quickly but also helps maintain healthy gums. Make sure you buy Peroxide that isn’t too strong (about 3% is adequate) and dilute it half way with water. If you feel like it is still too strong after that, dilute it a bit more to suit your comfort. If you want to maximize your teeth whitening effect, first disinfect your toothbrush with a bit of Hydrogen Peroxide and rinse it off. Swish with the Peroxide for about a minute and then coat your toothbrush with about a teaspoon of the solution and brush your teeth with it in an up and down motion. Rinse, and brush your teeth as normal. Try to avoid drinking anything dark like black teas or coffee for about an hour after, as your teeth and gums may be sensitive and more apt to absorb the dark color.

For the nights that you stay up gaming your face off and eating endless bags of War Heads and soda, you’re going to want a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide handy. When you wake up the next morning with sixteen canker sores that hurt like all get-up, you’ll be glad you have it in stock. Hydrogen Peroxide aids in the healing of canker sores and also helps fight mouth bacteria to prevent more from forming.

And, don’t forget that you can use Hydrogen Peroxide to rinse your vegetables and fruits from any insecticides or chemicals before you eat them. Make sure you rinse your veggies thoroughly with water after cleaning them in Peroxide! If you want to aid your teeth whitening tricks, add strawberries to your diet! Many people are unaware that strawberries are great for removing surface stains from dark colored foods and soda from your enamel. All you have to do is smush your strawberries to a jam like texture, mix it with a bit of baking soda and coat your teeth with it for about 5 minutes. Brush your teeth as normal after and rinse generously with water.  Make sure you don’t use this mixture more than once a week as to not wear down your natural enamel (it doesn’t grow back).

2)      Stinky Socks are Washed, Why the Smell?

So you finally did your laundry and washed those socks you wore in the rain to your 9 A.M. lecture. Your towels are clean and not damp collecting mold. Your roomie and you have searched high and low but your room still smells musky and damp. If you want to freshen your room but are tired of smelling the sweet, nose-assaulting air fresheners bought from the store you can always create a less noticeable remedy to absorb any unfriendly odors lingering around your carpet or room. Simply put a few bowls (up high where they can’t be knocked down on accident) of either baking soda and vinegar or baking soda and lemon juice around your room. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they absorb odors. Also, keeping a few plants around your room will elevate your mood and help diminish the musky smell of your room.

3)      Is my Tub/Shower Turning Gothic or is that Mold? Both, probably. Your bathroom is a safe haven for mold if it doesn’t get cleaned regularly. Your bathroom needs attention too! Bathrooms with poor ventilation and areas that are constantly wet are breeding grounds for mold. If you’re sharing a bathroom with your roommate or a few other rooms, set up guidelines to keep the tile/grout clean so that you can minimize the production of mold. If you do happen to notice that your grout is growing mold, mix Hydrogen Peroxide (3% again) and two parts water and spray it on the mold and let it sit for about an hour or two. Rinse it off and repeat the process if necessary.

4)      Carpet Cleaning- Don’t feel bad if your carpet gets a little funky from time to time. You and your roomie are constantly running in and out and you both are snacking in your room on a daily basis. You’re staying up late cramming for exams and the dust in your room slowly but surely builds up. You also most likely straighten or style your hair in your room leaving traces of your DNA scattered across the carpet. First things first, vacuum your carpet at least once a week. The longer you let things build up, the worse they get. If you have some pesky stains on your carpet go to your local drug store and buy a generic spray bottle. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar and shake. Spray it directly on the spot and let it sit to absorb the stain. Use a sponge and a bowl of warm/soapy water (try dishwashing soap, it works miracles) to clean up the excess mess and blot it with a towel. Try not to rub your stain vigorously, instead pat and step on the towel to absorb the stain instead of rubbing it deeper into your carpet. One time, I spilled dark green nail polish all over my carpet and after about an hour of this mixture the stain was untraceable.

5)      Write It On The Walls- Your dorm has been used many years before you moved into it, and it will continue to be used after you’ve moved on.  Moving furniture and marking the wall for hanging picture frames evenly leaves marks and scuffs that may not look to friendly. To clean these, simply dampen a sponge with a little bit of wet baking soda. Rub the spots softly in a circular motion, pat dry, and repeat until your stain is lifted.

6)      The Remains- Have you ever pulled a price tag off of a new pen or candle and were left with the sticky-gooey aftermath of the adhesive? Most people just use solutions such as Goo-Gone to rid of the goo, but for most people the smell is atrocious. Gone the goo with  a sponge dipped in vinegar and dampen the area or sticker with the sponge (almost as if you were putting on a temporary tattoo with a warm washcloth) and let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes. Come back and remove the adhesive and extra paper.

7)      Let’s Talk Toilet- Let’s get real, no one wants to clean a toilet. Ever. I think I’d rather eat bugs then scrub a toilet used by multiple people, but when you’re sharing responsibilities that also means you’re sharing the toilet scrubbage. To start, get yourself some long rubber gloves and a toilet brush with a long handle. Once you start getting down to the nitty-gritty under the lid, Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar and pour it in the toilet bowl, allowing it to coat the sides as well. Scrub it with your toilet brush and then flush.

If You’re into Healthy Cleaning but Don’t Want to Make Your Own Solutions- No problem. You’ve got a lot on your plate as it is, and it’s understandable if you don’t feel like making cleaning supplies like Bill Nye in your dorm room after a long day. This website has a wonderful list of organic and safe cleaners that you can buy and try that won’t break the bank. Take a look and happy cleaning!


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