Posts Tagged ‘cleaning’

Clear a Slow Moving Drain with Vinegar and Baking Soda

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

I have read from several sources that vinegar and baking soda will unclog a drain without using harsh chemicals such as Draino.  Now that I’m in my full post-partum hair shed-a-thon, we’ve finally gotten the opportunity to try.

Here is what you will need:

1/2 C. of baking soda
1 C. of water
approx. 1 gallon of hot water
drain plug

Helpful items: 1 wire clothes hanger, 1 paper plate/funnel, 1 chopstick or screwdriver

Okay, so here’s the gross part: the clog.  Our tub drained very, very slowly and got worse over a week or two.  It wasn’t fully clogged, but it was getting close.  When you are standing in 4 inches of water after a shower, you know its time to fix the problem!  We bent the end of a wire hanger into a small hook and fished out a hair clog.  The leftover gunk was extensive soap buildup and probably more hair down the line.  The drain was a little clearer after fishing out the hairball, but still clearly gunked up.

Using a paper plate as a funnel, we dumped the baking soda down the drain.  You’ll notice that the drain makes a 90 degree turn a few inches down.  The baking soda won’t magically turn the corner and pour down the drain.  You will need to coax it down with a chopstick or long screwdriver.

It took some fiddling, but the hubby managed to pack in 1/2 of cup of baking soda.

He poured in 1/2 of cup of vinegar and had the plug ready for the INSTANTANEOUS foam eruption (think back to your volcanoe science project).

When he capped the drain we could still hear the mix foaming and then a very audible “PoP” as the clog was pushed through.  We poured in the second half of the vinegar and plugged up the drain.  A much smaller pop was heard and there was much less push back from the foam.

We waited 15 minutes and then poured about a gallon of hot tap water down the drain.  First off, the drain was clean as a whistle!  The soap scum had vanished from the drain itself.  Second off, the clog was 100% gone and the water ran free.

Very Cool!  We were amazed at how well this worked considering how bad the drain was clogged. 

Here is more food for thought: 

A) We haven’t tried this on a clog with standing water.  I don’t see how it would work as the baking soda would dissipate in the water and wouldn’t react with the vinegar.  I could be wrong though. 

B) We also did not use boiling water as some other websites suggested.  We weren’t sure how hot our bathroom plumbing could stand.  212 degrees is a big difference from 120 and the hubby thought it might melt the caulk and cause leaks in the plumbing.  Hot water did just fine. 

C) I’ve read that it may take more than one application to clear the clog.  I guess that depends on what the clog is made of and how bad it is.  By digging around first, we were able to break through the first try. 

This treatment is suggested as a monthly ritual for all your drains to keep them clean and running free.  I am so impressed that I am adding it to our chore list!  Much less caustic than Draino and MUCH less expensive!  More money to save for a new house.

Tutorial: Making Foaming Hand Soap

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I always thought foaming hand soap was too fru-fru for me.  I had tried a few of my friends nice smelling foaming hand soap and thought I would give it a try.  Well, I didn’t like my hands smelling like flowery cucumbers, so it sat in my bathroom forever.

Having a baby changed my mind real quick on foaming soap.  It is a million times easier to use to wash his hands than bar soap or plain old liquid soap with a pump.  When my fru-fru foaming soap ran out this week I was dreading paying another $3.50 for SOAP.  I researched online and came up with a foaming hand soap recipe!

Ingredients:

1 Empty foaming handsoap dispenser
Water
Clear liquid handsoap

For this experiment I cleaned out the foaming dispenser until clear water ran through the pump.

I used a ratio of 1/5 liquid soap to 4/5 water.  This dispenser was 8.5 oz.  I guessed that the pump took up an 1/2 an ounce of space.  I divided 8 by 5 to get 1.6 ounces of soap.  Subtracting 1.6 from 8 I needed roughly 6.4 ounces of water.

