Saturday, April 30, 2011

Green Your Pantry: 10 Do's and Don'ts


From safe, nontoxic food storage and green cleaning to the basics of whole bulk foods and integrated pest management, get started on a healthier Earth-friendly diet today with these tips. By Dan Shapley

Do: Stock Bulk Whole Foods

The pantry is the place for go-to foods you need to make meals. Most of your stores should be real foods – unprocessed whole foods, like grains, root vegetables, legumes, dried fruit and nuts – and minimally processed foods like pastas. A good rule of thumb: Foods without ingredient lists or heavy-handed health claims on their packaging (or without packaging at all) are the best choice. Those foods with short ingredient lists made up only of items you recognize and can pronounce are good, too. Anything else is best thought of as "food" in name only.

Don't: Stock Processed Foods

It's often true that whole foods take more time and expertise to cook well (though couscous will rival even the quickest of quick-fix meals) but it's also true that processed foods tend to be loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and other calorie-heavy ingredients, preservatives and an array of artificial colors – including some linked to attention deficit disorder, cancer and allergic reactions.

Don't: Use Plastic Food Storage Containers

Plastic may be versatile, lightweight and cheap, but some types of plastic also leach chemicals into foods. If you're keeping some plastic around, purge anything marked with a recycling code No. 3 or 7 first. Those numbers are used to mark hard plastics that often have the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A. Whatever you use for food storage, avoid microwaving or cooking in plastic, and avoid using plastics that show signs of age, since these conditions make chemical leaching more likely

Do: Use Nontoxic Food Storage Containers

Choose glass, ceramic and stainless steel over plastic whenever possible. These materials are long-lasting, can often be transferred directly from the pantry or fridge to the oven or microwave, and – most importantly, they won't leach chemicals into your food.

Don't: Overstock Canned Foods

Unfortunately, plastics aren't the only packaging that leach chemicals into foods. The lining of cans also contains the suspect chemicals bisphenol-A and phthalates, both of which can mimic human hormones. A recent analysis found that families can reduce their exposure to the two chemicals by more than 50% simply by steering clear of canned foods, like soups, tuna and beans. Canned foods are an important part of emergency preparedness, though, so you'll probably want to keep some on hand just in case. Eden Organic is one brand that uses BPA-free cans.

Do: Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products

Save space in the pantry by stocking just a few simple cleaning agents: baking soda, vinegar, alcohol, club soda and lemon juice. That, a little knowhow and some elbow grease are all you'll need to clean just about anything in the house, from the kitchen counters and the oven, to the windows and the toilet bowl. Best of all – unlike most toilet bowl cleaners – these ingredients are useful in cooking, and relatively safe around small children and pets. (Not up to the task? Try an off-the-shelf green cleaner.) If you're making the switch, don't dump those cleansers down the drain! Check with your local waste hauler, municipality or with Earth911 to find the nearest hazardous household waste drop-off location and time. (That's right: Many are so toxic, they're considered hazardous waste.)

Do: Stock Reusable Items

Whether it's cutlery, flatware, napkins or towels, the rule of thumb should be: Wash and reuse. If you're using disposable paper plates and napkins, or plastic forks and knives, they're not only cluttering your pantry but also cluttering our landfills. Don't be too quick to be taken in by marketing about biodegrable or plant-based items, either; the Earth-friendly choice is reuseable, and – in the long run – far cheaper. If you're in the market for reusable napkins and towels, check the vintage styles at to kick your reuse up a notch.

Do: Check Food Safety Recalls

Even if you are a conscientious health nut who buys only organic food, your shopping trips may not be immune from the dreaded food safety recall. In recent months, everything from organic alfalfa sprouts to organic ground beef has been recalled, along with the usual sad litany of industrially processed meats and "foods." Check for relevant recalls, or sign up for e-alerts from

Don't: Use Toxic Pesticides

Anyone who's stored food knows that nature is never far away. Whether it's mice in the rice or moths in the oatmeal, critters are sometimes hard to keep away, and harder to get rid of. Before resorting to the strongest poison on the market, try integrated pest management techniques – which range from sealing cracks where mice might enter to sprinkling cayenne pepper to deter ants. Consult with this list of natural pesticide alternatives compiled by Beyond Pesticides before resorting to commercial pesticides.

Do: Stock Good Cookbooks

There is no shortage of excellent cooking guides that aim to help you eat a more vegetable-based seasonal and organic diet. Some of our recent favorites include:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Laundry Detergent

I've posted my recipe for Cloth Diaper Detergent, but never considered to post the version for laundry detergent. Silly me :)

They are basically the same, except that the regular detergent has soap in it :)

What soaps can you use?

From my understanding, most any bar soap will do. I think most people try to choose something that's easy on the skin.

Fels Naptha (Love this stuff)
Ivory (I think you can even find flakes of this, which would be handy)
Kirk's Castile

So what's the recipe?

Basically it's this:
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/2 cup of oxiclean
1 bar of soap, finely grated

There are tricks to grating it. The best one I've heard is to chop it up (food processor can help here), lay it out on some cookie sheets to dry for a day or so, and then chop it up again (again, food processor, big help!) Be careful not to push your processor too hard (don't rush it!).

Now, I said that the above recipe is basically the recipe. I don't like leftovers and I don't like having to do things over and over again, so I like to make large batches. It's a little more work at the time, but a lot less work over time :D

Here's the full recipe:
3 Boxes Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 oz each)
2 Boxes 20 Mule Team Borax (76 oz each)
1 Large Tub OxiClean (96 oz)
24 Bars of Soap, finely grated

Depending on what soap you get and how you buy it (bulk, discount store, etc.) you can make a full batch of this for around $60 and it will last a VERY long time.

