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What bacteria needs to die and what bacteria helps our home?

 
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I think by now, we know a lot about bad bacteria.  Raw chicken (dead or alive) is teaming with the kind of bacteria that can kill a person quicker than we can say "ops, you mean this wasn't a clean cutting board for raw veggies?"

There's a lot of bacteria around the house that isn't a threat.  Even the threatening stuff isn't - unless it enters our body through mouth, cuts, or other sources.  Some studies suggest that these non-threatening bacteria are also good for our immune system - after all, our bodies are hugely dependent on bacteria to live.

And there are bacteria that do work for us.  Fermented bacteria for foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, and yeast.  Raw milk contains friendly bacteria that prevent it from spoiling the way that pasteurized stuff does.  Pasteurized milk goes suddenly nasty, whereas raw milk turns slowly sour.  

And septic tanks love healthy bacteria to break down the solid mass and turn it into liquid grass fertilizer.  

There's also the drains.  Lots of things go down the drain, and in these drains live a collective of beneficial bacteria that break down food, hair, grease, and other clogs into stuff that doesn't clog.  We can spend loads of money buying these bacteria and pour them down the drain.  There are even little sticks that sit in the U-bend and release bacteria slowly into the drains.  Of course, we don't need to spend crazy-money on these products because these bacteria exist naturally in our environment and so long as we remember not to kill them too much.

I had a lot of trouble with clogged drains when I lived with my Grandfather.  He used to pour bleach down the drains most days.  We had to snake the drain at least once a week, often twice.  When he left, we bought a bunch of bacteria for the drains.  This reduced the snaking to twice a month.  After a while, it was once a month.  Now it has been six months since the last time I got the snake out (snake is the thingy that clears the drains).  Switching to salt or soap to clean the meat cutting boards is another thing that made a huge difference.

So let's talk about invisible beasties that help around the house.

 
r ranson
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getting rid of harmful bacteria without killing the good stuff.

Most harmful bacteria hates...
  • salt
  • extreme acid
  • extreme alkali


  • However, many of the beneficial bacteria love salt.

    To clean a meat cutting board, my butcher* recommends rinsing the bord with water and then rubbing it with salt.  He says that using bleach on a cutting board causes the good bacteria to die and makes the meat spoil faster, whereas salt is something we use when preserving meat as it allows beneficial bacteria to thrive.

    Sugar is another food preserving agent that dehydrates some bad bacteria and acts as food for yeast and other ferments.  I haven't tried anything with this yet.

    * Several other people have recommended this to me over the years, but I use my butcher as an example as an appeal to authority - he knows more about meat than anyone I know.
     
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    Doesn't abrasion or scrubbing kill bacteria, too? If so, then a good scrub with a scouring pad, brush or clean wash cloth or rag would help.



     
    r ranson
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    That makes sense.

    I know bad bacteria need to eat stuff - stuff like old food.  Abrasion gets rid of the bacteria's food which starves the bacteria.  

    I think it's pretty important that the cloth is allowed to dry between uses - or at least completely dry once every 24 hours.  Otherwise, the bacteria might start to grow in the cloth.  

    When I worked at a coffee shop, we had two sets of clothes.  One for even days and one for odd days.  So we used the even cloth one day, then it went to dry, and the next day we used the odd-day cloths.  That way, the bacteria growth that made the cloths smell didn't happen.  

     
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    I think all bacteria have a role and a place in the interconnected web of everything living on this planet, even the bad ones. I think some are a part of natures clean up crew, and just like healthy plants in healthy soil that can defend against disease pressure, I think healthy people have an advantage and are able to withstand human disease pressure. For example, once in a while the news will report an e. coli outbreak in x brand of, let's say, pre-packaged mixed salad greens. 87 people are hospitalized, 3 die, and that’s terrible. How many other people had minor symptoms or even no symptoms at all, having consumed the tainted greens, but immune response and a healthy gut subdued the pathogen. The challenge is that those people go undocumented and there is no data on people exposed to pathogens that never fall ill.

