Do natural products harm toilets?

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by JustCurious, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. JustCurious

    JustCurious New Member

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    Feb 16, 2009
    My wife is becoming somewhat of a naturalist so she's on this kick to remove anything chemical from our lives. You know, fear of cancer, breathing disorders, birth defects, etc. Me, I'm not concerned. I figure that if Keith Richards from Rolling Stones is still alive with all of the chemicals he's put into his body, what's the harm of using chemicals externally?

    I personally feel that chemicals were created because the natural stuff couldn't cut it; but, seeings that my wife is concerned about it, I've mostly stepped aside.

    I am concerned though because she uses vinegar, and/or hydrogen peroxide, and borax to clean our toilets. The toilets are fairly new and it seems that there is a lot of gunk built up at the bottom of the toilet. This happened after we moved in. Coincidence? The finish seems scratchy and the green/reddish stuff is impossible to remove. Do you think the stuff she's using is ruining the toilet finish?

    As a side question, does anyone know if there's actual proof that vinegar is a good disinfectant?
     
  2. Furd

    Furd Engineer

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    What makes her think that vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, soda and borax aren't chemicals?

    Vinegar is just weak acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide is water where the individual molecules have two atoms of oxygen rather than one.

    I don't know if vinegar is an effective disinfectant but I personally would not use vinegar for disinfecting anything.

    While I understand your wife's concern for our environment she may be doing more harm, especially to your immediate health by trying to be green. Remember that many dangerous bacteria are also green.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2009
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  4. suceress

    suceress Member

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    Hmm.. I don't know about this one. I have a septic tank system and my plumber told me to pour vinegar down the toilet every once in awhile. It's supposed to help with the septic tank. As for the other cleaning stuff-- does your wife watch "How Clean Is Your House"? It sounds like the kind of cleaning mixtures they tell people to use on that program. I don't know about the hydrogen peroxide. It tends to bleach things. I've heard of using vinegar and borax and maybe some baking powder or baking soda (not sure which since I don't watch those programs-- but my mother does-- which is funny because she never cleans). My mother said on TV they showed people using borax and vinegar to clean a toilet that was very badly stained and such-- but I doubt it is good for regular cleaning. I imagine constant scrubbing also would not help the finish on the toilet.

    Sorry I can't be of much help. I really don't know that much about cleaning supplies and methods. I hope someone here can give you a better answer.
     
  5. Scott

    Scott Flushmate

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    There's some history and truth to the disinfectant capabilities of vinegar and, more recently, HO2.

    Diluted vinegar doesn't adversely affect plastic and rubber polymers used in plumbing valves or components but its natural vapor or "smell" does corrode raw brass and chrome plating (like flush-handles) more than you'd ever think possible. Stainless steel is unaffected by direct or ambient exposure to vinegar.

    Like you, I subscribe to the Keith Richards philosophy but going along with a somewhat less caustic cleaning agent (especially if it's effective) to maintain marital harmony seems like a reasonably simple step in the right direction.
     
  6. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    Look up Non Hodgkins and then, decide if you want to use anything other than chemicals you can safely eat to clean with. Furds, that woman is not a nut.
    She's smart. I don't know how much you know about environment cancers, but I was told mine is from the environment. So, I try to inform others about the importance of it. I spent 4.5 YEARS on chemo. No small feat. My point, don't be so cavalier about cancer and chemicals. This also goes for the original poster. I applaud your wife for caring so much about her family. Go buy her some flowers to thank her. I didn't bring up initially health issues the OP did stating his wife's concerns about cancer, possible birth defects, etc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2009
  7. seaofnames

    seaofnames DIY Senior Member

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    There are a million other environmental factors to consider when talking about exposure.

    Air quality, carpets, water, soil, dirty ducts, mold, mildew to name a few.

    I guess it doesnt hurt to change to 'alternative' cleaning methods, but there is still some risk. Kind of like going on a diet. You might eat better, but sitting around more at the same time doesnt help you lose weight.

    Just one example is borax.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borax

    Scroll down to the 'toxicity' section and you will see there are some problems with exposure to it.

    I guess you'd be ok using it if you wore rubber gloves, apron, face sheild and a mask with an organic vapour cartridge. But really..who wants to do that?
     
  8. Furd

    Furd Engineer

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    Hi, Cookie.

    First off, my screen name is Furd, not Furds. Secondly, if you read the original post carefully you will see that JustCurious posted that his wife was on a kick to remove anything chemical from their lives. I posted that I thought she was a nut, it is my personal opinion that anyone that states they want to remove all chemicals from their life IS a nut. I then went on to state that EVERYTHING can be considered a chemical.

    In truth, it is utterly impossible to eliminate ALL chemicals from one's life. That stated, I do agree that often we (the collective we) use chemicals unwisely and doing such harms not only the environment in general but each person individually. Quite honestly, I feel a little more natural dirt is better than a completely sterile environment.

    It was entirely unnecessary for you to print your medical history. I'm sorry for all your ailments and tribulations over the years. I, too, have numerous medical ailments and conditions and it is quite possible that our general poisoning of the earth has had something to do about it. But I don't tell other people how to live and I don't post my own list of problems looking for any sympathy. You might also notice that I did NOT suggest that anyone use methyl ethyl ketone or 1-1-1 trichloroethane for general cleaning. Heck, I won't even use the spray anti-dust compounds and I detest perfumed candles and air fresheners. Simply walking past the candle or bath shops in the mall or the cleaning supplies aisle in the supermarket causes my nasal passages to swell almost to the point of not being able to breathe except through my mouth. Nor have I ever advised someone to use muriatic acid to clean their toilet rim holes or a concentrated solution of sodium hydroxide for clearing their pipes. I think that everyone should use the most benign or least toxic compounds available for cleaning. But to make an inane comment like removing ALL chemicals from their life is, in my opinion, simply ludicrous and I think that anyone that makes such a silly statement is nuts.
     
  9. JustCurious

    JustCurious New Member

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    Feb 16, 2009
    Thanks but more concerned with Toilet Corosion

    Thanks for all the responses. I apologize that my question diverted to health issues. I'm more concerned with not corroding the toilet finish so I don't have to spend $200 for a new toilet. I have already had to replace one--mainly because of a leak and not primarily because of gunk buildup.

    If Borax, Baking Soda, Vinegar, Or Hydrogen Peroxide don't have a corrosive effect on the finish then we'll continue to use them. If they are corrosive we'll use chemicals. I would appreciate responses to this concern more than health concerns.

    And, we do flush every time.

    I do understand that there are possible consequences by using household cleaners. However, you take a risk everyday just by breathing, driving, flying, swimming, eating, etc. In fact, until recently, most break pads for vehicles were manufactured using asbestos. I'm sure little asbestos particles are still floating around in the air. Car exhaust also causes problems. Even electrical cars will cause problems because of disposal. Finally, all of the food we heat has some traces of farming chemicals.

    I am a Christian and am not trying to press my faith on anyone but the Bible says that God has our days numbered. Because of that, I don't live in fear of my next day and don't believe that I personally can prolong my life. My grandfather smoked cigarettes since he was 20 and is almost 90 years old. To me it's a nasty habit but for him it has seemed to work well--a little humor.
     
  10. annexit

    annexit New Member

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    The Bluegrass
    Borax okay, vinegar too

    Borax was used when I was a young mum as a soak for babies diapers (remember those?) and vinegar/ baking soda (think volcano) has always been a great drain freshener and minor gunk remover. Vinegar is the recommended cleaner of choice for many hardwood floor sealers, and well I use vinegar in salad dressing and baking soda in baking (and keeping odors out of the refrigerator). The difference I have found between these and more caustic cleaners is the length of time/energy factor - the caustic ones work more quickly with less scrubbing - but then they are toxic. May not bother some people, but I'll go for a gallon of white vinegar for a dollar over 6 or 7 dollars for something I have to use with the windows open.

    It's not chemical or not chemical - it's toxic versus less or non toxic. I have to save MYself for the unavoidables, such as plumbing solvents and glues.
     
  11. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    What I use to clean my toilets:

    Baking soda
    Lemon Juice

    it makes a paste and then, just brush.

    This has never damaged my body, :p and I have been using this as a cleaning product in the toilets for years.

    Vinegar, like the other poster commented, I use on salads, and then, also, on windows.

    I only use a wet paper towel to dust with.

    My sinks, I use to clean and freshen with is baking powder.

    I have no carpeting other than small scatter rugs and they get tossed in and washed.

    I don't use Borax in the washer machine or anywhere else.

    My cleaning products are just very basic and my house is spotless.

    As far as things beyond my control like the finish put on my floor, the insulation in my walls, the paint on the walls, is what it is. But the rest of the things are in my control and I use it.

    GNC a nutritional store carries a wide variety of products that do not have the agents in it you do want to advoid. Personal care items.

    Anything you can eat you can clean with safely. I got this from a good souce.

    **another huge benefit is like the other poster said, the savings is huge, about 600.00 a year. The cleaning product industry is big money, to me the money saved could be a nice start of a savings acct, or a nice vacation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009
  12. CarlH

    CarlH Member

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    Feb 4, 2007
    Location:
    Northern VA
    Do you know what the gunk is? Hard water deposits? Iron deposits? Algae? Depending on what the gunk is will determine what will be effective at removing it.

    The porcelain of the toilet is some tough stuff. I'm not sure how abrasive borax is, but that would be my only worry. The other chemicals that you mentioned should be safe on the porcelain.

    Is your wife buying plain hydrogen peroxide or is she using something like Seventh Generation? If you look at the label of the Seventh Generation shower and tile cleaner I think it tells you that you need to let it dry in order for the hydrogen peroxide to get to the strength needed to do any cleaning. This means that the hydrogen peroxide will be much to week to clean anything below the water line of your toilet bowl.

    There are some cautions about using vinegar for cleaning: "however care must be taken to avoid contact with a large range of surfaces, including ceramic, concrete and tile-grout, as the acid would diminish their integrity."

    If you or your wife are not happy with the results you are getting with what she is currently using, it might be worth checking into the Seven Generation, Clorox Green Works, or some other pre-packaged "natural cleaner". Sorry, we don't use any of these at present in our household, so I cannot offer an personal comment on those products. Consumer reports had said the the Green Works shower cleaner worked pretty good and in many cases better than the conventional cleaners. Of course Consumer Reports testing methods and ratings are not flawless.
     
  13. hj

    hj Master Plumber

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    Aug 31, 2004
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    natural

    Would toxic black mold be called "natural"? And how would you remove it without "chemicals"? Even dismantling the house would distribute the spores unless done inside a sealed environment. Baking soda and vinegar will make an impressive volcano or propel a small boat, but does little to clean or clear a drain line. Hydrogen Peroxide, (H2O2 not HO2), also makes a bit of "sound and fury, signifying nothing".
     
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