Water As A Cleaner | Anyclean

updated: 15/10/2023


Water is the closest humanity has to a universal solvent. This means that just plain water is one of the best natural cleaners that you have on hand. Best of all, it’s free (assuming that you live in a developed country with clean water quite literally on tap, which you probably are if you are reading this article).

In fact, if you take a look at the ingredients list of most proprietary spray-on cleaners , you’ll find that water is fairly high up the ingredients list. All the other odds and ends – which includes the powders and solids, natural and otherwise – that get added into cleaners are usually just there to help the water do its work better. I’ll skip the heavy-duty science, but if you take soap as an example, all this does is adjust the surface tension of water so it gets things wetter and can float the dirt out of whatever you’re washing in a bowl full of lathery suds.

A lot of general household grime will wipe away easily with a damp rag. You know the sort of thing – toothpaste smeared all over the vanity unit, splatters of tomato sauce on the front of cupboards, coffee stains on the table. These things are very easily dealt with if you wipe them up with a damp cloth as soon as you notice them.

Most dirty dishes that are too much for the dishwasher or the scrubbing brush to handle with a regular wash will become a lot easier if left to soak. Fill them with cold water and leave them alone over night (or longer – but wash them before the water starts going green!). The hard-to-remove bits just float off. The worst offenders that are hell to scrape off if they dry (or get burnt on) are pastry, breakfast cereal and flour-based products.

Many stains will yield to a good soaking in plain cold water. Fresh protein stains in particular (e.g. blood, and egg yolk) plus coffee and beetroot will be removed very easily by soaking in cold water.

Just remember to make sure that the water is cold – hot water will set the stain.

As we all learned in primary school, water comes as a solid, a liquid and as a gas. While the liquid form of water is used most often as a

Ice can be used to remove bubble gum from hair, carpets, etc. Hold an ice cube over the sticky stuff until the gum hardens. Then use a razor blade, fingernails, a knife, etc. to scrape the gum off. In the case of hair, holding the ice cube on and then working the gum around until it crumbles off is a better idea.

Steam also uses heat as well as water to loosen dirt. Every second-hand car dealer knows that steam-cleaning a car engine gets even an old crock looking sparkly and new (and now you know it, too). However, steam is also great for cleaning gunge off your microwave. Just put a bowl of water in a very dirty microwave and zap it for four minutes so all the water boils into steam. Leave the microwave closed for a few minutes after so the steam can do its work. Then open it up and give the inside a jolly good wiping.

A similar method works for faces, except the steam shouldn’t be as hot. Fill a pudding basin with boiling water (and throw in some herbs, spices or essential oils) and sit with your face over it, draping the bowl and you with a big towel. The steam will loosen dirt, dead skin, etc. and may help you sweat out any deep dirt in pores. Ten minutes is ideal, and remember not to touch the water. This method works a treat if you have a blocked nose and add peppermint oil to the water.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.