    This makes me think of Antoine Bechamp, Louis Pasteur's counterpart in France, both alive and doing research at the same time. Pasteur believed in germ theory, that microbial pathogens are out there and if we are exposed, we fall ill. Au contraire said Bechamp! He argued that it was all about what he called terrain, that there are beneficial microbes that keep the bad ones in check, and instead of lumping bacteria into one category and killing them all with heat (pasteurizing) that it is the good bacteria that need to be nurtured so bad bacteria don’t run amok.

    Interestingly, pasteurizing took off, was adopted as the go to method for managing pathogens, and indeed it has been successful and saved many lives.

    I like hygiene, and for example, I wash, actually rinsing is more like it, produce purchased at the store and the farmers market. I do not rinse food from my garden that I grew, with the exception of roots like carrots, potatoes, and I’ll also wash greens, as even with mulching somehow grit gets in-between lettuce and spinach leaves, because I don’t like sand and grit in my mouth. Otherwise, I’ll eat blueberries, strawberries and raspberries right off the plant. I’ll pick tomatoes and eat one like an apple. I am not concerned with whatever bacteria and fungi may be on them, and maybe I’m even consuming good microbes, but I don’t know for sure since I don’t have lab equipment to measure that.

    My prior paragraphs (I hope they weren't rambling) now have me thinking about the title in this thread, and if there are ways to grow good bacteria, and spray them everywhere in our homes as an alternative to what seems to be the current mainstream culture of sanitize, bleach & kill.
     
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    I've made sauerkraut and other lactofermented vegetables with and without whey, and I find that the ones with whey start fermenting more quickly and keep for longer than the ones without. I think that adding whey gives a bigger starting population of good bacteria, so that they can start growing and take over before the bad bacteria get a chance.

    Sometimes I get access to bulk amounts of cream for free, if I kept this in my larder on its own it wouldn't last for long, but because I add viili or kefir, it will turn to créme fraiche and keep for weeks, and the cultured butter and ghee I make from it is very tasty. From what I've read about times before refrigeration, cultured butter was the most common kind of butter, and cultured cream was more widely used as well.

    I use only natural cleaners in my home such as salt, vinegar, and water, and these things probably help to keep the balance towards good bacteria, so that when I'm cutting up meat for bacon and salami, good bacteria is being introduced that will help preserve it.

    I was looking at dry-salted bacon and ham recipes recently, and the River Cottage books recommend wiping vinegar all over the meat before it goes into the salt, and as soon as it's out. I wonder if there's good bacteria in vinegar that are helping, and every time we clean a surface with vinegar we are introducing beneficial bacteria to our homes? Does introducing good bacteria to our homes in this way act in the same way to the whey in my sauerkraut, in that the good bacteria can take over any niche that bad bacteria may have otherwise found its way into?
     
    pollinator
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    I'm loving this thread, thank you!

    I've been obsessed by fermentation and beneficial microorganisms (don't forget about good yeast and other fungi!) and our microbiome for almost my entire adult life, since my family quickly gifted each other copies of Nourishing Traditions in 2005 or 2006 right before I left NYC to start apprenticing on small organic farms and went first to a place full of beneficial microorganisms. My co-apprentice and I experimented with sweet potato fly in a back room while we learned cheesemaking in the kitchen using goat milk fresh from milking. It was a back to the land house built in stages, cleaned without being irradiated, and all sorts of things seemed to do better there.

    I clean with bleach when I absolutely have to, but I try to do it outside. At least bleach dissipates. One thing to really watch out for is any cleaning product with "quats": quaternary ammonium cations, lingering biocides with broad lethal activity that take much longer to dissipate, creating a biocidal film on surfaces. They're used in all sorts of things now: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternary_ammonium_cation.

    I had a vegetable fermentation business a few years ago and used a shared kitchen space to get started. To meet county health inspectors' criteria, we were forced to clean all surfaces with diluted quats before and after use. The exception was stuff we could wash in the commercial dishwasher, which luckily was of the kind that sanitizes with high temperature rather than using a lower temperature and relying on more quats in the detergent and rinse. I used that to heat-sanitize all my equipment, including copious cutting boards, and then used those as buffers between the quats-coated tables and anything I was processing. It meant I couldn't use the food processor/chopper/grinder because the only way to clean all its parts and not get kicked out of the kitchen was to douse it in quats. So I processed everything by hand with heat-sanitized knives and paid more for my kitchen use because we rented by the hour. Some ferments still didn't work, but I eventually figured out ways to get everything going with beneficial bacteria.

