Every now and then I go on some product kick and enter a phase where I am totally 100% committed and involved and so into something that I believe I will single handedly change the world. Once, that phase involved my dogs and how I was going to feed them homemade food, full of goodness and real meat and crafted with love. I bought this book on holistic dog care that had recipes for dog food and explained how to crush eggshells to give you dogs essential calcium and whatnot. I made shopping lists of powders and vitamins that I would need to mix into the ground beef and chicken and eggs. And then the dogs ran out of Pro Plan dog food and I figured I would just solve the situation by upgrading to Eukanuba. I still have the dog food book. And a container of brewer’s yeast. But now I silence my guilty conscience by buying natural dog cookies and just trying to avoid commercial dog foods with evil poisonous Chinese wheat gluten (Eukanuba is good; as is Castor & Pollax organic food, and apparently the Science Diet natural food).
My latest feel-good phase involved being green, going organic, and eating locally. I was going to shop at the farmers market every weekend and support the small farms by purchasing the organic seasonal fruits and vegetables. Apparently, bananas aren’t really local or seasonal and the fresh, just harvested eggs were really good, but I couldn’t noticeably tell the difference between those and the ones I get from Trader Joe’s. I have compromised by joining a CSA, which takes care of most of our veggie needs. I still shop at Vons and Ralphs, though, and don’t feel guilty about it.
My green aspirations involved purchasing Method products, using canvas bags for grocery shopping, using compostable plastic doggy pickup bags, and getting rid of environmentally destructive cleaning products. Then Target stopped carrying the Method bloq lotions and such and I’ve never seen the dishwasher cubes on store shelves. I also kept forgetting to bring in the canvas bags when I went shopping, so I would just opt for paper bags when I could. We are still going through the Formula 409 and Palmolive dish soap, but I have a veritable hoard of Method cleaning products that will clean and be environmentally friendly. We get a plastic sleeve on the newspaper every day, so I use those for picking up after the dogs. I have switched to a biodegradable kitty litter, but that was mainly because it smells less kitty-litterish.
In the end, convenience trumps everything when it comes to my life.
One of the products I picked up while I was stockpiling green items was Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. Trader Joe’s carries the peppermint version, although I hear Whole Foods also has the lavender version. The soap comes in a plastic bottle covered in messages, saying, directives, and other odd notes. It’s a concentrated soap, with different dilutions for different uses. You can use it for body wash, toothpaste, shampoo, dog wash, dishwashing, floor scrubbing, oven cleaning, etc. It’s sold in small bottles at camping stores because it is so versatile and is non-toxic. I had grand plans of cleaning the house from top to bottom using only this Magic Soap, and then the bottle sat under the sink, unopened, for months. Until the day we cleaned the vent hood in the kitchen.
If you’ve ever tried to clean the hood, you know it gets caked with grease, dust, more grease, and the more dust. It’s not like cleaning the counter; you usually end up smearing the greasy sludge around until pieces of the paper towl get stuck and you give up, rationalizing that no one ever really looks up there anyway. Well, T tried to clean it. He started with 409, moved on to some other spray, got to the Orange Clean and then was stumped. Digging through the cabinet produced a scrub pad and the forgotten bottle of hemp soap. Perhaps the “Magic” in the title gave us hope. I squirted some into a bowl with hot water and set to scrubbing the vent, one small portion at a time. The grease came off, but apparently so did some paint. I would advocate more dilution than one squirt to 2 cups water, for future reference. Once the hood was clean, I noticed the vent filter was pretty gross. I almost wish I had taken a picture so you could appreciate the years of disgusting that was on this filter.
My grandma used to clean the filter with a toothpick, paper towels, and dish soap or some cleaning spray. It would take her forever and get the filter only mostly clean. We started to clean it by dousing it with the rest of the 409. This didn’t do much, other than rinse off some dirt. If Magic Soap could strip paint off the hood, surely it could clean layers of grease off, right? The bottle says that the Soap doesn’t just clean, it dissolved dirt and grease. I filled the sink with hot water, added 2 generous squirts of Magic Soap, swished the filter through the hot soapy water, and then left for 15 minutes (in all honesty, the strong peppermint vapors were getting to me). I came back, fully expecting to scrub and poke and consider just buying a new filter. I came back to a shiny filter and sink full of cloudy water. Amazing.
I may not ever brush my teeth with this Soap, but I fully endorse it for cutting through awful grease jobs. You should go buy it, even if only to use for cleaning the vent filter over your stove.