Verda Vivo

Verda Vivo means “Green Life” in the universal language of Esperanto.

Book Review: Shift Your Habit March 7, 2010

I recently received a review copy of the book, Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet. It will be available for sale on March 9. The author, Elizabeth Rogers, an environmental consultant, is also the co-author of the New York Times best seller, “The Green Book”.

The book is packed with practical and easy ways to reduce your impact on the environment and save money at the same time. The book is organized into categories, such as home and garden, kids, pets, work, travel and transportation as well as holidays and celebrations. Each shift is explained in terms of what habit you can shift, how much money you can save, the impact to the planet and how it’s good for you too. If you adopted all of the shifts in the book, an average family of four with a pet would save $48,000. That should make anyone sit up and take notice! The shifts that the author proposes are easy to do and inexpensive. It all adds up!

Since I am a cleaning fanatic, I was very excited to see the easy to use chart of homemade cleaners, including everything from glass and toilet cleaners to wood furniture polish and fabric softener. My copy of the book is already looking well-loved as I have picked it up numerous times to read and re-read sections as I continue to shift my own habits and paradigms. You can pre-order Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet today at Amazon.


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Mend It Yourself June 25, 2009

Filed under: beauty and fashion,green,home,recycling — Daryl Laux @ 9:37 am
Tags: , , , , ,
sewing at the dining room table

Last week we had drywall and painting crews in to repair multiple cracks in our walls. As a result I ended up stuck in the house with time on my hands. Since I normally like to spend my days outdoors, this made me a bit stir-crazy. What else could I do besides fiddle about on the internet? I scoured my closet for clothes to repurpose or repair.

  • First, I found several items that needed buttons sewn back on. Easy enough.
  • Then I finally hemmed the pair of pants that were about a foot longer than necessary. I have been known to roll the waistband on a pair of pants rather than hem them. This doesn’t give you the most girlish waistline, however.
  • Next, I found three long dresses that I haven’t worn in several years. I thought about putting them in the donation pile but then decided that was wasteful. So I cut them to a length I will wear and hemmed them up. I wore one yesterday!
  • Last but not least, I tackled a pair of pants with a waist that was so big the pants threatened to slip off. Why do clothes manufacturers make waists the same size as the hips? Don’t women have curves anymore? Thankfully, these were stretchy lounge pants so I could just sew through the waistband and down the pant leg. Now they fit!

Once that was done, I found some unfinished Christmas ornament projects – many small pins and beads – lots of glue. Enough to keep this big kid busy for a while.

Need a little inspiration? Check out the folks at Threadbanger for Do It Yourself ideas. They were my muse for my recent sewing frenzy.

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What’s in Your Shampoo? April 14, 2009

A bottle of TRESemmé shampoo.
Image via Wikipedia

Ever shampoo your hair and then get a skin rash or hives? How about pimples, dry scalp, dandruff or contact dermatitis? Maybe you’re allergic to the chemicals in your shampoo. In addition to an allergic reaction, you may be exposing yourself, unnecessarily, to chemicals that can do far more damage.

Preservatives (Parabens)

One of the most common cause of negative reactions are the preservatives used to protect against product contamination and bacterial growth. In addition to allergic reactions, parabens can disrupt the hormone (endocrine) system and were found in the breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tested urine from 100 adults and found parabens in nearly all.  (Environmental Working Group – Parabens)

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to believe that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens, they in fact, do NOT regulate parabens in cosmetics. In the meantime, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently funded a case study on the toxicity of parabens in wastewater to fish. Considering the FDA’s glorious record in safeguarding our food supply, I’m not convinced they’re guarding our best interests as far as the cosmetics industry is concerned.

Parabens can be listed as:

  • benzylparaben
  • butylparaben
  • ethylparaben
  • isobutylparaben
  • isopropylparaben
  • methylparaben
  • parabens
  • propylparaben
  • sodium methylparaben
  • sodium propylparaben

Organic products may use the natural form of preservatives such as citric acid or a derivative.

For more information, see Healthy Child, Healthy World – Parabens.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

One of the most common ingredients in shampoo is a common detergent: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is used in shampoo because it strips out oils and, despite its name, has a low sodium content. However, SLS can cause contact dermatitis by irritating the skin. Some companies have tried to link SLS and cancer but TreeHugger did their own research in this article: Common Eco-Myth: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Causes Cancer. So, while, you can dry your hair and scalp to a fare-thee-well, there is no hard evidence linking SLS to cancer. Depending on how greasy your hair is, choose your surfactant accordingly.

