Take a look at your household cleaning products. How many bottles of cleaners do you have? One for the bath, one for the kitchen, one for the toilet, one for mold, one for drains…. You can save a lot of money and make your home healthier and more eco-friendly by switching to cleaners made with two inexpensive, easy-to-find products: baking soda and vinegar.
Baking soda (juusou, 重曹) is, regrettably, not as cheap as it is in the US, but vinegar (su, 酢) is fairly inexpensive (and can be used on its own as a cleaner). If you don’t feel like mixing your own cleaner, you can buy it premixed. Several companies make this product: One is “Baking Soda and Vinegar Kitchen Cleaner” (juusou tasu osu daidokoro kurinaa, 重曹+お酢台所クリーナー), which, of course, can be used all over the home; another is Baking-Soda-chan (juusou-chan, 重曹ちゃん).
Baking soda and vinegar is a great disinfectant and household cleaner. I use it to clean my kitchen counters and sink, my bathtub and bathroom, my oven range and gas range, the top of my kotatsu, and my toilet. That’s at least four separate cleaners I don’t have to buy! I bought my first bottle pre-mixed, and I refill it by mixing powdered mix with water in the same spray bottle. A 500-gram box of powdered Juusou-chan is extremely cheap at 250 yen and will last forever.
There are quite a few benefits of using baking soda and vinegar.
1. You don’t need to do any guesswork about which cleaning product to buy at the store. No matter how well you read Japanese, you may not be used to reading chemical names; if you are concerned about avoiding chemicals or certain ingredients, this will simplify things.
2. You don’t have to worry about reading the instructions on harsh, chemical cleaners, using rubber gloves, or figuring out how much to mix with water so you don’t get chemical burns or destroy your apartment. If you clean out dishes or your microwave with it, you don’t have to worry about chemicals in your food.
3. No harsh chemical smells or fumes. The vinegar does smell a little when you use it, but once it dries, there’s no scent.
4. Reduce your plastic use. All you need is one spray bottle, and, once you finish that, one box of concentrated powder and some water. You won’t have to buy a separate cleaner for every room, so you’ll be reducing your plastic consumption and your trash.
5. It’s much cheaper than using commercial cleaners.
The most important point is that it really works, and you can use it for other things that surface cleaning, too. The powdered kind can be mixed with less water and used for stain removal, too. Get out those stains in your coffee cup without worrying about the effects of bleach. If you have burnt food stuck on a pan, you can use this to get it off. Aside from windows and tatami, there’s really nothing you can’t clean with this stuff.
It doesn’t get much easier than that!
Leah Zoller is a second-year CIR in Anamizu and the editor of this blog. She believes that saving money and saving the environment go hand-in-hand. Plus, baking soda-and-vinegar chemical reactions are a fun way to clean your drains!