    Have you heard about the cheesemaking nun who proved to the food safety inspectors that the wood planks traditionally used to hold aging cheeses were actually safer than metal or plastic or other materials because they formed a biofilm (rather than a biocidal film like f-ing quats) on their surface that kept everything progressing in a beneficial direction?

    Have folks noticed how many more studies are coming out about the microbiome and "new" benefits of eating fermented foods in the last few years? I totally geek out about this stuff, but I'm going to try not to get too crazy on all of you. This article is a good overview with mentions of several different studies: https://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/the-health-benefits-of-fermented-foods-zm0z17jfzfol.

    Some other recent-ish studies I collected a few years ago are:

  • “Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry” (Journal of Physiological Anthropology 2014; 33(1): 2)
  • “Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour” (Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2012 Oct; 13(10):701-12)
  • "A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood" (Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 2015 Aug; 48:258-264)

  • I need to do another review because I've read in passing about a lot of interesting new studies. Lots of good reasons to follow Bechamp and nurture the good microorganisms rather than nuking all of them!
     
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    Beth Wilder wrote:
    Have folks noticed how many more studies are coming out about the microbiome and "new" benefits of eating fermented foods in the last few years? I totally geek out about this stuff, but I'm going to try not to get too crazy on all of you. This article is a good overview with mentions of several different studies: https://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/the-health-benefits-of-fermented-foods-zm0z17jfzfol.

    Some other recent-ish studies I collected a few years ago are:

  • “Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry” (Journal of Physiological Anthropology 2014; 33(1): 2)
  • “Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour” (Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2012 Oct; 13(10):701-12)
  • "A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood" (Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 2015 Aug; 48:258-264)

  • I need to do another review because I've read in passing about a lot of interesting new studies. Lots of good reasons to follow Bechamp and nurture the good microorganisms rather than nuking all of them!



    Loving your geeking out, Beth! Thanks for the info.
     
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    Beth - having worked in restaurants, and taken a safety/sani class, I'm familiar with quats, nasty stuff.

    I'm very interested in discouraging bad bacteria, like MRSA, which my whole family is colonized with, and encouraging good ones. I'm clean in some ways, when any of us have active infections, towels get washed daily, clothes get worn once, that kind of thing, but we don't wash with anti-bacterial soaps, using only essential oils, herbs and raw honey for infections. I refuse antibiotics most of the time, if necessary I will, but only after all other avenues are exhausted.

    Like others have said, only natural cleaning products, vodka, vinegar, baking soda, borax etc.

    I'm not a big fan of the taste of fermented foods, other than dairy. I love creme fraiche, and as soon as we have dairy animals, I will keep it always on hand. Some of the fermented beverages I've tried are interesting, but I have to limit the quantity of things like kombucha or kvass as too much will make me sick. I view them more as a tonic than a beverage.

     
    Beth Wilder
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    Stacy, yes, sadly, I had to use it even more when I worked in restaurants! I was always worried about trying to make ferments at home during that period, that things wouldn't work if there was too much on my skin despite my wearing gloves in the dish pit and changing my clothes and shoes when I got home, etc. Luckily things were fine. Beneficial bacteria can be very potent (outcompeting pathogenic bacteria in at least some documented circumstances).

    MRSA is such a scary case. I'm so sorry your family is colonized with that! I assume you know far more about it than I do, but just in case, have you seen studies like this about natural treatments including green tea, chocolate, and volatile oils including tea tree oil? I'm certainly no doctor and wouldn't attempt medical advice, but it seems to me like some of these things -- green tea, tea tree oil, lemongrass, thyme, and lavender, especially -- would be great in your cleaning arsenal (if they're not already there: I love using those oils in cleaning) if nothing else!

