March 27, 2010

Cleanliness is Godliness, Consider Yourself A Goddess

Ladies (and Gentlemen), we are done. We have cleaned our homes from top-to-bottom in a new, efficient way. We have learned new tricks and tools to get the job done faster. We have learned how to spare the environment and our budgets by making our own cleansers from really simple ingredients. And learning how to make anything by hand makes even a sucky job like cleaning a bit more fun. Though I can't emphasize enough - really good music makes it really good too! So take a load off, Sally. You are all done.

Now, if you were once "Domestically Disabled" like me, you don't have to wake up like this anymore...

I have one more chore for you today though...and it's a quick errand - you'll be so glad you ran. Here's the shopping list for a recipe that is all about taking care of you:
  • Epsom Salt or Sea Salt (3 tbsp)
  • Baking Soda (3 tbsp) 
  • Vegetable Glycerin (1 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp of jojoba oil, kukui nut oil, or any massage oil you prefer
  • 5 drops of rose essential oil, or 1 tbsp of rose water (rose water is less expensive)
  • 5 drops of ginger essential oil, or 1/4 oz crushed fresh ginger
Mix these ingredients in a jar well, and shake vigorously, pour under the hot water. Make sure the water is as hot as you can take it, this will make the bath last longer; and your muscles thank you later.
  • 1 English Cucumber (cut into 1/2" slices)
  • Petals of 2 Fragrant Roses (preferrably red roses - the color is stimulating)
Toss these in just before you take the plunge.

You may also want to make sure you have some tea lights on hand, and buy some fresh flowers to brighten up the house - it is spring after all! Before drawing the bath, spritz your linens with your linen spray, light the tea lights, turn on some soothing music...and remember - this is you time.

I'll be back Monday with an Etsy Seller Feature and Giveaway!  Now, go shopping for those ingredients, and rest-up, Domestic Goddess.

March 26, 2010

Eco-Cleaning: In The Bedroom

In the bedroom, nearly all previous recipes and cleaning techniques apply from the living areas - and even the linen spray from the laundry day. But there is still work to be done:
  • Remove all bed linens and window treatments, launder as prescribed. If your drapery calls for dry-cleaning - try and find a "green" dry-cleaner. I'm sure there's not much green about the process; but it's gotta be better than your standard guy.
  • Now that your bed mattress is exposed, go ahead and sprinkle your lavender scented baking soda deodorizer atop. Leave it for thirty minutes. Then vacuum the mattress (be sure and use the extensions/attachments, She-Ra) , flip it over - and rotate. If you've got a pillow-top mattress, it won't be necessary or possible to flip it over; but rotate it. If you've got a standard mattress, repeat the deodorizing sprinkle, the 30 minute wait, and the vacuum. Now you've got a dust free, sweet-smelling mattress.

While those thirty minutes of baking-soda-magic are ticking away, there are a few things you can do:
  • Dust your windows inside, hose them off outside, then use your glass cleaner and a squeegee to finish the job in/out. It's time consuming, and may take an extra day - but once those flowers outside start to bloom; you'll be oh-so-happy you can see them. And if you have screens, take those down and scrub them with some dish soap and hose them off - they collect a lot of yuckiness).
  • Probably a more appropriate chore for the half hour(s) you'll have on hand are taking care of the floors: vacuum or sweep/mop.
  • ...Or, you could begin the process of storing away your winter wardrobe, and bringing the spring/summer wardrobe in. This is always my favorite part - because after an entire season or two of not seeing part of my wardrobe - it's like I've just gone on a shopping spree!
  • If there are any clothes that you can't stand any longer, don't fit you, whatever - place them in a bag or box (depending on how many there are) and donate them to your favorite cause. Or, if you're strapped for cash, take them first to your local consignment shop and see what you can get for them. Then donate.
  • And before you seal the box on that winter wardrobe, toss a couple of small rags with about 5 drops of your favorite essential oil on them to keep your clothes smelling fresh when you return to this box in Autumn.
Don't forget to give cushions a smack down, most bed pillows can and should be laundered, vacuum the upholstered lovely slipper chair or fainting chaise, and dust the knickknacks. Just reread the living room(s) post for a reminder on what needs doing. But by now, I trust you are all little eco-cleaning divas.


