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Bathrooms and Miscellaneous Cleaners

I’ve been sick and we’re still at war over my mother’s care so I’m going to do my best to get more up this week or next depending on how many extra duties I have on my shoulders.

Bathrooms and Miscellaneous Cleaners

Tags: green cleaning, going green, bathroom, antibacterial, all natural

So while I covered most of the bathroom cleaners, there is still the best ever toilet clean and some miscellaneous products that can also be useful in the bathroom.  So today I’m going to share four more clean and green recipes to both save you money and promote a toxin free home.

Now, before we get too far ahead, I do want to mention something I forgot in the last post.  I mentioned that these will save you money. It’s just an added bonus for me…but if you really want to know the cost breakdown (well approximately) many of these recipes came from the thrifty couple. http://thethriftycouple.com/2013/03/15/make-23-homemade-natural-cleaning-products-for-around-12-printable-shopping-list-too/ The link will send you to their article covering around 20 all natural home cleaning products. If there is one that you are particularly interested in seeing the cost breakdown on….click it and scroll all they way down to the bottom where they highlight it. If going Green isn’t enough of a motivator for you here, then the huge savings could be.

I mean for me, I was sold when I learned I could make up to 6 months of laundry detergent (we’re getting to that post soon)…that works just as well if not better than some of the name brands….for 20-30 dollars. I didn’t believe it till I priced it out. Or that I could make a floor cleaner for pennies on the dime. Didn’t believe it until I tried it…but it really does work.

I will give you an example before I get off the money saving soap box so to speak. My former landlady is the one who directed me to this site. She used the detergent and she passed along some. It worked and we kept using it…we looked back to the site and went to their original recipe (she had modified it) and all was grand. We spent around 22-ish dollars in Louisville in 2014 on that powder detergent….when a box of powder or liquid can be anywhere from 9-12 dollars depending on what you like and get. That was over 50 dollars a year we were paying in detergent for the two of us. While with this we made it once and it lasted six months at a cost of around 22 dollars. If you have a bigger family, I’m sure the savings are larger as well.

Now that I’ve put away the laundry box….I mean soap box….let’s get back to it.

The four recipes we’re going to talk about today are: toilet cleaners, drain cleaners, antibacterial cleaners (both a spray and wipes).

Also, once I finish up with my series on cleaning I will be posting a link to all the recipes that are more printer friendly. That was my only problem with the Thrifty Couple’s website. It was really hard to just get the directions.

Antibacterial Wipes and Spray

I’m going to start here because the two are easily made together

Here’s what you need:

  • empty container for baby wipes or clorox wipes
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 roll of paper towels (don’t buy the cheapest)
  • 5 drops lavender oil.
  • 5 drops lemon oil
  • 3 drops tea tree oil
  • 3 drops oregano oil (optional as the oil smells but great for more antibacterial properties.)
  • Spray bottle.

.

First you’re going to get a roll of paper towel and cut in half.  Then you are going to squeeze it into a used container for either baby wipes or something like the Clorox wipes containers.

Once you have it in there you are going to pour two cups of warm water over the wipes. Let it absorb into the paper towels. I would give it at least twenty minutes to make sure it’s soaked through.  

Once it’s fully absorbed. pull the cardboard out from the center. ONce you have that out, you are going to pour the excess into the spray bottle to use as a spray or later with more wipes.  

Now you can reach in and pull a wipe from the center and pull it through the opening in the lid. Enjoy.

Drain Cleaner/Freshener.

This one is very simple all it takes is a cup of baking soda and ½ cup of vinegar (you can use either apple cider or white vinegar).

Whether you are using it for prevention, deodorization or to get rid of a nasty clog….first you are going to pour the baking soda into the drain.

Then measure out your vinegar and pour it down the drain. Be sure to have the drain stopper ready to plug the hole so that your solution actually stays in your drain.  It’s going to fizzle and bubble, which is what is going to help break up all that gunk down there.

If you are just freshening and maintaining your drains you don’t have to let it sit more than 15 minutes, but if you are trying to unclog a drain….leave it in there for 30-60 minutes without using the sink.

Then you just rinse out the sink with warm water. You may need to repeat for tough clogs. I’ve used this drain cleaner for plugs in our old apartment at least 10 times.  We only had to go out and buy something stronger twice….and it turned out that one of those times, it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway….it was a frozen pipe that the city water company had to come take care of….Geeze was that a mess.

