Monday, April 13, 2009


Making your home healthier and greener doesn’t have to be expensive, or overwhelming. Just a few changes can improve the health of your home, your family, and the planet it sits on.

The kitchen is often considered center of the home. Yet, many kitchen cleaners contain harsh chemicals that do more than threaten the health of the planet; some of these products can irritate your lungs, eyes, and skin. Kitchen products made from vinegar, baking soda, borax, hydrogen peroxide, and salt clean effectively while being gentle on your hands and the earth. Natural, non-toxic options for your dishes, sink and countertops eliminate grease and leave your kitchen surfaces fresh and sparkling clean. Take better care of your "heart" when you de-grease, de-spot and de-stain the healthy way!

Home-brew suggestions:
  • Use vinegar instead of bleach, baking soda to scrub your tiles, and hydrogen peroxide to remove stains.

  • Vinegar also removes grease and soap buildup.

  • Need a window cleaner? Try diluted lemon juice or vinegar.

  • Use borax to inhibit mold growth, boost the cleaning power of soap or detergent, remove stains or even kill cockroaches, when sugar is mixed in.

A couple of years ago, we had camel crickets under the house. We put out pie pans with dry borax mixed with powdered milk and got rid of the crickets. Old fashioned mouse traps still work and are environmentally sound. Use a little cheese or peanut butter. It has worked in our summer house in NC.

If your house is like mine you may have some particleboard or plywood that have glues emitting irritating fumes into your environment. You should air them out before you bring them inside. The best idea would be to apply a non-toxic sealant to exposed pressed wood.

House dust aggravates allergies. dust also contains more hazardous chemicals than you might think, including lead, fire retardants, pesticides, and other chemicals. Make sure your vacuum has strong suction and a HEPA filter so that dust and dirt go into the bag. Vacuum at least two times each week. Clean the vacuum bag and filter every time, so dust isn't spewed back into the air.

Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. You can skip the soaps and cleaners and just use plain water to capture any lingering dust or allergens. New microfiber mops (and dust cloths) reportedly capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers and don’t require any cleaning solutions whatsoever.

Keep it out. Put a large floor mat at every door.People track in all sorts of chemicals via the dirt on their shoes. A door mat reduces the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants from getting into your home. If the mat is big enough, even those who don't wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat -- not the floors in your home.

Avoid room deodorizers or other air "freshening" products, which are frequently made from unhealthy chemicals. Open the window for even just a few minutes every day and it may significantly improve your indoor air quality. If you want something to improve the odor, boil some cinnamon in a kettle of water on the stove--let simmer until the whole house smells like cookies.

Among the key toxins are lead, fire retardants, and pesticides. Studies have linked overexposure to lead and pesticides with brain and central nervous system damage, behavior problems, asthma, cancer, and more. And in animal studies, flame retardants – used in everything from electronics to mattresses and upholstered furniture have been associated with cancer, abnormal brain development, and hormone problems.

Released into the environment, these chemicals affect wildlife, too, as well as your pets. In one study, house cats had 23 times more fire retardants in their blood and urine than people. That’s significant because cats, like infants and toddlers, play close to the floor. They also often lick their paws, just as children put their hands in their mouths.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Mama bought vinegar by the gallon. Vinegar has a mild acid content and is wonderful for removing stains, mineral deposits, and grease from glass surfaces.

  • Clean the microwave oven by adding 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and bring to a rolling boil so that it steams up. It will wipe out easily with a towel and smell good too.

  • Clean the refrigerator walls and shelves with a half-and-half mixture of water and vinegar.

  • Wipe the top of the refrigerator with a towel and then wipe with a cloth using full-strength vinegar to cut grime.

  • After cleaning the oven, wipe out with a wet sponge using a vinegar and water mixture.

  • Clean the counter-tops with a cloth soaked in undiluted vinegar.

  • Fill a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar to clean the cabinets (it will also deter creepy critters).

  • Use 1/2 cup of vinegar in the dishwasher rinse cycle to get dishes and glassware sparkling clean.

  • Clean the wheel on the can opener with vinegar and an old toothbrush.

  • If you spray undiluted vinegar outside doorways, window sills, and appliances it will discourage ants or other pests.

  • Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted vinegar to attract and drown them.


My grandmother had some unique uses for simple products like baking soda. She never had an under the sink counter like mine. When I open the doors to the awful mess under there of dish soap, dog shampoo, cleanser, dish washer soap, window cleaner, copper/brass/silver cleaner, rug cleaner, air freshener, rug freshener, sponges, etc., I think about all the money I have wasted when I could have used Mama's easy remedies.
  • Clean your cutting board by sprinkling with baking soda, then add vinegar and watch it bubble, rinse with hot water.

  • You can sprinkle baking soda on a sponge and rub into wood or other porous surfaces to remove garlic, onion, and any other food odors-rinse with water.

  • Make your own scouring powder by mixing 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup borax, 1 cup salt. Put in a container that you can sprinkle and use as you would any other scouring powder.

  • Baking soda removes many stains, such as coffee/tea stains, juice, and mustard.

  • Clean and shine your toaster with a paste of baking soda and water.

  • Mix equal parts creamy peanut butter and baking soda to shine your chrome appliances.

  • Add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 drop dish soap to your blender fill to half with water, put lid on and blend briefly. Rinse and dry.

  • Make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it on your hands to get rid of the odor of garlic and onions.

  • Put a little baking soda in your rubber gloves and they will slide right on, keep dry and smell real good.

  • Baking soda is a wonderful nonabrasive cleaner for stainless steel sinks.

  • Pour 1 cup of baking soda in the drain, then microwave 1 cup of vinegar and pour it down the drain. Wait 10 minutes and pour a quart or two of boiling water down the drain. It is very good for the environment if you use natural products instead of caustic chemicals.