I've found that getting large buckets to mix this up makes it SUPER easy! Layer all of your ingredients into one (or more) buckets. Pour from one bucket to the next, and repeat until it's mixed to your satisfaction. That's it!

This recipe has a higher yield than the CD detergent, so yo may need more than 2 buckets to mix back and forth.

How do I use it?

I liked to use 2 tablespoons per load of laundry. My husband has a fairly dirty job and I have messy kids *cough*daughter*cough*

If I'm doing a cold wash, I have a jar that I keep close by that I can put my scoops into, add some hot water and help dissolve it a little before throwing it in the wash. It will work without doing that, but I like to.

**I'd like to make a note about the borax used in this recipe. A recent article by EWG cautions the use of borax for cleaning in the home noting that toddlers and young children face special risks from hand-to-mouth transfer of carpet or crack and crevice, dust or spray borax treatments. I would recommend not using borax as a general home cleaner - any cleaner (aside from pure water) used for these purposes will leave a residue. I feel comfortable using the minuscule amount in the detergent. It is not used on open surfaces and is washed out during the rinse cycle.

You can read a bit more on this debate here - there are some great points of view in the comments

Get Stains OUT! of Your Diapers!

So, you use cloth, Congrats!

Aaaaand you hate stains. You're in luck!

There is a crazy simple solution :)

The sun!

Wash and dry your diapers as usual. (Need help with that? Try these tips!)

Line dry your diapers. This works in cold weather (I wouldn't do it in freezing weather) and even cloudy days. Sunny days will work best, and warm days will help dry your diapers best of course, but the sun will bleach out the stains! It is truly amazing.

When you're all done (or the day is), bring them indoors. If they aren't dry, toss them in the dryer or let them air dry (I would ONLY do this if they were like the most itty bitty bit of damp.)

Enjoy your stain free diapers!

This is March in Ohio!
Don't have a clothesline? I use a retractable version mounted to our deck and it hooks onto our garage.

No place for even a retractable? No problem!

You can still sun through a window. I've done this before through a side window and it did work, not as fast, but it did work. I would imagine a larger window with more direct sunlight would work great. Try putting your diapers on a rack like this in front of the window.
 This method of "sunning" also works great on clothing stains from foods and other miscellaneous things.

See here about cleaning up stained kids clothes (and anything else for that matter).

Cloth Diaper Detergent

I have been using this since October 2008 with no issues. I've actually received compliments on used diapers that I have sold smelling so good and asking what I used :)

If you're looking for the clothing version of this, look here.

Here's what I do. It's cheap and I love it :)

More or less, It's: (this is not exact, since I use the larger recipe below)
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/2 cup of oxiclean

BUT.... I don't like having misc. leftovers, so I make up a batch... like this :)
It should cost $30, max.

3 Boxes Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 oz each)
2 Boxes 20 Mule Team Borax (76 oz each)
1 Large Tub OxiClean (96 oz)

Yes, it's a lot, but it's super cheap to make, so no biggie :) It just lasts forever. Or you can share :)

**I'd like to make a note about the borax used in this recipe. A recent article by EWG cautions the use of borax for cleaning in the home noting that toddlers and young children face special risks from hand-to-mouth transfer of carpet or crack and crevice, dust or spray borax treatments. I would recommend not using borax as a general home cleaner - any cleaner (aside from pure water) used for these purposes will leave a residue. I feel comfortable using the minuscule amount in the detergent. It is not used on open surfaces and is washed out during the rinse cycle.

You can read a bit more on this debate here - there are some great points of view in the comments.

**I see a lot of people asking where to purchase these supplies. If you are unable to find them locally (I've had great luck at our grocery store and others at hardware stores.) you can purchase everything to make this on at reasonable prices and that includes free shipping. They currently do not carry the 96 oz Oxiclean, so you would want to purchase two of the 56 oz that they offer.

This is my current wash routine:
I love this routine. My diapers have no smell and are so fresh. I have also been using an open pail (pail w/ no lid) and that seems to make such a huge difference when it comes to ammonia lingering.

Warm wash with cold rinse w/ 1 tablespoon of detergent
Hot (or warm) wash with cold rinse w/ 1 tablespoon of detergent

I have also done this in the past with good results:
Cold wash/rinse w/ 1 tablespoon of detergent
Hot wash/rinse w/ 1 tablespoon of detergent

If you are dealing with ammonia you can also add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vinegar to your hot wash 

Cleaning Up Stained Kids' Clothes

Each time I grab clothes for our youngest from storage I am faced with stains. I put clothes away washed and clean, but they come out with these awful, yellowed stains. They are protein stains that develop from proteins left in the fibers from drool and other things. I use to think that there was no saving them. I tried washing every which way and nothing worked. So when our youngest was due and I was faced with a tub of stained newborn clothes, I put my cloth diaper knowledge to work. I used the sun!

It worked beautifully! All of our baby clothes were saved and it was easy. I have since used this on just about any, and all, natural stains with great success. Here's what I do:

I have a wash tub in my laundry area, so I fill it about half full of hot water and added 2 or 3 massive scoops of Oxiclean. I mean the big green scoop that it comes with. I put on my rubber gloves and dissolve the Oxiclean in the water. I then add every piece of stained clothing, being sure to get each saturated. My objective is not to have it be a big pool of water, but just enough to get everything sopping and just a little left over (I want that Oxiclean super concentrated!).

You could do this in your tub or even in the washing machine - which would be ideal.

