Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Scrubadubdud?: Ecover Cream Cleaner

I think even the most die-hard user of eco-friendly cleaning products can relate to the urge to pick up a bottle of the toxic stuff when their favorite treehugger cleaners just aren't cutting it. Here's an example:

In a home with three small kids (and a mommy who's a kid at heart), we love our mushy, hot cereals. Comfort food at its simplest... until the milk burns on the bottom of the pan. Then, the pan is quickly taken out of rotation for a week-long soak until Mommy gets around to scrubbing it. What to do? What to do? Why, pull out the scouring cream, of course. Ecover makes one that I've had lying around the house for years. Yep, the same bottle... lying around the house for years. Is this because I rarely burn the bottoms of my pots? Hardly. Because I never wash them? Maybe. Or, perhaps because it never seemed as efficient as it needed to be.

Take a look at this pot. Ouch. That's going to be a tough one. It's already been through the customary soak, the scrub-down with regular liquid dish soap and then the customary resoak. It's not looking good. Let's see what a 60 second (or so) scrub with Ecover Cream Cleaner does for it.

Okay, so that obviously didn't go well. I used a scrubbing kitchen sponge (with one side soft and the other hard). And, I promise you I put some good elbow grease into it (I even tore a hole in my kitchen glove - yes, I do use plastic kitchen gloves, because I have eczema when I have dry skin). As you can see, a little came off, but you could hardly cook another pot of cereal with that. At this point I was a little uncertain of what to try next. I was kind of expecting the scouring cream to work and that would be that. I've used it in the past for other things (the stove top, for example) with some amount of success.

Then, something I once read came to mind. I have a modern copy of an antique cookbook, where scouring pots with sand was mentioned. Those frontier ladies were pretty ingenious, weren't they? Actually, I suspect that dates back a little earlier than the American frontier days, but what about sand? I was a little against the idea of going outside to grab up some dirt and whatever bugs might come along with it. So, I scanned the kitchen for a good substitute. I once read about cleaning iron skillets with hot oil and salt. Could salt do the trick? I grabbed a handful of fine sea salt and threw it into the pot. With the same sponge, I scrubbed again for about a minute. Look at the difference. Good old-fashioned sea salt. Can't get more eco-friendly than that.

I guess the moral to this story is that you don't necessarily need to get out the big guns (ecological or toxic) to do even the hard jobs. Some of nature's most basic gifts to us may well do the trick.