In The Bathroom

Don’t Flush that Floss!

I didn’t know until today that flushing dental floss can gum up the works of a city’s water system: https://www.thestar.com/news/2007/01/10/dental_floss_gums_up_sewer_system.html 

It snags on other things in the water waste stream and creates big intractable hairball-like things that damage the pumps at the water processing plants.

Never Mix Bleach and Vinegar

I knew never to mix ammonia and bleach. Why do they not mention that mixing bleach with vinegar creates the same toxic gas? I’ve been experimenting with all-natural daily shower sprays. They weren’t working, so I thought, why not add a tablespoon of bleach? Luckily I Googled ‘can I mix bleach and vinegar?’ and found out why not.

Never mix bleach and vinegar, or any other acid, including lemon juice.

52 Weeks: Water – Bathing

There are low flow showerheads available to limit water use in the shower. They can cost anywhere from $8 to $50. You can find them at hardware stores, discount stores, and online at Amazon.com. According to Florida Power and Light, if it takes less than twenty-four seconds for your shower to fill a bucket to the one gallon line, you can save money by switching to a low flow head.

Also useful is the type of showerhead with a handle on it to turn off the water flow. You can have the water off while soaping or shampooing without having shampoo run into your eyes when you lean over to turn the water back on. Or you can buy a controller valve that screws on above your existing showerhead and allows you to turn the water volume down or off. They cost about $10.

I bought one and I like it very much. I have the luxurious feeling of lots of water when it’s on full flow. I can turn it to low flow when I want to and I can turn it off for part of the shower. This method uses less water than just a low flow showerhead but still leaves me feeling like there’s plenty of water in my shower. There are flow-restricting aerators for sink faucets too. Most places I’ve lived already had those in place.

Is It True? Most sources assume that showers use less water than baths. I doubt that’s an absolute. People shower for more or less time and showerheads vary in flow rate. Tubs vary in size and in how much you choose to fill them. You can test this for yourself by putting the plug in the tub drain when you start the shower. See how much water is in the tub when you finish.

I did this with a normal flow showerhead. The tub filled to about where I would have filled it for a bath, nearly full, 32 gallons. And that was a simple shower with no time spent letting the hot water run over my back, no leg shaving, nothing extra. Later I did the same in the shower that has a lower flow showerhead and used 18.6 gallons.

Next, I went back to the full flow shower and took a “military shower.” In a military shower, you get wet all over, turn off the water, soap and shampoo. Then turn the water back on just long enough to rinse off. That used 11 gallons. A military shower in the lower flow shower used 9.13 gallons.

I’ve tested the drought-inspired idea of showering with the drain plugged and then bailing the water from the tub into a bucket for other uses. I thought I might be able to use the shower water for all of the toilet flushing. The bailing was easiest with a lightweight, shallow four-cup plastic food storage container. After a week or so, leaving water in the tub for days made the non-skid strips come loose, so that was the end of that.

52 Weeks: Water – Flushing

Thanks to the investors who sold me my current condo, I have the new water-saver toilets. Newer toilets have small tanks. There’s nothing gained by putting something in the tank to cause it to use less water per flush.

Pre-1995 toilets usually have larger tanks, so putting something in the tank to make it hold less will save water. The advice used to be to use a brick. Now they say bricks may fall apart and damage the mechanism. So if you use a brick, seal it up in a Ziploc bag. Or, maybe use a plastic container full of water, in a shape that suits your tank and won’t block the mechanism. You can weight it with pebbles or sand so it won’t float around.

There are also adjustable flappers available now that let you set the flush volume. I recently learned about a thing called a toilet fill cycle diverter. It stops older toilets from wasting water during the refill phase. You can get one from, among other places, http://www.niag ara conservation.com and www.nextag.com.

The old saying, “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” would cut the water used for toilet flushing to probably less than half.

