Friday, November 23, 2012


There is a tradition to thoroughly clean one's domicile twice a year; spring and fall. This spring, I cleaned thoroughly because Carole and David were coming for Memorial Day and Niles' wedding. I had not done the fall cleaning, however.

It's been a rough fall for joint pain. My knees have been giving me a great deal of problems and pain. I don't have the pain in my hands, shoulders or feet and ankles, but the hips hurt getting out of bed in the morning and the knees hurt period. Cleaning, the thorough kind I really wanted to do, just wore me out because I can't stand for long periods of time. I have to break the cleaning sessions into smaller chunks and it sometimes doesn't feel like I'm getting anything accomplished.

I also have to be careful about the amount of cleaning products I'm exposed to. My allergies seem to be in high gear this fall. I've been waiting for the hard freeze to kill the pollens outside, but interior allergens can be as bad or worse than anything you find outside. I have to watch how much stuff I use and how long I'm exposed to it.

In Target, on Wednesday, I was thrilled to see that J.R. Watkins had put their cleaning products for sale in the store. Watkins is a Minnesota brand and Target is headquartered in Minneapolis. It was probably a perfect fit for growing the Watkins brand. It's usually sold via door-to-door salesmen. We had a "little old man", I don't remember his name, who handled our Watkins products. He was stooped with what we now know is osteoporosis, and drove this battered gray station wagon in which most of his products were stored. I have raved about their vanilla and spices before. I have their degreaser for heavy jobs. It's wonderful. I've used some of their other cleaning products and they are mild but very effective and without the chemicals I seem to have problems with.

But, as good as they are, they still have to resort to chemicals in some ways to clean some things. Many natural cleaning aids, vinegar comes to mind, do work but aren't as effective in some situations. My goal this weekend is to thoroughly clean AND get the window insulator plastic up on the windows. I'm going to be washing windows and trim around the windows. I have Windex, but I just don't want to breathe that stuff in for an afternoon.

Almost as if it knows, the Internet coughed up an article about using this as a cleaning aid.

Plain old Coca-Cola. The mystic formula of real Coke has a grease cutting ability that is supposed to be exceptional. I've known of stories that say you can use a can of Coke to clean your toilet bowl. (It looks really gross and no, I didn't photograph it.) I decided this was as good of a time as any to conduct experiments.

A case at Target was $5.99. That's kind of pricey. If you watch sales, I know you can get it for less. That's still 50¢ a can for a cleaning agent. The last bottle of toilet bowl cleaner I purchased was on sale for $2.49 for 24 ounces or 10¢ an ounce. A can of Coke is 4¢ an ounce.

I'm not completely sold on Coke as a toilet bowl cleaner. Unless you shake the can, you'll not get it under the rim, which should be cleaned every time you clean the bowl. I felt I had to use twice as much water because of rinsing out the toilet brush. My bowl looks clean, but is that a product of the Coke or would I get the same result if I just scrubbed the bowl with the toilet brush. I clean the bowl once a week. In terms of value, a case of coke is good for 12 weeks of cleaning as you're supposed to use a full can. I buy a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner about once every 4 months because I'm not using 12 ounces of the product. The chemical stuff is, by far, the better value for this cleaning.

Where Coke has really impressed me is in washing windows. Part of sealing the windows for the winter is washing them and the trim. I'm just using plain water to wash off the trim. I take a couple of paper towels, tip the can of Coke and pour a "handful" onto the towels. That's used to wash the window.

"But the sugar in the soda will leave a residue, won't it?" Well, if I just leave the Coke on the window, yes. There is a wind today and the outside air temperature is 32 degrees colder than yesterday. I started in the bedroom and washed the top half of the window first. I followed the Coke windows with a sponge immersed in water and then dried off each pane. I didn't notice a difference between the Coke washed and the just regular washed with water window.

Then I went to the cats' room. This used to be Carole's bedroom. We repainted the walls and windows, leaving paint residue on the windows. We always meant to scrape that off, but it never happened. She also had stickers on the windows as kids will do. Over the years, those have dried and fallen off, but the imprint has remained. Windex hasn't been able to get that off the glass.

Since I'm not in this room much, except to change litter, I haven't spent time cleaning the windows. They were quite dirty. Imagine my surprise and delight when the Coke infused paper towels removed over half of the dried paint; dissolved it right before my eyes; the sticker residue, insect parts and all the dirt and grime. For a control, I washed one pane in just plain water. It did get most of the grime but not all of it, some of the insect parts and none of the paint. I followed up with Coke. Each pane is rinsed with plain water and then dried with a paper towel. I wound up spending some time on this window simply because the Coke was dissolving the old paint every time I wiped across the panes. Technically, I don't really "care" about these back windows, but, wow. They sure sparkle now.

I've got a bunch more windows to wash and I will, for sure, use the Coke followed by water method. There are absolutely no fumes. Yes, it takes a bit more time to wash the window but not breathing in Windex fumes is, I think, worth it. I have no idea what Windex is selling for at this time. I bought some months ago when it was on sale, a big bottle so I have quite a bit to use up. I can't tell if this is a bargain but, after 2 windows, I've used about a third of a can. Perhaps I would use more if I was doing the outside of the windows. I am impressed, to say the least.

The last thing I'm going to try is defrosting the windshield with Coke. The article said pouring part of a can of Coke onto a frosted over window removes the frost. Follow with your washer fluid. I think there will be frozen Coke residue on your car that you probably will want to wash off but, for someone like me being able to easily make the windshield clear will be a godsend. I've had to scrape three times already and it does hurt the hands a bit in the morning. I'll let you know how that goes.

There is one thing I do wonder. Who decided to use Coke to clean their windows? Were they sitting around after pizza one night and someone looked at their can and said, "I wonder if we could use this to clean the windows?" And why Coke and not Pepsi or Dr Pepper? It's probably a good thing that I've not seen that you can use Dr Pepper to clean windows. I don't think I could use it for that.

Beverage:  Um...the rest of the can of Coke


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