We Tested It: Cleaning the House with Toothpaste
The one lie that I told my husband while we were dating was that I am a good housekeeper. The apartment of my carefree single days (and by carefree I mean working 60 hours a week at an internet startup) was barely furnished and had plenty of storage space. Housekeeping was easy: I washed my dishes when I dirtied them and every Friday afternoon I swept and mopped. Marriage, of course, contradicts all previously held beliefs about oneself. It turns out that living together in my husband's Brooklyn apartment, which for instance has no closets, does not lend itself to easy cleaning ― until now. I have discovered the cleaning power of toothpaste, and I no longer have any excuses (except that I prefer indolence and sloth to cleaning when I am not at work).
You, intelligent reader and savvy consumer, probably want to know why someone would clean with toothpaste in the first place. The answer is that some people like to do weird things ― like juggling fire, sleeping in oxygen chambers and cleaning with toothpaste. Just assume I am a weirdo and stop reading now.
Actually, I did it because even though I can make a room disorderly as soon as I tidy it, I try to only clean my house with non-toxic substances. I'm a "green cleaner." Aside: I learned the absolute best way to clean a bathtub from Bonsai Aphrodite's Sayward Rebhal. Squirt castile soap around your bathtub and sprinkle baking soda on top of the soap. Then spray it with vinegar, and scrub. It works as well as any chemical I've ever used. I promise.
Toothpaste as Silver Polish
I started by polishing silver, which I read about on ShelterPop. Daring woman that I am, I went for the jugular and polished the silver candlesticks that my mother-in-law gave me as a wedding gift. I put a dab of Trader Joe's brand natural mint toothpaste on a dry washcloth and started polishing. About one minute into the operation I knew I had hit a jackpot: Six months of tarnish had rubbed right off onto the washcloth and the silver was gleaming.
And now for a massive word to the wise: Every blog I have ever read where they advise cleaning with toothpaste suggests using regular toothpaste, not gel. I did this experiment with natural toothpaste that is mostly made of calcium carbonate. I cannot vouch for the results if you'd use one with a stickier texture or different ingredients than the toothpaste that I used. The obligatory "You can't sue me if you ruin your silver" statement has concluded.
Toothpaste as Chrome and Porcelain Cleaner
High on the wings of my silver discovery, I attacked the bathroom sink with toothpaste. I see the irony in this: Splatters of toothpaste are what give the chrome faucets of my sink their distinctive polka-dotted look. (It's a look that I wish faucet designers would catch on to ― it has that well-worn patina that so many of us full-time workers with about one second per week for domestic work achieve with such consistency and brilliance.) I squirted a bit of toothpaste on a dry washcloth and polished away. It worked – the chrome glinted in the light of our bathroom's lovely bare neon fixture. I polished the porcelain sink the same way (toothpaste and dry washcloth), and revealed a shiny white finish that I didn't know was hiding there.
Toothpaste as Oven Cleaner
I don't know about you, but I am afraid of oven cleaner. I don't want to get near any substance with a warning label that says, "This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer" (OxiAdvantage Oven Cleaner label. Question: Why would a product labeled "Fume Free" sport a warning that says, "VAPOR HARMFUL"?). Due to the fact that oven cleaner fumes have sent me literally running out of the house for air, straight vinegar wasn't working, and I am far too lazy to actually scrub, a few rather burnt and sticky patches of spilled food had become what looked like a permanent Rorschach pattern on my range top.
Since toothpaste was working for everything else, I figured, "What the heck? I'll give it a shot." I had nothing to lose. I spread some toothpaste on the cooked-on stains, mixed it with a little water and then scrubbed it with a wet wash cloth. Magic. Absolute magic. Although it took some minor elbow grease to loosen the really black stuff, the toothpaste totally worked. Within 10 minutes, I was able to buff off 90% of the gunk that was stuck to the range top, and if you don't believe me I have pictures on Hometalk to prove it.
What This All Means
In the grand scheme of world events, the discovery that one can clean her house with toothpaste should not be pooh-poohed. While I neither control whether hostages are freed nor the state of the New York Stock Exchange, I can control the tiny little patch of land known as our apartment. After all, "The personal is political." On days when it seems like the whole earth is heading down an impenetrable course of demise, I can still squeeze toothpaste out of a tube and scrub.