Soap and Water? Surely not!

by Ivory Soap

“Surely not!”

This is what I thought when I heard TL say that if she wanted her kitchen floor to stay clean she had to get down on it with a scrub brush every week or so.  With soap and water?  Hot water, even.  And the baseboards?  Every other month. Surely not!

Then, when I was first introduced to “green cleaning,” the girl teaching us said that, “hot soapy water will take care of most everything.”  She can’t be serious.  Why would anyone do that when there was superior spraying and wiping options?

Then, I started cheating off Montessori schools to keep my kids educationally entertained in the other room.  They are big on teaching the children to be independent and allowing them to follow their own interests, which in preschool tends toward scrubbing and sweeping and other household chores.  Weird, huh?  So, each week, I’ve been introducing a pile of Montessori activities to my kids.  One week, it was counter scrubbing, which is also table scrubbing, floor scrubbing, chair scrubbing, what-have-you.  The instructions started with, “Almost nobody cleans this way anymore, but it’s a wonderful activity that young children love…”

1.  Fill bowl with warm water and grated soap or small amount of detergent.

2.  Dip scrub brush.

3.  Scrub surface in small circles, starting from the left top corner and moving to the right and down like reading a page.

4.  Wipe off suds with rag.

5.  Rinse rag and refill bowl with clean water.

6.  Continue wiping and wringing out rag in bowl until you feel no more soap on surface.

7.  Wipe dry with towel.

8.  Drop your teeth because your counter never got this clean with the old spray and wipe method.

*Nobody* cleans like this anymore?  WHY?  I’ve been scrubbing my whole house!  Check out my bathroom floor.  I scrubbed a section so you could see the diff between the grouts.  Can I tell you how many  expensive products I used on that grout?  And HOT SOAP AND WATER AND A SCRUB BRUSH IS WHAT WORKS????


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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

La Petite Mort December 16, 2011 at 9:20 am

Okay, you’ve got me. I will have to break down and not be as lazy and try.
P.s. I just recently found your site and LOVE it!
I have been acquiring and consulting old “housewife handbooks” for ideas of greener and better ways of cleaning, etc. So, I guess I’ll try this hot soap and water and a brush and elbow grease for my grout, lol!

Maria December 16, 2011 at 9:29 am

Magical, isn’t it?

Colleen December 16, 2011 at 9:44 am

Love this!! haha! Go figure! 😉

Doug A. December 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

Who would have thought!?!

Awesome Dawson December 16, 2011 at 7:28 pm

OK…I’ll bite. What exactly is a scrub brush…how will I recognize it in the grocery store?

KeLLy Ann December 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm

That was The Chook Man’s same response when we were dating and I told him that “you know, Hot water and Soap clean a whole hella lot better than Windex and PaPer towels”….just sayin.

Virginia Pykonen December 17, 2011 at 6:44 am

So…what kind of soap do you use to get such a dramatic difference? Is it one of your homemade ones? Would just any bar soap work?

CarrieK December 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

I’ve been using a spray bottle of vinegar water and a microfiber cloth on my bathroom floor. It doesn’t do much for grout. How long does it take you clean the floor w/soap and water and how often are you washing rags? Clearly the result is superior, but it sounds like it takes more time and therefore some pre-
plannning. Thanks for the post, a real “duh!” moment 🙂

HossBoss December 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Yup. Then there’s ‘elbow grease’ …another common phrase back in the day, but not often heard (or understood) these days. Everything now is all about ‘easy’ …don’t ya know! One of my grandmothers used to wash her WALLS with soap and water every year too. She scrubbed her floors on her hands and knees every week and washed her walls every spring. First bright sunny day after the spring weather arrived, you would find all her windows open and her busy scrubbing all her walls from ceiling to floor. When she finished the last wall in a room, she scrubbed the floor in that room …then moved on to the next room. When all the floors and walls were dry, she went back and washed all the windows with hot water and vinegar …then polished them with crumpled newspaper. My grandmother was a cleaning machine!

: )

Ivory Soap December 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Ivory Soap, would you believe.

LaVonne December 18, 2011 at 7:23 am

I am going to go buy a scrub brush today and if this works on my dark colored bathroom tiles like it worked on your white tiles I am going to kick myself. You have no idea how many times I have almost suffocated myself with cleaning products.

Ivory Soap December 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Really, for the grout I just use an old toothbrush.

Ivory Soap December 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Use a scrub brush for the tub and walls LaVonne and do the grout with a toothbrush. Really get in there for a minute and you’ll see the difference.

pumpkinsx3 December 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Using a rag and soapy water on your knees is called “granny mopping” – its quick and does a great job. You can see the spots that need extra attention.

Ivory Soap December 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Then I LOVE “granny mopping.”

Callie December 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I scrubbed my bathroom floor tiles and grout today. I sprinkled a little baking soda and then scrubbed with my brush and hot soapy water. It looks like a whole new floor!

yngla January 1, 2012 at 10:25 am


By using my coffee kitchen soap and hot water and my tile kitchen floor is cleaner than ever!

I´ll never go back to using harsh chemicals again. Soap and water it is from now on. Thanks for sharing!

Happy new year from Sweden!

joss February 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

I have a question to which you or one of your readers might have an answer:
I’d been cleaning everything with soap (laundry, dishes, bathtubs) and loving it -especially combining baking soda and liquid castille soap into a “frosting” to clean the tub. But recently I moved to somewhere with hard water and now instead of getting anything clean, it’s more like I’m painstakingly applying a layer of soap scum to everything. What could I do about that so I don’t have to go back to using detergents? Would following up with vinegar work the way it does when washing your hair with a bar of soap? Or is that impractical to do to everything? And I’ve *heard* that you can’t use vinegar on stone (and of course this new house has stone floors and granite counter tops) but I don’t know if that’s actually true or not.

valerie February 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I remember using a toothbrush for cleaning grout in the bathtub growing up. This is the way my grandmother and mother always cleaned hard to reach surfaces.

holly March 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm

joss, I tested my water a few months ago out of curiosity, and it registered as hard as the litmus paper would allow.
I use vinegar to finish off just about every cleaning project. I think that the acidity in the vinegar neutralizes the alkalinity in the soap? Something like that. I always understood that to mean the soap would be rinsed away by the vinegar. I clean my tub with a concoction smiliar to the one you mentioned, and spritzing & wiping down with plain old heinz white vinegar, which I buy by the gallon and store in a spray bottle, finishes up the job nicely. I always thought the baking soda itself helped soften the water, too?
If I may, I would also suggest keeping Spot-X hard water stain remover in your house. I order a couple of bottles every few years from their web site. It definitely requires some scrubbing (with a blue 3M pad), but it does work. It’s supposed to be non-toxic & safe, and it’s the only thing I’ve found that can clean the shower door.
I also have a granite countertop, but never heard vinegar could damage it. I haven’t noticed any, and I spray it down every night. I’ve actually used boiled vinegar on the area around the kitchen faucet where that lovely white hard water crust lives. It removes the stains, but the counter top is still OK, at least that I can tell. Now you’ve got me wondering…

Liz March 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I love this website. It is so helpful with “information U can use”.

Keep on, even younger people are getting into the “simple life”

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