Itty Bitty Bonzai #1

February 1st, 2009 - filed under: Furthermore » Itty Bitty Bonzai

Itty Bitty Bonzai is a collection of tiny tips and tricks for living a life more mindful.  Small actions, collectively and compounded, become a powerful force of change.   

#1  Chlorinated bleach, when washed down the drain, degrades into a substance called ‘organochlorine’.  This compound is believed to be carcinogenic, as well as harmful to the reproductive, neurological, and immune systems.  Instead of cleaning with a chlorine containing bleach, try making your own solution. Fill one spray bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide, and another spray bottle with white vinegar.  Spray to mix as needed (this is more effective if they mix on contact).  



  • Amber Kaplan

    How do you avoid using bleach in your whites laundry load? Is the “oxy” stuff better or worse? What’s the best substitute to try and get whites white again?

  • Sayward

    @Amber – There are various natural lighteners/whiteners around, with reports of variable success. Living in SoCal is definitely an edge – sunlight is a natural whitener! Simply line drying your whites will help keep them bright. Another trick to avoid yellowing is to soak in a 1:1 solution of lemon juice and water. So you would do a load of laundry, then soak the wet clothes in lemon juice/water, then rinse, then line dry.

    Of course, there are also non-chlorinated bleaches available. This is not as natural as lemon juice, but certainly preferable to chlorine. Look for one that contains hydrogen peroxide, sodium percarbonate, or sodium perborate.

    Hope that helps!

  • Friendly Chemist

    The compounds potentially formed are called “organochlorides,” a wide variety of compounds. While some of these compounds have known toxic properties, many (for example 4-chloroindole-3-acetic acid, a naturally occurring plant compound found in peas do not.

  • Sayward

    @ Friendly Chemist – Yes!

  • Katie

    Hi Sayward, does this peroxide/vinegar combo kill germs as bleach does? Any suggestions for cleaning the germs out of places like the toilet? Thanks for all of your FABULOUS tips (i love your blog), and best of luck to you as a new momma!

  • Sayward

    @ Katie – Vinegar (and peroxide) is a GREAT disinfectant. It’s all I use (with a sprinkle of baking soda) in my toilet, and it works great. Vinegar will definitely kill the germs that need killing. =)

    And thanks! I can’t wait to be a momma!

  • Britt Readman

    Does vinegar kill salmonella and e.coli and all that other nasty stuff all around the kitchen? Is it better to use undiluted vinegar (no H2O), or is it just as effective to use a spraybottle of H2O with a couple tablespoons of vinegar in it? Or half and half? Also, my main cleaner (besides a half-half mix of vineagr/H2O) is a spraybottle full of H2O with 2 tsp ammonia, 1 tsp vinegar, and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Is this sufficent? Do I need to add more ingredients to the water ratio? HELP! I’m a new mom (Congratulations to you, by the way! So cool, huh??), anyway, and I’m pretty concerned about killing all major germs, without using bleach or chemicals. You know. But I just don’t feel like I’m doing enough! So would you please sort all this out for me, oh Meistress of Science and Fabulous Information, please?! I can never find answers to these questions anywhere, so I thought I’d take it to the sage…! Thanks, Lady. You rock my socks off!!

  • Britt

    Oh yeah…! And also would it be benefical to add lavender essential oil to the vinegar spray? I hear it’s antibacterial AND smells lovely! : )

  • Sayward

    @ Britt – Yes! Vinegar does kill ~99% of bacteria and germs. I found one study that concluded vinegar was effective against E. coli (here) but couldn’t find anything conclusive on Salmonella.

    I will say that I feel 100% confident using vinegar as my disinfectant. I think it’s not only ‘greener’ but also much safer than industrial chemical cleaners. Some people believe that allergies are on the rise because we’re over-sanitizing, and children’s immune systems are not being exposed to enough buggies!

    Anyway, that’s another topic but suffice it to say, it sounds like you’re doing great. Use your vinegar with confidence and try not too stress on germs too much (I know I know, we’re mommies! Easier said than done . . .)

    Ooh also, lavender would be great! antibacterial and much nicer smell. =)


  • Britt

    Nice! Thanks for the encouragement! But the one question which remains unanswered: Is the 50/50 vinegar/water sufficent, or should I use pure, undiluted vinegar? And any advice on how to banish those pesky salmonella germs?

    P.S. – I agree about our declining immune systems and the rise of allergies. I seriously just want to roll my eyes and say, “Well, DUH!!!” ; )>

  • Sayward

    @ Britt – Oh man, I totally thought I responded to this! I use diluted vinegar in my kitchen and feel very comfortable with that. As for salmonella, I’m not sure. I keep a vegan kitchen so it’s not really something I worry about! Sorry!

  • Melissa

    I fill a spray bottle with about an inch of white vinegar, fill the rest with hot water and add essential oil (15 drops or so). Tea tree is a favorite, right now I am on a lavender kick. lovely.

  • Britt

    Oh, yeah…! Vegan…! Duh! That’s right. Silly me. Well, all the more reason to switch, right?! [I'd love to, but my hubby would flip!] And thanks, Melissa! Although someone had written somewhere that tea tree was potentially harmful for guys and their reproductive system or something…? I haven’t looked into it yet. They included a link… If I could ever find it again…! Navigating through all this [fabulous!] information… Geez, Sayward! ;)> Too much information! {…But not really!}

    K, thanks, ladies! I LOVE BONZAI APHRODITE!!! Hooray!