Archive | Cleaners

Clean Your House With Only 5 Ingredients


 Clean Your Entire House with 5 Ingredients {}

5 simple natural cleaners! That is all you will need to clean 93.3492% of the surfaces in your home.  OK, so clearly I made up that statistic, but seriously  most of your home can be cleaned with 5 simple, cheap, safe, readily available ingredients.  It’s probably what your grandma used.  And grandma is always right!

I could go on and on about how toxic the air inside your home can be, or how commercial cleaners are potentially dangerous.  Instead, I’m going to appeal to your cheap, eh I mean, frugal  side.  If you could get away with spending like $5 a year on cleaning solutions, wouldn’t you! ?  Again, pulling that $5 out of the air, but it’s not far off.

Ingredient – Natural Cleaners

1) White Distilled Vinegar – disinfects and deodorizes

2) Baking Soda – mild, scrubs without scratching

3) Hydrogen Peroxide – disinfects (recognized by EPA as a disinfectant)

4) Rubbing Alcohol – disinfects

5) Castile soap (or other liquid soap of your choosing, NOT anti-bacterial) – you need some sort of soap

I bet you already have these in your house.  

You will also need some empty spray bottle and labels!  You can find bottles at dollar stores, Home Depot, hardware stores, Walmart,Target among other places.   Do yourself a favor and label the bottles with the recipe and directions if needed so when they run out, they can easily be refilled. 


All-purpose cleaner (Cost $0.75, without essential oils $0.15)

This can be used on any hard non porous surface.  NOT FOR GRANITE OR MARBLE.

2 cups water
½ cup distilled white vinegar
Optional (10 drops lavender, 10 drops lemongrass, 10 drops lemon)

Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle.

If you don’t like the smell of the white vinegar, try infusing it with citrus peels first.


Granite Cleaner (Cost: $0.10)

¼ cup rubbing alcohol
3 drops liquid soap
2 cups water

Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle


Disinfectant (Cost: $1)

Put a spray top on that bottle of hydrogen peroxide.  Make sure to keep the hydrogen peroxide in the brown bottle.  Light will break it down.

Spray the surface – counter, doorknobs, faucet, lunch box, water bottle, .. .– with hydrogen peroxide and let it sit.  For lunch boxes and water bottles, I rinse after at least 10 minutes, then let dry. 


For extra disinfecting

Spray some  pure vinegar on the surface, then spray the hydrogen peroxide.

The mixture of the 2 creates a super disinfectant. Some sources claim this combination will kill Salmonella and E. Coli. Never combine the 2 into one bottle and store. This can create a bad combination to leave around your house. I use this on my counters on occasion, cutting boards, kids’ reusable bottles, anything I feel needs a little extra attention.


Inside Refrigerator

Baking soda mixed with a  bit of water to form a paste.



Sprinkle with baking soda
Spray with water to moisten
Let sit over night, might need to re-moisten
Scrub off in the morning



Into the bowl – 1 TBSP of castile soap, 1/3 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup vinegar
Let it fizz for a few minutes
Scrub toilet


Windows (Cost: $0.30)

¼ cup rubbing alcohol
¼ cup white vinegar
1 TBSP cornstarch
2 cups  hot water

OK, so cornstarch wasn’t on the original list.  You caught me!  (good for you for making it this far!)  It can be left out, but I’m guessing you have some.

Combine everything into a spray bottle and shake well, each time before using.

May need to clean a few times to remove the ammonia residue from old cleaners. 



For Hardwood or other sealed wood floors – mostly just pick up the dust with a soft dry mop or vacuum with a gentle vacuum – ie. No beater brush as you would use on a carpet. 

When you mop – use some white vinegar with warm water.  


Ceramic tile 

Same vinegar and water solution as above.



Mix baking soda and soap into a paste. 
Scrub with an old toothbrush.  


Foaming Hand Soap (Cost: $0.50)

¼ cup (2oz) castile soap
2 cups Water

Place this mixture into any foaming hand pump.  You can do this with any liquid soap.  Some people melt a bar of soap in water.  You can also get fancy and add essential oils for scent or glycerin for moisture.

With one more ingredient, you can make the BEST stain remover for clothing EVER!

What other cleaners do you use?


This post is part of Green Sisterhood’s Earth Month Blog Party.   For more great ideas from my sisters, check out the following blogs:

Almost All The Truth
Green 4 U
Green Talk
The Greening Of Westford
Jen and Joey goes Green
The Soft Landing
Eco-Novice: Going Green Gradually

 Earth Month Blog Party #earthdaygs



How To Clean Stained Mugs WITHOUT SCRUBBING!

How To Clean Stained Mugs WITHOUT SCRUBBING  {}

 Oh those white porcelain mugs! Perfect for drinking your morning tea or coffee.  Also perfect for stains.   Coffee and tea can wreak havoc on white mugs. You’ve tried scrubbing, even with your beloved baking soda, but it barely makes a dent.  Well, stop scrubbing and clean stained mugs the easy way.

