Our house smells like fish and chips

Vinegar BottleWe returned our foster puppies to the animal shelter on Wednesday.  It was a little sad but also a tremendous relief.  We’ve both been looking forward to sleeping through the night and having a clean house again.  Will was most concerned about the carpet which the puppies were never supposed to encounter but of course they broke out one day and pooped all over it.  And I do mean all over it.  Anyway, we decided to rent a carpet cleaner this weekend and do our spring cleaning a bit early.  (It was about 60 degrees yesterday so it felt like spring even though it’s still February.)

Being the green-minded folks we are, commercial carpet cleaner solution just didn’t feel like an option.  I did some internet research and one lady suggested running vinegar through the machine but admitted it took a long time for the odors to dissipate.  We’ve been using quite a bit of vinegar lately for cleaning and the house was already smelling a bit like a fish and chips shop (do any of you actually use the term “chippery”?) so we decided to use a very diluted vinegar mixture (one cup vinegar per two gallons water).  It worked very well and since the weather was balmy we were able to air out the house pretty well.

Vinegar and baking soda are often touted as miracle green cleaners and so far they’ve worked pretty well for us.   To deodorize puppy laundry, I would soak everything in vinegar and water for a few hours (in the washing machine), then wash with a combination of our normal biodegradable laundry detergent and about a cup of baking soda.  For personal deodorant, I’ve been using a mixture of baking soda and corn starch.  [I have not yet been brave enough to try coconut oil as a deodorant; it just sounds gross.]  I used vinegar as a hair conditioner for a little while but couldn’t get over the lingering smell.  I also discovered that if I brush my hair immediately before washing it, I get almost no tangles.

Of course, we’ve been using Kroger brand distilled white vinegar because we’re cheap and we’re going through it in great quantity.  For our house to really smell like a chippery, we’ll have to upgrade to the fancy malt vinegar stuff.  But I think I’ll save that for the pub.

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6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    vanessa said,

    February 10, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

    We recently splurged for some green house cleaners and they add tea tree oil to their vinegar-y cleaning elixers. tea tree is a strong enough smell to overpower the vinegar AND it has antimicrobial qualities itself. not sure it could have been used on your rug, but you might be interested in it for other cleaning you do. that is, on those days when you don’t want to be a ‘chippery’ =)

  2. 2

    Jessica said,

    February 10, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

    I can’t take a shower without combing my hair first. No conditioner, natural or otherwise, can tame my tangles. I have to braid my hair before bed too, so it doesn’t get to many tangles while I’m sleeping. Its just crazy.
    That being said, I love vinegar as a final rinse for my hair. It makes it so shiney! I still use conditioner too, I run vinegar through after I condition. I don’t notice a lingering smell, I use apple cider vinegar though.
    My grandmother used to use vinegar in her hair that way every day after her swim, to prevent her hair from turning green from the clorine.

  3. 3

    Maggie said,

    February 10, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

    Vanessa –
    I’ve heard good things about tea tree oil but haven’t played with it much. I hear it’s helpful for athlete’s foot and teeth cleaning, among other things. I’d definitely test it on carpet first but it could be really good.

    Jessica –
    My hair is really straight so it doesn’t tangle too badly most of the time but it comes down to my bellybutton so we I get a tangle, man, it sucks. Apple cider vinegar smells a lot better than white vinegar but I still don’t like my hair to smell like it. I think it almost makes me slightly hungry which just makes my stomach a little overactive. But I might try again some day.

  4. 4

    'Becca said,

    February 11, 2009 @ 11:30 am

    I just found your site via Grist. I like it! My partner and I have been writing earthlingshandbook.org since 1999, with many eco-tips as well as other topics. The article linked behind my name is about how I wash my hair with vinegar.

    Tea tree oil is excellent for killing toenail fungus, if you happen to get it. The best method we’ve found is to get a cheap emery board, sit in the bathtub, file off the surface of the infected nails as deeply as you can, rinse the crumbs down the drain, dry your feet, then apply straight tea tree oil with a cotton swab all over every toenail and cuticle. Repeat application of tea tree oil every day for a couple weeks, then stop and see if the fungus comes back–mine never has!

  5. 5

    Dana said,

    February 11, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

    I will definitely keep the vinegar tips in mind for when we get our dog. (The day draws ever nearer! We’ve been having freakishly warm weather here, too, so maybe we’ll get the backyard fenced sometime soon!)

    On the hair side note, the other thing I know a lot of people use for the same effect as vinegar but without the smell is a dilute citric acid rinse. One ratio I’m finding in a quick search right now is 1.5 teaspoons CA and 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid in 1.75 liters water. (This obviously makes more than you’d need for just one rinse.)

    Then again, if brushing before you shower is all it takes to prevent tangles for your hair, why bother with all this? 🙂

  6. 6

    kt said,

    February 12, 2009 @ 8:49 am


    I love you blog, and am glad you got the website address sorted out.

    They just call them Chippies in England (vs. Chippery)


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