One fab (chemical-free) soft scrub recipe!

sft scrubWho doesn’t love a fabulous recipe?!?! This one isn’t even in jeopardy of getting rudely rejected by your family, because it’s not meant to please an appetite… it’s all about chemical-free cleaning.

I’ve shared recipes for a multi-purpose cleaner and a furniture polish so, now… how about when you need a little extra scrubbing action?  Would you be surprised to learn that the main ingredient is amazing baking soda?  Of course you aren’t… so let’s just get to the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • ½ cup liquid castile soap
  • 5-10 drops essential oil
  • ¼ cup water

Just like with the other cleaners, the essential oil is… well… ESSENTIAL! My recommendations are always lemongrass or tea tree oil. Lemongrass is a natural anti-bacterial (yes, natural… not harsh like commercial anti-bacterials) and the tea tree oil has bking sda box2properties that are both anti-viral and anti-fungal.

DIRECTIONS? Well, those are easy.  Just mix them all together and use it anywhere you’d use a soft scrub cleaner.  Leftovers can be stored in a glass jar you’ve salvaged.  (I’ve also heard that you can add a few tablespoons of vegetable glycerin to act as a preservative.)

As always, you have a new recipe to try for chemical-free cleaning but… you know what that means… yep, it’s time to clean! (BLEH!)

The glass IS half full… but broken, it’s trash!

glass halfThe other day a friend of mine mentioned that she recently had a horrible bout with “fumble fingers”… while emptying her dishwasher, she managed to wipe-out four glasses from her countertop.

Knowing that I am Mom Goes Green, she commented:  “Well, at least I put them in the recycling can!”

Oh, beloved friend, I appreciate the gesture, but wrong! (… and I mean that with lotsa green love!)

In actuality, drinking glasses CANNOT be recycled.  The content is a bit different than glass jars, bottles, and containers. These glasses are, unfortunately, trash.

The same goes for windows, mirrors and glass cookware.  While other glass can be recycled indefinitely, these cannot.  Adding them in with your recycling risks ruining an entire batch of recycled glass and you certainly want to consider the danger created when your recyclables are being sorted… glass shards everywhere don’t make for a great work environment at your recycling facility and they can seriously damage equipment.glass brkn

Years ago I managed to completely destroy a door on the front of our entertainment center.  It shattered to small bits and I actually used the pieces to fill the bottom of some clear vases for floral arrangements. (See, some creative license to upcycle still exists!)

So, while I agree with the idea that we should go through life with a “glass half full” mentality, if fumble fingers strikes you too, don’t risk it.  Thank the glass for its service, but you’ll need to put it in the trash.

Peroxide vs. bleach: the greener alternative

I pX bleacharted ways with bleach long ago. Even the smell makes me uncomfortable. In fact, chlorine bleach is a caustic chemical and a registered pesticide.  Hydrogen peroxide is formed and dissipated naturally in the environment when it simply breaks down into oxygen and water (… you see where I’m going with this, don’tcha???).

Hydrogen peroxide can act as a substitute for bleach in virtually every way.  Where you used bleach, use peroxide instead… and even far beyond.

It should always be diluted down to a 3% solution but (fortunately!) this is how it is commonly sold in your local drugstore or market, so you don’t need to worry about mixing your own concoction!

Some of the best uses for hydrogen peroxide?… just take a look:

  • Disinfectant – for cleaning toilet bowls, floors, showers, tubs, tile… your bathroom is its disinfecting playground!
  • Dishwasher – add a few drops to your dishwasher detergent for extra sterilization
  • Food cleaner & natural preservative – add a few teaspoons to a large bowl of cold water. Wash and rinse your vegetables and fruits thoroughly to clean them and prolong their freshnessperox
  • Laundry – simply use in place of the bleach or use as a stain remover (but be sure to blot & rinse immediately to avoid any potential discoloration)
  • Oral hygiene – use it to clean your toothbrush, or a teeth whitener (when combined with baking soda, in small quantities, to make a paste!)
  • Sanitizer – put in a sprayer bottle to sterilize and disinfect counter tops, cutting boards, stove tops, sinks, the refrigerator and even coffee pots, blenders and food processors
  • Toy cleaner – combine one part peroxide to ten parts water and soak water-tolerable toys, then thoroughly rinse and dry. (This is especially helpful after a bout of illness in the house!)
  • Window cleaner – add a half cup to four cups of water and create a streak-free window cleaner

The toy cleaner appeals to me, especially.  I recall when our daughter was in daycare (for a brief, fleeting moment, until I decided being a stay-at-home mommy “was for me”…) and I was horrified that they cleaned the toys with bleach!  AUGH! My baby was probably putting those toys in her mouth the very next day!

Say good-bye bleach, hello peroxide. Nothing lost, but “a whole lot of peace-of-mind” gained!

Know (and admit!) when cookware needs to be replaced

ckware collFor me, that time is NOW! I’m embarrassed to say that I have yet to replace all of my cookware that is in DESPERATE need of replacing.  There are many pots and pans that have taken up permanent residence in my cabinet but I never use them.  I see them, and I know I wouldn’t dream of cooking with them but, there they sit.

The reason I don’t cook with them?… they’re non-stick and some of them are looking a bit unhealthy.  They have scrapes on the surface and I worry that their coating will end up in our food.  In actuality, the flakes are inert, but those non-stick pans can actually omit toxic fumes when they get too hot.

These aluminum pans, coated in polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE – also known as Teflon), emit fumes when subjected to high heat. Inhaling these fumes can actually cause flu-like symptoms. And although the long-term effects haven’t been studied, we do know that exposure to PTFE can create problems like low birth-weight babies, thyroid and liver issues, as well as weakened immune systems.

The better options for cookwares are actually stainless steel for stove-top cooking and glass bakeware for the oven.  Cast iron is another choice. I know there are more and more “green cookwares” becoming available and those will definitely be on my list of things to research too.

In the meanwhile, if you feel “stuck with your non-stick cookware”, there are a few tips to lessen your exposure to the fcast irn pnumes:

  • Cook at lower temperatures and don’t pre-heat your pans at high temps.  It may take a little extra time, but it’s worth it.
  • Never bake at over 500 degrees.
  • Use your exhaust fan.
  • (A little side note too:  these fumes are highly toxic to birds, so keep your feathered friends far from the kitchen.)

Over the holidays, my family gifted me with more “cash than prizes”… and I think it’s due time Mom Goes Green uses that cash, makes good on her self-promise and kicks that nasty cookware to the curb!

(BTW… if you have recommendations, I would looove to hear them!)

Simple tip: Keep your refrigerator from working overtime

frig dollrRefrigerators happen to be a home appliance that MUST consume energy at all times.  In fact, they contribute an average of 8-10% to our monthly energy bill, and that is unavoidable.

I’ve shared my simple “1-2-3” tips for ways to make your refrigerator as efficient as possible, but sometimes the energy loss has nothing to do what you’re doing… it can have a lot to do with what your refrigerator isn’t doing:  holding the cold!

Poorly sealing door gaskets may be the problem and (just like my recent tip to check water waste from your toilets) there is a simple way to find out if your fridge is failing you!:

  • Close a dollar bill (half-in/half-out) between the door gaskets. The bill should be difficult to remove.  If it slips out easily, your door isn’t sealing properly and you’re likely losing cold air… the gasket may need to be replaced.  Do this test for your freezer too.

I seem to be on a home maintenance kick, but my husband wouldn’t be surprise… he’s quite “un-handy” and dubbed me Mrs. MacGyver (while he’s more like MacGruber)!

Anyhow!… give the test a try. If your refrigerator keeps running and running… well, you better go catch it!