Getting rid of these stains is pretty easy.  You will still be using your baking soda, but no scrubbing.

Clean Stained Mugs


Step 1:  Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda into the mug.  About a 1/4 cup or more depending on how stained it is.




Step 2: Add boiling hot water to the mug.  Fill all the way so all the stains are covered with water.  Let the mug sit.  Forget about it and come back later.  At least 15 minutes, but the longer the better.



Step 3: Dump the water and rinse.  Voila! Clean mug.  I sometimes grab my nylon scrubber and run it along the edges that may not have totally come clean, but that is it!

What are your quick, easy cleaning tips?

This post is shared at Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural , Fabulously Frugal Thursday


Thieves Oil Concentrate: What a Steal!



Homemade Thieves Oil Concentrate

Cold and flu season is upon us.  Runny noses, germs, viruses…  It’s not enough for me to pull out the bleach, but I do like a little extra protection.
Have you heard of Thieves Oil?   Legend has it that back in the 15th century, 4 thieves used a secret formula to protect themselves from the plague so they could rob the dying and dead.
And of course, you can make this yourself with simple, inexpensive, easy to find ingredients.  Recipes vary, but the common mixture is cinnamon, cloves, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary.  We can’t be sure that thieves actually used this mixture to protect themselves from the plague, but these ingredients are antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-infectious. So give it a go!  It smells great.

Thieves Oil Concentrate (Cost: approximately $1.25 per batch)

Zest of 1 large lemon (cut the peel off to make it easier to use again)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 cinnamon sticks (buy in bulk at Whole Foods)
¼ cup whole cloves (buy in bulk at Whole Foods)
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil (GNC or online)


Homemade Thieves Oil Concentrate {}

  1. Fill a pot with a quart of water and add the first four ingredients.
  2. Heat on the stove top to boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Or, once the mixture has boiled, turn off the heat and let it sit for 2 hours.
  3. Strain the mixture and pour the remaining liquid into a glass jar.  Glass is better than plastic for many reasons!  But in this case, the essential oils can react with plastic.
  4. Add the five drops of eucalyptus oil.


You can re-use the ingredients for another 2-3 batches. I store mine in the freezer for later use.
This concentrate can be mixed with equal parts of water and kept in a spray bottle.  I use mine as a quick disinfectant for the bathroom.  I really like the smell too.

A Quick Note On The Ingredients

Whole cloves can be super expensive in grocery stores.  Anywhere from $3 – 4 for a small bottle.  Here is where the bulk spices at Whole Foods comes in.  I purchased 2 cups of whole cloves for $6.65.  Which comes out to be about $0.83 for the ¼ cup you’ll need for this recipe.
Cinnamon sticks can be expensive too – I bought 10 good quality cinnamon sticks for $0.99 at Whole foods.  That would have cost me $5 prepackaged – maybe more.

Make sure to cut your lemon peel and not zest (grate it).  I learned this the hard way!   See my lemon zest in the picture?  It’s really difficult to get the zest back after straining to use again.


How To Use Your Thieves Oil Concentrate

Fill a spray bottle with equal amounts of Thieves Of Concentrate and water.
Spray on surfaces or in the air as a disinfectant.
It love the smell as it simmers on the stove. 
This quart of concentrate will cost you about $1.25.  From this you can make 2 quarts or 2 full sized bottles of disinfectant!  Talk about saving money!  And you can trust these ingredients.

Do You Use Any Homemade Cleaners?

This post is shared at Tiny Tip Tuesday, Your Green Resource, Simple Lives Thursday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Penny Pinching Party, Simply Natural Saturdays, Seasonal Celebration Sunday


Save BIG on Amazing Dishwasher Detergent!

Savings on green dishwasher detergent

I have recently found a couple of online stores that have great deals on organic and natural products like essential oils, castille soap, chia seeds and more.  I had to tell you about this offer!

BioKleen Automatic Dish Washing Detergent with Grapefruit Seed and Orange Peel Extract
Great product!   And is on sale right now at for $5.09.  This product is normally anywhere from $7.99 to $8.99 anywhere else.  ($8.49 at, so this is 40% off).  I have tried making my own dishwasher detergent a few times and have not liked the results.  I think the hard water around here makes it tough.

Then get free shipping. gives free shipping for orders over $25.

Are you a member of  You can save another 12% by shopping through their link.  I think this is a temporary doubling of the cash back so act quickly, not sure when it runs out.

If you do not currently have an ebates account, sign up for one.  You are eligible to receive a $10 gift card to your choice of Target, Home Depot, or $5 from ebates when you first sign up. Plus then you’ll get the 12%.  Ebates is a shopping site.  If you shop online through their links, you will receive a certain % of your purchase back in cash quarterly.  I have only been a member for a few months and have already earned almost $25 shopping the same stores I always do – vitacost,, Groupon, Land’s End, and many more!

