Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kaitlin: How to Clean it Right

From Kaitlin Torgerson, Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator

I stepped into our bathroom this Sunday, armed and ready to clean. It was my week to clean the bathroom and as usual, I had put it off until the last day possible. However, this time my arsenal of cleaning products were a bit different.

Most of my college career was spent in the microbiology/parisitology or anatomy labs, studying the infectious bugs or tiny creatures that lurk in public places. If not in the lab, I was reading about these very germs that are the reason for sick days. Unfortunately, all that time staring at these critters under the microscope has led me to be a little bit of a germ-phobe. Yes, I am the odd one who waits for someone else to open the door to the public restroom. I’ll admit it. I’m the one who always washes her hands and is never found without hand sanitizer in her purse. Needless to say, when it comes to cleaning, my motto has become, “the stronger, the better.”

When I set out this Lent to change my water-use habits, I included that I would use cleaning products free of phosphates or other potential water pollutants. If I was preserving water, not only must I be careful of how much I use, I must make sure I don’t pollute the water we do have. Already, we’ve polluted 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of our lakes to the point that they can longer be used for fishing or swimming.

For Lent, I traded in my classic bathroom cleaner with bleach for simple white vinegar and baking soda. I mixed up an all-purpose cleaner with ½ cup vinegar, ¼ baking soda, and ½ gallon of water. Even though I wasn’t quite convinced I was still killing germs, my bathroom looks and smells clean. The baking soda worked as a great scrubber and the vinegar left it smelling and looking fresher. Using any sort of disinfect is overkill and does more harm than good. Deep down, the microbiologist inside tells me I’ve only been contributing to making germs more resistant and harder to kill.

I guess I’m getting over my fear of germs and recognize that there are much safer alternatives for cleaning. The bathroom is clean and no toxic chemicals got into the ground water. That’s really what I care about, not my fear microbes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an impressive story. Thanks, Kaitlin.