Gentle Surfactants

This list of surfactants are gentle but don’t cleanse as well.

  • cocamidopropyl betaine
  • cocamphocarboxyglycinate-propionate
  • sodium lauraminodipropionate
  • disodium monococamido sulfosuccinate
  • disodium cocamphodipropionate
  • disodium capryloamhodiacetate
  • cocoyl sarcosine
  • sodium lauryl sarcosinate

Harsh Surfactants

The following list could cause an irritated scalp or be drying to hair.

  • sodium lauryl sulfate
  • TEA-lauryl sulfate
  • sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate
  • TEA-dodecylbenzene

For more information, see Healthy Child, Healthy World – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

Diethanolamine

Diethanolamine, more commonly called DEA, is not only a suspected carcinogen, it has been shown to negatively affect the development of memory cells, making it a particularly dangerous ingredient for pregnant women to use. One of its derivatives, triethanolamine (TEA) has also been shown to be carcinogenic.

Diethanolamine appears as:

  • Cocamide DEA
  • Cocamide MEA
  • DEA-Cetyl Phosphate
  • DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate
  • Lauramide DEA
  • Linoleamide MEA
  • Myristamide DEA
  • Oleamide DEA
  • Stearamide MEA
  • TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
  • Triethanolamine

For more information, see Healthy Child, Healthy World – Diethanolamine and U.S Food and Drug Administration: Diethanolamine and Cosmetic Products.

Methylisothiazoline

Methylisothiazoline, or MIT, limits the potential for microbial contamination in water based solutions. It has been shown to cause neurological damage, potentially putting a fetus at risk for brain damage. The chemical might also be a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s and other nervous system disorders.

For more information see Medical News Today: Shampoos with Methylisothiazoline May Pose Risk for Unborn Babies.

Fragrance

Most hair care products have some form of added fragrance. Fragrance is considered a trade secret and does not have to be revealed. Fragrances are considered to be among the top five known allergens and are known to both cause and trigger asthma attacks. All I have to do is walk by a perfume counter to trigger a reaction.

Natural Shampoos

You can find “organic” or “natural shampoos” on the market. Bypass the marketing on the label and go straight to the list of ingredients to make sure you’re getting a product without synthetic chemicals. They are likely to be more expensive than the drugstore brands that contain potentially harmful chemicals. However, what many people don’t know is that you don’t have to wash your hair more than once or twice a week. In fact, it’s healthier for your hair to wash it less frequently, as it gives the natural oils (which is what really creates shine) a chance to replenish themselves. I know, I know. When I was much younger, I washed and dried my hair every day thinking I needed to. These days, I usually skip the shampoo and wash my hair with conditioner. Then I let my hair dry naturally. My hair has never been in better shape.

If you have dandruff, give yourself a natural hot oil or deep conditioning treatment, which is far better for your scalp than dandruff shampoos.

You can also make your own shampoo:

Resources:

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5 Ways to Clean Your Toilet Naturally April 7, 2009

Filed under: environment,green,home — Daryl Laux @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,
NATURAL LAUNDRY PRODUCTS
Image by live w mcs via Flickr

I don’t know about you but I hate cleaning the toilet. In the past, I’ve used all sorts of harsh chemicals, thinking it was necessary to get rid of, well, you know, germs.

Chemical companies have led us down a merry path. You really don’t need to pour caustic chemicals down the drain to get the job done. All you need is vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and/or borax. It’s cheaper, safer for the environment and safer for you and your children.

Below are 5 different natural recipes to clean your potty:

Vinegar - howstuffworks Uses for Vinegar: Cleaning Your House

Pour white vinegar into the toilet and let it sit for 30 minutes. Next sprinkle baking soda on a toilet-bowl brush and scour any remaining stained areas. Flush.