Are you a members?  No.  GREAT!  New customers are getting a $50 gift certificate with a $25 purchase!  I wasn’t able to confirm this since I already have an account with them but I saw it on the home page of

Plus, right now at, there is a BUY ONE, GET ONE 50% off deal for NOW essential oils.  I stocked up on lemon and rosemary!  Make sure you get the deal, I had to call customer support to get mine.

I ordered 4 of the dishwasher detergents, wondering if I should have gotten more…..

[Disclosure: If you sign up for ebates or vitacost through the links above, I will get a few dollars in my accounts.  I am planning on using this money to buy new “green” products to review on this site.]

This post has been shared at Monday ManiaFrugally Sustainable and Green Living and Giveaways.


15 Ways to Green Your Laundry



As part of Going Green With the Grizls Summer Blog Challenge, today’s topic is “How do you do your laundry?? Give your laundry tricks“.

Let me start by saying that I never liked doing laundry.  I am on the short side and carrying a large basket of overflowing laundry down and back up the stairs is not fun!  

A few years ago, however, we added on to our second floor and were able to move the laundry room up there!  HEAVEN!  Now I really didn’t have much to complain about before since our laundry was on the main floor of the house, but this is sooo much better.  All the clothes STAY on one floor!  I am not saying this to brag, but as a heads up.  If you are in this position, think about it!  No lugging clothing, no hampers in each person’s room, set up a few baskets in the laundry room for different colors and your sorting is done – well, if your family gets the system.  Still working on mine.

Now for my tips.  Once again looking through my “green” lens.

  1. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water   90% of the energy used to wash clothing goes toward heating the water. Your clothes will be just as clean washed in cold water.  I had a hard time with this one at first. I slowly switched to warm and always used a cold rinse cycle. Eventually I went “cold” turkey and all is fine.  I don’t use a special detergent either.   Take a look at this website to figure out how much you could save.  My Average Annual Savings: $70
  2. Wash Full Loads Only You use the same amount of electricity to wash a small load as a large one. You will also save water. The larger load will use more water, but it most likely won’t be as much as two smaller loads.
  3. Use Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent Conventional detergents are derived from petroleum.  They wreak havoc on the eco-system, unlike those derived from vegetable oils.  Look for plant-based detergents, free of bleach and artificial scents.  For ratings on detergents, try or try making your own.
  4. Use Less Detergent Read the directions and make sure you are only using enough.  More doesn’t get your clothes cleaner, but it will leave a residue.
  5. Skip the Dryer Sheets Dryer sheets contain synthetic fragrances which can cause harm.  Sometimes the residue from your detergent makes your clothes rough.  Try putting vinegar in the rinse cycle to remove the residue.  You can also try mixing liquid fabric softener with water in a spray bottle and using that in your dryer.  Again, choose a safe one.
  6. Use Dryer Balls If you have a problem with static, dryer balls might be the answer.  I made some out of wool yarn.  Before I started to use them, I had such a problem with static.  Not so much now.
  7. Use Eco-Friendly Stain Removers There are loads of DIY stain removers out there.  The best tip though is to get to the stain BEFORE it goes through the wash and as quickly as possible.  Of course, that is easier said than done.  If you have a really tough stain that you don’t think will ever come out, try this!  Vinegar and water (50/50 mix) works great for BBQ sauce, pet stains, grass, ketchup, orange juice, jelly and wine.
  8. Use a Second Spin Cycle  
    If you are doing a large load of towels, you might be better off using a second spin cycle in your washer before drying. The spin cycle can remove more of the water in a shorter time than it takes for your dryer to do the work.
  9. Make the Switch to a Newer Front-Loading Washer  
    If you are in the market for a new washer, consider a front loading model. They use less water and energy. Look for an Energy Star rated washer, but still compare the usages. All energy star rated appliances need to meet certain energy efficient standards. However, some far exceed those standards while other squeak by. Do your research.
  10. Clean the Dryer Lint Filter  
    Cleaning the lint filter after each use will make sure air is flowing efficiently.  If you use dryer sheets, occasionally scrub your lint filter with a toothbrush and soap.  Chemicals can build up on the screen clogging it.
  11. Line Dry  
    It’s free! Use the power of the sun, especially during these hot summer days. The dryer is one of the biggest energy using appliances in your home – second to the refrigerator. Check out the cost of drying a load of laundry at this site.  Using my latest bills, electricity costs $0.134 per KWh and gas is $1.42 per Therms, including all account charges.
  12. Clean the Dryer Exhaust Vent  
    Make sure the dryer exhaust vent is clear of lint as well.
  13. Use the Moisture Sensor on Your Dryer    
    Using the moisture sensor will ensure that your dryer stops when your clothes are dry. Make sure it works first! I discovered that mine was not working, so I use the timer and only need to run my dryer 30 – 40 mins. depending on what is in there.
  14. Don’t Iron   
    Irons use a lot of energy. I jumped for joy when I heard this one.  I do not like to iron! Hang up shirts when they are still damp to avoid wrinkles. Folding clothes while they are still warm from the dryer is another way to avoid wrinkles.
  15. Wash Some Items Less Often Not everything needs to be washed after one use.  You make that call, but towels certainly fall into this category.