    The study also mentions garlic, which I know from experience can be pretty difficult to tolerate raw. When I feel a cold coming on, I either eat the garlic cloves from other ferments like escabeche or a little fermented Moroccan garlic paste and I've been meaning to try whole garlic fermented in honey. I can vouch for the former as tasting very little (if at all) like things like sauerkraut, kombucha, or beet kvass (I haven't tried wheat/bread kvass because I'm sensitive to gluten). It's just an intensely flavorful paste that we like to stir into things like cooked grains or vegetables after the heat is turned off and they're starting to cool, so as not to kill the live bacteria. We eat it even when we don't feel like we're coming down with something. ;) The latter would probably make the garlic taste tangy as well as sweet, so I don't know whether it would be to your taste or not, but the honey might primarily be deliciously garlicy for things like salad dressing. (The first recipe is actually from the Shockeys' Fermented Vegetables, which I recommend highly; the second may be too, I don't have the book in front of me right now. I think a lot of their recipes are highly creative and make for products that taste very different from that normal "fermenty" flavor.) Also, do you like milk kefir? Sorry, I'll try to stop being such a pusher now...

    I've used ferments like kombucha and tepache (pineapple rinds and piloncillo sugar fermented a few days in water to make a lightly fermented soda-like drink) that have gone too far into vinegar for cleaning as well as for helping to get rid of ant colonies in the gardens, for what it's worth. Kate, what do you think wiping one of those vinegars on meat before salting would do for curing? :) I hope to try it someday.
     
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    Any experience with using good bacteria in a hot tub?

    We have recently moved to our "retirement farmstead" in New Mexico, and our first retirement home is our pop-up camper and a couple of screen shelters.

    We've been using a bokashi-style bucket for composting food waste (just a 5-gal bucket with food scraps including lots of coffee grounds, and pelleted compost starter).  After 3 weeks, that is still just pleasantly sour; not rotten.
    We've been using a similar solution for a composting toilet (kept separately of course), except that we pre-ferment a separate bucket of moist bran with the compost starter, and then toss in a scoop of the fermented bran every time we use the toilet (*most* of the pee just goes outside rather than in the bucket).  Similarly sour/yeasty; not unpleasant.

    Now we got a horse trough for a soaking tub.  We'll wash before getting in, but don't have any illusions that soaking when clean will keep the water from getting funky.  Does it make sense to toss some of the composting pellets into the bath water?  We are in a very dry (high desert) area, and would like to use the same tubful of water as long as possible.  And of course we are not interested in putting in chemicals to keep it unfunky.

    It's a 75-gal tub (shorter and deeper than a standard bathtub) so is not a huge amount of water (not like a 6-person hot tub or anything).  I suppose maybe we'd only fill it with 40 gallons and displace the rest?  Maybe another strategy is to use it until we are ready to do laundry and then do laundry with that grey water, scrub the tub, and refill?

    I'm obviously ignorant about soaking tubs -- never had a hot tub.  I did use soaking tubs in Japan, but there lots of people used the individual-sized tub and it was emptied and scrubbed every 2nd day.

    I am curious to hear how others approach bathtubs in a low-water situation.
     
    r ranson
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    Salt water hot tubs are popular where I live.  But I don't know anything about them.  
     
    Kimi Brownkawa
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    Beth Wilder wrote:The study also mentions garlic, which I know from experience can be pretty difficult to tolerate raw. When I feel a cold coming on, I either eat the garlic cloves from other ferments like escabeche or a little fermented Moroccan garlic paste and I've been meaning to try whole garlic fermented in honey.



    We made our first black garlic just before moving... bad timing since it took longer than we expected so we couldn't get it perfectly.  But have you tried black garlic?  Done well, it is not at all like garlic but has the same health properties... each clove is like a fruity black gumdrop.  Delicious!

    We did like 10 cloves in 2 layers.  The top layer (that we checked periodically) was underdone (brown, not black, and still a little harsh and crunchy, but not unpleasant, and starting to get fruity).  The bottom layer was overdone (nicely black but a little over-dried... some cloves were very nice and almost like we'd wish, others were like a nicely flavored black-garlic-jerky).  

    I'm not sure the chemistry/biology of it... I see some call it fermented black garlic and other sites say it's not fermented because you don't add a starter.  Of course there are many ferments that don't require you add a starter, so I am not sure if that's accurate.  I don't care whether it's "fermented" or not, but it's delicious and healthy!

    Next time we try it, we'll rotate the cloves periodically.  (It takes weeks and we are in a temperature-uncontrollable living situation at the moment, so I don't know when that next time will be.)
     
    Beth Wilder
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    I've had black garlic, but haven't tried making it, Kimi! I'd love to. The stuff I bought was a whole head. But you're saying you separated out cloves and did those in layers? We also have uncontrollable temperature in our living quarters, so I think I'd want to do it at the right season and when we have plenty of garlic to experiment with. I really intend to plant garlic this fall, so hopefully we'll have plenty by next fall, and maybe I'll try it then.

    I think salting the water in a soaking tub is a great idea for multiple reasons. Doesn't our skin like it better when it's closer to the salinity of our own fluids? And as others have mentioned, good bacteria like or can tolerate some salt while bad bacteria tend not to like it. You could probably get a livestock salt block of something like Redmond's and it would dissolve in the warm water and be just about the right brine percentage, but I haven't tried to do the math (ratio of weight of standard salt block to weight of 40 gal water).
     
    r ranson
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    Black garlic sounds neat.  

    other sites say it's not fermented because you don't add a starter.



    One only needs a starter to ferment food if the food has been pasteurized (heat or chemical treated) prior to fermenting or if one is going for a very specific flavour (cheese).

    real food naturally contains yeast and friendly bacteria that will start a ferment if given the right environment.  Sandor Katz has some good books about wild fermentation.  
     
    Beth Wilder
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    This sounds like a cool way to make black garlic: http://omniafaciat.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-black-garlic-oven-post.html. It seems the process is a Maillard reaction -- long, slow caramelization -- rather than fermentation. I'm wondering if it could be done with a solar oven combined with a wonderbag. Put the heads of garlic in jars like the blog describes, then put the jars in a vented solar oven during the day so they don't get too hot and transfer them to the wonderbag at night? I don't have either of those things right now, but since I also don't have copious garlic, maybe by the time I have copious garlic I can also wrangle a solar oven and a wonderbag! If so, I will report back, perhaps in a different thread. :)
     
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    I think salting the water in a soaking tub is a great idea for multiple reasons. Doesn't our skin like it better when it's closer to the salinity of our own fluids? And as others have mentioned, good bacteria like or can tolerate some salt while bad bacteria tend not to like it. You could probably get a livestock salt block of something like Redmond's and it would dissolve in the warm water and be just about the right brine percentage, but I haven't tried to do the math (ratio of weight of standard salt block to weight of 40 gal water).



    My far better half reminds me that salt corrodes metal... Perhaps this idea would be better either in something with a liner or or in an old enameled tub!
     
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    Beth Wilder wrote:
    I clean with bleach when I absolutely have to, but I try to do it outside. At least bleach dissipates. One thing to really watch out for is any cleaning product with "quats": quaternary ammonium cations, lingering biocides with broad lethal activity that take much longer to dissipate, creating a biocidal film on surfaces. They're used in all sorts of things now: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternary_ammonium_cation.


    Thanks for the info about quats, Beth.

    My dh is sort of a clean freak and I try to keep the house as close to his standards as possible.  I admit that I've grown to love the smell of bleach and bleach-water has been my go-to cleaner for the bathroom.  Why is it frowned upon?
     
    Beth Wilder
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    Julie Hoolie wrote:I admit that I've grown to love the smell of bleach and bleach-water has been my go-to cleaner for the bathroom. Why is it frowned upon?


    There are lots of reasons for this. As I said, I do still use bleach for some things, although I never use it in an enclosed environment, never mix it with acids (please! don't die!), and never put it down drains that lead to any kind of water environment. Note that I do use it to clean the toilet enclosure (lid, seat, etc.) that our compost bucket goes into, but none of that is hooked up to any plumbing. Here are my reasons:

    Human and Animal Health: I've had really bad reactions (skin, respiratory, and head pain) to using even dilute bleach for long periods of time (cleaning large quantities of surfaces for work) even outside in the fresh air, and my mom was once rushed to urgent care with a horrific headache after bleaching out part of a hot tub.

    According to Healthline, "Chlorine poisoning can occur when you touch, swallow, or inhale chlorine. Chlorine reacts with water outside of the body and on mucosal surfaces inside your body — including the water in your digestive tract — causing hydrochloric acid and hypochlorous acid to form. Both of these substances can be extremely poisonous to humans.[...] Chlorine poisoning can cause symptoms throughout your body. Respiratory symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, and fluid inside the lungs.[...] Chlorine exposure can damage your circulatory system. Symptoms of this problem can include:

  • "changes in the pH balance of your blood
  • "low blood pressure
  • "serious injury to the eyes, including blurry vision, burning, irritation, and in extreme cases vision loss
  • "skin damage, resulting from tissue injury with burns and irritation"

  • IMPORTANT: Bleach is especially toxic when mixed with ammonia, vinegar, or any other acid type cleaning material. Inhaling the resulting fumes can be fatal. See Healthline again.

