Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wifey Wednesdays- Putting the Hurt on Dirt (not your loved ones!)

I'm on FIRE lately, folks! I have been troubled for quite some time by the products that we've been using to clean our house. It needed a lot of TLC when we moved in and needed a baseboards-deep clean which meant that I found myself dumping loads of chemicals on every surface I could get my hands on. I didn't feel great about that, but I tried really hard not to look at the ingredients labels while I was cleaning. I've had asthma since I was really young and I found myself not being able to clean for long stretches at a time because my lungs would feel like they were on fire and I'd start wheezing all over the place. I had to wear really thick gloves on my hands because after a session with cleaning solutions they'd be so red and raw that they'd actually be painful when I tried to flex them (did I mention that I have sensitive skin, too?).

'Member these Mr Yuk! stickers from elementary school? lol!

Then I got preggers and I swear, it's like this little baby was just begging me not to inundate my body with all of those nasty chemicals because this whole 8 months so far, I have been wiped. First I was on partial bed rest to help alleviate some problems early on and then, when that was all done with, I was still exhausted to the point that getting dressed was enough to make me feel like I needed a nap. I was really, really looking forward to that "honeymoon" period of pregnancy to start up in the second trimester like I'd had with Violet, but somehow the Feel Good Fairy missed me. Let's just say that cleaning has been revised to mean having clean dishes from one meal to the next and making sure that we had clean undies to wear. lol. We're at bare bones, folks. Thank Heaven for the Hubs because without him I'm pretty sure that our house would have been condemned sometime around mid-December.

It would seem, however, that Week 32 is the magic number for this baby! I think that reality is finally setting in that we're going to have a little person here in about 7 weeks (I'm 33 weeks now), give or take depending on if he got his sense of punctuality from his mother (who is perpetually 15 minutes+ late) or from his dad. lol. Whatever it is, I've gotten more done in the last few days than I have in the last few months combined.

Nesting like whoa!
But here's the conundrum: I'm still not crazy about all those nasty toxins and chemicals coating my house (*shudder*), organic or "green" cleaners cost an arm and a leg at stores (and I loathe paying through the nose for a bottle that's mostly filled with water), and I'm nesting like the birds that have suddenly reappeared in our woods. So what's a girl to do?

Lucky for me, there are a TON of helps out there for people like me (and maybe you, too?) who want a clean house without having to label it a toxic waste site, including recipes for making your OWN green cleaning products for literally PENNIES per use.

Today I bought the ingredients that I'll need to best clean my house in every area (laundry, kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, etc) for the next six or seven months, at least. You would not BELIEVE how inexpensive it is to clean your house in a green way if you're willing to do a little of the heavy lifting yourself.

1. Laundry Detergent

First of all, a little note for those who don't know- when you read the ingredients listing on the back of ANYTHING, they're listed in order of greatest to least amount. So the first ingredient listed is the ingredient that is most prevalent in that product. I promise that the first ingredient listed on your liquid laundry detergent is WATER. Water. That means that the majority of what you're paying for there is available straight from your very own tap, and if you have city water then you're paying for water TWICE- once when you pay the city and again whenever you buy cleaning products with it in them. Hm. Add that, any time you add water to something you have to add something ELSE to keep the water from "blooming," or growing water born algae. That something else is a mild herbicide. Which you're putting on your clothes. And then putting on your skin. (Sidenote: that holds true for things like your shampoos, conditioners, liquid hand soaps, and lotions, too. More on that in another post.)

The good news is that it's VERY easy to make your very own detergent.

Now, I know that this isn't news since it seems to be the latest sensation that's sweeping the nation, but I figured it bore telling about here since I'm so stoked about it. lol. This is the recipe that I'm using and I like it because it has some Oxiclean powder in it for extra stain boosting. I also add some drops of Lavender Essential Oil to it to give it a little scent boost, especially on our sheets. It's SO relaxing!
This is the actual bottle that I have! Essential oils are a steal on Amazon.com, a little goes a long way, and they're so much better for you than artificial fragrances! Lavender is also offensive to mice, which makes it a no-brainer for us as far as a household fragrance goes.
Plus, doesn't it look pretty in its decorative glass jar?

2. Disinfecting

I'm like everyone else out there in that I want a clean, fresh house, but I also want a healthy house, especially during cold and flu season. Plus, with the Hubs being a nurse, he tends to bring home a certain amount of pestilence with him, so we have to be hyper-vigilant about disinfecting our surfaces. The good news is, you do NOT need BLEACH to disinfect the average house. You don't. Your house does NOT need to smell like a pool to be clean!!! All the typical homemaker needs in her arsenal is white vinegar, lemon juice, and water. That's IT. You can mix all three together in a spray bottle (I buy mine at the Dollar Tree) in equal parts and spray down all of the "touch" surfaces of your home- your counters, vanity top, door knobs, toilet surfaces, etc. If it gets touched a lot, spray it down with this and you're set. Most bacteria can't stand up to the combined acidity of the vinegar and lemon juice together. As an added bonus, the lemon juice will leave your house smelling so yummy and fresh!
This is 100% pure lemon juice, which is what you want. Nothing with sugar or other additives. I got four (4!!) 48oz bottles for $23.69 with free shipping on Amazon. AWESOME deal!
Okay, this is something that I will tell you NOT to buy on Amazon unless you're a gourmet chef and even then it looks like it's a giant rip off online. I get a gallon of this stuff at our local grocery store for a little over $2. 

