Showing posts from 2013

Green clean kitchen floor

The floors in my house get dirty fast with two little boys, especially the kitchen. My boys are young, so they are flinging food everywhere at mealtime. "Mamma, I'm done (...fling plate on the floor)!" I tried various green cleaning solutions the floor and didn't have much success: a solution of Dr. Bronner's just seemed to wipe the surface clean and made it somewhat greasy; I mixed baking soda, super washing soda, and citric acid together to make a paste, and while it seemed to work well, it needed a lot of elbow grease. Then I tried the cleaner I use on my kitchen sink: Bon-Ami. (It received an A from the EWG's site, so I know it's safe for my kids. And it's only $1.19/can at my local market!) What a great job! My husband even remarked that it looked as though the light was shining on only the clean part of the floor. If he noticed, you can take it to the bank that this stuff really works.

Note: I have textured linoleum in my kitchen (clearly the bui…

Product Review: Diva Cup - Menstrual Solution!

For years, there has been one revolving question during that time of the month: "Is there any way I can reduce the waste generated from using all these pads/tampons?" If I could feel a little less chained to the bathroom, that would be even better.

Like millions of internet readers, I clicked onto Amazon's marketplace to see what lay hidden on their myriad of virtual shelves. My scrolling fingers led me to The Diva Cup; a silicone cup that sits in the vagina, collects menstrual blood for 10-12 hours at a time, and is reusable. Many, many reviews were positive, but there were a few that downright terrified me describing instances where it became stuck. I sought the advice of friends to get some real-to-me feedback. A girlfriend gave top-notch reviews of the cup, some never head of it, while others encouraged me to try it, taking my side in hoping it would be the great solution I was seeking. I added it to my virtual shopping cart, and it arrived a week or so later in an at…

Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent - Recipe #3 (store-bought ingredients)

After returning from vacation, I realized too late that we were running low on cloth diaper detergent. I didn't have time to mail order everything I needed, so I searched for ingredients that would be safe to use and friendly on my bottom line. The EWG site shows that Oxiclean Baby is safe, so I dug around for a Babies R Us coupon, since I know that's one of the few places that carry it. 

For everyone who doesn't want to mail order anything or get it in bulk, this recipe is for you, too!


To fill a 3 lb oxiclean baby tub (holds 12 cups total):
2 cups oxiclean baby
4 cups super washing soda
4 cups baking soda
-Use 1 Tbsp per load

3 lbs Oxiclean baby = $4.99 ($9.99 without coupon), or $0.05/oz
55 oz Super washing soda = $2.99, or $0.05/oz
13 lbs Baking soda = $6.59 (bought this at BJ's), or $0.03/oz

Recipe makes 80 oz at $2.96, and costs $0.02 per load
365 x $0.02 = $7.30

Bottom line: It works great! I add 1 tbsp to any regular load of laundry that's particularly soil…

Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent - Recipe #2

I've heard that castile soap creates build-up on cloth diapers and reduces the absorbency, so I created another version of my cloth diaper detergent without the soap.
Sodium Carbonate - 7 lbs for $9.07 (112 oz, $0.08/oz)Sodium Percarbonate - 6 lbs for $10.60 (96 oz, $0.11/oz)Sodium Bicarbonate - 13.5 lbs $6.59 (I bought this at BJs)  (216 oz, $0.03/oz)The recipe: 2 cups sodium carbonate ($1.28) 2 cups sodium percarbonate ($1.76) 2 cups sodium bicarbonate ($0.48)
TOTAL: $3.52 to make 58 oz USE: 2 tbsp, or 1 oz, per load = 58 loads COST PER LOAD = $0.06 COST PER YEAR = $21.90

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent

For years, we used Finish (with powerball and Jet Dry!) as our automatic dishwasher detergent. Every few months I bought the XL container from BJ's. Then I looked it up; the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning gave it a rating of C for "some concern" across multiple levels, but what really irked me was the warning that it may cause nervous and digestive system effects. What a counter-intuitive effect from clean dishes! I set out to make my own.

I made several concoctions. Some left my dishes looking like I'd sprayed them with concrete dust, forcing me to wash them all by hand. Boo. Others worked fairly well until I found glasses with big globs of goo stuck in them, and had to hand wash those, too. I broke down and bought a package of 7th Generation to get me through a few weeks, and to take a break from trying to make something that worked. And then, I mixed up this recipe, which works really well:

In a glass jar with a lid mix:
1/4 cup citric acid
1 cup sodium carbonate…

Foaming Hand Soap

After I started to make my own cleaners/soaps, I examined the ingredient list on the back of the bottle of my favorite foaming hand soap. Yep, you guessed it; all my hand soaps are from Bath & Body Works. There is a lot to learn about ingredients, and this is just the tip of the iceberg: Ingredients ending with "-eth" are the ones to really look out for, and this soap, like many others, contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), along with a host of other chemicals. The presence of these 
"-eth" chemicals indicates a process called ethoxylation took place. Ethoxylation produces a byproduct called 1.4 Dioxane. This is typically not listed on any labels because it is not considered an ingredient; it is a byproduct of the manufacturing process. Anyhow, the California EPA suspects 1.4 Dioxane to be a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant, and respiratory toxicant. Any product that lists ingredients with "-eth" have the potential to contain 1.4 Dioxane. 