What are your laundry tips?

[Top picture used under Creative Commons license by Ed Yourdon/Flickr]

This post is shared at Your Green Resource Frugally SustainableTeach Me Tuesday and Frugal Fridays.



Don’t Toss Those Citrus Peels!

citrus infused vinegar for cleaning {}
 A while ago I investigated ways to use citrus peels – beyond composting them.    In doing so I came across infused vinegar.  I was intrigued.   I have since made infused vinegar several times with oranges, lemons and grapefruit.  I am addicted!   
Why would I want infused vinegar?  Do I cook with it?  Maybe you could, but I use mine for my homemade cleaners.  The vinegar extracts the essential oils from the citrus peels,  mellowing the smell of the vinegar and  adding a boost of cleaning power to the vinegar.
I love that I can get extra use out of something before it gets composted.  If you are just getting started making your own cleaners, this is a great, cheap way to start without investing in essential oils.
I substitute one of these infused vinegars for the vinegar in any of the homemade cleaner recipes, then skip the essential oils. 
What You Need
ingredients to infuse vinegar
Citrus peels – orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, or a combination
Glass jar with lid – reuse an old spaghetti sauce jar
White distilled vinegar
The Method
Save your citrus peels – I save mine in the freezer until I have enough to fill the glass jar.
inexpensive green cleaners
Fill the jar with your peels, really stuff them in there, the more the better. (Can you tell my orange peels are frozen?)
vinegar cleaners {}
  Fill the jar with distilled vinegar.  Make sure all the peels are covered by the vinegar, otherwise mold could start growing.  Get the kids to help!
citrus infused vinegar cleaner
 Let the jar sit for 1 – 2 weeks, gently shaking every once in a while.  Give it a wiff every once in a while. When you can smell more fruit than vinegar, it’s done.
 Strain the vinegar and keep in another jar to use.
Have you ever infused vinegar?

This post is part of Vintage MauveFrugally SustainableSeasonal Celebration SundayYour Green ResourceSimple Lives ThursdayWorks For Me Wednesday,  Frugal Fridays, Simply Natural SaturdaysHome is Where the Heart IsTiny Tip Tuesday, Green Sisterhood Weekend Reading List, Green LivingThursdayFabulously Frugal Thursday, From The Farm, Wildcrafting Wednesday

This post was featured at Tiny Tip Tuesday!!!


No Sew Reusable Swiffer Pads

Long ago I bought a Swiffer Wet Jet.  I absolutely loved it!  It was great for quickly cleaning up small spills.  With kids and a dog, that makes life very easy. 
As my green journey continued though, I became less and less in love with the disposable cleaning pads that go along with the Swiffer.  I changed them less frequently and used the Swiffer less and less.
There has to be a way to make a reusable pad.  I do not sew!  But my mom does.  So I started prototyping so I could tell her what to sew.
I have seen really cute ones that you slip onto the Swiffer head.  I thought those might come loose as I was scrubbing, so I thought Velcro might help keep it in place.  Well, this did the trick, without any sewing!

What you will need:

Self-Stick Hook and Loop (Velcro with a sticky backing)
Microfiber cloth 

What to do:

Step 1:  Take the “hook” part (the stiffer side) of the hook and loop and stick it on the Swiffer head.  


Step 2: I took a microfiber cloth and wrapped it around the head.  
Step 3:  The final product looks like this.
I started testing it out and the cloth stuck!  It doesn’t look as pretty as the ones you can buy on Etsy, but it works!  I just remove the cloth and wash it. 
I did leave one of my last disposable pads on the Swiffer for extra cushioning.  I use this mostly on hardwood floors with very little water, so the disposable pad does not get very wet.  I think I’ve had the same one for quite a while.  I’m sure there are other things I could use if needed.
I never bought the replacement cleaning solution.  I just use a spray bottle with a mixture of vinegar and water.  I squirt the floor then mop.  If you like the cleaning solution dispenser on the Swiffer, there are plenty of DIY solutions for that out there too.

What other disposables have you ditched?

This post is being shared at Frugal Days Sustainable WaysFrugal FridaysTeach Me Tuesdays and Simple Lives Thursday.


Pit Stain Remover That Actually Works!

 Pit Stain Remover That Actually Works!  Amazing natural stain remover with only 3 common ingredients.  {}

If you own any white shirt you know those awful disgusting yellow armpit stains that develop over time.  Especially on T-shirts. 
Well, we have some of those shirts in our house.  Eventually, they get too disgusting and must be used for something else.  I had just accepted that this was part of the life cycle of a white T-shirt.  Until now….
I saw a post in Glamour magazine for “The Only Spot Remover You’ll Ever Need” so I decided give it a go.  The original post calls for 1 part Dawn dish washing liquid and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide.  I altered it slightly as this original recipe didn’t seem to work as well as claimed.  Based on another bloggers experience, I added baking soda to the mix.
1 part Dawn Dishwashing liquid
2 parts hydrogen peroxide
½ part baking soda
  1.  Mix everything together.  I wasn’t too scientific on the quantities, I eyeballed it. 
  2.  Using a brush (an old toothbrush works great) brush the mixture on the stains.
  3. Then let it sit.  I had intended on checking every half hour or so to figure out how long it took, but I got busy and forgot!  Somewhere between 1 and 3 hours does the trick. Probably depends on the stain.

Note:  You should mix this recipe fresh each time you use it.  Hydrogen Peroxide looses some of it’s power when exposed to light.  Guess you could trying storing it in an opaque container…

OMG!  It works.  Why am I not surprised that baking soda boosted the cleaning power!  This stuff is awesome.
before and after eco-friendly stain remover
These pictures do NOT do it justice.  Please take my word for it!
I also tried some other random stains.  It worked!  Ring around the collar – gone!  I have only tried white shirts so far, but based on both sources above it should work on colored fabrics as well.
For the first test, I specifically bought Dawn.  I couldn’t find just plain old Dawn rated in Good Guide so I don’t know what the health score is.  But I was happy to see that some of the other Dawn products had a score of 8 out of a possible 10.
Still I would rather use something a little more natural.  I had some Kirkland Environmentally Friendly Dish Soap that I am trying out.  Honestly, I have no real clue as to how environmentally friendly this really is.  The claims on the bottle seem nice, but may not mean anything.  I’m still researching how “green” it is.  But for now, I just wanted to see if you REALLY needed Dawn.  The results:  I don’t think so.  It seemed to work just as well with my Kirkland dish soap.
So, armed with dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and a toothbrush you can rid some of those stubborn stains.  I’d be really interested to see how this works on baby spit up!
You can do so much with simple household ingredients.  You really don’t need all those fancy cleaners.  TO find out how to use my old friend’s baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and a few others to clean the rest of your house, take a look here.

Update 4/23/12:  Many people have tried this and commented on how well it has worked.  Here are a few examples:
  • cooking oil from a cotton, lavender sweatshirt
  • chocolate milk from a cream colored, cotton, blouse
  • some pretty nasty ring around the collar from a yellow, cotton t-shirt.
  • white carpet freshly stained with V8 strawberry/banana juice

What are your favorite stain removers?

This post is part of Frugal Ways Sustainable DaysYour Green Resource, Healthy 2Day Wednesday.


Spring Cleaning: Bathrooms

I hate cleaning the bathroom!  Scrubbing toilets and showers are not my idea of fun.  This Spring Cleaning focuses a little more on clutter clean out ( potentially dangerous items too) and trying to change one thing greener.

So here goes – the Before Shots.

BEFORE: Under the sink


  1. Open the windows to get some fresh air in there.  Indoor air quality can be much worse than outdoor.
  2. Empty all cabinets and drawers and clean all surfaces.  I won’t go into details here, you know what to do.  Try using at least one, if not all green cleaners.
As you empty, collect the following into groups:


  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications:   The options for disposal were not impressive, but here is what I found.  Smart Rx advises: DO NOT FLUSH, DO NOT POUR DOWN THE DRAIN.  These methods can cause the medications to enter the water supply or endanger aquatic life as it may make it’s way to rivers, streams or oceans. Do this:
    • Pour medication into a seal-able plastic bag.  If medication is a solid (pill or capsule) add water to dissolve it
    • Add  kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds (or anything that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets and children to eat)
    • Seal the plastic bag and put in the trash
  • Old Makeup:  containers can be recycled at any Origins.


  • Clean all hairbrushes and combs: Remove the hair, then soak brushes in mixture of warm water and baking soda, rinse, allow to dry
  • Clean Makeup Brushes: 
    • Fill sink with warm water and a few drops of tea tree oil (tea tree oil can be found at most grocery stores, Trader Joe’s and GNC.  It is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal)
    • Put a few drops of castile soap on the brush (mild shampoo can also be used)
    • Gently rub the bristles between your fingers
    • Rinse in the sink
    • Rinse with clean water, pat dry, lay flat to dry
  • Toothbrushes:  If it’s been a while, replace them.  Remember to upcycle the old ones and any empty plastic toothpaste tubes with Upcycle It!  Please place toothbrushes in a separate bag.


The Results

AFTER: Under the sink
AFTER: Medicine Cabinet

I found way too many expired OTC medications.
Most of what I had under the sink, did not need to be here.