I love this part of the week. Everything is coming to a close, you've all been enjoying the recipes and cleaning tips; been busy little bees enjoying the spring air and ushering in the season with your new state of mind and your newfound way of eco-cleaning. We still have some more posts to come, what with the Bedroom being overdue, and a very special day of self-treats plus ANOTHER giveaway on Saturday. 

But, as a lot of you have been wondering to yourselves and aloud in your comments "Where can I find some of these basic ingredients?"...well, I've got BIG NEWS:

Okay, maybe not that big. But it came as a huge surprise to me; and will undoubtedly leave your jaw dropped...

But, this surprise giveaway will leave you feeling like a little kid on your birthday (should you win)...

And if you don't win, you are still a winner, because you will undoubtedly become more familiar with Mountain Rose Herbs, as they have generously teamed up with the EVA Blog to give one of our lucky readers a basic eco-cleaning starter kit (sans vinegar - they don't carry that)!!! Here's what you'll win:
  • 5 lb bag of Baking Soda
  • 5 lb bag of Borax
  • 16 oz Castille Soap
  • 16 0z Vegetable Glycerin
  • 1/2 oz Organic Lavender Essential Oil 
  • 1/2 oz Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 1/2 oz Organic Lemon Essential Oil
In order to be entered to win this fabulous prize, all you need to do is go visit their site; and let them know what product you'd be most interested in trying sometime (please copy & paste the link in the comments section). Also, if you aren't following/subscribed already - do so and leave your email address.

Feel free to wander through all of the product categories. For those of you who are completely new to working with bulk herbs, carrier oils, making your own teas and herbal tinctures, you might want to take a look at their Aromatherapy, Bath & Body Care, and Home, Garden & Gifts sections first. 

Extra entries are available (1 ea) for: tweet, facebook post, or blog post about this giveaway. This gives you a total of 4 possible entries!

Deadline is March 28th, 11:59PM (PST), Winner to be announced on Monday, March 29th.

If you have time while you're on their site, be sure and sign up for their newsletter - it's a bimonthly email that features timely recipes of all kinds.


March 25, 2010

Eco-Cleaning: Dryer Sachet Giveaway Update

Hi there everyone:

I realize it's a bit unusual, some would even say it's rare form, to host a giveaway for something without showing a photo of the prize. It's definitely a bit of a tease - and I've decided to make it go longer! Photos of the sachets won't be coming until the Monday post when I announce the winner! It is rather monstrous of me, but...

Okay, obviously, I haven't got a clue where you live. And "love" is a strong word. But I feel quite a fondness for all of you; and I will have the winner's address (only used for shipping). Don't worry now, I'm not some sort of weirdo, I just thought that was the cutest "monstrous" image I found all day.


Eco-Cleaning: Laundry Day + Giveaway!

Thanks everyone for understanding my need for a day off, I'm sorry that I broke the agenda - that was unprofessional; but the nice thing about being a blogger - is there's a semi-professionalism that I feel I'm responsible for, which is great - since that's all I've ever been able to achieve in the real world anyways.

Okay, whether you do your laundry at home, or you frequent your local laundromat - you can still go au naturel.

  • Liquid Laundry Detergent: 1 cup liquid castille soap, 2 cups water, 1 cup washing soda, 1/3 cup salt - warm the two cups water, washing soda and salt until mostly dissolved, then transfer to a one gallon container (a cleaned, reused milk container is perfect for this); Add the castille soap to the gallon container, and fill container to top with water. This will be enough detergent for approximately 64 loads: use 1/4 cup per regular load. 
  • Fabric Softener: You'd really be surprised what a little bit of vinegar will do to soften your clothes, as well as disinfect them. During the rinse cycle, toss in 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar. The vinegar smell will rinse out; and be covered up by your fabuloso Lavender Dryer Sachets (instructions to follow).

A quick note about what to expect from your laundry detergent: it will clean as well as any other "green" product you use; it will disinfect and soften when you add the vinegar to the rinse cycle; it will not be super sudsy like many of the products that you might be using now, that aren't "green" or "eco-friendly", due to the charming lack of SLS. "What's SLS, Tara?", you might be asking - or you could be wiping your brow, "Phew!" with a sigh of relief that crap isn't in there. From either position you sit - you're getting the spiel now:
  • SLS: What is it? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. What does it do? It makes sudsing action that we've become programmed to associate with cleaning. You can find it in (of course, your cleaning products) toothpaste, shampoo, shaving foams, bubble baths - if it suds - it's there. It's also a known skin irritant, can cause allergic reactions in the mouth from dental products, and a possible carcinogenic. Just click on that hyperlink up there for a much simpler breakdown of how freakin' scary this stuff is - and then promptly go on tirade through house removing every last bottle containing the crap. 'Nuff said.
If you'll be tossing your clothes in the dryer - I will be offering a giveaway of a set of 3 EVA Dryer Sachets (One with Lavender, One with Rose, and One I'll let the winner decide on based on my stock of herbs and flowers). Now I haven't been a good little crafty blogger, so I haven't even had time yet to make them, take photos, and get you all excited - let alone do a photo-DIY...