3. DeGreasing

Dawn Dish Soap. End of story. And that's not just my opinion, Dawn is an industry standard in labs and oil spill recovery efforts all over. Those commercials where you see the adorable and pitiful-looking little ducks and penguins getting cleaned up in Dawn and water after an oil spill aren't just a marketing ploy, rescue workers actually do that! And if it's safe enough for that, it's safe enough for your house. My dad is a chemical engineer and  even he says that there's no better anti-surfactant on the market (that's the additive that works to cut oil and grease). ANYWHERE. It holds its own patent, which means that Dawn is the only product to have it, which means that in this case brand name matters.

One of the chores that I hate more than anything else is cleaning tubs and showers. It involves awkward angles and bending, leaning, reaching, ugh. It's like a really unrewarding yoga exercise. Not to mention, once you start seeing that soap scum and nastiness coming off of the walls...blech. I just want to run screaming. If you're like me, do yourself a favor and grab yourself some of these:

These ones are from the Dollar Tree!
Fill them with Dawn and white vinegar (seriously, that stuff is ridiculously useful) and keep them in your shower. At the end of each shower, get in the habit of scrubbing down the stall with it and you'll never have to dread that particular chore ever again. Same goes for the tub. Use the water that's there, scrub with this, rinse, and you're done. Boom. Game changer.

Dawn is also great for untold other things but for this post suffice it to say that you can safely use it (the original blue kind, not the other fancy kinds out there) on any and all greasy stains from laundry to furniture, to the bathroom. Hubs even uses it to wash his hands after working in the garage because it's the only thing that gets all the gunk off of his  hands effectively.

4. Debugging

You guys, bugs are gross. GROSS. I know. Few people hate spiders more than this girl, but I also know that bugs are useful and needful. Bugs and I have a tentative agreement: they stay out of my house and I won't kill them. lol. We are animal lovers here at Forget-Me-Not Farm, though, and I hate the idea of spraying deadly (literally) chemicals places where we live and eat. The problem? Wet places, warm places, and places with openings (like drains, for example) are bugs' favorite places. So, the kitchen and bathrooms are prime targets. GROSS.

So I do what our forebears did: REPEL them. Essential oils are step one. Spiders (and bugs in general) hate the smell of peppermint, lavender, and cloves, as do mice. Easy solution? I make little sachets with cotton balls doused in essential oils, covered in cute fabric, and tied off with bakers twine and then I stuff one in each of our kitchen drawers and cabinets. I focus especially on places with drains (like the under-sink area) and places with food (like our food storage and dried goods cabinets). They work like a charm and I feel better about repelling the creepy crawlies than I did about killing them off (and should a tenacious mouse slip past the barricade, our Lady Lucille does an excellent job as a second line of defense! Our ancestors kept cats less as pets and more as a defense of their hard-earned food stuffs). After a year in this house (which had a BAD mouse and bug problem when we moved in), we are almost entirely free of BOTH. Not bad. The only intruders we've had have been in the garage! I'll call that a victory, especially out here.

Ants can also be an issue, but the thing that I've found that works the best is cinnamon! It looks like dirt so they can't tell the difference, but it kills them if they eat it. If you have a problem with them coming in your house, put a line of cinnamon over the thresholds of your house and along the route that they follow getting where they're going and you'll solve the problem pretty quickly. I was dubious but I promise it really does work. It's not our dogs' favorite, but they learned pretty quickly not to lick it up off the floor (lol) and now they leave it alone.

5. Air Freshening

So I love a good air freshener just as much as the next girl (I'm a sucker for Bath and Body Works' Wall Flowers) but I also love fresh linens, cupboards, and closets. You just can't put plug ins and stick 'ems everywhere! Luckily, there are inexpensive and easy fixes!

For clothes closets, the killer of good clothes and smells is moisture! I take a bundle of plain old white school chalk, bundle four or five sticks together and secure with a rubber band. Cover the rubber band with ribbon leaving a long tail that you can tie a loop in and hang (clear of clothes!) from a hook in your closet! The chalk will absorb moisture and odor, just make sure to change it out every three or four months (I do mine with the seasons so it's easy to remember).
This is also a Martha Stewart tip, so you know it's legit! lol!
I also use my handy-dandy lavender essential oil mixed in a mason jar with baking soda as cupboard and closet fresheners!

Stinkin' cute and gets rid of smells better than anything else I've tried! The best part is that when you notice that it's not as "smelly" as it used to be, you just stir up the baking soda and add a few more drops of oil. Done!
Speaking of baking soda, I've never encountered anything better for deodorizing! Take a page out of your grandma's book and sprinkle some all over your carpet before you vacuum. Use a clean broom to spread it evenly and make sure it gets down into the carpet, then let it sit for twenty minutes or so. Vacuum it up and enjoy the freshness! Baking soda will soak up any odors and the vacuum will suck up the baking soda. Easy!

I love these little DIY deodorizing disks, too! They're made with three ingredients: baking soda, distilled water, and whatever essential oil you like (I use lavender!). You can pop them in the bottom of your trash can, diaper pail, sweater and lingerie drawers, whatever you can think of! You can make them in whatever cute silicone mold you can find that you like!
Here's the recipe!
I have a TON more ideas and tips, but these should get you started with your spring cleaning! I'm excited to share these and I hope you find them useful! Happy Wednesday!

1 comment:

  1. Love these ideas!! I'm going to make some air fresheners right now!