Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Sunday, 9 March 2003

# 11:10 PM

household cleaning notes

Soap scum comes off the side of the bathtub more easily when scrubbed down using a nonpolar solvent such as cheap cooking oil, than when water is used. I find a couple of tablespoons of oil, plus a couple shakes of chalk-based scouring powder, on a sponge, works quite well. (This trick courtesy of Brooks Moses.) It's not surprising; soap scum is basically nonpolar, and therefore more soluble in oil than water. The downside of this technique is it leaves a film of oil over the entire surface of the tub, but that comes off readily with a water-based grease cutting agent. Also, it's generally impossible to clean the sponge afterward.

Soap scum in thin layers appears to react with copper wool, producing a black smear down the side of the tub. I'm not sure what this stuff is. It is unlikely that the scum can oxidize copper, but it might be some sort of Cu0 complex ion. This effect can be seen as a feature; it makes it very obvious where scum is left after the copper wool has scraped away the thicker deposits, and one may then use the cooking-oil technique with a plastic scouring pad to remove it.

# 7:55 AM

For the first time in months the kitchen is completely clean. And so is the bedroom. Of course this means that the main room is hopelessly cluttered: desk, table, couch, and floor are all piled high with objects that don't seem to have a permanent home. I swear I don't ever reduce the entropy level of this apartment, I just move the mess around.