Birds are chirping, the tulips are crowning, and you're eyeing your house thinking, "Damn, when did I get hit by a tornado of clutter?" That's right, it's spring cleaning season.
And while you're pulling out all your cleaning tools, we thought it was high time to revisit the ol' Ecoholic Test Kitchen and see how those green cleaning cloths fare.
You know the rags - the ones that claim to polish any surface without added cleaning products? And, no, I'm not talking about sponges and cloths labelled "antibacterial." (J-Cloths, for instance are now imbued with Microban, also called triclosan, a chemical popping up in 58 per cent of rivers and 75 per cent of humans tested.)
True eco rags don't have anything dodgy in them. They stick with wood fibres or proprietary polyester weaves. Question is, do they truly cut through the grime and buff, scour and dust without help from bottled cleaners?
WHAT: Brit wood fibre cloth with eight built-in layers. (mabu.com)
KITCHEN: Best basic dishrag of the bunch, but its stink-resistant claims don't hold up for more than a week. Decent at wiping up stove and countertop messes, but the boyfriend curses Mabu as a non-absorbent stinker.
BATHROOM: Doesn't claim to tackle tubs, so I don't try it there, but with hot water it does melt away black soap scum. (Note to self: never buy black bars.) Have to towel everything down after with a separate cloth.
WINDOWS: Puleeze. You'll need another cloth to get rid of all the streaks it leaves.
BOTTOM LINE: The only natural-fibre cloth of the bunch. But it really only shines as a dishcloth.
WHAT: Microfibre polyester/polyamide blend. (e-cloth.com)
KITCHEN: Last night's grease explosion (don't ask) vanishes with ease. Gentle scouring power lifts caked-on crap. Works well on slimy sink, too, but once the cloth is wet, it's hard to shine up surfaces without streaks. Don't use as an everyday dishrag; the thing stinks up fast.
BATHROOM: Got rid of toothpaste spatter and streaks on mirrors, no problem (when cloth is slightly damp), plus it shined up the soap-scummy sink. As for tubs, I won't be giving up my old sponge and natural tub-and-tile spray.
WINDOWS: Blue skies all the way as long as the cloth stays semi-dry - too wet and it leaves a teary mess.
BOTTOM LINE: Great as a wet washer and dry buffer, but it doesn't transition between the two well, so you'll need two cloths.
WHAT: Swiss polyester/nylon microfibre cloth is king with the chem-sensitive. (bluewonder.net)
KITCHEN: Bang-up job on stovetops, counters, smudgy cabinets. Both E-Cloth and Blue Wonder tackled a grossly skuzzy kitchen sink with nothing but hot H20, but Blue Wonder's tighter weave made it twinkle.
BATHROOM: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the shiniest of them all? Yep, Blue Wonder buffed up my sink, taps, counters and mirrors here, too. Still prefer a natural spray cleaner and sponge on the tub, though.
WINDOWS: Screw Windex. Streak-free windows every time.
BOTTOM LINE: With a quick wringing, this one goes from wet cleaning to dry dusting fastest. No wonder everyone from my über-clean parents to the chem-sensitive love this thing. It definitely delivers.
WHAT: Austrian-made polyester mitt. (enjo.net )
KITCHEN: Yes, it sops up greasy messes, but what's with the watery splotches it leaves behind? Kind of like wiping up with a wet teddy bear.
BATHROOM: Thick fleece fibres leave a sloppy, streaky mess on counters. Zero scouring power in the tub or sink.
WINDOWS: Don't even think about it.
BOTTOM LINE: The glove shape is nice 'n' hands-off for icky surfaces, but do we really need a different half-assed mitt for every room in the house?
Green Thumb legend
= You're better off with spit
= Ouch, my elbow hurts
= Decent grime fighter
= Mr. Clean's green brother
= A clean freak's dream