Baking Soda - eHow How to Clean Your Toilet Bowl Naturally

  1. Pour 1/2 box of baking soda into the toilet bowl.
  2. Let the baking soda stand overnight in the bowl. Try to do this the last thing before bed so you don’t accidentally flush the toilet before the baking soda has a chance to work.
  3. Flush the toilet several times in the morning.
  4. Run a brush around the bowl to fully remove any loosened grime.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  1. Pour the vinegar into the toilet bowl.
  2. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Return to the toilet, grab your toilet brush and dip it into the toilet.
  4. Take it out, and sprinkle some baking soda onto the brush.
  5. Scour the inside of the toilet with the brush repeating the sprinkle procedure until the baking soda is gone…..voila! Clean Toilet!

Borax and Lemon JuiceeHow How to make Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaners

  1. Pour 1 cup of Borax into a small bowl.
  2. Pour 1/2 cup of lemon juice over the Borax and gently stir with a spoon into a paste.
  3. Flush the toilet to wet the sides, then rub the paste onto the toilet with a sponge.
  4. Let it sit for 2 hours before scrubbing thoroughly. This is great for removing a stubborn stain, like a toilet bowl ring.

Borax and VinegareHow How to make Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaners

  1. Flush the toilet to wet the sides of the bowl.
  2. Sprinkle a cup of Borax around the rim and sides of toilet.
  3. Spray 1/2 cup of vinegar over the Borax.
  4. Allow to sit for several hours or overnight.
  5. Scrub thoroughly with a toilet brush until the bowl gleams.

Sometimes, hard water just leaves a stubborn ring that no amount of scrubbing or rubbing can eliminate. That’s when I grab a pumice stone and rub lightly on the stain.

Related Post: Flapper Failure Flushes Dollars Down the Toilet

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Flapper Failure Flushes Dollars Down the Toilet April 6, 2009

Close coupled cistern type flushing toilet.
Image via Wikipedia

I’m a clean freak. So years ago, before I knew better, I plopped one of those in-tank automatic toilet bowl cleaners into the tank of my toilet. You know, the kind that turns the toilet water blue. It didn’t take long before the toilet starting leaking. We could hear the water running all night.

We called the plumber who replaced the flapper, the piece of rubber that seals water into the tank and allows it to leave when you flush. A part which costs all of about $10. His service call, oh so much more. He told us the reason the flapper had deteriorated and started to leak was the in-tank automatic bowl cleaner. In-tank bowl cleaners that contain chlorine corrode vinyl and rubber parts. For this reason, most toilet manufacturers will not warranty any tank parts if these cleaners are use.

Wired took a look inside an in-tank automatic toilet bowl cleaner: What’s Inside: 2000 Flushes — a Nonstop Potty. What they found follows below. Decide for yourself whether you want to be exposed to these corrosive chemicals and whether they belong in our water system. When the MSDS for a product says “DANGER!”, I’m taking them at their word.

Chlorinated hydantoins
Ironically, you can clean a toilet with urine. No, not by aiming at the stains, but by using hydantoins — organic compounds sometimes employed as anticonvulsants and that can be made from a mixture of amino acids and urea. Chlorinate the hydantoins and they become a magical ingredient — bleach. But watch for “vacation drip”: If you don’t flush for a while (say, while off camping or when you give in to those comfy adult diapers), the chlorine can eat away older rubber valve flappers. And then your toilet might end up running constantly.

Hydrated alumina
Also known as aluminum hydroxide, this is a solid formed when alumina reacts with water. Here it’s one of the salts that helps control the rate at which the puck dissolves, so the bleaching action can last for up to four months — giving you 16 2/3 flushes per day.

Sodium chloride
Table salt also helps control how fast the tablet dissolves. As a side benefit it may reduce germs by turning the water slightly briny. Unless, that is, you’ve got a salt-loving extremophile in your bowl, in which case you’re gonna need a stronger toilet sanitizer.

Sodium lauryl sulfate
Found in hundreds of bathroom products, SLS is a great foam and lather producer. It is made by combining sulfonic acid with lauryl alcohol and sodium carbonate; the resulting soap-like compound traps greasy particles, which can then be rinsed away.

Cocamide MEA
Cocamide is derived from the acids in coconut oil. MEA stands for monoethanolamine, which is in everything from hair dye to oven cleaner. Together they work as a powerful detergent and another dissolution retardant. Most of the stains in your toilet are going to be from, well, natural organic residues, and MEA is a master at cutting through caked-on organics. It loosens the material so it can be easily washed off with the next flush.