But wait, there's more!! I've got photos of the super-sweet vintage fabric I'll be adorning these EVA Dryer Sachets with:

To enter the giveaway for the EVA Dryer Sachets, please visit the EVA Etsy Shop, and tell me what your favorite item is. Also, if you aren't already following, now you know the drill - good for each entry is a mandatory subscription - and I think you'll be glad you did! Just be sure to let me know in the comments if you are a new subscriber and your email. 

For an extra entry (each of these is worth one) tweet this post, facebook, or blog. Comment with your twitter name so I can find you, your blog so I can read/follow, and your facebook link - so we can be friends!

There will be at least one more giveaway tomorrow, deadlines for all entries are Sunday, Mar.  28th at 11:59PM (PST) - I'll announce all giveaway winners on Monday morning! Good Luck!

Here are the instructions for making your very own Lavender Dryer Sachets:
  • First of all, you will be in need of Cotton Muslin, you'll determine the yardage, because it depends how many of these you want to make. You need thread of course, and can either hand sew, or use your trusty machine. And organic lavender flowers, again, these can be found from Mountain Rose Herbs or other such places. 
  • To make one sachet, simply cut two 5" squares of your muslin, and sew together using 1/4" seams on three sides. Turn inside out and use a pencil or better yet, a bone folder to make neat corners. 
  • Fill with your lavender flowers nearly to the top; but leave about an inch so that you can turn in a 1/4" seam, gently iron (avoiding the flowers), and sew shut. 
  • It's that simple!
These bags are reusable, and when you sense that the lavender isn't freshening up your laundry with the strength you want; just take a seam ripper and open about 2-3" on your top side. Empty the lavender into a bowl, refill your sachet with new lavender, and sew shut again. 

Now, for that lavender just waiting in the bowl. Crush it in your hands, or even better with a mortar and pestle. Keep it around for the next time you vacuum with baking soda - instead of using essential oils, toss out the crushed lavender flowers. Let sit for a half hour as usual. Aahhhh...I just love the smell of lavender. If you don't, there are plenty of other dried flowers you can use in the same manner.

And for those of you who love to use the elements of the sun and air to dry your clothes - now you don't have to worry about tough towels and sheets - that fabric softener will keep them smooth and soft as they dry in the spring breeze.

And lastly, the subject of ironing. We all have to do it  - and if you sew, you do it more than just on laundry day. So here's a great recipe for a delicious smelling ironing water that will double as a linen spray before you lay you down to sleep:
  • In a sterile 16 oz. bottle: 3 oz. unflavored vodka, 12 drops lavender or your favorite smelling pure essential oil, 12 oz. purified water. Spritz on linens as you iron, or on bed linens about a half hour to hour before sleep.
I think that covers yesterday's post and gets us all caught up for today's post - the Bedroom...

See you again later today!

March 24, 2010

Eco-Cleaning: Back After This Message

Sorry friends, but all of this eco-cleaning madness has got me in need of the day off. I've just got to refresh myself with some rest and relaxation before I'm in danger of sounding like an eco-friendly Martha.

So sorry to disappoint you and let you down, I'll try to spring back tonight with those laundry recipes and how-tos...I just think you understand the consequences of sounding like Ms. Stewart.

March 23, 2010

Eco-Cleaning: The Bathroom (My Least Favorite)

We can all admit it, no one likes cleaning this room. It's generally yucky - with bits of funk I don't even want to describe. Fortunately for you, you may have already begun to tackle this funky chicken of a room with some of the recipes you've been supplied with already. 

I realized all that's left from yesterday's recipe list, which is applicable to your toilets, sinks, and tubs as well is the all-natural drain de-clogger. Do you remember when you were a kid, there was the erupting volcano experiment?