    Environmental Health: Bleach is also a water pollutant. This is primarily at larger quantities (say, chlorine bleaching of pulp and paper and other industrial processes) than would normally be used around the house, but it's still a good reason not to pour it down the drain (including into toilets). The damage happens when it combines with other things in the environment to produce toxins (similar concept to combining with ammonia or vinegar). The best-known of these is dioxins, which are persistent (resisting break-down over time). They "can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones," according to the EPA. They're of particular concern for bodies of water like the Great Lakes.

    Good alternatives include:

  • rubbing alcohol (for effective sanitizing in the age of COVID)
  • vinegar (for surfaces, and even to brighten clothes)
  • baking soda (for toilet and sink cleaning, among many other things)
  • hydrogen peroxide (many of the same functions as bleach, including killing bacteria, but much safer and just as effective -- but, like rubbing alcohol, please don't swallow it!)
  • lemon juice (to bleach and disinfect)
  • Castile soap (this and water work just great to clean hands, produce, etc. of bacteria and even viruses)
  • diluted tea tree oil (great antifungal and antibacterial, e.g. for shower curtains)
  • salt (for certain things like we've talked about up-thread)
  • putting things outside in the sun for a while (use lemon juice first for extra bleaching action)
  •  
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    Thank you, Beth, for the informative reply!  If I'm going to switch from the bleach-water in the bathroom, would you suggest just straight baking soda for the toilet?  I do have a toddler in the house whose aim is less than perfect so I'm cleaning the floor tile most days as well.  I'll try the peroxide there.  Also, which do you recommend for a shower that gets heavy use?

    I'm planning on working on the clean the bathroom PEP later this week.

    ETA: Love your signature
     
    Beth Wilder
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    Julie Hoolie wrote:Thank you, Beth, for the informative reply!  If I'm going to switch from the bleach-water in the bathroom, would you suggest just straight baking soda for the toilet?  I do have a toddler in the house whose aim is less than perfect so I'm cleaning the floor tile most days as well.  I'll try the peroxide there.


    You're welcome, but I'm really not a cleaning expert! (Witness our house. Well, really, please don't.) Raven Ranson has an ebook on good natural cleaners here that I think is great and very useful. In that, if I remember right, she questions the common combination of baking soda and vinegar to de-clog drains. Fair enough. But toilets are a place where I think the two work well together (see this recommendation). Vinegar, in addition to being antiseptic/disinfectant, is especially good at breaking down urine (got a cat that pisses on your bed in revenge? you learn this trick fast), so you could use that first (as the last parenthetical link recommends), and then follow up by scrubbing with baking soda on your toilet brush to remove stains and continue deodorizing, then rinse with water.

    Julie Hoolie wrote:Also, which do you recommend for a shower that gets heavy use?


    We don't have a shower (I miss showers!), but here are things I've done in the past when I did: Do you keep a squeegee in there for each person to use as soon as they're done in the shower? (Your toddler might even love using it as far up as he can reach!) That should help keep mold and mildew from growing. Then, when it does need cleaning, I've used a spray bottle filled halfway with distilled white vinegar and halfway with water, adding in a few drops to a teaspoon of tea tree oil (like this), to spray on tile and similar surfaces like that, let it sit a while, then wipe off.

    What do other folks use for cleaning their bathrooms?
     
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    Julie Hoolie wrote:

    I'm planning on working on the clean the bathroom PEP later this week.



    I've been preparing for that one too?  How you say?  making huge messes.  Leaving hair on the counter.  Spilling soap. Missing.  laundry piles.  Didn't swap out the shower curtain.  I assure you the before picture will do its job.
    :)
     
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    My husband used to associate the smell of bleach with "clean" (he grew up in Latin America). I know it is the same in Spain (my parents live there most of the year).
    I can't stand it and luckily its use for cleaning is not common here in Germany. I don't even have a bottle of bleach in my household.