Sodium citrate
The nonorganic stains in your toilet likely come from hard water deposits. These can grow there like rock candy, eventually needing to be acid-washed or chiseled away. Sodium citrate softens the water by locking up (chelating!) calcium, magnesium, iron, and other metals that might be found in your water supply.

Acid blue 9
The full name of this colorant: N-Ethyl-N-(4[(4-(ethyl[(3-sulfophenyl)methyl]amino) phenyl)-(2-sulfophenyl)methylene]-2, 5-cyclohexadien-1-ylidene)3-sulfobenzenemethanaminium hydroxide inner salt, disodium salt. Whew! So why add blue to a cleaning agent? It’s actually just a marker — when it’s gone, your 2000 Flushes are up.

I don’t remember this warning on the package “WARNING: Do NOT actually use this product in your toilet tank. It will eat the hell out of your plumbing.”

But there it is, an expensive lesson.

Resources:


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Questionable Convenience March 30, 2009

Filed under: food,green,home — Daryl Laux @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , ,
Gala (apple)
Image via Wikipedia

I admit it, at times I’ve been a sucker for convenience products. Not as often these days but there’s always room for improvement. For example, I eschew bagged greens and vegetables, preferring to wash and prepare my own, make my own croutons and salad dressings and use vinegar and water to clean my ceramic tile floors. However, I dislike baking so I buy whole grain bread at the market. My most notable baking disaster occurred when I attempted to make a pie crust. After much huffing and puffing, kneading and flour-adding, the dough still stuck to the counter, the rolling pin and my hands. I finally grabbed the entire wad of dough in a fury and threw it up in the air in a mighty heave – where it stuck – to the ceiling. My baking days were over in that instant.

How do convenience products compare to homemade? As part of a research project sponsored by the Arizona Republic, Linda Vaughan, chair of Arizona State University’s Department of Nutrition, and student researchers purchased both raw ingredients and prepared foods to see how they stacked up. By comparing the extra cost of ready-to-eat food to the time it took to make the same thing from raw ingredients, they could determine what buyers are actually paying for the preparation.Vaughan’s group determined that the consumer was paying the equivalent of $80 per hour for the convenience of buying shredded cheese, $75 per hour for sliced gala apples, and nearly $50 per hour for pre-cut celery. Never mind the packaging that can’t be recycled.

The study also found that “convenient” doesn’t always mean “time-saving”. A frozen teriyaki dinner took 20 minutes to prepare while a teriyaki dinner made from scratch took 30 minutes to prepare. Vaughan also found that the quality of prepared meals was usually low and typically high in fat and sodium content. So the frozen teriyaki dinner tastes like oily, salty cardboard and is less nutritious. Sounds like a deal to save 10 minutes, no?

Convenience food goes one step further when “quick-cooking” morphs into “instant”. The author of  The High Cost of Convenience Foods – Case 1 compares instant oatmeal packets to quick cooking oatmeal. Since the oatmeal cooks for the same amount of time, the convenience is that you don’t actually have to measure the oatmeal. You pay twice as much for this convenience.  The High Cost of Convenience – Case 2 compares ravioli in a microwaveable bowl to its counterpart in the original can. Again, cooking time is the same but buying the ravioli in a microwaveable bowl saves you the trouble of getting a bowl out of your cupboard. For this luxury, you pay 70% more.

Nearly eighty cents of each dollar Americans spend for food goes to pay for marketing services – processing, packaging, transportation, storage, advertising, etc. All of these costs are associated with making our food convenient – getting it into the most convenient form and package, getting it to the most convenient location, at the most convenient time, and convincing us to buy it. So, we pay far more for the convenience of our food than we pay for the food itself. In fact, we pay more to those who “package and advertise” our food than we pay to the farmers who produce it. So by far the greatest part of the total cost of food is the cost of convenience. (John E. Ikerd,  Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri)

Think about it the next time you reach for a food that comes prepackaged. What price are you paying for the convenience of having someone else pre-measure, pre-cut, pre-shred, pre-pour, pre-slice, or pre-season your food? Keep that $80 an hour you save in your own account. You’ll need it to pay your taxes.

