The Wonderous Magic of Microfibre Cloths!

Microfibre cloths seems a strange thing to get excited about. I’d read many Zero Waste proponents who advocated their use, as they just need water. I was sceptical to say the least. (And don’t shoot me, they are wrapped in plastic – I’m not perfect and it seems to be impossible to buy them unwrapped). As you can see, I was lucky to find these Spontex Microfibre cloths (pack of 5) at a bargain 1/2 price in the reduced section of my local Tesco. They come in a couple of different colours, so you can easily differentiate between task or rooms in the house. I decided to use blue for the bathroom. I didn’t want to spend money on something I was sceptical wouldn’t work, so that’s why I waited until I saw a good deal to pick these up.

I tell you – I can eat my words now! These things are literally like magic. Our shower was grimy, unfortunately we live in a hard water area and although we squeegee it and spray it with white vinegar after every use – it’s not very effective. Normally we spray white vinegar on and scrub, sometimes also using Cif but it never looks clean. There’s always this scummy film on the glass.

I dubiously took out one of these cloths and wet it, wrung it out and got to work. I decided to dry the glass straight away with a dry duster as I didn’t want streak marks. The results were pleasantly quick on the top parts where they weren’t so scummy. At the bottom of each pane, I really had to work hard with the cloth – it was a good workout! However, amazingly these cloths literally lift off the limescale – something we’d normally have to do with something sharp like a blade or fingernail!

After cleaning the shower cubicle inside and out, I was pretty tired. But another day I’m going to get to work on the taps, shower and also the tiles which are getting a similar build up on them. I literally cannot wait to see what else these can get gleaming clean! My husband tried cleaning the chrome towel rail since I called him in to see the results and he was SO impressed. The towel rail also now looks spectacular. We can only say that the whole bathroom looks like new, like it has just been fitted.

Here’s the before and after shots:

It is quite astonishing to think that all you need to keep your bathroom clean is a little water and these cloths. For such a tiny investment, we can now get rid of a multitude of expensive and potentially damaging cleaning chemicals. These cloths can go in the washing machine at 60 degrees C which I love, as that’s the temperature I wash all my towels and cleaning cloths at to keep them hygienic.

So tell me, do you use microfibre cloths? What do you use them for and how do you use them? Any tips of tricks?

Our Extreme Minimalism Challenge

OK, this one kind of crept up on us! We had decided not only to redecorate our lounge/ dining room but at the same time get rid of the awful stained and cracked Artex ceiling, complete with Artex coving! We engaged our builder and he informed us we’d need to empty the room. I guess we were putting it off, but in the weeks prior to them starting I dutifully boxed up our books and DVDs. Then, the weekend before when we had family visiting we got them to help us move out the heavy furniture- mostly the 3 piece suite, but also the dining table and chairs, TV and bookcase. Then we ripped up the carpet- originally we thought it might go back down, but it truly does rip when you take it up (more on that later!) Soon after that the builder removed the lights and the radiators, so you can see we really are down to nothing!!!! Except those two garden chairs which are our only seating.

So, I guess we’re playing the minimalist game- at least in part- packing everything up into  boxes and seeing what we can live without. It’s a bit like that series that was recently on Channel 4 – Life Stripped Bare – the one we would have agreed to feature on if they hadn’t insisted on gratuitous nudity!

We would’ve been putting the room back together much sooner if we hadn’t needed to get new flooring. We’ve decided to get parquet installed, though expensive it is beautiful and will last more than a lifetime. We have 2 cats and are seriously sick of vacuuming up their hair from the carpet – no sooner have you completed said task, than it needs completing again! If we wanted to put down carpet it would cost 1.5-2K for a room of this size and parquet is around double that, with the advantage that it will never need doing again. Whereas carpet is likely to need replacing every 10 years or so, in a high traffic area. The parquet installers are booked up until September now, as we didn’t plan in advance. So, we’ll be living without all our stuff for a good couple of months. The perfect test to see exactly what we do and do not need!

In the two weeks we’ve been living like this, pretty much the only things we have missed are the 3 piece suite. Garden chairs just don’t cut it in terms of comfort, especially when sitting for long periods. However, they are much more flexible as the weather is so good – we can just lift them inside or outside as needed and they take up so little space. I have the odd pang for the TV, but watching selected programmes on the internet is a good substitute. I do waste far too many hours watching mindless stuff. However there is also something nice about watching on a larger screen and not having to wait for programmes to buffer. Plus, if we use our DVR box – we can record programmes and fast-forward the adverts, something you can’t do online. All that said, when our current TV breaks I’m not convinced I’d replace it.

Have you tried the minimalists 21-day challenge? How did you fare? What did you keep and what did you get rid of? I’d love to hear from you.


Solid toiletries, hard water & clogging pipes!

I’ve been a little quiet of late, as I’m renovating my home. But I wanted to come back to talk about the difficulties of solid toiletries and hard water. It’s resulting in our pipes clogging far too frequently. From my internet reading, apparently the fats in solid soaps react with hard water (hydrolysis of fats) to form soap scum (a precipitate of the calcium salt of a long chain of carboxylic acid).

The problem we are having is this soap scum solidifying into big chunks of white mass once it gets into the drain outside. Believe me, this is not a fun job to rectify! You need rubber gloves up to your elbows and the large part of our Zero Waste attempts in the bathroom are being ruined by the need to purchase bottles of commercial drain cleaner. Since soda crystals are not strong enough to tackle this problem! The only long-term solution I can see, is the installation of a water softener.

Like me, this may all come as quite a surprise to you – as I thought the soap obviously dissolved in water!!! But the calcium and magnesium in hard water reacts to form an insoluble curd which lodges in pipes (yes, it really is like curds and whey! Only it smells gross!!! Is that TMI?!)

So, we have a problem for the time being- until we can afford to install a water softener. I would also only want to do that if the tap water we drink can remain unaffected, since my aunt had one installed and I can’t stand the salty, soft water. Until then, I am left wondering whether you can wash with something other than soap. Or whether for the sake of our pockets which are not infinite, we shall have to return to our old methods of cleansing.

Can anyone share any tips?