Some articles say to put a dye tablet in the toilet tank to check if the tank leaks into the bowl, wasting water. You can do this with food coloring just as well. Put a few drops in the tank. Don’t flush for fifteen to twenty minutes, and look to see if the water in the bowl takes on color. If it does, it may be time to replace the flapper that closes the hole through which water goes from the tank to the bowl.

Or, the chain may be lodging under the edge of the flapper, or maybe it’s too short and the flapper can’t go all the way down. There might be debris or hard water build up around the edge where the flapper sits. On my own experience, replacing the flapper and making sure the chain is the right length have always fixed it.

Grooming – Toothpaste Alternative

My dentist endorses my use of baking soda as toothpaste. I have an open jar of baking soda by the sink and dip my toothbrush into it and brush. I faintly recall having a period of time as a child when I disliked the taste of toothpaste. My dentist then told my mother that baking soda would work just fine. When it clumps up, I use the back of the toothbrush to mash the lumps out. When it won’t un-clump anymore I add water and swish the last of the container down the sink to freshen up the drain.

If baking soda tastes bad to you, you can add an essential oil. Try baking soda, a little water, and a few drops of peppermint, spearmint, or orange essential oil. Mix to a paste consistency. Some recipes add a little coconut oil also. There are many recipes on the Internet. Search on “baking soda toothpaste recipes.”

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

 

Grooming – Waxing

Who knew? Homemade wax for hair removal isn’t wax. It’s made of sugar, lemon juice, and water cooked together. To view live demonstrations, search on YouTube for “sugar wax.” One of the demos I watched didn’t use cloth strips. They spread the wax out on their skin and then pulled it off abruptly. One said to apply the wax against the grain and remove with the grain, with the direction of the hair growth.

I cooked two cups granulated white sugar with ¼ cup water and ¼ cup lemon juice on the stove. I brought it to a boil and then simmered it for nearly fifteen minutes before it began to turn golden brown and thicken a bit. Next time I will cook it less, the thinness was deceptive. Once it cooled, it was very thick. It took almost an hour at room temperature to cool enough to use. It looked, smelled and tasted like very thick honey. It needs to be still a little warm when you use it, so it will be pliable enough to spread thinly on your skin.

I put it on and found that it didn’t just pull off like the video I saw, so I pressed a scrap of T-shirt material into the wax. I let it sit a few seconds. Then while holding the skin taut, I yanked it off. It worked! Any leftover wax can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Warm it in the microwave to use it again.

So, no more paying money at the drugstore or beauty supply store for readymade wax strips.

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

 

 

Grooming – Body Scrub and Hand Cleaner

Commercial body scrubs cost $20, $30 and up for a pound or so. You can make your own by combining one part cooking oil to two parts sugar. Sugar costs less than a dollar a pound, and liquid vegetable oil can cost as little as fifty cents a cup. The sugar cleans and exfoliates while the oil softens and moisturizes. Baking soda will also work in this recipe. It makes a finer, softer scrub.

Any essential oils or spices you want to add can make it unique or luxurious. Fresh grated ginger root or lime or lemon juice would be lively; lavender is soothing; vanilla extract could be good too. You could use any dried spices or herbs that you like the scent of.

Some recipes call for honey instead of oil. That would be less slippery under foot in the shower and avoid sending oil down the drain. Www.dominosugar.com has some interesting ideas for making body scrubs to give as gifts. Sugar can be used as a scrub without the oil too, if you don’t want a moisturizer. A small waterproof jar of it in the shower keeps it handy for when you want it.

The same sugar and oil scrub described above is an alternative to scrubby cleaners like Goop® hand cleaner or Lava® soap. If you use salt instead of sugar, it will scrub more harshly, for tougher dirt. Salt will sting an open cut though, but sugar won’t. If you have ground-in mechanic’s grease stains at knuckles and fingernails, try soaking for fifteen to twenty minutes in diluted dish liquid before using the scrub.

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack