Both our kitchen and bathroom sinks are old cast iron behemoths. We chose them because we love them. Because they are white and cast iron, they get easily marked up. And since we’ve added these sinks to our home, one of my most frequently asked housey questions is about these sinks: how do you clean them? I learned from my friend Melanie.
A little over a year ago I went to a baby shower. We had all pitched in on several weeks worth of house cleaning. The gift was presented and our very pregnant friend was amazed and thankful. And then she said she didn’t know who to hire. A chorus broke out, singing the praises of their house cleaning fairies. They cheersed their margaritas to the bliss of knowing their tub would be scrubbed every other week. I raised my glass in solidarity.
I felt a palm press into my thigh as my friend seated next to me said, YOU have a lady?! Am I the only one? What the hell. I need to get on this train.
We do have a cleaning lady. Although I really don’t dig calling her that. She is our Sparkling Goddess or something divinely similar. As things in my town go, she was a friend of a friend who quickly became our friend. We hired her for a spell when Margot was a baby. When we were both working outside the home full time. And then it felt extravagant to me. I talked myself out of it. I left that job. We had another baby. We moved. I worked from home and felt like I ought to keep up with the pet hair and toilets just fine. I didn’t.
A few years passed; Andy and I had a conversation over exhausted late-night beans and rice where he said, ok I think we need to either hire childcare or hire another employee for your business. We were tired. It felt too hard. We dissected our days and hypothesized on how to make it all better, easier, gentler.
During that chat, our current scenario sharpened in my brain. We need help. We need to hire someone to either care for our kids, do some of my work or…do some of our chores and free up time for us to spend with kids and on work. TA DA.
Hiring someone to clean our home wasn’t extravagant. It was brilliant. We called Melanie again. Her schedule was booked so we waited. And now we see her every other Monday for two hours when she casts sweet-smelling spells on our everyday funk.
Melanie is charming and efficient, a friend and a great help. She uses totally non-toxic supplies. Our kids, our bathtub and our marriage adore her. I am thrilled to bring Melanie into this space as our first Heirloom Kitchen contributor. Because, among her many skills (milking goats, raising kids, making body products, knitting, running a farm, always cheerful) she can make our sinks sparkle white without the use of anything toxic.
In Melanie’s words:
Most of my cleaning techniques have been handed down from my grandma, Shirley. As a kid, when we visited and as a young adult when I lived with her, she made sure I wasn’t sitting around too much. There were always chores to do.
She was very particular about how things got done. I’m not nearly as exact, but I have many of her little secrets that I keep in my pocket.
For sinks of all kinds, my go to product is Bon Ami cleanser. It is the only thing I will use. It doesn’t scratch and is tough enough to get dirt and most stains up easily. Especially on ceramic or cast iron sinks like Nici’s, you shouldn’t use a lot of force to your scrub. Easy gentle circles are all you need. On those stains that cleanser just won’t touch, cider vinegar or hydrogen peroxide poured full strength and left to sit usually does the trick. If you need it to sit a while, saturate a paper towel and leave it right on the stain.
Something everyone should use, in my opinion, is my homemade all-purpose cleaner that I use for shower walls, countertops, walls…pretty much everything.
in a spray bottle mix:
1 tablespoon or so of Biokleen All Purpose Cleaner.
Melanie is a busy-hands kind of gal with too many projects and businesses going at any one time. Gardener’s Tiny Farm is where she shows off a few. Thank you, Melanie!
And, thank you to our friends at Earlywood Designs, sponsor of Heirloom Kitchen. Use code DIGTHISWOOD to get 10% off your purchases.
* both sinks found on craigslist
* repurposed bathroom lockers, beetle kill pine counters and ceramic light fixtures found at Home Resource
* Earlywood tools pictured: large flat saute, ironwood cutting board, long server, trifecta
* Sculpture above our kitchen sink by Kensuke Yamada. And, a sweet story about it. We have long loved his work and in 2007 I emailed him to inquire about some small pots I’d seen, hoping to save up for a gift for Andy. Months later he just gave this to me, left it at the front desk of my old work place with a note that read “Hi Nici, I’ve been in my studio in Seattle and I made this small piece for you. Hope you like it. Sorry I did not have small piece last time you called me. This is a gift. Hope you like it. Sincerely, Kensuke Yamada.” So we display our sculpture sitting atop the note.
Is that 1/4 C vinegar, 3/4 C water?