Lockdown in Paris: Day 10

Out, out damn spot!

How’s the compulsive cleaning going? Oh, you know who you are. You can’t control the virus but you can control the dust and microbes in your own home. Am I right?

When I feel my world is out of control, I clean. I will have order. I hear a lot of you are the same, taking on organization projects, massive spring cleans. Every morning I tackle a home project to kick off my day with some order. Yesterday, I cleaned my front-load washer/dryer until it sparkled (smells so fresh!); today it was the refrigerator (like new, I tells ya). Tomorrow, I will be reorganizing every cabinet and drawer in the kitchen. It’s sooooo satisfying.

Of course, there are very real reasons to keep the house clean during this outbreak, especially “high-touch” surfaces like doorknobs, key pads, phones. And not to freak you out, but apparently the virus can live a few days on metal. (I’ll pause here while you grab the disinfectant wipes and go to town.)

Since we’re all cleaning fools, I thought I’d devote this entire post today to tips, and re-share some of my best ideas for toxin-free cleaning. Grab those rubber gloves and have at it!


We’re overdosing on chemical disinfectants these days. So why not balance that out with some non-toxic solutions where it makes sense? None of these are substitutes for chemical disinfectants in terms of potency, but for regular cleaning, they don’t require any more time or work than chemical-based cleansers.

White Vinegar: Magical stuff. In Paris, we have very hard water that leaves water stains and white scale on everything. I keep vinegar in a spray bottle and zap it away. My electric tea kettle gets encrusted also, but I just boil a small amount of vinegar and water, and it lifts out without wiping. (Rinse well afterward.) I also clean my mirrors with vinegar. Streak-free every time. (Note: Not for marble or other stone surfaces. Opt instead for rubbing alcohol.) A plus: White vinegar also reduces surface bacteria (though not as effective as chemical disinfectants). 

Baking Soda: I buy this in giant bags because I go through it so quickly. I scrub the sink and shower with it. It’s gentle, gets things sparkling and smelling fresh. Or you can combine it with 3% hydrogen peroxide (another bacteria fighter) to remove stains from white clothes. Make a paste, pack on the stain, and let sit until the stain lifts. Then toss in the wash (rinse or not). This mixture doesn’t yellow your whites like bleach can. Make sure to test on fabric, and check the garment’s washing instructions before using.

Lemon: Used to sanitize non-porous surfaces (though not as potent as vinegar or chemical sanitizers). Also, great for mold, grease, deodorizing. I put it directly on moldy spots in the shower or sometimes mix it with baking soda. Easy and effective. You can also mix lemon with salt as a gentle scrub your copper pots, or your wooden cutting board. (Note: don’t use bleach on mold. It actually promotes growth. Lemon or hydrogen peroxide work best.)

Castile soap: Mixing liquid Castile soap and tea tree oil helps fight bacteria. Plus, it’s great for grease. Soap in general, especially bar soap, when used with hot water, is a great germ killer. So says the CDC.

Microfiber cloths: Paper products are scarce in the States, I hear. I use these cloths, in place of paper towels most times. Damp or dry, they pick up dust like a Swiffer (but way cheaper), plus, they buff my faucets, mirrors, and my laminate kitchen cabinets without scratching. Not for sanitizing. I like these.

*Note: I’m not a cleaning expert. This is friendly advice. You should test all cleaning solutions on a small, hidden spot to assure best results, and wear rubber gloves to prevent any allergic reactions. When in doubt, leave it out. 


Get caught up on my diary, here.


On today’s bookshelf

Because toilet paper. Click image to buy.

More green ideas. Click book to buy.

Shameless plug. Click book to buy.

6 responses to “Lockdown in Paris: Day 10

  1. Yes, yes, yes! Now I am finally getting to alllll the cleaning “tasks” I always feel a nag of guilt about on normal days. And never get to. This ‘guilt’ seems to occur much more often in women – the keepers of the cave in early evolution times.

    I hope – when all finished – I’ll just relax and enjoy my guiltless life – but somehow I doubt it. I always remember the quote from Barbara Walters – which endeared her to me forever: “Any time I take it easy, I always think I should be cleaning drawers.”

    Thanks so much for this post – timely tips – here’s a psychological one that works for me – when cleaning your own home, pretend it is someone else’s – and you are a professional cleaner. Why this works is beyond me – but it does. Or is this just odd? Probably.

  2. So, I don’t remember what neighborhood you live in. I have your book and love your blogs, but I am too lazy to go look. What is open in your neighborhood? Monoprix? Small food shops? I was there in September for a while. Who the F#$& knew something like this would come along. I live in the biggest city in Idaho, which is kind of like living in Neuilly sur Seine but with lots of houses instead of apartment buildings. I have also lived in Neuilly and they are both nice. Just locked down. Take care. I LOVE the blogs!!! Sois sage!

    • Hi Christine. I don’t go shopping frequently. I stocked up for a month. But I have a Monoprix, the biggest one in Paris, about 10 minutes walk from my house, a small organic shop at the end of the street, and a Franprix supermarket up the block. I’m avoiding all of them until I absolutely need to go again, because every time you come in contact with people you have to restart your 14-day infection countdown, and you absolutely need to sterilize what you bring home, then wash your hands and face, and some say hair as well if not covered. All that is a lot of work so I don’t want to do it more than I need to, or risk infection.

  3. Hello again Lisa
    Love your cleaning regime all good advice the vinegar sprayed around the sink and counters removes food odors especially fish.
    What did we do before microfiber??
    Seems like everyone is singing outside their homes in Canada !!
    Keep well …


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