Anyway….it really is as simple as that.

Toilet cleaner

For me this is the hardest one….mainly because I find it the most tedious.  

Here’s what you need:

pumice stone

1 cup apple cider or white vinegar

4 drops of any ONE of the following essential oils: lemon, tea tree, orange, or lavender.

½ cup baking soda

Another 10 drops of your choice.

Gloves.

Toilet Brush

Put on your gloves and get that pumice stone in there if you have any unsightly rings that don’t just wipe away.  Just like those stones get rid of nasty dead skin…it will get rid of those pesky rings that just don’t want to go away.

Next you pour the vinegar into the toilet. Let it sit there and do its job for 30 minutes. It’s a natural antibacterial and disinfectant.

When the timer goes off grab your toilet brush and do the usually scrub routine while adding some baking soda. I would start with a 1/4th cup and work from there depending on how long you’ve let the bowl go..  Make sure you get around the edges where people often miss and under the rim for the cleanest bowl possible.  

Add your four drops of oil and flush. This is really an optional step and an added measure. Each of these oils is great for cleaning and will also flush away what some may consider the undesirable smell of the vinegar.  Personally, I like the added clean, but if you can’t afford the oils this will work without them….just not as well….at least in my opinion.  

Finally, you really should put 10 drops of oil in the water tank.  This will help flush out the internal system and get the water to where you may not have been able to reach with a brush.  I do recommend this part if only for that benefit.  

LIke I said it isn’t bad….I just have trouble with the patience part of the equation.  

So there are our recipes for Going Green in your Clean for today. We’re going to hit the kitchen next.  Also, if you find any better recipes feel free to post them here or share any modifications. What works for one home may not be the best for another.

Blessed Be.

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Green and Clean Bathroom (Part 1)

Been a rough last week and a half. More problems with mom’s home health care agency. But I’m pulling all the files together to take to corporate and hopefully after that I can take her down a peg or two. She’s caused enough harm. I think getting her out of our hair and preventing her from harassing others the way she’s pestered my mom is for the greater good at this point.

But my personal life aside….lets get to it.

So I wanted to start a series that I could post on both of my blogs seeing as I’ve had so little time to do much else other than damage control for my mom. Last week was a blast to put together. And if we are looking to teach our children or ourselves pagan values, we have to live it.  We can’t just walk the walk. We have to talk the talk and part of that is taking care of the earth. It also means taking care of ourselves.

Now, I used to think that cleaning supplies that you bought at Walmart were essential until I found out about all the toxins in them. Then we tried a wonderful company called Melaleuca, which uses tea tree oil and nothing has toxins in it….not even their makeup. It’s a great company if you have the money, but we were spending way too much on all the things we needed to keep our house Green, so we went back.

Ever since then I had been working on a way to get back to being Green.  It wasn’t because I was pagan. I just felt that it was healthier for me.  It just so happens that later I made a personal determination that being healthy and working towards freedom from toxins in my life was essential to my pagan path. I’m still working on it, with mixed results, but nothing worth doing happens over night.  

However, I wasn’t at a place in my life where I really had the time or reason to focus too much on it. It was around then that I went to college and I really didn’t need many cleaning supplies as much of that was done by the housekeeping staff, but it was also when my health starting to get worse again.  So when I got my apartment, I got back to it.

Now that I’ve explained why I want to clean Green, I want to start by talking about one room. The room that most of us hate to clean the most. It is the room that most of us often believe is the dirties in the house….even if Mythbusters has proven otherwise.  The Bathroom.  

So what do we have to clean in the bathroom?

Mirrors

Toilets

Tubs

Showers

Grout

Sinks

Cabinets

Floors (hopefully not carpet as in our ensuite in my parents double wide).

So what do we clean them with if we remove all toxins from our house?