Resources:

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Donate Your Prom Dress March 20, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JUNE 01:  Juniors and seniors fr...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The expense of a prom can get out of hand. Some young women will spend hundreds of dollars on a prom dress they’ll never wear again. You could buy a beautiful brand new dress but you can save your wallet and the environment at the same time. Consider a vintage dress. Consignment shops are a good source for gently used formal wear. A friend of mine bought a gorgeous red gown for $7.00. You can also try your hand at sewing your own (I did) or finding a seamstress to sew your gown. Once you’ve worn your dress, donate it to an organization to pass along to a less fortunate but just as fashionable female. Contact the following organizations for donations:

  • donatemydress.org – According to their website, donatemydress.org is the first national campaign designed to encourage girls around the country to donate their prom and special occasion dresses to those who cannot afford to finance the costly experience of going to their prom, sweet 16, quinceañera or formal on their own. Drop-off centers are organized by state and include Becca’s Closet and The Glass Slipper Project located around the country. The site also lists organizations that accept donated prom dresses by mail.
  • Fairy Godmothers – Fairy Godmothers, Inc. mission is to help provide a special high school prom experience for qualified high school girls whose financial situations are such as otherwise would preclude their ability to attend their prom by providing them prom gowns, shoes, and similar accessories which have been donated to the organization.

Use eHow’s guidelines on How to Donate Prom Dresses.

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Project Green Prom March 11, 2009

A typical gathering, with boys in tuxedos, and...
Image via Wikipedia

Time to reserve a corsage, buy a new dress, amp up your makeup, book a stretch limo… The Works! With so many choices to make about the big prom night, caring about the environment might not automatically be a high priority.

Being green at prom is actually really easy, and the teams at Teens Turning Green and Whole Foods Market are working together to encourage teens around the country to see just how easy and stylish it is to make thoughtful, earth-friendly decisions and purchases around prom season.

The program, called Project Green Prom, kicked off last week with a fun online video contest for high school juniors and seniors where they are encouraged to post creative three-minute videos that answer the question “How would you ‘green’ your prom?”

Essentially, teens submit videos between now and March 30th via www.teensturninggreen.org that talk about things like how they use organic and eco-friendly makeup, what their dream sustainable prom dress would be by their favorite designer, how they would like to see a zero waste event at their high school, etc.

The videos will be judged by fashion, beauty and green experts including model/activist Summer Rayne Oakes, Teen Vogue beauty editor Eva Chen and John Masters of John Masters Organics among others, where they will decide who will win a variety of prizes including eco-prom dresses from top fashion designers, including Bahar Shahpar and Lara Miller, sustainable beauty products, and even a trip to NYC and a Full Green Prom Makeover for the grand prize winner, and more.

Kinda makes me wish I was back in high school…


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7 Reasons Not to Drink Bottled Water March 3, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 27:  Bottle of Pepsi's Aquafina...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Still drinking bottled water? Here are 7 reasons not to:

  1. Money - For the $2 you spend on a liter of bottled water you can get about 1,000 gallons of tap water. (EPA – Drinking Water Costs and Federal Funding)
  2. Contaminants - Testing of 10 brands of bottled water revealed a wide range of pollutants, including not only disinfection byproducts, but also common urban wastewater pollutants like caffeine and pharmaceuticals (Tylenol); heavy metals and minerals including arsenic and radioactive isotopes; fertilizer residue (nitrate and ammonia); and a broad range of other, tentatively identified industrial chemicals used as solvents, plasticizers, viscosity decreasing agents, and propellants. (Environmental Working Group – Bottled Water contains disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and pain medication)
  3. Regulation and Safety – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water.  The EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water has issued extensive regulations on the production, distribution and quality of drinking water, including regulations on source water protection, operation of drinking water systems, contaminant levels and reporting requirements. The FDA regulates bottled water as a food. Under current FDA regulations, consumers are not receiving uniform quality and purity from bottled water. (Environmental Working Group – FDA should adopt EPA tap water health goals as enforceable limits for bottled water)
  4. Garbage - Where do all those empty plastic bottles go? About 86 percent of empty plastic water bottles in the United States land in the garbage instead of being recycled. That amounts to about two million tons of PET plastic bottles piling up in U.S. landfills each year. (TakeBacktheTap.org – Bottled Water)
  5. Oil - Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil last year – enough fuel for more than 1 million U.S. cars for a year – and generated more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. (Think Outside the Bottle)
  6. Taste - People say they drink bottled water because it tastes better than tap. However, in blind taste tests, people can’t tell the difference. In fact, one taster in a 20/20 taste test said Evian “…tasted like toilet water”. That sounds pretty dee-lish. (ABC News – Is Bottled Water Better than Tap?)
  7. Water privatization - In the United States, 24 percent of bottled water sold is either Pepsi’s Aquafina (13 percent of the market) or Coke’s Dasani (11 percent of the market). Both brands are bottled, purified municipal water. Water bottlers deplete aquifers and other groundwater sources, and harm local economies by paying too little for the water it takes. Contracts often also give preference to water bottlers over the town’s ratepayers because the company can draw the maximum amount of water it wants, regardless of drought or water shortage. We need to address the question, is water a basic human right or a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded in a global marketplace? How much do you think your food is going to cost when farmers have to pay private corporations for water to grow crops? (Sierra Club – Corporate Water Privatization)