Note to self – clean makeup brushes more often!  

Personal Care Products

As you are doing all this, note how many different personal care products you use – this includes shampoo, conditioner, soap, makeup, deodorant, moisturizer, hair products, tooth paste, etc.  How many did you count?  I counted 17 for me.  I’m sure I’m missing some.
I just want to give you some food for thought.  Here are some disturbing facts about personal care products:
  1.  There are no real regulations for personal care products.  Companies are NOT required to test for safety before they hit the shelves. 
  2. All ingredients do NOT need to be disclosed.
  3.  Three common ingredients used in many personal care products have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption to name just a few.  These are parabens, phthalates, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Did you find these in your products?
  4. Our skin is the largest organ on our bodies and is really good at absorbing stuff.

So think about changing just one item.  I am continually working on this.  During this bathroom clean out, I got rid of the nail polish remover and most of the old polish.  

To find better alternatives, check out Skin Deep.   This website provides ratings for over 65,000 products.  

How did it go?  Did you make one thing greener?


Homemade, Non-Toxic Cleaners | Greene Westford

Here is this week’s column from Westford Patch.  Enjoy!

Greene Westford: Homemade, Non-Toxic Cleaners


Spring Cleaning: Your Refrigerator and Pantry







Here are my “before” shots. Besides using green cleaners for this job, my additional green twist was to really look at the labels of all the food I had. I wanted to decide whether this was something I wanted to buy again or did I need to look for an alternative.

To start, I gathered my arsenal of cleaning equipment:

  • Spray bottle of straight vinegar
  • All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Shaker of baking soda
  • Spray bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Compost bucket
  • Trash can (Yes, some things still needed to be tossed.)
  1. Empty each and every shelf. I did this one at a time.
  2. Clean the inside of the frig with the all-purpose cleaner. I started out using the straight vinegar, but switch to the diluted version in the all-purpose. The vinegar smelled lingered a lot longer in here – maybe because of the lack of air flow.
  3. For the bottom drawers and door holders, I sprayed them with straight vinegar followed by hydrogen peroxide and let them sit to really disinfect them.
  4. Obviously, the science projects were tossed and labels were inspected.
  5. Replace the baking soda
  6. Thanks to Reduce Footprints for reminding me to clean the coils in the back of the fridge to increase efficiency.
The Results

I gained a few empty jars and squeeze bottles to reuse. I LOVE reusing glass jars especially salsa jars. They are the perfect 1 cup size for leftovers, onions, or lemons, and have a nice wide opening.
I have WAY too many condiments. Some got tossed (found a few that were way past expired). I will be buying less in the future.
I need an alternative to Hershey’s Strawberry Syrup. Way too much sugar and RED 40 (for the dangers, click here). Yeah, the bright red was the dead giveaway!
Moved like things together and put taller items in the back.
I have more than enough food to last us a few more days. Woo Hoo! Don’t need to go grocery shopping tomorrow.
The method is similar to the frig.
The Results

Found several expired cans of food – tossed – peas from 2008 and soup from 2007!

I have LOTS of beans, but I couldn’t see them because they were all shoved into a basket on the top shelf. This is where my stash of glass jars and my label maker came in very handy. All the beans were put in clear glass jars and labeled.

Reorganized to put like things together and moved a few items to better places to give more space.
As much as I love pudding, I need to either make my own or find something else. Again, too much sugar and RED 40 in some.
Tag, you’re it! Does your frig or pantry need cleaning out? What did you find?

More from the Series:
Previous: Introducing: Spring Cleaning Series
Next: Spring Cleaning Series: Bathrooms


Introducing: Spring Cleaning Series

Spring always signals spring cleaning for me. It’s a time to switch out the winter clothes for warmer weather ones. In the process, weeding things out. Giving them away, making rags, or on occasion preparing for a yard sale.

I’m starting a series of Spring Cleaning posts. Hopefully they will inspire and help you with your spring cleaning. Of course they will have a green slant. As I move through areas or rooms of the house I will:

  • Give ideas on how to get rid of items you don’t need/want anymore – without throwing them in the trash.
  • Suggest green cleaners to use
  • Give tips on how to prepare yourself or room for going greener

The first one may seem like an odd first choice, but it really needed to get done here! Spring Cleaning: Clean Out Your Refrigerator and Pantry. Ok, so I do this one more than once a year, but it’s been a while. Plus with the recent developments in the Westford School Lunch Program, I NEEDED to do this now.

Stay tuned later in the day for my tips on how to do this with an eye on the “Green”.
Do you have specific areas you’d like to see tackled or want to know how to get rid of particular items? Let me know!