(It is import…

Natural Carpet Deodorizer/Refresher - Make Your Own Scent

Baking soda is a staple in my home. We use it as a cleanser, scouring agent, and more recently, a natural carpet deodorizer/refresher. 

On Monday night, I asked my husband to take the kids outside to play for a while so I could get some much needed vacuuming done. The noise created by the vacuum scares the begeebus out of my little ones, so as long as they are outside, no one will have a meltdown. 

The recent humidity we've had plus constant playing on the floor (read: crawling, food smooshing, drink spilling) made it a little stinky. I turned to my trusty bag of baking soda for a quick, easy, and green solution to make my own carpet deodorizer.refresher. Here's the recipe:

In a glass jar with a lid, add:
2 cups baking soda
10 drops of your favorite essential oil (I used lavender)
Screw the lid on tight and shake to mix the oil with the baking soda.
Sprinkle it all over your carpet and let it sit (the longer the better). I gave it 5 minutes and vacuumed it up. It left my carpet smell…

Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent - Recipe #1

After a few weeks of washing my cloth diapers with my homemade laundry detergent, I realized it just wasn't working for the diapers. They were smelly and had an even worse odor when ... in use. Realizing my kids weren't eating heaping amounts of asparagus, I knew the detergent wasn't strong enough. Let's face it: washing dirty diapers is probably the most demanding job for any laundry detergent. I needed a fix - and fast. 

Before I started making my own cleaners, my cloth diaper detergent of choice was Rock in Green. And I loved it. It did a great job, but it was too hard on my wallet. I wash cloth diapers every. single. day. For too long, I assumed that making your own cleaners and detergents was too hard or couldn't be done because it involved some really complex chemical process I couldn't replicate in my own home. Well, anyone who knows me will say that I'm a very determined person, and this time was no exception. After reading the ingredients of Rock in…

Upcycled Crayons

When my son first discovered coloring, he was eager to color on anything that didn't move too fast. Now that he's nearly two, his favorite thing to do with the crayon box is throw them on the floor, excitedly saying "whoa!". He then picks up the crayons, puts them back in the box, and repeats the process. When he tires of throwing them all over and returns to coloring, the smashed crayons are too small to use. So I made new crayons from all the little pieces.

Time needed: 45 minutes (or more if you have a lot of crayons)
Yield: Depends on the number of crayons

silicone baking cups (or foil lined cupcake tins)cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil (I reused an old piece)cutting boardknifeold crayons

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Gather all the crayon bits and remove the paper from the crayon. Score the paper for faster and easier removal.

Chop the crayons into small pieces.

Place heaping amounts of crayon bits into the baking cups, as they will settle during baking.


Homemade Laundry Detergent

With a family of four, and two little ones in cloth diapers, we go through a lot of laundry detergent. I typically use a 64-load bottle in one month. 

I was really disappointed to read my everyday detergent, Seventh Generation, received a score of D (for containing ingredients "with potential for acute aquatic toxicity; developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects/respiratory effects"), so I set out to make my own green, budget-friendly alternative. 

Dr. Bronner's soaps are a staple in my home, alongside baking soda. I use that for pretty much everything, so why not laundry detergent? This recipe works really well, even on ground in food and soiled diapers for normal loads of laundry, but doesn't cut it for heavily soiled clothes or dirty cloth diapers. For really tough stains, I apply Dr. Bronner's directly to the stain and toss it in the wash. I use my cloth diaper detergent.

Laundry Detergent:
To make one gallon of detergent (equals 64 loads), you'll need: 1 c…

Bathroom Analysis: From Shampoo to Mouthwash

This is a picture of all the personal cleansers currently in use in our bathroom. To analyze these products, I went to the Environmental Working Group's website, specifically their Cosmetics Database, to find answers. This database uses a numeric rating system from 0 (low concern) to 10 (high concern). When examining each product, it is important to note that each product receives an overall rating, and a rating on each chemical contained in the product.

From left to right, following the pictured items, here's what I found:

Seventh Generation Bubble Bath: Scored 2, with a high concern of skin/eye/lung irritation. My kids don't really go nuts over a bubble bath, and we use it infrequently enough that I'm not going to throw it in the trash. But I will probably replace it with a homemade or organic version when the bottle is empty.

Listerine Cool Mint Mouthwash: Scored 3. I've read about making your own mouthwash, and I'm willing to give it a try once the bottles are…

Getting Started: Analysis of Household Cleaners

As my cleaning chemicals and soaps are depleted, I've been replacing them with green, homemade cleaners. There are a lot of nasty chemicals in cleaning products that I don't want to expose my family to. Making your own is not only simple and better for your family, but better for the environment, and easier on your wallet. 

I started my investigation with a simple approach: analyzing typical chemicals that I use in my own home. Like most people, I have a collection of cleaning items that I drag around the house with me when I clean. It contained the usual suspects: Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles, Pledge, and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Seems pretty innocent, but I wondered: What kind of chemicals are in these products? To answer this question, I went to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) site, specifically their Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which analyzes chemicals found in typical household cleaners. The site uses a rating system from A-F (A being the best, and F being the wor…