My natural cleaning had not been going very well. The curtains were yellow instead of white, the windows were dirty and mildewed, the window sills had dog-paw stains, the doors and door trims were full or fingerprints, the mirrors and sinks were greasy and grimy, the walls had cobwebs in the ceiling corners...

I could not take it anymore. I went to Publix, and bought Clorox, Clorox wipes, Clorox window cleaner, Bon-Ami, copper scouring pads, new cleaning wipes, recycled paper towels... and gloves.

After two days of intensive, exhausting cleaning... the curtains are now white again. I bleached them for 2 hours, then washed them and hung them in the sun to dry and get the bleach smell out of them. I had tried to do that with hydrogen peroxide, but it did not work very well.

The windows are still a work in progress... I cleaned about half of them. There are so many windows in our house, there is no way one can clean them all in one day. Not only that, as I cleaned them inside, I realized they also need to be cleaned outside. I had been using vinegar to clean them, but it was not cutting through the grease, and the end result was that all my windows were greasy- very upsetting, and disgusting. This Clorox Natural (95%?) window cleaner has worked so far, but I don't like the smell of it. Even if it says that it is almost 100% natural, the chemical smell is still too strong for me. I cleaned the glass panes with all windows open in order to ventilate the house and get the smell out as quickly as possible. I will probably return it and try a different cleaner, maybe I can find something with less of a chemical smell in the health food store?

The Clorox natural wipes worked great. I used them to wipe all the grime off the doors, window sills, walls around the light switches etc. I guess I had stopped cleaning the walls, doors etc because when I cleaned them with a sponge, it was either too abrasive (the ''green'' side), or too mushy (the ''yellow'' side). If I used rags, then I had this nasty collection of dirty rags sitting outside in a wet pile, waiting to grow big enough in order to fill the laundry machine (I don't have an outdoor sink, and I didn't want to clog up the house sinks with all the dog hair collected in the rags). I learned pretty quickly, though, that mosquitoes love wet rags. Not a good thing to have around the house.

I had a choice, in the supermarket, between the Clorox and Seventh Generation. I chose Clorox because it said it is compostable; Seventh Generation did not say anything. I am still not sure which one is actually better for the environment so, again, I will ask next time I go to the health food store. I also used the wipes to wipe some of the grime off the sinks. Whatever did not come off, I then proceeded to attack it with Bon-Ami and the scouring copper pad. I now have very shiny metal and white sinks again. Very proud. I also threw Bon-Ami down the toilet, and scrubbed it, with a toilet brush, to a white perfection.

Next, the walls. I used the dusting wipes that I had bought at Costco 2 yeas ago. I covered the dusting mop with the cloths, and reached for the sky. I did save all the spiders I found, and put them outside.

After all that, I sat down, put some vinegar on a recycled paper towel instead of a rag, and cleaned my dog's ears with it.

I can, and will, use vinegar to clean and make my house smell like salad. But I have also learned, the hard and crusty way, that I can take advantage of the array of ''green'' products available these days in order to help make it a bit easier to keep my house clean.

I have not used in many years, and will never use again, incredibly toxic stuff like scrubbing bubbles and/or Pine Sol if I can help it. I do use, and have used for many years now, Bon-Ami for the toilets and sinks, Seventh Generation powder for the dishwasher, Kirkland natural soap for doing dishes, and Ecos or Kirkland natural laundry soap. But, living in the mold and mildew state of FL, I must defend my house once in a while with a little bleach.

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