[Photo taken by Karen Morse]

  1. Spring Cleaning: Your Refrigerator and Pantry
  2. Spring Cleaning: Bathrooms
  3. Spring Cleaning: Closets
  4. Spring Cleaning: The Office/Paper Clutter


My Favorite Uses for Baking Soda

baking soda cleaners
My grandma used baking soda for everything. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t get it. Now, I think baking soda is amazing! You can cook with it. It’s an unbelievable degreaser. Makes a mean, but gentle, scrub. It deodorizes just about anything. It’s totally safe and it’s cheap! Here is a small list of my favorites.

  • Refrigerator/freezer deodorizer – Keep your refrigerator and freezer smelling fresh with a good old box of baking soda.
  • Carpet Freshener – Sprinkle on carpets, let sit 15 minutes, then vacuum. You can mix essential oils with the baking soda to add a beautiful scent. I added lemon and orange to mine for a citrus smell.
  • Oven cleaner – Sprinkle your oven with baking soda, then mist with water. Let this mixture sit overnight, occasionally misting with more water to keep it moist. In the morning, wipe and scoop up the baking soda and the grime with it.
  • Dishes and pans – To make scrubbing easy, sprinkle with baking soda, let sit, then scrub clean. While baking soda is a very gentle scrub, test first on delicate surfaces.
  • Facial scrub – For years I have used a little baking soda mixed with a mild liquid cleanser as a facial scrub.
  • Drain Cleaner – Add ¼ cup baking soda, then vinegar, then hot water.

  • Toothpaste – I remember grandma brushing her teeth with a paste of baking soda and water. At the time I thought it was weird. I was about 8. What did I know!

  • Clean fruits and vegetables –let fruits and veggies soak in water with some baking soda.
  • Boost Laundry detergent – Add to laundry powder in the washer to boost the power of your detergent.
  • Insect bites or bee stings – Make a paste with water and place on bites to soothe.
  • Deodorant – Mix equal parts baking soda and cornstarch and apply.
  • Tub and Tile scrub – Mix 1 2/3 c baking soda, ½ cup liquid soap, then ½ cup water and 2 TBSP vinegar into a 16oz bottle. If baking soda residue is left, try rinsing with vinegar.
  • Scrubbing the inside of a stainless steel mug – This is my latest discovery. The inside of my stainless steel travel mug was looking pretty stained. I scrubbed it with baking soda and water and voila – clean mug! Next is my coffee pot! Updated 3/25/11 – Forget the scrubbing! Fill a microwave safe container with enough water to fill your mug, mix in a good amount of baking soda, heat, pour into mug and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub gently – CLEAN!
  • Cleaning a coffee bean grinder – Fill the bean grinder with baking soda, let sit, occasionally swirling the bean grinder to move the baking soda around. It dislodges particles stuck under the blades and freshens it at the same time.
  • Clean the grease-dust-gunk from above your cabinets – Sprinkle the tops of your cabinets with baking soda, mist with water, wipe clean.


The uses are limitless. I didn’t even touch the fun stuff like making volcanoes or clay. I buy baking soda in a huge package and have it stashed everywhere – under the kitchen sink, in the laundry room, and bathrooms. An old parmesan cheese shaker works great!

Have you discovered the awesomeness of baking soda yet?

baking soda to clean coffee potUpdated 3/25/2010 – I tried using baking soda to clean the inside of my stainless steel coffee pot. Didn’t work as well as with my mug, but it was a lot harder to scrub the inside of the pot. While researching for this post, I heard that people use baking soda to clean their coffee makers. Why not! So I dissolved about a 1/4 cup of baking soda in water, filled the machine and let it run. OMG! the black that was covering the inside of my coffee pot came flying right out! It is sparkling clean now. Look! I left that little bit of black so you could see what the entire inside USED to look like. Then scrubbed that out too! I’m not sure if the initial scrubbing I did loosened anything or maybe it was just the combo of hot water and baking soda, but try this!

This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways,  Seasonal Celebration SundaySimple Lives ThursdaySimply Natural Saturdays, Thank Goodness It’s Monday


Homemade Green Cleaners Made Easy

Chemicals are everywhere! In our furniture, flooring, cleaning products, toys, clothes… This list goes on. The more I read, the fact I keep coming back to is that even if a specific chemical hasn’t been linked with some detrimental effect, yet, it’s safety hasn’t been proven either.

Most of the “new” chemicals used today are not tested before they are put on the market. This is something that Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Healthy child Healthy World are trying to change. Until they succeed, I wanted to rid my family of as many of these chemicals as I could. Again, I started with the easy, inexpensive things – our cleaning products. So many can be made from safe ingredients you have around the house – edible ingredients that people have been using for years! And so cheap! Each of these cleaners costs less than $1, after the initial expense of the spray bottle ($1). And that’s including the essential oils. Skip those and you are talking $ 0.30. If you choose to reuse an old spray bottle, just make sure you clean it very well.

I started at the library with a few books on homemade cleaners. The one I really liked is Easy Green Living by Renee Loux. It was a great introduction. She organized the book according to the rooms in your house. First she explains the possible toxins in cleaners or other things. She then gives you alternatives – homemade and store bought.