All you knew was that something was going to happen, but you didn't know what, and it was so exciting! Who knew unclogging that sink that's been stuck draining slow for a while now could give you (and moreover, your kids) the same thrill?!
  • First, pour one cup of baking soda down the drain
  • Then, pour one cup of distilled white vinegar (add a few drops of yellow/red drops food coloring if the kids are there)
  • After the eruption and the kiddos bubbling and squealing -- pour one pot boiling water down the drain to finish it off.
  • Flush, or turn the water on - you'll be amazed at how the water flows now!
Here's a great great antiseptic soap solution for you and the kids (triclosan is the key ingredient in those antibacterial soaps); and not only does it work, it's really bad for you because it kills the good germs too:
  • In an 8 oz squirt bottle, fill bottle with purified water, leaving about an ounce. Add 1.5 tbsp of baby-scent castille soap, and 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Gets hands clean, and gets rid of bad germs. For little ones, help them remember to wash hands long enough by singing the "ABC" song - that's about as long as it takes to really get your hands clean. Use warm water.

Cleaning the shower is no fun: there's soap scum to deal with - and possibly, mildew:

For mildew and soap scum on hard surfaces, your soft scrub and spray cleansers will do. But if  you have shower curtains and liners - you'll need to wash those. The curtains can likely be laundered in the machine; but you'll probably need to take that liner outside, and either scrub it down or spray it and then scrub. Or both. 

Now, onto the tools of the trade:
  • A natural bristle brush
  • Recycle your old toothbrush, don't throw it out (just boil before using) - it's great on grout and the metal sleeves for shower doors; and really just about any other disgusting little crevice.
  • Bucket with sponge and warm water to wipe away any excess baking soda from your soft scrub.
  • Lint-free cloth for glass
  • Micro-fiber dust cloth

Eco-Cleaning: Smelling Good

This is my absolute favorite part of the entire week, teaching you how to make your house smell delicious with the simplest of ingredients. It's also one of the hardest to find photos for, since our sense of smell just doesn't seem to translate well visually. Ah well.

Here's a quick and simple recipe which will use: some of your produce that's past the point of eating, but not the point of redemption, fresh herbs, fresh flowers from your garden (or just go for a walk and take a few here and there, like I do), and a few spices you'll likely have in your spice cabinet.
  • The simplest variation on this recipe is a starting point - you'll find what you love as you play around with it; but do start here so you get the idea: citrus peel, cloves, cinnamon sticks, 1-2 twigs of fresh rosemary, and perhaps the petals from a fragrant rosebud. Toss into your smallest saucepan with water, and bring to a simmer on the stove. Replenish water as necessary. Should last approximately 6 hours for a 1500+ sq.ft house (even with the windows open!)

  • If you aren't going to be around the house for a while, but you've just got some lingering smells - like in the bathroom - or maybe the kitchen after a particularly smoky, meaty meal, than I suggest an odor capturing Fragrance Spritz: 8 oz spray bottle filled with distilled white vinegar and 30 drops of your favorite organic essential oil. Since we aren't trying to kill germs here - and we're just trying to make the place smell lovely, feel free to go CRAZY and choose an essential oil that truly appeals to your sense of smell. I'm a huge fan of Ylang Ylang, it makes everything smell better. *Bonus: it's antiseptic as well! Oh, and in case you were thinking, "But now my whole house is going to smell like vinegar!" - it won't - the vinegar smell dissipates in about twenty minutes, and the essential oil sticks around. That goes for all the cleaning solutions as well. 
  • And here's a bonus for freshening up your car without that awful dangling cardboard tree: In a small jar, soak a cotton ball or two with the essential oil of your choice. Place the jar under the seat of the car (no lid). When the scent wears off - the cotton ball has dried off. Just repeat with a new cotton ball. No more pine-scented parabens making their way through your car.
And a quick product plug from my Etsy shop, if you'd like to try my Simmer Sachets, please take a look - they are made on the premise of the first recipe I've shared with you; but I've been doing this for a while, and they are heavenly.

Finally, a word about the big "why" as to making the change to these forms of air fresheners vs. incense, scented candles, plug-ins, air-sprays, etc.: 
  • Incense smell lovely - particularly the Japanese ones. I used to be quite the fan, until I found out all that smoke was also packed with resin. I just didn't want that for my lungs or Marley's developing lungs. I have missed you lovely Japanese incense, I really have.
  • Scented candles, those little diffusers with the tea lights and the yummy "fragrances", plug-ins, and air-sprays all have one thing in common - synthetic fragrances. Synthetic fragrances, just like perfumes, include dangerous chemicals to achieve the fragrance - which have been linked to allergies and asthma. For more information on "Fragrance", see this link.