Remove the pump and add the water to the empty bottle first.  Next pour in the liquid soap.  By adding the water first bubbles will be minimized.  Twist on the pump and shake gently to mix the soap into the water.  (NOTE: The pump was about 1/2 an ounce larger than I expected, ergo the excess spilled all over the counter.)

I used the same method to fill an ordinary liquid soap dispenser as a control.

The ordinary pump produced no foam, just watered down soap.

The foaming pump actually produced soapy foam!

The results side by side.

I washed my hands with the foaming soap and it worked like a charm.

Provided that you have an empty foaming soap dispenser, the cost of this recipe was rougly $0.30.  That’s a steal!

Things to remember:

1) Do not use moisturizing liquid soap.  It can clog up the pump.
2) The ratio of water and soap may vary depending on the pump style.  Use more or less until you find something that works.
3) If the pump gets clogged after a bit, pumping vinegar through the dispenser should clear it up.

I will report back in a month to see how the soap and dispenser held up.

Frugal tip of the day: Need I say it?  Make your own refills for pennies instead of buying a new bottle.

UPDATE:  I emptied out a little of the soap mix and added more liquid soap to the bottle.  The ratio is now probably 2/5 liquid soap and 3/5 water.  Upping the soap made a thicker foam and has not clogged up the pump yet.  I’ll report back in a while to see if this penny pinching idea is worth it!

Tutorial: Making Homemade Powder Laundry Soap

Friday, March 19th, 2010

With a baby in the house, we wash a ton of clothes.  I’d say we wash at least 8 loads a week.  After buying another container of Gain for $11, I thought I would give homemade laundry soap a try.

I am choosing the dry method for this tutorial.  I purchased all the ingredients for this at my local Kroger in the laundry supply aisle.  I used Fels-Naptha for the bar soap.  Some people have used Ivory, Dove, etc… Do not substitute baking soda for washing soda.  They are not the same thing.

Ingredients:  Makes approximately 2.5 cups = 40 tablespoons = 40 loads.

1 bar soap
1 C. Washing Soda
1/2 C. Borax

1) Grate the soap into fine pieces.

I used 3 methods to grate the soap to see which one was the most efficient and worked the best.

A) The medium-fine side of a box grater.

It took about 10 seconds to do this little corner.  That’s a lot of grating to do!

B) A Black and Decker mini-chopper.

 I used a bread knife to cut the soap.  It cut easily with downward pressure.

I then chopped up the cut block a little bit.  It had the consistency of a firm cheese.
 

I pulsed the chopper about 4 or 5 times and it crumbled the bits.  I held the button down for a steady 5 seconds and the pieces did not get any smaller.

C) A Cuisinart processor.

I put the same sized soap crumbles into the Cuisinart and did a couple pulses of grind and a couple pulses on chop.  Within 10 seconds, the soap had been finely ground.

The results:

The Cuisinart was the winner.  It took 20 seconds to shred the soap.  The particles were uniform and fine.  The second best was the box grater.  It took 20 seconds to grate 1/8 of the bar, but also had uniform and fine particles.  Lastly, the Black and Decker just couldn’t cut it.

 2) Dump the grated soap in a container and mix in the washing soda and Borax.

 3) Store detergent in a sealed container. 

Use 1 tablespoon for a full load up to 2 tablespoons if it is really dirty.  We use one baby formula scoop per wash, which is about 1 1/2 tablespoons.

Is it worth it?

The total cost of the ingredients were roughly:  $9.10
The total cost of the ingredients in the recipe:  $1.88
Cost per load (1 Tablespoon): $0.04

Gain Detergent – Powder, 63 oz, 40 loads: $7.25 = $0.18 per load

Using homemade detergent over Gain saves $0.14 per load.  At 416 loads per year that’s a savings of $58.24. 

From start to finish, minus the trial and error, I would guess it takes about 20 minutes max to make a batch of soap.  I would say it is worth it.

But does it work?  Tune in next week to find out.  I will be doing a dirt test between Gain and my homemade soap.

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