Unfuck Your Habitat

You're better than your mess.

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Posts tagged "science"
How are Comet and Bar Keepers Friend different from each other?
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

Comet is bleach (technically cyanuric acid, which is a component of bleach), and BKF is oxalic acid, which is primarily used for removing rust and other stains on metals. Short version: Comet is good for scrubbing and bleaching, and BKF is good for stubborn stuff on metal and non-porous surfaces.

ETA: The most recent MSDS for Comet I could find.

I’m not a chemist; I was trying to break it down into the basic differences between the two. I apologize that I didn’t get the chemical name correct based on the information I was using from the MSDS and allowing myself to be influenced by the marketing that put “with bleach” on the front of the Comet can and didn’t research more thoroughly.

I’ve seen things about Coke (as in Coca-Cola) working wonders on rust in tubs

Coke contains (some) phosphoric acid, but also a bunch of sugar and caramel coloring, so it’s not the most effective thing. The active ingredient in BKF is oxalic acid, which works more directly and without the extra stuff.




What is a drain volcano and why are they great?


Passive UnFucking.

This post results from a combination of two things: an idea I shamelessly stole from a friend, and some frankly terrifying SCIENCE I learned at my job. 

First, the science! 

Did you know that mold/mildew/wet rot/dry rot are present in your home environment ALL THE TIME? It’s true (and terrifying). Most of the time these organisms remain completely dormant, and therefore harmless. They become a problem when the moisture content in the atmosphere reaches a certain percentage, at which point they begin to grow and multiply. All it takes to stop this growth is reducing the moisture level to below their growth threshold. I’m afraid I don’t know the exact number offhand… it’s something like 18% or 20%. The precise percentage point isn’t necessary to make the application of this knowledge practical, however, which is where my shamelessly stolen Great Idea comes in… 

The Dehumidifier.

I visited a friend’s house a while ago and noticed one of these babies whirring away contentedly on top of her toilet tank. I asked her about it, and she said she felt like her bathroom was always damp & musty, and she’d purchased it in a fit of disgust over the situation. 

Folks, her bathroom was neither damp, nor musty, which in the height of humid mid summer in a bathroom used by three grown adults was something remarkable, indeed. I immediately resolved to get one of my own. 

It was another month before I actually bought one. Over the course of that month, my bathroom sink drain developed an odor. Several drain volcanoes failed to remedy the situation, and after a week of waking to brush my teeth in a sink that smelled unpleasantly like wet dirt, I was over it. I bought this little dehumidifier and plugged it in on the bathroom counter. 

GIUSE, LET ME TELL YOU. The odor was gone within two days. TWO DAYS. I did nothing else but plug this sucker in, and - BAM. Mildew growth halted! I still get some light mildew in the shower, but 1) that’s to be expected, and 2) it’s still significantly reduced from the non-dehumidifier days. The towels, bathmat, and shower curtain/liner dry out quicker, which allows less opportunity for them to get gross, too. The reduction in overall musty grossness in the bathroom makes unfucking it a whole lot easier, as well. 

And for anyone worried about that sort of thing: there’s no compressor in this machine, so it hardly makes any noise at all. No more than a desk fan would. I leave mine on all the time, and I dump out 1.5 cups of water every two or three days. 

The lessons here?

  • Science says that all you need to do to slow or stop the growth of mold/mildew/rot is to reduce the moisture level in the atmosphere below the organisms’ growth threshold. It doesn’t NEED to be 100% dry; that doesn’t cause the organisms to be any more dormant than they are at any other point below the threshold - at least not for our practical purposes as UfYHers. 
  • Slowing or stopping growth of gross things in your bathroom makes it smell better and makes unfucking it easier. 

So, my recommendation is to invest in a tiny dehumidifier (apparently on sale on Amazon lately for under $50… I paid more than that… drat!) of your own, and begin passively unfucking your bathroom in between the times you actively unfuck it. 

Every time I get an ask involving a stain where my answer is “rubbing alcohol” (ballpoint pen, hair dye, etc.), someone always pipes in that you should use hairspray instead. Here’s the thing: hairspray works on stains because of the alcohol content in it. However, it also has a lot of added ingredients, like the polymers or gums that make it sticky, and fragrance, and sometimes silicone for shine and water-resistance. Those added ingredients can leave behind their own residues, and can interfere with stain lifting.

So, pick up a bottle of rubbing alcohol. It’s a buck or two. Comes in handy.


I thought that vinegar was getting all the love from Unfuck Your Habitat. Vinegar has a sparkly gif. What does baking soda have?
So I made this. It’s not sparkly! It’s grim! And science-y!

Oddly, I don’t have a sparkly gif for baking soda. I have one for everything else!


I thought that vinegar was getting all the love from Unfuck Your Habitat. Vinegar has a sparkly gif. What does baking soda have?

So I made this. It’s not sparkly! It’s grim! And science-y!

Oddly, I don’t have a sparkly gif for baking soda. I have one for everything else!

There is a Broken windows theory: broken windows and environmental disorder brings higher crime rates and vandalism in neighborhoods. I think that works at home too: if you have some things lying around already, you're more likely to not feel bad for leaving something else messy too. But I feel that it also goes the other way around: when I make my bed, it's a lot easier to tidy up some other things too. And when there's even more order, then I feel no urge to throw things around.
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

Makes total sense to me!

lightingitup replied to your post: librarianpirate replied to your post: what’s the…

An alcohol and a carboxylic acid (like acetic acid) when mixed form an ester, but you have to heat it and use another (stronger) acid as a catalyst. Esters are often known for smelling nice (although not always)!

Smart people everywhere!

Asker noromance Asks:
what's the difference between alchohol and vinegar for cleaning? Because I have the habit of putting 92% alchohol in a spray bottle and using that for cleaning about everything. What are differences between the alchohol and the white vinegar?
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

I went to the experts for this one, because all I could tell you is that alcohol gets up stains and residues, but it’s really drying; and vinegar is acidic, so it dissolves stuff.

Fortunately, my friend @themoderatelyambitiousscientist is smarter than I am, and offers this explanation:

Basically, rubbing alcohol is good at dissolving non-polar compounds, like oils. Acetic acid [vinegar] is good at dissolving both non-polar compounds and polar compounds (salts and sugars). So acetic acid is better both because it doesn’t evaporate as fast and also because it can dissolve more stains. But some cleaners use both together.

Asker schweinsty Asks:
Re - smelly ashtrays? Put some baking soda in it! Not only does it help extinguish cigarettes (it produces CO2 when heated. More or less), it massively reduces smell (also works great for matches, if you're into candles and such. I've found little decorative tea-candle holders with a layer of baking soda look super-cute and come in handy quite often). Er, think I may accidentally have submitted this anonymously, sorry.
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said: