Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cleaning Naturally

I would never consider myself a "crunchy" or "green" person, except in one area of life. Cleaning. If it can be cleaned without commercial cleaners, that's how I roll with it. I am SUPER sensitive to cleaners, especially anything with bleach. It makes me miserable.

When Ethan was a baby, I bought special cleaners that were natural (before they were readily available in stores. I had to special order them online and spend a small fortune). When Caleb was a baby, I was introduced to the best, cheap, natural cleaner ever- vinegar. At first I hated the smell. I saw a few years ago about infusing vinegar with orange peels and started doing that. After awhile I stopped using the peels and just stuck to plain vinegar. Now I love it! The smell of vinegar = cleanness to me :)

Since becoming a vinegar-addict, I have found other items around the house that help in cleaning that I love. Here's my cleaning-must-have's, along with a few recipes and purposes for them.

The line-up: Vinegar, Baking Soda, Dawn Dish Soap, Peroxide, Olive Oil (and not pictured: Baby oil & Lemon Juice)

 All Purpose Cleaner (in the spray bottle):
1/2 vinegar & 1/2 water
Use to clean counters, toilet, cupboards, miniblinds, kitchen appliances. I use this everyday on anything that needs wiped or sanitized. It's my go-to bathroom and kitchen cleaner

Super Cleaner:
Baking Soda & vinegar
For more heavy duty cleaning, I sprinkle baking soda on the item and spray my all purpose cleaner on it.
Works great for cleaning the inside of an oven- sprinkle and spray. Let sit overnight and wipe in morning. Vacuum up and good to go!

Also great for cleaning pots & pans (check warranty stuff first), stuck on food on counters, and cleaning the kitchen sink. Check out my shiny sink below. I just sprinkle the baking soda, spray the vinegar, and wipe. I follow up with a little baby oil and it makes the sink pretty and shiny!
Powdered Cleaner
Baking Soda 
I use baking soda for odor control. Sprinkle lightly in garbage cans, on upholstery that needs freshened, on mattresses monthly. Just let sit and vacuum when ready.
I also use it as an abrasive cleaner. It's great for the inside of the toilet, baked on food in pans, etc.

Furniture Polish
1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, lemon juice
 Mix & spray on furniture as you would Pledge. Buff off and enjoy the shine!
I am going to try baby oil instead of olive oil & lemon juice next, just because I love the smell of baby oil.

Laminate & Tile Floor Cleaner 
Equal parts of vinegar, rubbing alcohol, water and a few drops of Dawn
Spray on floor and wipe. I use the Rubbermaid Reveal mop- it's like a Swiffer WetJet but you fill the container with your own solution and has reusable pads. I just press a button and spray, then mop over it. Works great!

Tub/Shower Cleaner 
Equal parts of vinegar & Dawn soap
Heat the vinegar for a minute in the microwave and then mix with the soap when done. You can keep in a spray bottle and spray on and wipe off as needed. Or use a kitchen dishwashing sponge with the soap container built-in and keep it stored in there (pic below). I keep mine in the shower and everything is there for a quick wipe-down anytime.
*The vinegar is heated just the once, not everytime you use the solution. And bonus- if you need to clean your microwave, heat the vinegar longer (5 minutes is good) and wipe your microwave out when done. Steaming vinegar is the best microwave cleaner

Upholstery (Microfiber) Cleaner
Rubbing Alcohol and a white sponge
My laundry stain remover- Peroxide, Dawn, & Baking Soda
Spray material down with rubbing alcohol and scrub with a white sponge (white so a colored sponge doesn't bleed through to fabric). Fluff when dry with a bristle brush. Full details are here
Sprinkle baking soda on fabric and spray with stain remover. Rub in with wet white sponge and vacuum when dry.

I've tried both ways. The rubbing alcohol works great on my couches but the smell is rough on me. I only do it when weather is nice enough to have windows open. The stain remover works better than rubbing alcohol on my dining chairs.