Watch: A World Without Water

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DIY Green Cleaners February 9, 2009

Filed under: green,home — Daryl Laux @ 8:05 am
Tags: , , , ,
Using vinegar for a natural clean
Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

Cleaning products are very expensive. They are also hazardous and create a waste problem as well. One way to decrease the amount of hazardous waste in our environment is to use non or low-toxic alternatives instead. Here are some inexpensive and easy ideas for replacing common hazardous products.

Do not use a vinegar-based cleaner on stone or marble surface as it will etch the surface.

Soft Scrub Bathroom Tub, Tile and Sink Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • liquid castile soap

Mix the baking soda with enough liquid castile soap to make a cleansing liquid. Apply the cleanser and scrub with a clean damp rag. Use this to clean bathroom tubs, tile and sinks – even shiny fiberglass and glossy tiles. Rinse well when you are done. It washes off easily and will not leave any grit behind.

Window and Mirror Cleaner – Vinegar Based

Mix in a spray bottle:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

You can use this spray to clean your countertops, stove top, as well as the windows and the mirrors. Vinegar is acidic and it will cut grease, dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. It leaves no residue, is a natural deodorizer and kills mold and mildew too.

For outdoor windows wash with warm water with a few drops of liquid castile soap in it. Rinse well and squeegee dry.

Window and Mirror Cleaner – Rubbing Alcohol Based

Mix in a spray bottle:

  • 1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) evaporates, and leaves no residue. It provides the base for an evaporating glass cleaner that stands strong next to any commercial glass cleaning product. You can use this window cleaning spray recipe to clean not only windows and glass, but mirrors, shine your chrome fixtures, and even on stainless steel.

Toil Bowl Cleaner

  • baking soda
  • liquid castile soap

Sprinkle baking soda inside the bowl as you would any scouring powder. Squeeze a couple of drops of soap in also. Scrub with a toilet bowl brush and finish outside surfaces with a clean damp rag sprinkled with baking soda.

Ceramic, Linoleum and No-Wax Wood Floors

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 3-4 drops liquid castile soap

Pour into a quart bottle and use to damp mop your floors. The vinegar odor goes away once the floor dries. If you use a bucket, use 1 cup of white vinegar to a gallon of water.

All-Purpose Cleaner

Mix in a spray bottle:

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons borax
  • 1/2 teaspoon  liquid castile soap
  • 2 cups hot water

This is a great grease cutter.

Drain Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • boiling water

This will free minor clogs and help prevent future clogs. Pour the baking soda down the drain, followed by the white vinegar. Cover tightly and let it fizz to break up the clog. Flush with a teakettle full of boiling water. Repeat if needed. If the clog is stubborn, use a plunger. If very stubborn, use a mechanical snake.

Chemical Free Oven Cleaner

  • 5 tablespoons baking soda
  • 3 drops liquid castile soap
  • 4 tablespoons white vinegar

Mix the above ingredients into a thick paste. Use a sponge to apply the oven cleaner to the inside of the oven and then scrub with a scouring pad. Rinse thoroughly and wipe the oven clean. A spatula or bread knife is effective to get under large food deposits. This recipe requires “elbow grease”, but isn’t toxic. Spot clean your oven regularly; dirty ovens are less energy-efficient. Do not use this cleaner on self cleaning ovens.

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