One fab (chemical-free) furniture polish!

furn polshA friend of mine, Vicky from Askthemama.com, recently ASKED ME a question… what do I recommend as a green alternative to commercial furniture polish?

The answer is worthy of a little sharing since furniture polish contains some nasty toxins.  Not only is it a petroleum distillate, but it also commonly contains nitrobenzene.  This chemical can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.  Because it’s readily absorbed into the skin it can also affect the central nervous system… quite a lot to take for some shiny, clean furniture!

Just like my favorite multi-purpose cleaner recipe, you can whip-up a batch your own (chemical-free) furniture polish:

  • ¼ cup of distilled white vinegarol oil2
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 20-25 drops of essential oil (I recommend lemongrass, lemon or lavender)

Apply it like you would your regular furniture polish but, just like any other homemade concoction, give it a good shake before each use.  If you want to get even greener, use a piece of an old t-shirt for the rag!

As an extra bit of advice, did you know you can remove water stains from wood furniture with white toothpaste too!… ahh, the things we learn.

(And while I’m on the subject) when you purchase furniture try to be conscious to avoid certain hardwoods like mahogany, teak, rosewood and hemlock.  The harvesting of these trees contributes to tropical deforestation.  Instead, look for used, refurbished or antique furniture, or at least furniture made from sustainably-produced materials (e.g. plantation grown).

As is the case with every post about green cleaning, the worst part?it reminds us that it’s time to clean(!), so whip-up a batch and let’s get started!

My obsession with the “Magic Eraser”…

I am always, always an advocate of choosing the greenest way to clean our homes.  Sure it takes some getting used to, but really… do I want spray, pour and mist chemicals around my house?  Yea, not so much.

mag erasI buy some green cleaners and make some of my own, but I have a confession… I’m addicted to the Magic Eraser!

That would seem fairly harmless (being the only choice out of the “green realm”) but I can’t seem to find any credible information about this amazing little cleaning sponge.

I’ve seen “supposed” information that they’re made of formaldehyde (augh!) but I’ve also seen it debunked even more.  I read that it is made of melamine (the same stuff kids’ plates and cups are often made of, so essentially plastic) but while it disintegrates as it’s used, I wonder what this really “means”.  Does using green cleaners, kinda, I don’t know… cancel it out? Hmm?

I have also heard that the most active and prevalent ingredient is salt…supposedly that’s the magic abrasive that gives it its cleaning power … problem is, there is nothing on the package that tells you a THING about what it’s made of.

Honestly, I’m addicted… arm me with some green cleaners and a Magic Eraser and I will have anything spic and span in no time.  It can magically erase any stain, gmag eras 2rim and dirt, but I also want to get to the bottom of it.

Do you know? Have you heard anything?  Any resources for CREDIBLE information?  If YOU know, I’d love to know…

Please, please just don’t tell me I need to break my addiction…

Green clean: one fab multi-purpose cleaner recipe!

bth roomI used to have a cleaning product cupboard that was loaded with a cleaner for every purpose.  That’s changed quite a bit since I learned the magic of distilled white vinegar and baking soda, however homemade cleaners have been getting a bad rap lately for some concerns over their anti-bacterial abilities.

Well, not long ago I discovered a recipe for a fantastic multi-purpose, homemade green cleaner that eliminates that concern.  I honestly don’t recall where I found it (if I owe someone credit, please let me know!) but it’s another one of those things worth sharing!  So here goes…

INGREDIENTS:

  • water
  • distilled white vinegar
  • eco-friendly dishwashing liquid
  • lemongrass essential oil or tea tree oil

The trick with this cleaner is the use of the lemongrass essential oil or the tea tree oil.  Lemongrass happens to be a natural anti-bacterial (yes, natural… not harsh like commercial anti-bacterials) and the tea tree oil has properties that are both anti-viral and anti-fungal.

DIRECTIONS:spry bttl

  • Fill a 28-32 ounce sprayer bottle about half full with water (you probably have one at home that you’ve salvaged from another product!)
  • Fill almost the rest of the bottle with distilled white vinegar
  • Add 15-20 drops of essential lemongrass oil OR tea tree oil (depending on where you want to use it… or mix a batch of each)
  • Add 3 drops of eco-friendly dishwashing liquid
  • Shake to mix and you’re ready to go!

You’ll want to give it a good shake before every use and, I assure you, with the number of places it can be used, you’ll be doing lots of shakin’ in your kitchens and bathrooms… stainless steel, chrome, countertops, sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, mirrors, windows, floors, doors, ovens, microwaves… the list goes on and on.

The worst part?… well, now it’s time to clean!

The amazing uses for baking soda!

bking sda boxBaking soda is so underrated!… amazing little powder that it is!

I’ve often touted the extraordinary abilities of distilled white vinegar but have never given baking soda the kudos it deserves… and there are endless possibilities!  It’s biodegradable and earth-friendly and a “must” for your grocery list.

Here is just a (very small) sampling of all the ways you can put it to work:

  • Health and beauty – ease an upset tummy or relieve itchy skin; use as a deodorant, toothpaste, body scrub or skin softener.bking sda
  • Home – odor absorber (we all recognize this one, but also…), it’s a deodorizer, a drain-unclogger, and a pest and insect repellent.
  • Cleaning – remove stains, grease, build-up and smells; polish stainless steel and chrome; boost your laundry detergent; clean and deodorize anything and everything from the top to the bottom of your home.

I could spend a month giving you all of the formulations (a simple online search will give you tons of instructions) but I’m just here to urge you to consider it… buy it, use it, embrace it… that little orange box is a great green friend!

(P.S. if you have a new and unique way to use baking soda… by all means, share it!)

Skipping steps in dish washing = lots of conservation

Like you, I cook and prepare meals… a lot. Often “three squares” a day for the health and wellness of my family so I know we’re all getting good, nutritious food.  But I’m often amazed at the amount of plates, bowls, glasses and utensils that are left in the wake!

dishwash by handI’ve evaluated hand washing vs. using the dishwasher and found, overwhelmingly, that (if you have one) the dishwasher is the route to go to clean the aftermath and conserve water, but here’s my misstep… I always felt it was necessary to do a little bit of pre-rinsing before everything went into the dishwasher… boy was I wrong.

According to Consumer Reports, up to 20 GALLONS of water can be consumed to pre-rinse what goes into our dishwasher.  Ouch!… that’s not conservation!  All you need to do is scrape off everything you can and load ‘em up! The other fact I’ve learned is that we really shouldn’t pre-rinse since detergents actually work better when there IS some “food soil” left. Well, my husband is going to be VERY happy about that after tonight’s dinner mess.dishwshr dr open

Besides skipping the pre-rinsing and the pre-wash cycle you should also skip the heated drying cycle.  This actually saves 50% of the energy used for the load.  The better option:  OPEN the door as soon as the dishwasher shuts off. The contents are at their hottest and will evaporate the remaining water and moisture quickly, and in no time everything will be dry… and you’ve really, REALLY conserved!

So there you have it… skip a few little dishwashing steps but make one big step for conservation!