This is A Test...This is Only A Test

This is a test, just a quick interruption of our regularly scheduled Eco-Cleaning How-To program for the week. Because, well, for the most part - it's sounding a lot like this around here:

That's right, crickets. I'm getting a lot of silence from you, dear readers - and I'm getting a wee bit nervous that I might be boring you to wander...

Now that that's out of the way, if you won't mind filling in the blanks on your own brand of survey...

And just leave a bit of feedback here or anywhere else this week to let me know you're still here and all okay. Then I can ditch the "Anxiety Girl" cape and particularly the tights - yuck.

Thanks everyone!

March 22, 2010

Eco-Cleaning: The Second Recipes

Here are the recipes that will make cleaning your kitchen a natural breeze:

  • Liquid Dish Soap: In a container of your choice (a thoroughly washed squirt bottle from your former brand of liquid dish soap is ideal), add 1 cup liquid castille soap, 3 tbsps water, and 20 drops of tea tree oil (or lavender if you prefer the scent). This soap can leave a bit of a film, which is why the vinegar rinse is such an important step in the handwashing. 
  • All Natural Soft Scrub for sinks, countertops, etc.: In an old 12 oz glass jar with lid, add 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup castille soap or until you have a consistency like cake frosting, 15 drops of an antiseptic essential oil (I prefer tea tree oil for this recipe, just because it smells super-clean). If you have leftovers, add 1 tsp vegetable glycerin to keep moist.
  • Antiseptic Soap Spray: If you've got areas that are so grimy you want to wash prior to using the All-Purpose Cleaner, by all means - get to it: Fill a 16 oz spray bottle with about 15 oz. of purified water, add 3 tbsp castille soap, and 30 drops of tea tree essential oil. This is some serious cleaning spray, perfect for surfaces that get a lot of germy scum - it's going to come in very handy when you head to the bathroom tomorrow. Just follow it up with the All-Purpose Cleaner to rinse away any soapy residue.
  • Optional Glass, Tile, and Surface Cleaner: This one is great for ceramic tiles and other surfaces as well as your All-Purpose Cleaner. It also works for glass. It's just a matter of preference at this point, and who doesn't love choices? 16 oz. Spray Bottle: 1 cup Rubbing Alcohol, 1 cup water, 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar. Choose your poison.
And finally, the much discussed, and frankly, put-off, mopping solutions. I don't know why I procrastinate sometimes...that's for another blog post, another day. 

  • General Mop Solution: Perfect for tile floors, vinyl, or linoleum - Fill a small bottle (reused hot sauce bottles are the best for this!) with 1/4 cup castille soap, 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, and 20 drops of tea tree essential oil. Mop as usual, and keep a bucket or clean sink close-by filled with 2 gallons of hot water per solution for rinsing. 
  • Wood Floor Mop Solution: For super glossy floors, in a 20 oz. spray bottle, add: 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 tsp. glycerin, 20 drops lemon essential oil, water. Spray, mop as usual, and quickly buff dry to protect your floors.
Now, your kitchen is so clean, and your floors are so clean - you could eat off of them. Or lie despondently like a starved fashion model if you felt like it...

I'm sorta hoping you'll just relax and daydream on your freshly mopped floors like this:

You know you deserve it. And hey, the agenda just changed: Home fragrance will be included tomorrow. I'm WAY too wiped out today. Sorry darlings. 


Eco-Cleaning: The Kitchen

This is probably, second only to the bathroom, my least favorite part of cleaning. The kitchen's always got icky food-stuffs that trip-up my mild case of OCD, and as if seeing it up close isn't bad enough - you've gotta get your hands in it. Okay. Now that that's out of the way, I'll stop procrastinating with this entry and help you to get through this. We can all get through it together.

