Friday, February 11, 2011

A tip from a cleaning chemist

So, everyone keeps asking what I do all day at work.

Let me rephrase that-no one ever asks me what I do all day at work. However, you really ought to because I have the most phenomenally interesting job ever!
And to prove that, I thought I would attempt to imbue in you all a little love for the magic of chemistry

So today-something practical- how to clean your glass shower door with chemistry, not work :)

Fill a spray bottle with vinegar.
Thoroughly spray the shower door.
Let the vinegar sit for a period (a few min or sometimes I leave it there for an hour).
Wipe off the door using a sponge and plenty of water.
When it dries, it should be nicely clean and clear. If the door has quite a bit of build-up, you may need to do this twice.
(you can also soak a rag in vinegar and leave it hanging on the faucet overnight to clean off any calcium there)

I don't want to disappoint you, but this is not magic at all.

The hard water stains on the door are calcium carbonate, which is not soluble in water. Calcium carbonate will however react with vinegar (dilute acetic acid-just image how fast this would be with concentrated!) to form carbon dioxide and calcium acetate-which readily dissolves in water.

CaCO3 + 2CH3COOH = CO2 g + H2O + Ca(CH3COO)2

Voila-you have a clean shower door!


Jesse said...

You finally updated your blog! I wish I would have known this shower door trick at the last place we lived! Thanks for the info, it's very helpful!

krista said...

I'm going to try this out. Does it matter what kind of vinegar you use?

Kristy said...

Wow, you should start a blog on easy cleaning tricks. I think that it would be a huge hit. You could maybe get rich and famous!

Chelsea said...

This was super helpful Bets! My shower door has always been a big problem, so I'm trying it today!! White vinegar I assume? Also, the previous post about the lab was awesome-you are sooo smart!!

Liz O. said...

No time to post--off to tackle a shower door!