I let it all soak overnight. If I did this in the wash tub, I would transfer the laundry to the washing machine with the help of a bucket. I fill the machine as usual - using warm water and then add a normal amount of detergent. Do a normal wash cycle, but do not dry in the dryer!

Then, here comes the rest of the magic. I hung them all out to dry in the sunshine.

Voila! Every stain was gone. They all looked like new! I couldn't believe it. Some of the stains were awful too. I had a couple of outfits that were headed for the trash, but I thought I'd toss them in and give them a chance. They look like new too. Wow, just wow.

Thank you oxygen action and sunshine, you have saved me, yet again :)

This is great for getting clothes ready for donating or yard sales, for salvaging stained family favorites and more.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Various recipes for green cleaning



Laundry LiquidMakes 10 litres
You may add any essential oil of your choice to these homemade cleaners. Oils like tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender or rose are ideal but are not an essential ingredient. They are not necessary to the recipe but do not detract from the effectiveness by adding them. Use essential oil and not a fragrant oil.

1½ litres water
1 bar Sunlight or generic laundry soap or any similar pure laundry soap, grated on a cheese grater OR 1 cup of Lux flakes
½ cup washing soda – NOT baking or bicarb soda
½ cup borax

10 litre bucket
Slotted spoon or wooden spoon for mixing
Into a medium sized saucepan add 1½ litres of water and the soap. Over a medium heat, stir this until it is completely dissolved. Make sure the soap dissolves properly or the mixture will separate when cold.

Add the washing soda and borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat.

Pour this mixture into your 9-10 litre bucket then fill the bucket with hot water from the tap. Stir to combine all the ingredients. The laundry liquid will thicken up more as it cools. When cool, store in a plastic container. I use one of those 10 litre flat plastic box containers with a lid. Use ¼ cup of mixture per load or monitor to see what works well for you. I keep a ¼ cup measuring scoop in the box to measure the mixture into the washing machine.

This detergent will not make suds when you wash as it does not contain the chemicals that supermarket detergents add to make suds. You do not need suds to wash your clothes or for the detergent to be effective. The agitation of the washing machine does most of the washing. Additives loosen the dirt and grease. If you use the greywater from your laundry on your garden, leave out the borax.
All these washing aids are suitable for top loaders AND front loaders. I have been using them in my front loader machines for years with no ill effects.

So, lets do a costing on this first recipe of 10 litres of laundry liquid.
These prices are a bit old, I'd say today in Australia it would cost about $2

Lux Flakes - $5.50
Sunlight soap 4 pack - $2.47
Homebrand laundry soap 4 pack - $1.39
Borax 500 grams - $2.55
Washing Soda 750 grams - $1.65
I’ll use the median soap price (Sunlight) for my calculations.
1 bar of Sunlight soap = 61 cents
½ cup borax = 63 cents
½ cup washing soda = 55 cents
Total comes to $1.79 for 10 litres of laundry liquid. The equivalent amount of national brand, TV advertised detergent is currently $4.30 for a litre in a refill pack. So, $4.30 x 10 = $43.00 for the same amount.
And it works too!
There is also a powdered version of this recipe. I like the liquid because you can use it for stain removal too, but the powder is much easier to make up. I am now using the powder for my washing and the I usually have about a litre of the liquid made up for general cleaning.

CONCENTRATED LAUNDRY POWDER - this is the powder I use in my front loader
4 cups grated laundry or homemade soap or soap flakes (Lux)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and store in a plastic container with a lid. Use 2 tablespoons per wash. Again, this powder will not make suds and again, this is perfectly okay.

HEAVY DUTY WASHING POWDERFor use on worker’s greasy or dirty overalls, football and sports uniforms or fabric that has food spills.
2 cups grated Napisan soap
2 cups grated laundry or homemade soap
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and store in a plastic container with a lid. Use two tablespoons per wash. The powder will not make suds.

For a very heavily stained load of washing or tradesperson’s clothes, if you have a top loader turn the machine off when the powder is completely dissolved. In a front loader, operate the machine to dissolve the powder and then stop the machine for an hour to soak the clothes. Leave to soak for an hour, or overnight, and then turn the machine on and continue washing as normal.
NEVER EVER mix ammonia and bleach together. It will form a gas that could kill you.
½ cup ammonia
½ cup homemade laundry liquid
½ cup water

Mix all these ingredients well, and store in marked spray bottle.
Make sure you mark all your bottles so you know what they contain. If you reuse a bottle that previously contained other cleansers, make sure the bottle is completely clean and marked before you fill it with your homemade cleanser.

¼ cup borax or washing soda
2 cups cold water

Sponge on and let dry, or soak the fabric in borax mixture before washing in soap and cold water.

¼ cup hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup water

Mix together and dab onto stain. Leave two hours and repeat if necessary. Good on white clothes.

½ cup white vinegar in final rinse

NAPPY SOAKER and WHITENER (DIAPERS)Bicarb soda is a good pre-soaker for soiled nappies. Dissolve ¼ cup of bicarb soda in a bucket of warm water, soak for at least an hour or overnight, then wash the nappies in hot water with homemade laundry liquid. Add ½ cup of vinegar to the final rinse and let them dry in the sun.


ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER #1 - do not use on aluminium
1 tablespoon ammonia
1 tablespoon liquid soap or homemade laundry detergent
2 cups hot water
Combine in a spray bottle. Pour in hot water, screw on the spray bottle top and shake until completely dissolved. This cleaner can be stored in this spray bottle, so mark it “HOMEMADE ALL PURPOSE CLEANER” with a permanent marker.
Spray the cleaner on surfaces you wish to clean. Use your terry cloth to rub on as you go. For hard to move grease or dirt, leave the cleanser on for a few minutes before wiping it off.

½ cup washing soda
2 litres warm water
Mix together and store in a sealed plastic container that is marked with the name.
Can be used as a floor cleaner – tiles, laminate or vinyl or for general cleaning of walls, counter tops or sinks.

Combine equal parts of bicarb soda and course salt to scrub hard to move dirt and grease. This is an abrasive but it will make the sink shine. Finish off with a litre of water in the sink, add a cap full of liquid bleach and remove the plug. You’ll sanitise and clean the pipes at the same time. Wipe with a dry terry cloth.

¼ cup ammonia
2 cups of warm water

Be careful of the ammonia fumes.

Turn on the oven and leave to heat up for 5 minutes. Pour ammonia and warm water in a baking dish and leave in the warmed oven overnight. This will loosen the grime in the oven, which you can then clean with an ammonia-based cleaner or soap and water. You can also scour with a paste of bicarb soda and water.

This method works by a chemical reaction of the aluminium, salt and bicarb soda. Put the plug in the kitchen sink. Lay a piece of aluminium foil on the base of the sink and add your silverware. Pour in enough boiling water to cover the silver.
Add one teaspoon of bicarb soda and one teaspoon of salt to the water. Let it sit for about ten minutes. The tarnish will disappear without you touching it.

Simply pour about ½ cup of bicarb into a bowl, and add enough liquid soap to make a texture like very thick cream. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and start scrubbing. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bath and shower because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit.
Note: Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need at a time.

¼ - ½ teaspoon liquid or grated soap
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
spray bottle
Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand. The soap in this recipe is important. It cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you might have used in the past.

Vinegar and newspapers

Pour a little vinegar onto a sheet of newspaper and wipe windows. Remove all the grime and polish the window with a clean sheet of newspaper.

½ teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wooden surfaces. Seal in the glass jar and store indefinitely.

FLOOR CLEANER – tiles, vinyl or laminate
½ cup white vinegar plus 2 litres hot water in a bucket and a clean mop will clean up all but the worst floor. If you have a really dirty floor to deal with, add a squirt of homemade laundry liquid to this mix.

A clean mop is a necessity when cleaning floors. If you start with a dirty mop you’ll just loosen the dirt on the mop by making it wet again and then spread that on the floor. When you finished your cleaning jobs, rinse the mop out to get rid of the loose dirt then let it soak in the bucket half filled with water and a ¼ cup of bleach. Let the mop soak for 30 minutes, rinse the bleach out and dry the mop in the sun.

WOODEN FLOOR CLEANER - Ammonia will strip floor wax (one cup to a bucket of hot water)
2 tablespoons homemade vegetable soap - grated
½ cup vinegar
500 mls strong black tea
bucket warm water
Combine all the ingredients in the bucket and apply with a cotton mop.

Add a few drops of water to some bicarb and make a thick paste. Wipe over the crayon marks and scrub off with a terry cloth.

HOMEMADE OLIVE OIL AND COCONUT OIL SOAPThis is the recipe for another soap I use. It's a very simple soap that is nourishing and free of harmful additives. It is basically a castile soap with coconut oil added for its good lathering qualities.

Here is the recipe:
800mls of cheap olive oil - the low grade stuff is fine for this.
200mls coconut oil - you can get it from health food stores and Asian supermarkets.
130g caustic soda - from hardware stores or supermarket
400mls rain water
Make the soap up according to the instructions in the soap making tutorial post.

¼ cup Olssons cooking salt or any natural sea salt.
¼ cup bicarb soda

Make up ½ cup at a time and store it in a sealed jar. Just sprinkle some of the powder onto your toothbrush and clean your teeth in the normal way. This powder is bitter and takes a little while to get used to but it works well. I don't notice the taste now. You could add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to mask the taste.

HOMEMADE SHAMPOO - I also wash my hair with my homemade soap
This works very well. Say goodbye to all those expense hairdresser shampoos. It’s great for dandruff too.
Dissolve a tablespoon of bicarb soda in a cup of water. If you’ve got children, it might be better doing this in a squirt bottle.
Wet hair thoroughly and apply the mixture to the hair, massaging it in well.
To rinse, just run water through your hair, or you could use a splash of vinegar. The vinegar smell will go when your hair is dry.
You’ll be amazed at how good your hair feels. It will be clean and healthy.
This is an excellent shampoo for long and frizzy hair or short hair.

Add some bicarb to a shaker and use that. Dabbing a bit of bicarb under your arms is very effective as long as you wash every day.

It’s a great organisational tool and safety measure to keep a record of all the cleansers you use. If you ever have an accident with the cleansers, you’ll need to tell the doctor what the ingredients are so I recommend you keep your recipes together in a Homemaker’s Log Book. You can also keep food recipes in it as well as printed information you need in your home. I have made a Home Log from a three-ringed binder. That way I can add and remove pages when necessary. There is more about the Homemaker’s Log here.

Most of the ingredients for these recipes will be found in supermarkets in Australia. If you're in another country, I'd really appreciate you letting us know where you find your ingredients. Thank you ladies. : )

Home Ec: 7 Homemade Cleaning Products

Corbis Images

A few years ago I became overwhelmed by all the information about toxins in household cleaners. Determined to make healthy choices for my family and the environment, I switched to natural cleaners.
Like many organic products, I found the premium price almost prohibitive. Since then, I've moved almost exclusively to homemade products. First, I used mostly vinegar and baking soda solutions. They did something, but could hardly manage an intense clean. Now, I've found a handful of tested recipes that really get the job done.

Here are some great homemade cleaning products.


Commercial deodorizers can be harmful to your health. The American Lung Association cites them as a contributing factor to the spike in asthma cases. The Canadian Lung Association labels air fresheners as a hazardous product. It's no wonder that people are learning how to freshen their homes the natural way.

If you have an odor issue, first get rid of it. Sprinkle baking soda on your carpet, and leave it out overnight in dishes around the problem areas. Baking soda has an amazing ability to suck up odor. Once you're odor neutral, it's time to add some pleasant scents to the home. Many people still choose to make potpourri, while gelatin room deodorizers and reed diffusers are more modern solutions. For myself, I like this simple spray solution:

essential oilGetty Images
Baking Soda
Essential oil
Combine 4 cups of hot water with 1/4 cup baking soda and mix well. Add real lemon juice or your favorite essential oil. I like to alternate between lavender and grapefruit. When choosing oils, make sure you
select pure essential oils, and not synthetic ones.

The options are endless. Natural cleaning solutions that can be made easily and inexpensively are becoming more popular. People are eagerly abandoning commercial cleaners and sharing their homemade secrets. Here are a few more tips I've gathered from friends. Share yours in the comments.



1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons
4-5 drop orange or lemon essential oil (citrus cuts grease)
2 cups hot water

Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake well. If you need a little extra cleaning action, replace the baking soda with
washing soda. Washing soda is twice as strong as baking soda. It's recommended that you wear gloves and a mask when cleaning with washing soda, but don't worry, it still passes the natural ingredient test, and will cut through your toughest dirt and grime.

sink cleaner is so simple you can whip up a paste for each use.

3 tsp Lemon juice
3 tbs Cream of Tartar (you'll find it in the spice isle)

Combine the lemon juice and cream or tartar to make a paste. The proportions don't need to be exact, but the paste should be smooth and thick. Simply scrub it in gently and thoroughly then rinse it off to uncover your clean sink.

Chemical oven cleaner is one if the harshest household solutions, one many of us would happily avoid. This organic solution is a great alternative, but it still requires that you practice some precaution; see the
oven cleaner instructions for some other important tips.

1/2 cup of salt
1/2 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup of vinegar
cleaning ovenCorbis
Mix the ingredients together forming a thick paste. Cover any holes or openings with tin foil. Apply the mixture to the bottom and side walls of the oven. Leave overnigh. Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup vinegar in a spray bottle. Use this solution to wash off the paste.

Chemical based bathroom cleaners are the hardest to part with. Somehow we feel like cleaning the bathroom needs to induce a toxic headache or it's not really working. Trying out recipes like this one for natural toilet bowl cleaner is a great way to see just how well homemade solutions really clean.

2 tbs baking soda
1 tbs olive oil
3-4 drops essential oil (optional)

Pour the baking soda and olive oil into your toilet bowl and scrub it with a toilet brush. Add in a few drops of scented oil as a deodorizer.


With six homemade window cleaners, Tip Nut has you covered. Their cleaners range from your standard vinegar solution to some more creative black tea concoctions, and I've had the most luck with this simple recipe:

1 gallon water
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tbs lemon juice
Approx. 1 tbs dish detergent (liquid)
window cleaningGetty Images
Mix all ingredients together and store in a container, ready to refill your spray bottle. The lemon juice and dish detergent will cut through those greasy hand-prints. Spray the cleaner on your window and wipe it with a microfiber cloth, newspaper, or squeegee.


A pump in the bathroom, one in the kitchen, one in the playroom, three or four floating around the car and one in my purse; while it's true that nothing beats a good scrub with soap and hot water, for a family on the go hand sanitizers are essential. Here's how to make your own alcohol-free hand sanitizer:

1 cup pure aloe vera gel
1-2 tsp of witch hazel
8 drops of essential oils of your choice

Combine all ingredients, adjusting until you have your desired consistency and stir well. Tea tree oil is the best disinfectant, but isn't safe for pregnant women, children or pets. Other recommended oils include orange, lemon and basil. This recipe, along with some alcohol-based solutions and additional tips are all available from
No Ordinary Homestead.

Polish silverware: Fill your sink with hot water, sprinkle in some baking soda and add a sheet of tin foil. Let the silver soak for an hour, rinse and wipe clean.
Clean a vase or bottom of a container by adding rice to your cleaning solution. The rice scrubs all those hard to reach places!
Get rid of the smell in your sink by crushing orange or grapefruit peel in the garborator.
Sprinkle borax anywhere you've had rodent problems. They won't come near it.
Mop your floor with vinegar and hot water. Add a touch of olive oil for polish.

Homemade Cleaning Solutions

What’s the secret to effective green cleaning? Simple and effective cleaning solutions to save money and keep your home sparkling clean.
Kitchen 300x189 Homemade Cleaning Solutions
Although commercial products come with a list of potential risks, the use of essential oils to produce a natural cleaning is considered safe and environmentally non-toxic.
Essential oils are highly concentrated extractions of flowers, leaves, resins, barks, and the roots of plants. A good choice as an ingredient for an all natural cleaning agent, which makes sense considering essential oils traditionally have been used for thousands of years to improve human health.
Not only do they make tantalizing scents, but they’re known to have beneficial properties like relaxing the nerves and relieving anxiety. One of the reasons essential oils are ideal to use as natural cleaning ingredient is that they’re all natural antiseptics and they destroy harmful bacteria.
With that said we wanted an easy to make safe natural homemade cleaner that was effective at cleaning and saved us money.
Recipe for Natural Household Cleaner
Natural All-Purpose Cleaner
Preparation time less than 2 minutes.
Cost less than 0.25 cents for 16 ounces.
  • ½ teaspoon of Shaklee Basic H2
  • 7 drops of Chamomile Essential Oil
  • 7 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
  • Add Basic H2 and these essential oils to sixteen ounces of purified water in a spray bottle.
  • Cleans appliances, counters, walls, stainless steel, windows and interiors
Basic H2 — super-safe, really powerful, all purpose cleaner.
Basic H2 is a naturally derived, nontoxic, concentrated, and biodegradable cleaner that is versatile and powerful – removes dirt, grease, and grime from any washable surface, inside and out.
Chamomile Essential Oil — refreshing, calming and soothing properties.
Chamomile oil is a great analgesic, with a fruity and sweet aroma, which is known for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Chamomile is a particularly safe essential oil and can be used with young children and sensitive individuals.
Lemon Essential Oil — enhances concentration, generic cialis forum mental awareness, and uplifting mood properties
Lemon oil is known for its antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties, with a citrus, sweet, fresh aroma.

My Happy Homemade Cleaning Products **Added**

If you try any of them leave me a message and let me know if you like them.
I typed this up for a couple of moms so I decided to make a journal post out of it. I feel good when I use these cleaners because they are not hard on the environment and they don't have caustic fumes that give me migraines and cause my sons asthma to flare, they are cheap and easy to make, you don't need to spend a fortune to have a clean fresh house.
I love all of these cleaners, I am experimenting with essential oil and creating all kinds of fun scents. I buy vinegar by the gallon and the largest box of baking soda that I can find so that I never run out. some of the essential oils that I love are lemon, sweet orange, lavender, peppermint, bergamot & eucalyptus. All are on the inexpensive side as far a essential oils go.
I also use borax mixed with baking soda for carpet cleaning and tough bathtub rings, it is to be used with caution since it is toxic if swallowed. So if you use it keep it out of kids reach. I put it on pet stains, let dry and then vacuum, it works like a charm, but I don't have babies crawling around, if i did, I would use baking soda rinse with vinegar and then blot up.
Glass Cleaner:
Fill a 16 oz spray bottle with 1 cup white distilled vinegar, 1 cup distilled water*. That's it!
All Purpose Cleaner:
Fill 16 oz spray bottle with 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 cup distilled water* Add to that 1Tbsp of mild liquid detergent or soap. If you want it to disinfect, add 20 drops of tea tree oil (found in the vitamin/supplement section of Target or Wal-Mart).
Another All Purpose Cleaner:
Disolve 2 Tbsp of Borax in 1 cup very hot water. Add 1 cup cool water to a spray bottle, then pour in the borax/hot water mix. Add 1tsp liquid detergent and essential oils if desired.
Floor Cleaner:
Brew 2 cups strong peppermint tea (I know it sounds weird, but it smells good and the peppermint in the tea helps kill germs) Add the tea to a bucket of water along with 1/2cup of white vinegar and 1tsp of mild soap or detergent. Mop as usual, no need to rinse.
Instead of fabric softener in your laundry, use 1 cup of vinegar in the final rinse. I just add it to the softener dispenser in my washer and it works well.
Instead of scouring powder, use straight baking soda, just put it in a shaker bottle(an old Parmesan cheese shaker works great). Just shake it on the surface and scrub and rinse.
Making soft scrub is a little more tricky because the mixture can dry out and clog the squirt bottle (I use a 16oz sports bottle that I clearly label). In a small bowl mix 1 2/3 cup baking soda with 1/2cup liquid soap dilute with 1/2cup water. Add 2tbsp vinegar LAST. Stir till all lumps are gone. If it pours easily in the bottle you have the right consistency, if not add more water. Use like you would soft scrub.
I have been experimenting with homemade veggie wash spray (the kind that cost $5 a bottle at the store) I think I've come up with a pretty good approximation, so I thought I'd pass it on.

Homemade Veggie Wash Spray
1/2 cup vinegar
1-1/2 cup distilled water
1/2 tsp castile soap
1 tsp peroxide
10-15 drops grapefruit seed extract
Put all ingredients into a 16 oz spray bottle and shake to mix. spray your fruit and veggies with the spray, rub for 30 seconds then rinse.

Fabulous Fragrance Spray
Mix together in a 6 oz spray bottle 1 oz polysorbate 20 (optional) and 25 drops of your favorite essential oils, either alone or in combination shake to mix, then add 5 oz distilled water to the bottle and you have a fabulous fragrance spray that won't make you sneeze or have a headache. Shake before using. These are some great combos that I love:
Fresh Scent
clary sage, lemon, orange, rosemary and ylang ylang

Balancing Scent
lavender and peppermint

Autumn Spice Scent
orange, cinnamon, clove and ginger

Holiday Scent
fir, lemon, rosemary and eucalyptus

Laundry Soap Powder
Put one 4 oz bar of castile (olive oil) soap in the food processor and grind into a fairly fine powder. Add to that 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup washing soda. At this point you can add your favorite essential oils if you wish. Stir it all together and store in a closed container. Use 1-2 tablespoons per wash load, adding it to the water before you add your clothes.
This is my recipe for liquid detergent. It makes 2 gallons of thin liquid detergent I use 2-3 tablespoons per load. I have a front loader washing machine, but I am sure it will work in traditional machines too. It is low sudsing.

1 Cup Dr Bronner's Sal-Suds
1/2 Cup washing soda
1/2 Cup baking soda
1/2 Cup borax

On top of the stove in a large dutch oven, heat 6 cups water and Sal-Suds on med heat until it heats up but not to boiling. Add in the washing soda, baking soda and borax and heat until disolved. Take it off the heat and add essential oils and equal amounts of Polysorbate 20 if desired. Into a 3-4 gallon bucket pour 4 cups of hot water. Add to that your heated water Sal-Suds, sodas and borax mixture. Next add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of cool water and stir. Transfer into 2 clean 1 gallon containers and let sit for at least 24 hours before using.

Another Laundry Soap Liquid (courtesy of my friends Saffy and Dest)
1/2 of a 4oz bar of soap (grated)
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax powder
~You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size~
Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved and starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. If adding Essential oils, do so now. Then add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of room temp water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. It turns out best if you cover it and leave it alone. Waiting is the hardest part.
Homemade Toothpaste:
4 tbsp vegetable glycerin or unrefined coconut oil
1/4 tsp menthol crystals
1 cup baking soda
1200 mg soy lecithin
10 drops peppermint essential oil
1 tsp - 1 tbsp water as needed

In a glass bowl measure out vegetable glycerin. Add in the menthol crystals and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir to dissolve. To a small mixing bowl add baking soda, the glycerin mixture, peppermint oil and soy lecithin. Beat with a mixer on low speed until combined, adding extra water as needed to obtain the desired consistency. Once combined beat the whole mixture on high speed for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is combined properly.

Storing the mixture in a glass container with a tight fitting lid is optimal, since it tends to dry out quickly. Use a pea sized amount to brush your teeth. I guarantee your teeth will never feel smoother with any commercial toothpaste.

I have tried, unsucessfully to develop a phosphate free dishwasher detergent. I just haven't been able to get quite the right proportions and combinations of ingredients. There are some great products out there though. I usually use Seventh Generation or Ecover but have recently found that Costco sells a good one under their Kirkland brand name. If you find they aren't cleaning well or are finding spots on your dishes, try using vinegar in the rinse agent compartment and putting a small amount of citric acid in with your detergent.

*use distilled water for these recipes so that the minerals in your water don't lessen the effectiveness of your cleaners. Alternately you can boil your water and then let it cool before mixing you cleaners.
*Essential oils can be added to any of these recipes to make whatever fragrance you like.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Here are some recipes for homemade laundry detergent:

Powdered Laundry Detergent
(thanks to

1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
1/4 Cup Oxyclean (Optional)
*Mix all together and store in a sealed container.
For light load, use 1 tablespoon.
For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.

Liquid Laundry Detergent
3 Pints Water
1/3 Bar Fels Naptha Soap, Grated
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
2 Gallon Bucket
1 Quart Hot Water
Hot Water
Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 Quart Hot Water to 2 Gallon Bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with hot water, and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.
*If you are having trouble finding Washing Soda, you can substitute Oxyclean. Here is an alternate recipe for liquid detergent that my friend Abbigail shared with me a while back. It’s also on the Duggar Family website:
Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap
4 Cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup Washing Soda/OxyClean
½ Cup Borax
- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Need a recipe for cleaning your toilet bowl using safe, non-toxic ingredients?
Baking Soda and Vinegar: Sprinkle some baking soda (about 1/4-1/2 c.) around the toilet bowl, then spray it with white vinegar in a spray bottle (uses less than just pouring it on). Scrub with toilet brush and flush to rinse.
A cheap and easy way to clean, deodorize and disinfect your toilet bowl!
Borax and Lemon Juice: In a container mix about 1/2 c. borax to 1/4 c. lemon juice (more or less as needed) to make a paste. Flush the toilet to get sides of bowl wet. Then, using a glove (or I like to use an old sock), rub the paste around the inside of the toilet bowl, especially glopping it over stains. Leave on for at least 2 hours (or overnight if possible), then scrub off with brush.
*I do this after a first cleaning with the baking soda/vinegar mix, so the bowl isn’t too grimy. I use this for slightly tougher stains, plus I like the lingering smell of the lemon juice!
But to remove those stains that you once deemed impossible to clean, you gotta try THIS ALL NATURAL METHOD. You won’t believe how white that porcelain bowl can be again!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Colorful Touches for Outdoor Decorating

Outdoor Wall Art

Add color to your outdoor decorating with a fence covered with suspended flowerpots. It's wall art for your outdoor room. Start with nine terra-cotta pots and coat the bases with spray paint. Next, plot the grid arrangement and secure pot hangers to the fence. Finish by suspending pots from hangers and filling each container with brightly colored annuals or herbs. Colorful suspended flower pots

Poolside Patterns

Use outdoor fabric to add color and style to pool or patio furniture. Polka-dot outdoor fabric adds modern flair and durability to the chairs. A freestanding umbrella in yellow adds a pop of color to the green foliage and neutral patio backdrop.
Editor's Tip: Outdoor fabric is an ideal choice for sun-filled areas and outdoor rooms because it's waterproof and fade- and stain-resistant. Patio with Polka dot chairs

Bright Table Toppers

Outdoor dining is a treat in warm-weather months, so make it even more special with pretty table settings. A plain table runner gets a color boost from colorful appliques. Bright tableware adds splashes of color to the table. A white awning provides shade and brightens up the space. overall

Colorful Furniture

Add pizzazz to a plain deck with colorful furniture. Mix and match chairs of a similar style in a variety of colors. Here, bright pinks, oranges, blues, purples, and greens fill the deck with summer colors. Colorful deck

Pretty Fabrics

Create an outdoor room with fabric. This deck's setup is similar to an indoor living room arrangement. An all-weather rug anchors the furniture, and outdoor fabrics in pretty patterns cover the plush seat cushions. The arbor serves as a wall and ceiling, and panels hang from it like window treatments. Accents such as lamps and throw pillows complete the look.

