Cleaning hard plastic surfaces?

Some plastic items are very useful — or at the very least, they ought to be well cared-for so they can have a long service life.

Which begs the question — how do you care for plastic when (very often) its very cheapness meant it wasn’t intended for long-term care?

So, I’ll ask my scant readers: how do you keep hard plastic surfaces — the ones most likely to survive — clean and attractive? Plastic-free care ideas, of course, are preferred.

Plastic in Charlie’s Soap

I really, really, really like Charlie’s Soap. I had been been tipping out a small, but practical amount of the detergent — which I use for all my laundry — into a working tub. (Yes, plastic; I’m going to keep using it ’til it fails.)

Well, I got down far enough in my bag to find a plastic measuring scoop. Helpful, but in the spirit of plastic disclosure, worth noting.

Charlie’s Soap: very good

Almost two months ago, I got a 1.2kg bag of Charlie’s Soap ($12), simply packaged in a brown paper bag, but dismissed the purchase with a “more about that later.”

Now I’m ready to speak: I love it.

  • Not just because it is packaged without plastic. (I could say that about my washing soda-borax-shaved soap mix, which never worked as well as I wanted.)
  • Not just because it is biodegradable (which is a parallel reduction for a lot of people who want to use less plastic.)
  • Not just because it is cheap to use (15 cents per load)
  • Not just because it takes little to get the job done (a tablespoon; thus the low per-use cost)
  • Not just because it cleans clothes very well
  • Not just because it does so without perfume (which I think is a big plus)

Taken together, Charlie’s Soap beats that pants off the plastic-loaded alternative. (This is an independent endorsement without any consideration — or indeed contact — by the manufacturer.) The only downside is that it can be hard to find. See their site for details about the product and a retail locator.

Stocking stuffer: shoe brushes

low-plastic_brushes1 Back in September, Hubby and I vacationed in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Seeing a Fuller Brush shop at an outlet mall in Reading, I stopped to see what was offered. There, in addition to two brushes made mostly of plastic, I found these US-made and evidently plastic-free shoe brushes. The small one is for daubing polish, the larger for bringing up a shine. Shoe care has been one of those mainly manly domestic tasks that I thought I should be better at, and old rags have a role but when used alone leave me covered in shoe polish, so I avoid the task. Besides: care for goods is a corollary to reducing consumption, plastic included. And they’d make a nice stocking stuffer.
These brushes were sold loose, which it why I mention it here. The only other shoe brush I recall buying — somewhat rougher made than the one pictured here — I got for my father when I was visiting the West Bank, also loose.

Not much good that does you, unless you live in southeastern Pennsylvania or Bethlehem (as in “O Little Town” not the former steel center), right? Well, a few days ago, I noticed in my neighborhood market, a cardboard-packed shoe brush, under the Kiwi brand, almost identical to the one above. So they may be more widely available for sale, certainly at a shoe repair shop.

Dishwashing powder in a box

Here’s an easy one: if you use an automatic dishwasher, use powdered detergent — packaged in a pasteboard box — instead of a gel in a plastic bottle or those plastic bags filled with those preportioned plastic pillows. (What exactly happens to the plastic that “disappears” in the wash cycle?)

I know, I know: I should be using something environmentally sensitive. But none I’ve tried has really ever worked well, most come in big plastic bottles and, if you have to wash something two or three times is it that good for the environment? For those reasons — and domestic tranquility — I’ll stick with the name brands.

Ah, but this a good opportunity for a little plastic reduction in the office. Many workplaces have dishwashers, and someone has to buy the detergent . . . .