The following are some of the best recipes I found. Most of them come from thethrfitycouple.com blog. Particularly their cleaning challenge from back in 2013. They have a number of other recipes listed, but the ones listed here are the ones that have worked best for me in my personal experience. Some of my other favorites come from Wellnessmama.com

Window Glass and Stainless Steel

Vinegar and Water work just as well as windex and you don’t have to worry about your child getting into it.  Just mix it 50/50 with water and use a rag to clean as you normally would. Simple enough right? Also, if you’ld like a little bit of an extra kick a little bit of baking soda in that spray bottle can really give that recipe a boost. And if you want additional antibacterial power you can add three to four drops of an essential oil.  The ones I recommend the most often are Melaleuca (tea tree oil), Lemon, Orange, Peppermint or Lavender.  

The oils are also a great investment as you will get a container that can last you a year or two for all of your cleaning supply needs. Just make sure that they are natural. It adds a bit to your start up cost, but some might find it worth it to have that clean smell they are used to.  It also works that some of us may already have a collection of these oils for ritual use.  

The original recipe I found also uses a drip of dish soap, but I found that this really made no difference and actually made it harder to get that streak free look.  

Laminate Floor Cleaner

The recipe here is their third attempt with a few modifications. Again it was the one that worked best for me. It goes as follows:

  • 1.5 cups  Water
  • 1.5 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Several drops of Orange or Lemon essential oils.
  • Mix all ingredients together and pour into a fine mist spray bottle.

Now that I left out the dish soap….just a few drops and they used lavender oils. But any of the oils I mentioned earlier would work.  

We also made our own swiffer pads so that we could use this with our original swiffer set I had for my tiled dorm room.  We just bought some microfiber cloths at the Dollar Tree and cut it down.

Natural Mildew And Mold Remover

Every once in a while we all face the dreaded mold…especially if your life is like mine and you get busy.  For this one I do follow their exact directions. For some reason the Tea Tree Oil worked best for me when we used it in our bathroom.  

To make the remover put a TBSP of baking soda in a small bowl and pour a TBSP of vinegar (white) into it.  You’re going to see it react, but just stir it until it is mixed. Once that has settled you need to add 5-6 drops of Tea Tree Essential oil and mix it again. It’s going to be a thin/medium paste.  I apply it directly to the affected spot and let it sit there for a while. Once it has sat there for, lets say half an hour to an hour I come back and scrub it away. You may need to repeat this a few times but it will get the job done.

Homemade Soft Scrub

This is another great one from the thrifty couple. And it is the only one where I use even a semi toxic product and that is because I just haven’t found a good substitute for the dish soap, but I’m still working on it.  Eventually I plan on figuring out my own homemade version of dish soap that is all natural as well.


Here’s how you make it. Take 2 TBSP (or more depending on how much you need just be sure to double the rest appropriately). and add five drops of lemon or orange oil.  These oils are both known for their cleansing properties.  Then add five drops of dish soap  (hopefully in the same scent).  Then add 1 TBSP of hydrogen peroxide. The original recipe recommends 3% but I’ve found that just about anything you can buy at Walmart will work.  

It’s going to form a paste.  If it’s not thick enough add pinches of baking soda until you get a medium paste.  You may also find that the thickness you need depends on what you are cleaning. So you may have to experiment to find your happy medium.  

This is one of the only recipes I haven’t had luck storing.  It just doesn’t work after sitting around for so long.  

Once it’s made apply to the surface you need to clean and scrub gently with a toothbrush before letting it sit for 20-30 minutes. Then scrub gently again and wipe away.  I have used it on tile grout and a pesky oven stain but I’m not sure I would use it on wood, glass or painted walls just to be safe.  

Total Supply List

Vinegar (White or Apple Cider) Note: I prefer the Apple Cider Vinegar.

Water

Baking Soda

Essential Oils: Lemon, Orange, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Lavender.

Labels for Spray Bottles

Spray Bottle for Window, Glass and Steel Cleaner

Spray Bottle for Laminate Floor Cleaner

Toothbrush

Small Bowl for cleaning.

Also, not everyone is going to like every recipe. I went through a number of sites before I found a set that I liked. If mine don’t work to your taste, try doing your own research and see if you can find something that does work for you. All I’m trying to do here is remove the toxic chemicals from our home because our body is a part of our temple and we should all respect it.  And more importantly, we have to teach our children this by our own example.  

So there you have it. Aside from the essential oils (which are just a startup cost and easily sustainable once started) everything is easily obtainable. I’m also fairly sure that a good number of them might work without the oils, but I’ve never tried that. Also, I like the clean smell without the chemicals so I’m not sure I would like them without the oils.  

Test out a few and tell me what you think.

Wednesday we are going to talk about some more bathroom cleaners to help you go Green in your home.  Then after this week I’ll get back to some separate posts related more specifically to my individual blogs.  
Blessed Be.  

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Going Green With Diapers

This month has just not been it for me. Now we’ve added two emergency room visits in a few days and a scary eye problem. We’ve had the eye issue going on in my right eye for a while now, but this is the first time its gotten so bad that I just couldn’t function at all.  So where the ENT, Allergiest, Optomitrist, and GP have failed to come up with an answer….the doc in the ER visit (a hospital that is generally known as a worthless bandaid station….but only place I could get a ride to) may have come up with an answer….cluster headaches/migraines in or around my eye. I’ll be going to a Neurologist on the 3rd of Aug and hopefully we’ll get a confirmation and a method of treatment that doesn’t make me feel high and trippy as all get out (like I feel today after all the meds my GP put me on to make it to that appointment).

So if you’lre following me or reading for the first time, please send me all the positive energy/prayers you can muster.  I’m hoping to kick this and finally be out of the woods with all the problems we’ve had this month.

Also, I apologize in advance if thinks are a little messy. I’m still not seeing very well…so please forgive a comma for a period or silly things like that. I did my best to catch them all, but I’m not making any promises.

Anyway lets get to it.

So, today I want to talk with you about diapering. Now there are two options. First there are disposables and then there are cloth. Granted there are a ton of options in each camp, but first let’s compare and contrast.

Disposable diapers

With  disposable diapers, first, they aren’t biodegradable. Aka they are bad for the environment. So that is a negative. Second, they really aren’t as absorbent as most cloth diapers (provided you choose your best choices and get the right inserts). There’s a second negative. Third, they cost around $120 per month if you’re in size one or two….and from the jump in price between size one and two….it only gets more expensive as you go.  A third negative. Finally, they are convenient and don’t require washing. So two positives veres three negatives. Not too bad in terms of a pros and cons list.

Now lets look at the other side.

Cloth diapers

First, you only need thirty of them total for a child from birth to potty training and a kid can go further between changes the older they get. So you’re looking at a base investment of somewhere between $150 and $300 (depending on where you get your diapers) for thirty. That’s about two months of buying disposables. Note here that with a smaller baby…a lot of time the one size adjustables won’t fit till month three or four so you may have to buy some disposables. But the one size adjustables are the way to go if you want to save money. They will grow with your child.

I would call that a big positive over $100-$150 in disposables per month. I would call those savings a definite positive.

There is the cost of water and detergent, but I really can’t call that a negative….because we’re still saving more paying that (even in a private community where we pay twice as much for water as anyone else in the county) than we were when we bought disposables those first two or three months.

You have to scoop the poop out of a diaper into the toilet. Yes, it’s a negative, but honestly, it’s not a big deal. Not to mention the fact that technically you’re supposed to do this before you throw away a disposable anyway. You can get a diaper sprayer or liners (if you want to lose a bit of your savings here) to avoid this.  But, if you have kids, you’re going to be dealing with far worse than a poopy in their lives. I can barely count this as a negative.

The only downfalls I see on this side of the fence are start up costs and having to wash the diapers every two or three days. I personally think that cloth diapers are still better than wasting all that money and the environmental damage done by non-degradable diapers.

There is a visual at http://www.chetramos.com/how-to-start-cloth-diapering/ that really puts it into perspective.  Now they say that they spent $500 on cloth diapers, but if you look around you can find the one size adjustable ones online (and in cute prints) for around $6 each. I’m betting these people bought the first ones that they found or had to buy the ones that cost $20 a pop. We ordered ours online and only spent around 150 dollars including shipping and handling.  And others have found them used for less…but that’s easier to do in a larger area….and we don’t live in a metro area anymore.  Also look for swaps and such for cloth diapers online. You’ll save and get some name brands if that is your thing.

They show the average number of diapers used in a year with disposables (3800) and they have it costing around $1000. Now I did the math on my end based on what I spent for 144 diapers (so 3800 divided by 144 times $30 a pop per box of diapers) and it came out to around $750….so it apparently does vary greatly depending on brand and where you live I would guess, but I bought the cheapest thing worth buying and that’s what it would have cost me (provided I stayed at size one the whole year).  Still, we’ve only spent around $300-$400 with all the home supplies I DIY’d.

