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Shower tile experiment: green cleaners vs. Soft Scrub with Bleach

For the longest time, I have been meaning to conduct an experiment. Clean the shower tile, celebrity death-match style, pitting two green cleaners side by side with (cue ominous music) Soft Scrub with Bleach. Please don't ask me why I have the very un-enviro Soft Scrub in my house. I plead the fifth. But I will share that putting white tile with white grout in our large master shower was regrettable. I don't regret many things, but this one, oh lordy. We were swayed by a beautiful magazine spread of a spotless white bathroom remodel, with the bright white on white in the shower. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into.

Three tile cleaners
As for the green cleaners, I tried Bon Ami for the first time on the shower tile and grout (for whatever odd reason, I'd only ever used it for sinks and toilets before). And I made up a home-brewed version of creamy scrub, using a recipe from womenandenvironment.org. I cut their recipe in half, since I didn't know how well it would work:

1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup liquid castile soap (I used peppermint)
2 tablespoons vegetable glycerine
2-3 drops of anti-bacterial essential oil, such as lavender, tea tree or rosemary (I used tea tree)

Mix together and store in a sealed glass jar. Shelf life: 2 years.

Truth be told, I was skeptical of the green cleaners. My experience with them so far has been that they work, but not fabulously. A lot more elbow grease is often required. Or they can be total flops, like the laundry stain treatment we came home with from our Master Recycler class. The stains my kids get on their clothing made a mockery of that home-made stuff.

So back to the shower tile. Bon Ami? It worked, but frankly, I didn't really love it. I either didn't always get it wet enough, or else, got it so wet that I was washing most of it down the drain. And it pains me to say this, because for the most part, I really dislike smells in cleaners, but its lack of smell kind of bugs me. After spending an hour scrubbing the shower with an old toothbrush, I want something to 'show' for my work. Sure, there's the absence of soap scrum and mildew, but I wanted the air to convey a little fresh clean scent. Some people probably love Bon Ami's un-smell.

Creamy scrub
The home-made creamy stuff? I loved it. It worked as well as Soft Scrub with Bleach and to tell you the honest truth, I was prejudiced to believe that it wouldn't. That it would somehow be inferior. Yet, I love how the mint and tea tree oil made a clean, fresh scent that was not overpowering. I didn't feel I needed to wear rubber gloves to clean. I will be interested to see if the tea tree oil fights the re-buildup of mildew as well as the bleach treated tile. I don't relish cleaning the shower tile with such gusto any time in the near future. I want the tile to stay clean for as long as posslbe (note: we do squeegee or towel dry our shower after each use, so that the moist conditions for growing crud are minimized).

Soft Scrub with Bleach? No question, it gets the job done fast and fairly painlessly -- although I do wear gloves when I use that stuff, and run the shower fan to suck some of that smell out of the air. I'd really like to finish the jar we have, and never, ever buy it again. I will confess that I only ever use it for the grungy tile and grout, and for lighter cleaning, like the sinks, I opt for something greener like Bon Ami. Moderation. Mea culpa. Please forgive me? I blame it on the damn white tile and grout!

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