The first thing is to make sure you've cleared off all countertops and work surfaces of any dishes that need washing. If you've got a dishwasher - good for you. Even if you have got one, sometimes there's just too many dishes to fit in one lead and you have to hand wash. I love handwashing dishes (weird, I know). It is a time of the day after the cooking, entertaining, and enjoying the meal that I can digest not just the food, but the whole of the day. It's one of life's uncomplicated processes that allows for remaining efficient, and drifting off into a world of one's own. Int the event that you love to hand wash as much as I do, the following are some tips that will make the nastier bits (i.e. crusted on grease) a cake-walk:
  • First, it helps if you have a split-sink; but if you don't, you can create one with a deep rectangular tub that sits atop your countertop or in part of your (perhaps) one great-big sink. 
  • Here's the order to handwashing dishes that makes it all like butter baby:
  • First and foremost, scrape all the food bits off the plates, pots, pans, and pyrex. (Extra points for composting said food bits).
  • Now, before even thinking about those dishes, sprinkle a bit of baking soda into each crusty pot, pan and pyrex (and if there are funky cooking utensils - toss them in a large crusty saute pan). Add a bit of hot water, gently agitate the water with a dirty utensil, and set those pots aside for your grand finale!
  • Now, regardless of your sink set-up, if you're still with me here - you've got two basins of some sort. On one side, you have a basin filled with warm soapy water; on the other side, a basin filled with warm rinse water with a splash of white distilled vinegar. And of course, you have a dish rack or loving partner/friend to help dry those dishes you're working so hard to clean.
  • First, clean, rinse and dry all of the glassware. Second, the plates and bowls. Third, the silverware and cooking utensils. 
  • And now, for your grand finale: The dreaded greasy, crusty pots and pans. With hot water (do this over the soapy basin), rinse the baking soda out of your pans. Voila! Can you believe it?! Almost every nasty little bit of stuck-on gunk that would have required gobs of harsh chemical cleaners and way too much elbow grease for my style is gone! Just give it a swish in the soapy water, rinse in the vinegar rinse water, throw it on the drying rack - and pat yourself on the back!
The dishes are done, now comes the time for potentially polishing your cabinets if they are wood (you can find the recipe here), or using the all-purpose surface cleaner for any painted surfaces, plastics, enamels, and yes - you heard me - stainless steel (without streaks!) For cutting boards or other work surfaces that regularly have food prepped upon, spray with all-purpose cleaner overnight and allow to absorb. To quickly sanitize any areas, spray with the all-purpose surface cleaner, and follow with a quick spritz or wipe of Hydrogen Peroxide.
  • You'll want to be sure and deodorize your microwave: Using 3-5 slices of Lemon, placed in a bowl with 1 cup of water, microwave on HI for 3 minutes. Keep door closed for 3 mins. Open, and wipe down inside of microwave. Deodorized and clean.
  • Obviously, your sponges need some TLC too. Perhaps you use dishrags and simply launder them frequently; but if you use sponges, you're probably in the habit of keeping them longer than you should without sanitizing, or just throwing out. Those sponges can be reused and it's easy as pie: Either in the microwave for 3 minutes (in a lidded bowl) or on the stovetop in boiling water - with slices of lemon for good measure. If using the microwave, be ever so careful when removing that lid - the steam is SO hot, and can scald you. Let the water cool for a while, then remove and rinse your freshly sanitized and deodorized sponges in cool water for five minutes.
  • If you need more scrubbing power for your basic sponge, but don't want to buy one of those plasticky scrubbers from the shop - here's a great solution and reuse of something that was going to be tossed or recycled at best: take the mesh bag from garlic, onion, you know the type - and cut it to size so you can toss your sponge in there. Wrap with rubber bands or secure with butcher's twine. It's gentle on your dishes, but gets the grubbies off.
  • Now of course, you will need to scour and scrub your sink to it's original shine. Recipe to come later today.
  • And in the event that you find yourself with clogged drains - I've got the simplest, healthiest, and funnest drain de-clogger you'll ever make and use. Later.
  • Oh right, cleaning and deodorizing the refrigerator: This is something I used to do only when I would move from a place (which was FAR too often), but everytime I do it, I see the benefit of doing it more frequently. If you're smelling something funky coming from your fridge, and all offending products have been removed - you're smelling the fridge. It's time to clean the fridge with Antiseptic Soap Spray shelf-by-shelf, and get some new baking soda in there. The classic 16 oz. Arm & Hammer baking soda box should be refreshed every month.
  • Last on the list, sweeping and mopping - and I promise to include those recipes for mopping today. 
Just think, when you're all done with these steps, you will feel as lovely and safe as she does in her kitchen:

March 21, 2010

Eco-Cleaning: Indoor Air Quality

In cities across the world, the health of the air is monitored. Particularly in the summer, in a big city or a valley, you can see a "Bad Air Day".