So what do you need?

1. You need around 30 diapers to keep up with a newborn washing every two days. Right now at. nearly a year we probably wash ours every three days on average still.

2. A pad for each diaper (usually included with diaper). The only way this will cost you more is if your diaper comes with a cheap pad. If it says its microfiber though….it should be fine especially if it’s a pocket diaper. That’s what we use.

3. POWDER detergent: the liquid can build up and make your diapers less absorbent and then you have to strip them, which equals more money lost.

4. Oxyclean powder: We use this to combat stains. So technically this is optional, but I find it really good for fighting stains. Just DO NOT get anything with baking soda because that can cause build up as well.

5. Diaper sprayer: This is another optional. If you don’t want to pull out poopies with a wipe then you want a sprayer. If you don’t want to have to rinse them out in your sink or tub…you want a sprayer. Now you can buy a diaper sprayer, but they are overpriced. you can build one yourself….but I can tell you it’s far simpler to just buy a bidet sprayer and set it up in your house. I honestly wish at this point that we had done this instead of making our own (which only works in the one correctly plumbed toilet in the house…another issue with making your own if you live in a trailer.)

6. Wet bags: You need at least one big one for the house and one smaller one with a zipper for travel. We have four (one big three small). I figure I can use them later when we go swimming or what have you.  You can make these on your own for cheaper than you can buy them. Babyville fabric at JoAnn’s (or bought online there) runs around $15 per yard on a regular basis. You need a yard or two to make the ones we have. And if you just look up quick zip wet bag tutorial you’ll find all the video and blog tutorial options that you could ever want. Pick the one that best suits your family. And as a final note here…we actually carry two bags with us sometimes when we travel….one for poopie and one for wet…so we don’t have to worry about messing up a public bathroom.

I think that’s about it.  Anything else is really just extra. If you really do your research and look for the best buys you’re looking at $150-$200 for 30 cloth diapers, $40 for a bidet sprayer (optional), and around $30-$50 for the supplies to make the wet bags. That’s around $300 if you DIY and trust me the wet bag is easy to make (and otherwise costs $20-$30 per bag).

If you add incidentals per year I think I’ve spent (on estimate) around $200-$300 on water and cleaning supplies for the diapers. So total around $600 maybe $700…which would still be cheaper than my cost for one year of cloth diapers. If you look at the fact that next year (already having the start up supplies) you’ll only spend up to $400 or so on water and cleaning supplies (and that’s an overestimate still). You’re saving even more that next year provided you aren’t doing your laundry at a laundromat.

A final thought

I’m adding this here so I can put in my personal experience. Yes, you can make cloth diapers as well…but let me give you a warning. I spent $120 and that only made me six diapers. Also….if you struggle with elastic….don’t make your own. There really aren’t any good patterns without spending yet another $20-$30. I can do the sewing, but it wasn’t as economical as buying the cloth diapers I bought. Not to mention that they were huge on Freya. I doubt that they would fit her even now at one year.  So, unless you can modify patterns. I suggest not doing it and if you insist….do a test run with cheap fabric first.

So that’s my intro to cloth diapers. If any of you have other relevant experience please share. I’m going to continue this topic Wednesday with more tips and tricks on Cloth Diapers.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a second post for the week.

Blessed Be.

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The Lazy Clean Freak Part 2

As I’ve said before I’m a lazy neat freak. I try to work efficiently so I don’t do any more than I absolutely have to.  Last post we talked about the living room and just a few general tips to break down your Green Clean and Lazy Clean schedule.  Today I want to hit up at least two rooms that are really important to clean, the bathroom and kitchen.

They are some of the dirtiest rooms in our house and they need to be some of the cleanest. Now, no one has time to clean their entire bathroom every week. A few have time to clean it weekly and some do it as I do, split up over the course of the month.

So let’s get started.

Kitchen

It’s often the heart of the home. Family gathers round for food and snacks while they talk about their day. Or not depending on your family. Still, it is an important place as it holds a key to survival….food. Not to mention that we should keep it clean for another reason. There are studies that indicate there’s more E.coli in your kitchen then there is in your bathroom, which is shocking as it’s a fecal bacterium.

Here are a few tips to keep your kitchen clean and green.

A note on toxic cleaners: a lot of them have pesticides in them. You may ask what’s so bad about that, they’re used on our food right? Well first, they aren’t tested for very long. Second, cleaning and killing are two very different things. There are plenty of beneficial bacteria that these cleaners destroy along with the bad.  We don’t want to kill the ones that help with digestion, the ones that help make vitamins in our body, or the ones who help fight off various diseases. (Yes there are good bacteria.) Not to mention that the more bacteria we kill, the more resistant some of these bacteria become, which could lead to super bugs.

1 Choose less porous surfaces for your countertops if you’re redecorating. The same thing goes for cutting boards. It will help you cut down on the bacteria.

2 Talking about porous….ditch the sponge. It holds onto more bacteria than anything else. Particularly that E.coli I was just talking about. Or you can clean it by nuking it in the microwave or putting it through the dishwasher. Well, supposedly. I’m not sure I trust that.

3 Don’t microwave plastic unless it is Tupperware. They’re one of the few companies who have actually tested the safety of their products in a microwave. Pyrex is another good company. There are some plastics that are fine in a microwave, but a lot of the plastic we use isn’t tested or safe for use in the microwave. Some have additives that can be released when heated. It’s much better to invest over time and get rid of your old stuff than to risk your health.

4 Ditch the non-stick pans. While it’s easier to clean there are better alternatives. However, there’s some question as to whether or not they are safe. Alton Brown cautions the use of them in his Kitchen Gear book. Not only does it easily break off (so you have to put extra care into its maintenance), but you have to be careful what tools you use with it.  Not to mention that you lose any chance of deglazing your pans, which makes for a tasty sauce to go with your meal.

Also, in my opinion….one of the best nonstick pans is a wok. You can cook most things in it and I’ve never had anything stick. I got mine and all the tools for 10 bucks with a coupon (originally 20.) Otherwise avoid the nonstick pans. Studies have shown that a chemical used in their production has been found in the blood of the general population.

For baking I suggest silicone and aside from my wok just about everything else I use is cast iron….which your children’s children will be able to use so long as you take care of it.

5 Get all natural cleaners or make your own. Phosphates in the normal cleaning supply are not good for you. Many of the chemicals in some of our cleaners have endocrine or hormone disrupters, which can mimic estrogen in the body. Such imbalances have been linked to breast cancer, allergies, asthma, ADHD, and learning disabilities.

6 Avoid most antibacterials. Apple Cider vinegar is a great alternative. It is all natural and doesn’t involve spraying pesticides around your home….yes you read correctly pesticides. The EPA has it posted on their site and even worse…they may not be working.

7 Avoid bleach. Not only is it super toxic, but it contains pesticides. Not to mention that you have to wash the item before you disinfect it and then you are supposed to leave the bleach on for thirty minutes for it to be effective in the first place. That link also has some other scary information on bleach.

8 Return to tap or filtered water. Don’t waste your money on bottled. While your tap is required by law to be cleaned, disinfected, tested for bacteria and parasites, and must be filtered (if you can call it that in most places), none of those things are required of bottled water. Not to mention that there are heavy metals in the plastic that break down over time no matter what temperature you keep them at. (http://santevia.com/why-single-use-plastic-bottles-are-killing-you-and-the-environment/)

9 Get more microfiber to break the old dirty mop, bucket, and water routine. One, a mop holds dirt to the point that eventually it is just moving it around. Second, dealing with all that water is nasty. Third, who wants to even touch that bucket again after it has been used so many times?

The solution….well what we did was buy the cheap Swiffer, but we don’t buy the wipes. We bought microfiber that can be washed and cut it into little squares that fit the Swiffer. We just wash them with rags and stuff at the end of the month. A half a yard should make you at least ten if you measure. Other than that just use the vinegar, water, and oil solution I mentioned in the first post.

10 When you do dispose of your toxic cleaning supplies look up how to properly dispose of them. Most of them aren’t safe to just be thrown in the trash. The EPA even lists most of these items as household hazardous waste.

11 Save the planet by not using plastic bags. Or at least reuse them until they are dead. We used to keep them every year for cookie season in Girl Scouts, but now we give them to a family that uses them to seal up dirty diapers. Beyond that, when I have my own place, I try to use reusable grocery bags to cut down on waste.

Bathroom

  1. Ditch the toxic cleaning supplies and personal care products. Look for more natural products or make your own. There are more chemicals in your bathroom than just about anywhere else in the house. There are just too many problems associated with them.
  2. Ditch antibacterial soaps. The AMA doesn’t even recommend them anymore.
  3. Look for natural shower curtains. Many of the plastic ones contain toxins. I know this isn’t something everyone can do. I know I can’t afford it right now. But it is something to think about.

The biggest problems in our bathrooms are the products we use to clean us and the products used to clean it…so please read the labels carefully and do your own research on these harmful chemicals. It really is easy to find a way to eliminate most of these products if you just look for recipes online.

Bedroom

This one is pretty basic.

  1. If you have respiratory issues or wake up with itchy eyes you might want to consider putting a cover over your mattress because they are a likely culprit. Or you can vacuum your mattress once a month if that’s a little too expensive for you.
  2. This is the biggest room to ditch the carpet because the mites are just all the more hiding in there.
  3. Ditch the toxic cleaning supplies, they may be getting rid of the dust bunnies, but what are those toxins doing to those you love?
  4. Be careful on your sheets; cotton is treated with many pesticides. If nothing else you need to wash all your linens often to kill those pesky mites.
  5. In some countries they do not make their bed every morning. The idea is that it lets the moisture dry out which makes your bed a more hostile environment for those mites.
  6. Air out your bedroom, this will also keep it dry and hinder those pesky bed mites.

Conclusion

I could go on to share more tips for the laundry room, kids rooms, and for pets, but from here on out it’s just going to get more repetitive. A lot of it is just removing toxic chemicals from your house. The second is working smarter instead of harder.

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How to be the Laziest Cleaner (By Being the Smartest Cleaner)

So, I seem to be running a bit behind this week. So this post is late. I know and I’m sorry. Things happen unfortunately. Sometimes the baby has to come before the blog. I mean that’s why I’m here right?

But enough about me, let’s get started.

Since I finally finished reading the first part of Positive Pushing, I wanted to take a moment and touch on something else. I’m always trying to make sure that there’s a little bit here for everyone. To that end I want to talk about keeping a clean house.

We know it’s hard to do with a baby, much harder if you live in a home where no one else wants to clean. But no matter your situation, we all have to clean at some point. Now me, I’m a clean freak. I love for everything to have a place and a place for everything. So I’ll sit and reorganize until everything has a place. (I finally did it by the way it just won’t last long lol) But there’s another thing, I’m also cheap and lazy.

I can totally get behind reorganizing, but I really hate cleaning, even though I love things to be clean. Not to mention the time. If I cleaned everything, every week, the way I wanted to, I would drive myself mad. So here’s what I do….or try to do when I can/have my own place. I have a schedule. Each day is a separate room (or a few smaller rooms) and I have two task lists. The first are things that have to be done weekly. The second are things that have to be done monthly.

Let’s take a bathroom for instance. When I can follow my schedule I take out the trash, pick up anything Freya has strewn in our Master bath, and make sure that all of our laundry is off the floor and in the bin. Then for each room there are generally at least four things that have to be done each month.  So I split them up by how many weeks are in the month. Sometimes I have to double up and other months I get a week off. So in the bathroom each month I clean the sink/counter, the tub, the toilet, and the shower. Vacuuming usually gets done in one day about once or twice a week.

But I can get lazier while still keeping the house clean. Wanna know how? It’s simple. Each and every day I’m trying to implement “Protocols” or “Rules” that bring less dirt into the house.  I do the best I can with my parents between their memory and just lack of interest in cleaning, but any progress is better than no progress when it comes to keeping a clean house.

While I eventually want to get to non-toxic solutions for cleaning your house, today I want to focus on how to eliminate as many of the toxins and as much of the dirt as possible. I know it takes time, heck I’m still working on it, but it’s worth it if it means we can all be a little lazier (and less toxic) in our cleaning.

Family Room

It’s where we spend our time together. It may be a separate space or it may be our living room, but it is a room we spend a lot of time in. So how do we prevent it from getting quite as dirty?