Outdoor room

Colorful Starting Point

The home's exterior creates the perfect starting point for this patio's color scheme. Orange accents, such as throw pillows, hanging fabric, and oversize letter B, pop against the green exterior. Wood candle holders and potted plants bring the natural elements of the yard onto the patio. With plenty of seating and multiple tables, this patio is just right for enjoying bright summer days and warm summer nights. Monogram deck

Patio Dining

The home's blue French doors provide plenty of bright color for this patio. Because the patio is adjacent to the home's kitchen, the simple picnic table is great for taking meals outside. Patio dining, blue door home

Pretty Posts

Separate a garden from the rest of the backyard with a colorful fence. The bright green and blue hues pop against the grass and plants. The fence provides a colorful view from any angle Pretty Posts

Easy Solution

Colorful containers are a simple way to brighten an outdoor space. Choose pots in various colors, sizes, and textures. Colorful container gardens

Fire Flies

Create a twinkling treescape by suspending colored-glass votive holders from low-hanging tree branches with fishing line or wire. Colorful outdoor pillows, now readily available at retail, are a simple way to pop a little color into your backyard. hammock

Party Atmosphere

Metal furniture is generally affordable and it gives a cool color vibe to your garden or patio. A bar cart is always ready for a party, offering up a handy serving surface. fireplace and green chairs

Sunny Accents

Small basic accessories such as this galvanized container can be brightened with paint for a personal look. To be on the safe side, don't let food come into contact with the surface unless the paint you used is labeled food-safe. painted pail chilling sodas

Citrus Punch

Give your backyard a shot of summer color with accents dressed in fruit-inspired hues. This citrus-color metal bistro table is home to an apple-green hobnail-pattern glass lantern. ornage slice on striped chair

Cottage Charms

An unassuming garden shed becomes a festive focal point with bold stripes and scalloped molding. Before you begin, add a coat or two of water-base primer to the facade -- it will help your creative expressions last longer. feminine dollhouse seating area

Double Shift

Lanterns with bright graphic designs can light up an outdoor setting even before the sun sets. After dark, turn on battery-powered lightbulbs to increase the glow. green and flower paper lamps

Home Library Design


The “Borrowing” Room

home libraryHome LibraryDo you ever wish we could bring back the home library? Could we ever return to the beauty of an actual room devoted solely to books, a personal refuge for reading, thinking, relaxation and contemplation? Manor houses and estates always had rooms custom-built to house an owner’s book collection.
home library picture
The shelves often were polished walnut or cherry, and rows of leather bound, first edition books stood quietly behind glass doors. The chairs were overstuffed, covered in leather and crouched behind large ottomans before a soothing fire. Can we ever bring some sense of a library’s calm into our own home?
Luxury Home Library DesignStyle Estate suggests you visit the library of your imagination and start to “borrow” from it. Like the lending institution a library should be, you can find a way to incorporate those overstuffed chairs, beautiful cabinets, elegant bookcases, and appropriate “mood” lighting into your own home.
Colorful Home Library DesignBegin with the overstuffed, leather chair. Places such as Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn consistently provide “library style” sofas, ottomans and lounge chairs. Ebay is a gold mine where you can dig for large desks, plush, vintage-looking rugs, and a series of bookshelves.
To decorate, consider investigating online museum shops such as New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington, D.C.’s National Portrait Gallery or the British Museum for framed prints and miniature statue reproductions.
Finish your room with a couple of well-placed floor lamps and you are ready to read! Even if you have switched to a Kindle or iPad, there are plenty of vintage covers for each to ensure that this modern technology never clashes with your timeless taste.

Inexpensive Christmas Decorating Ideas For 2009 - Part One: Decorate What You Have

Part One: Decorate with What You Have

Most of us own some Christmas decorations, even if they’re hand me downs. When I say decorate with what you already own, though, I’m not just referring to some leftover ornaments and grandmother’s old nativity set.
Your browser may not support display of this image.Take a look around your house and see what you might easily transform into Christmas decorations. Do you have any teddy bears, dolls or other toys around? How about an old wooden sled or red wagon? Do you own any soft throws or quilts in holiday colors? Take inventory and see if you have a few Mason jars, clear vases or metal cookie cutters in holiday shapes. These are all Items you can use to decorate for the season.
Take the sled, sand it down and give it a coat of paint. If you’re the artistic sort, you could add a simple holiday picture like this one or, for the less talented, use white snowflake stencils on distressed red paint to add a touch of whimsy. Drape a bit of garland around the sled, add a couple of weighted gaily wrapped faux presents and prop the small vignette in a corner. It’s an instant touch of nostalgia and warm feelings.

Seat teddy bears and dolls on window sills and adorn them with winter scarves or sock hats or add a cheery holiday bow. You can use other toys, like a spinning top, wooden blocks or a jack in the box beneath the Christmas tree. Use the wooden blocks to spell out a holiday greeting on your fireplace mantel or at a table near your front door.

Fill Mason jars with Christmas-themed hard candies, cranberries, mini ornaments or pine cones and tie the neck with a big holiday bow. Metal cookie cutters make cute ornaments when they’re hung by a ribbon from the tree. You can toss a holiday colored throw over a rocker or use a quilt as a tree skirt.

Fill terra cotta pots with sand to make candle holders. You can paint the pots gold or silver and wrap the rim with greenery or cover the sand with pine cones. Use an odd number of pots in varying sizes to create a cheery display on a tabletop.