The secret to a clean bathroom is probably in your kitchen right now.
I’m not talking about baking soda, which gets all the DIY glory, but two items that when combined together become a potent cleaning force that will transform your shower. Those magic ingredients are white vinegar and Dawn dish soap.
I’ve never been one of those blessed people with a housecleaning service. But several years ago when I broke my wrist, I did have help for a few months while I recovered from surgery. The first time the house cleaners came the before-and-after appearance of my 1980s shower was so remarkable that it changed color.
“What type of cleaning products do you use?” I asked the manager.
“Dawn and vinegar,” she told me. “We let it sit for 10 minutes and then wipe the soap scum away.”
Since then, I’ve learned that an added step makes this secret sauce even better — use the microwave before applying.
In a microwavable safe glass container, mix ⅓ cup Dawn dish soap with 3 cups white vinegar. Microwave for five minutes until simmering.
Spread the mixture in sink basins, bathtubs and showers.
Wait 10 minutes. Then wipe away with a sponge or microfiber cloth.
Rise with hot water.
As with any new type of cleaning solvent, make sure to do a test spot before trying this method at home.
Now, here’s where things get weird. You’ve probably heard of Dawn being used to save wildlife from oil spills, but did you know that Dawn can also kill fleas? The soap breaks down the waxy exoskeleton of fleas, destroying them. It can also penetrate flea eggs and disrupt embryos.
My poodle, Merlin, is on prescription Sentinel from his veterinarian, which interrupts the life cycle of fleas but doesn’t prevent dogs from acquiring them. One day he came home from a walk in the woods with fleas. After a five minute bath with ½ cup of Dawn added to the water, Merlin was flea free. I could literally see the dead fleas float away.
That creeped me out a bit. Do I want a proven flea killer coming into contact with my dishes?
Dawn is a petroleum-based product sold by Procter & Gamble. It gets a D grade on the Environmental Working Group’s rating scale for health and safety. The EWG suggests alternative products to use besides Dawn that get an A grade, like ECOS Dishmate Soap and The Honest Co. Dish Soap.
I’ve tried a wide variety of eco-friendly liquids to concoct my soap and vinegar mixture, and none of them have performed as well for me as Dawn. It also works better than the eco-friendly bathroom cleaning products I’ve tried.
Dawn doesn’t burn my eyes or stain my clothes like conventional products do, and it’s not a poison that needs to be locked up. So I keep using it.
But really, the main reason I’m devoted to my secret cleaning sauce is laziness. Walk away and then wipe away — how easy is that?
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at email@example.com.