We primarily can't see the air pollution in our homes, unless you're talking about those little dust faeries you catch a glimpse of in a sunbeam. Most of the pollution in our homes is either brought in from the outdoors, tracked in on our shoes and trapped by our carpeting; or is actually from the stuff our homes are made of

Three simple solutions:
  • Take your shoes off when you come home, leave them in a basket by the door, and wear a sweet, cozy pair of house slippers.
  • Make sure you're using a HEPA filter vacuum. Otherwise, you might as well do this with the contents of that vacuum bag when you're done:
  • Unless it is a "Bad Air Day" or it's freezing outside, throw open those windows - and invest in some houseplants. They keep the indoor air clean and healthy - and they're pretty.

There are many more things to be done, these are the beginnings to a healthy home. If I've missed any tips/tricks you know about - please share. Always, always, share. If you want to learn more, try first my favorite resource for this info: Healthy Child, Healthy World. You don't have to have a kid to want to have a healthy home.

Eco-Cleaning: The First Recipes

These are the first of the recipes that you will be using as you clean your living areas; but keep in mind that you will use them in other rooms, and perhaps in other capacities. That's one of the great things about these cleaners - they are so very versatile.

Every cleaning kit needs the multi-tasking, all-purpose surface cleaner - your new, improved, organic kit will be no different:

  • Fill a 16 oz. squirt bottle with a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water. Add 15-20 drops of an essential oil with antiseptic qualities of your preference (tea tree, lavender, lemon).
Use this recipe for cleaning surfaces after dusting, such as plastic or metal blinds, painted wood surfaces, painted walls, molding - and those once-funky fan blades.
  • Furniture Polish: Fill a 16 oz spray bottle with 1 cup light olive oil, 20+ drops pure essential lemon oil, 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, and fill remainder of the bottle with purified water*.
Shake well before each use. Spray onto your rag, or directly onto furniture. Buff dry immediately. *Purified water is optional, but recommended based on pH levels of tap water being too hard/soft for proper treatment of wood. You can and should also use this polish on any wood cabinetry you may have throughout your home.

  • Glass Cleaner: Fill a 16 oz. spray bottle with Club Soda. That's it. Spray your glass. Wipe with a lint-free rag. 
I promised you all a fabulous carpet cleaning method that is all natural, as well as some remedies for removing stains:
  • Mineral Water is an excellent all-purpose stain remover
  • For fruit juices/red wine: blot with towel and cold water. Keep blotting and add kosher or sea salt or club soda to lift the stain.
  • Grease: Pour boiling water over the grease, then dry baking soda.
  • Blood: Cold water or hydrogen peroxide OR a paste or cornstarch with water. Allow to dry and brush away.
  • Rust: Saturate with lemon juice. Rub with Salt.
Now that you've pretreated your stains, prepare a mixture of 1/8 cup castille soap to 2 gallons of hot water. Steam clean using standard equipment. Repeat process until water comes up clear. Allow to dry before heavy use (translate: kids, pets).

And as for deodorizing the carpet, depending on how much square footage you have to cover, you'll need a 1/2 cup to a cup of baking soda. Add about 20 drops of lavender essential oil per cup, and stir. Sprinkle the aromatic blend atop your carpet, and let sit for 30 minutes to do its thing. After that half hour, vacuum as normal - and enjoy the fresh, clean, phthalate-free air.

Onto the tools of the trade. As I've mentioned, 16 oz. spray bottles are a favorite of mine. As well, a glass shaker (like from the pizzeria) is perfect for the baking soda deodorizer sprinkle, lint-free rags - like the ones you can find from the company Twist are a favorite in my kit for dusting and mopping (I even attach them to the base of my old Swiffer).

Now I am going to completely blow your minds and go against the gospel of Martha, Mothers, Grandmothers, and French Maids everywhere by saying this: Feather Dusters do nothing but further spread the dust. Unless you have the right kind (expensive ostrich feathers) – you are just making a bigger, allergy-fest of a mess. So unless you feel the need to dress up like this when you clean:

Just don't use it, it doesn't help with anything. What you need are microfiber dust cloths: they pick up the dust and keep it held on tight – it's like some sort of dust magnet. When you collect too much dust on one cloth, just take it to the sink, clean it off in warm water with a drop or two of tea tree or lavender oil; and set it in the sun to dry. On to the next dust cloth.