    From what I am reading, science is proving more and more that this radical cleaning is not beneficial for your health. About 2 kg of bacteria live in our bodies, everybody has their own microbiome (there can be more than 33,000 thousand species of bacteria in the mouth alone!). By some the microbiome is even considered an additional organ.

    My MIL used to use lots of bleach and all other poisons to combat pests or just any insect. Like a lot of other friends and relatives from Argentina she died from cancer last year. Only very recently did she start reading about microbiome and healthy eating (I hadn't gotten as far as suggesting ferments). She was a doctor, very intelligent and knowledgeable but one of those old-school doctors who believed in antibiotics for everything. She was often astonished that our German doctor would not prescribe us antibiotics for a cold and similar.
    There are other countries that are faring much better, as far as I remember the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries with very reduced antibiotics prescriptions. Germany is ranking after them, then there are the mediterranean countries like Spain and also North and South America with heavy usages of antibiotics.
    MRSA are a real problem and it is scary that even with our modern science there is not much we can do about it.

    Regarding ferments: I should look into this fermented garlic, sounds interesting! My family laughs when I say "I feel a cold coming, I need some Kimchi!". Now I have got a cold and I should have eaten some Kimchi, obviously! Will do so at noon.

    Regarding good bacteria for cleaning: As I am not sure about the English term I don't know if EMa are also a thing? These are a certain culture of lactobacillus bacteria that are not only used for fermenting bokashi but can also be diluted to wash down surfaces and eliminate odours, as an additive for pet food, as an activator for healthy soil.

    In general, I feel cool about my home not being sterile and sparkling. Humans do not need sterile conditions unless they suffer from some immunodeficiency. I never got food poisoning in my home (but sometimes in a restaurant or the Microsoft cafeteria in Dublin!), the meat/chicken we buy is not bathed in chlorine, and eggs sold here are not washed. And I also pick berries fresh from the garden without washing. Never been an issue, but of course this might also depend on the climate/environment.
     
    Beth Wilder
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    Anita Martin wrote:Regarding good bacteria for cleaning: As I am not sure about the English term I don't know if EMa are also a thing? These are a certain culture of lactobacillus bacteria that are not only used for fermenting bokashi but can also be diluted to wash down surfaces and eliminate odours, as an additive for pet food, as an activator for healthy soil.


    Anita, are EMa "effective microorganisms" like this proprietary blend from TeraGanix? Have you used something like this for household surfaces? I've fermented citrus peels and pineapple rinds with some sugar, water, and some brine from previous vegetable ferments as a Lactobacillus inoculant, then diluted the resulting liquid. I spray that on our chest freezer, which doubles as a food prep surface. I have a feeling that, if I sprayed it on our soil, the red ants would go nuts.
     
    Anita Martin
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    Beth, yes, I guess these are the same.
    I have not used them myself but I read German permaculture sites as well and some people absolutely swear by it.
    It was probably here on Permies that I read about someone suggesting it instead of deodorant as well? Might well work...

     
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    Julie Hoolie wrote:Thank you, Beth, for the informative reply!  If I'm going to switch from the bleach-water in the bathroom, would you suggest just straight baking soda for the toilet?  I do have a toddler in the house whose aim is less than perfect so I'm cleaning the floor tile most days as well.  I'll try the peroxide there.  Also, which do you recommend for a shower that gets heavy use?

    I'm planning on working on the clean the bathroom PEP later this week.

    ETA: Love your signature



    So have you embarked on the BB yet?  I admit all I have to show are my "preparations."  :)  
     
    Julie Harris
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    No, not yet for this one; maybe tomorrow if I'm not working (I work on call.)  Going to go ahead and use the hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach.  Little experiment on hubby's commode.  I'm hoping it comes out as clean as with the bleach-water.  He'll notice.  The original builder put in windows that don't open, so it looks like I'll be doing This BB at the same time.  

    What about you?  Now that are the "preparations" are done, will you have at it soon?
     
    Rob Lineberger
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    Every day that goes by I think, "why did I leave this bathroom messy for a BB?"  And I think the people who wrote this BB would think that was stupid.  So I suppose a cleansing is in order.  When I get around to it. :)
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