Window & Glass Cleaner
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 cups warm water
Mix really well to dissolve cornstarch. Use as you would Windex

Check out our link to our homemade laundry stuff :) 

I do use 2 not-natural items in cleaning also. I use a Magic Eraser to clean my walls (handprints, dirt, etc), cabinets, and moldings. And use a dryer sheet to wipe down baseboards, mini-blinds (after I clean them), and electronics- to keep dust and dog hair from settling on those items. Dryer sheets aren't great for laundry and we no longer use them so I have a bunch laying around. They do help with the dust issue.

Hope all of this helps you with naturally cleaning! My next thing to try is homemade dishwasher detergent, so stay posted for that.
And obviously: do spot tests on your fabrics, check warranties on pots, pans, furniture, and don't blame us if something doesn't work for you :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Homemade Laundry Goods, Part 2

Well, it's been over a year since I started making my own laundry detergent. I don't think I will ever go back to store bought! It's so cheap and easy to do and it works really well. 

I've added a few "helpers" to the laundry line-up and this week am trying a new recipe for the detergent. My original recipe uses Fels Naptha bars, which work great. The downside to them is they are a pain to grate and the smell is "ok". This week, I am trying out Ivory soap in place of the Fels. It's cheaper ($1.00 for 3 bars. Fels is $1.29 each here), smells great, gentler for the baby, and is SUPER easy to grate!

Here's a quick demo on the super easy way to grate the Ivory bars. If you have kids, they can help and it will keep them entertained for awhile!

Grab your Ivory and place an unwrapped bar in a microwavable dish. Place in the microwave for 2 minutes and watch it be transformed....

 The kids thought this was the coolest thing ever! It looks like a plate of Cool Whip but is actually dry and flaky. I placed it in mixing bowls and let the kids play with it...
 Them playing with it made it turn into small flakes. The only downside is it can be messy and make you sneeze :) But WAY easier than me grating the Fels bars for a half hour
 When they were done, I ran it through our Ninja to make it even finer. It was a perfect powder after 3 pulses. The Fels never got this fine. My kids loved the smell of the Ivory, too. Then just mix with the rest of the ingredients and you are ready to go!
 I'm expecting this recipe to not have as good of stain removal as the Fels did but time should tell. With my original recipe, it got out most stains- except Ella "accidents". To combat the tough stains, I have a homemade stain remover. It is awesome! It's what I used to clean my 30 year old cabbage patch too, after other stain removers wouldn't work.

I've also added a fabric softener too. I use it on our towels and blankets and they are so soft and smell great! For loads that I don't use it on, I sometimes dry the clothes with a tennis ball. It stops the static and works great!

Without further ado, the recipes:

Laundry Soap
1 bar of Ivory soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup Baking Soda
*Note, you can sub Baking Soda with OxyClean to help with stains. I don't because Baking Soda is cheaper :) 
Mix everything up. For normal loads, use 1 tbsp. For larger loads, use 2

*My picture is the recipe doubled. You could do all 3 bars at once and triple the recipe, but my canister only holds enough for it doubled

Fabric Softener
2 cups hot water
1 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup any hair conditioner (I used $1 Suave)

Mix everything up. Use 1/4 cup (or as little as desired) as you would normal fabric softener. I promise you won't smell the vinegar! It's what adds the softness. You can even do straight up vinegar- the conditioner is for scent.

Stain Remover
1 part Dawn blue dish soap
2 parts Hydrogen Peroxide
Baking Soda

Mix the soap and peroxide in a spray bottle. When treating a stain, sprinkle baking soda on stain and spray with mixture. Rub in and launder as usual. If it's a tough stain, I use an old toothbrush to really rub in and let set a little. 
*Note- my picture shows just the peroxide in the bottle. The mixture will actually be blue, not clear

There you have it! Hope you enjoy these "recipes" as much as I do!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Holiday Pictures

Pinterest is loaded with wonderful photography ideas for all of the holidays. I found several ideas for St. Patrick's Day and Easter to photograph Ella. Mine didn't turn out as nice (especially St. Patrick's Day- she was CRABBY!), but here's my attempts :)

I didn't care for the St. Patty's ones, but do like the Easter ones. She hated us posing her, especially the one with the eggs!

 And here's a pic of all of my wonderful children! They all smiled nice....bribery goes a long way! They love their new sister <3