All of the ingredients were very easy to get. I did order some essential oils, but you don’t need these. And if you decide you want them, try GNC at the Pheasant Lane Mall. They carry most of the popular ones – who knew! I then bought some spray bottles from the Dollar Store and made up my own labels using Microsoft Word and some clip art. So here is my list of non-toxic cleaners I use in the 2 messiest rooms.

What you will need:

Spray bottles (Dollar Store)
White Distilled Vinegar (Grocery Store)
Castile soap (Bed, Bath and Beyond (great price!) Grocery Store, Target, GNC)
Baking Soda (Grocery Store, BJ’s, Costco)
3 % Hydrogen Peroxide (Drug Store)
Essential oils (optional, but are available locally at GNC)



kitchen cleaning products
From left to right:

Hydrogen Peroxide (3% solution found in most drugstores) – I put an extra spray top (from an old bottle of window cleaner) onto the hydrogen peroxide bottle. Keep it in the original brown bottle to keep it from breaking down.

Distilled White Vinegar – Kept in a spray bottle. For more uses for vinegar, check out a great post by Live Green Mom.

Baking Soda – an old parmesan cheese shaker bottle filled with baking soda.

All Purpose Cleaner
2 cups water, ½ cup distilled white vinegar, 1 tsp castile soap, 10 drops lavender, 10 drops lemongrass, 10 drops lemon
If you have granite counter tops, do not use this. The vinegar can damage it.

Update: I’ve since eliminated the castile soap in this recipe.  I found that it often clumped and recently discovered that vinegar and castile soap don’t really work well together and can clump!


To clean counters and table: All Purpose Cleaner

To disinfect: I spray some of the pure vinegar then spray the hydrogen peroxide. The mixture of the 2 creates a super disinfectant. Some sources claim this combination will kill Salmonella and E. Coli. Never combine the 2 into one bottle and store. This can create a bad combination to leave around your house. I use this on my counters on occasion, cutting boards, kids’ reusable bottles, anything I feel needs a little extra.

Unclog a drain:

Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain
Pour 1 cup vinegar
Let it fizz for a while
Follow with boiling water

I also like to so this in the summer when I am having fruit fly problems. I read somewhere that they like to breed in your drain. I swear it helps!

Scrubbing Anything: I sprinkle a little baking soda on anything that needs extra scrubbing – pots, pans, dishes, the counter. Add a little water and it makes a great paste. Think of it as a substitute for Soft Scrub.

Oven Cleaner: Sprinkle your oven with baking soda, spray with water to form a paste. Let it sit for 12 hours. Wipe off. If the baking soda residue remains, spray with your straight vinegar. Vinegar dissolves baking soda.

Clean the Greasy Tops of Cabinets: I have to tell you how great baking soda is. If you have ever looked at the tops of your cabinets, especially the ones near the stove, you will notice a disgusting mix of grease and dust. The first time I tried to clean this mess, I was up there with a mixture of ammonia and water. Ugh the smell gave me a headache and it still wasn’t easy to clean. The next time I tried I knew better than to use ammonia. So I got up on my counter with my trusty shaker bottle of baking soda and a spray bottle filled with water. I sprinkled the baking soda all over the top of the cabinet then sprayed with the water, just enough to make a paste. I then wiped the paste away with a rag – the baking soda and all the grease-dust ick came right off! I was amazed! And no fumes!



bathroom cleaning products
Yes, that says USED baking soda. When I change the baking soda from my fridg and freezer, I keep it to use to clean the toilet or the drain, above. I just need the baking soda to fizz, it doesn’t need to be completely fresh to clean the commode.

Vinegar – mine is mixed with lavender, but you don’t need this.

Castile Soap


To Clean Toilet:

Into the bowl – 1 TBSP of castile soap, 1/3 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup vinegar
Let it fizz for a few minutes
Scrub toilet

Anti-bacterial Hand Soap:

4 oz castile soap
10 drops of tea tree oil

All purpose cleaner: same as above.

I am still experimenting with homemade laundry detergents and dishwasher detergents. So far, I am not impressed with the results, but I’ll let you know if I come across anything worth passing along. Will you try these? Are you already using something similar?

Update 2/7/2011: Since this post I have tried Charlie’s Soap Powder and Soap Nuts
for laundry and Bi-O-Kleen Automatic Dish Powder with Grapefruilt Seed &; Orange Peel Extract. I LOVE them all! More on this to come.  Check here for a great deal on Bio-Kleen 8/2012.

If you purchase these products through this link, I will receive a little pocket money.

This post has been shared on Frugally Sustainable’s Wednesday Blog Hop, Teach Me Tuesdays, Printabelle, Your Green Resource, and Tiny Tip Tuesday

This post was featured at Tiny Tip Tuesday.


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