  1. Ditch the carpet wherever you can. Wood holds less dirt and carpet holds in allergens, mites, dust, and all those nasty things. I really hate carpet. I wish I could get rid of all the carpet in this house. Also, if you get a hardwood floor consider something economical. FSC approved items can help you here. And just as a warning, if you get bamboo, it nicks easily. Cork tiles are another good option.
  2. Take off your shoes. All you do when you keep your shoes on is track more dirt in. Take a note from the Japanese. If you absolutely have to have shoes on have a pair of slippers or something that you put on when you walk in the door.
  3. Avoid synthetic rugs. They often have a lot of chemicals in them that are toxic.
  4. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner. They don’t have as much blow back as other vacuums and they will catch even smaller particulates than a normal vacuum. This is one of those instances where you do your research and spend a bit more money now to save down the line.
  5. Avoid toxic carpet cleaners. When I finish putting everything together for my organic cleaning post I’ll have something listed for this.
  6. If you want to cut down on toxins, try to buy furniture that is FSC approved or go retro. You can always be crafty and make something out of a decent set at goodwill.
  7. If you keep the carpet get it deep steamed once a year if you can. It sterilizes the carpet and kills anything nasty in it. Personally, I’d just ditch the carpet….this sounds expensive to me.
  8. Ditch the duster. Work smarter and get microfiber. Not only will it not nick your precious family antiques, but it actually traps dirt instead of just moving it around.
  9. Ditch the aerosol lemon spray cleaners. Anything aerosol is going to end up coating your nose and often only hides a smell. Not to mention that many of the chemicals in them have been linked to the Big C….Cancer.
  10. Ditch the Ammonia. Not only is it toxic, but there’s a simpler solution. Why pay the price of your health for getting something clean? Instead break the addiction. Get some vinegar (I like apple cider) and some water. If you need to hide the smell you can get some lemon or orange essential oil. It only takes three to five drops to cover most of the smell and you still get that fresh scent…..and the oil will last you a good long time. Then just get that microfiber and trap all that dirt away.
  11. If you want to learn about the dangerous toxins, check out Squeaky Green (insert amazon link) by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry for more info. I’m unfortunately too cheap for that. Not to mention I buy just about everything second hand at this point.
  12. I can’t afford this right now, but eventually one day I will get an ionizer (sigh). While opening windows will help keep your air clean (well depending on where you live) an ionizer goes a long way to pushing it along. If you can’t afford that and have a green thumb, plants are another great natural ionizer.  But as side note cacti don’t count….they don’t create that much oxygen.
  13. Keep an eye on that furnace and change the filter as often as you can. It can blow around all those little airborne nasties too.

Energy Around the House

This is one of those categories that are good for the whole house.

  1. Unless you have a charger that turns itself off like the IGo Green chargers, they still siphon energy and cost you money. So unplug anything you aren’t using. Not to mention that by unplugging it you prevent some carbon from going back into the atmosphere. I’m personally working on getting better at this.
  2. If you don’t want to unplug everything in your life, put it on a power strip and just turn the strip off at the end of the night.
  3. Buy energy star products. They are a bit more expensive, but that little extra now will save you A LOT later.

I’ll continue this in part 2 where I’m planning on talking about the kitchen and the bathroom.

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Green Pediatrics: A World Full of Natural Treatments

In the first part we discussed what a green pediatrician is and talked about some of the hallmarks of their profession. We also discussed vaccines and their problems in relation to green pediatrics.  If you did not read the post there is a link to it here (insert blog link).

Today I want to talk about a few other things that relate to green pediatrics and our children’s overall health.

Childhood Allergies

Childhood allergies seem to be on the rise, just like childhood disease.  Whether it be seasonal, food, skin rashes, asthma, or respiratory problems, more children are acquiring these problems than ever before. As of 2007, as a nation, these disorders were affecting 35 million people in this country and we spend an estimated 6 billion a year in treatment. That’s not including productivity time lost due to appointments and such.

What is causing this rise? Well, the obvious culprits are pollutants in our environment and over stimulation to our immune system, due to these environmental factors. Unlike our ancestors, we are exposed to more allergens than ever before. Our immune systems were never intended to handle all of the toxins we meet in our daily lives.  It has caused us to become more sensitive to allergens, says Dr. Michael Rosenbaum in Growing Up Green.

Tips to combat allergies

  1. Limit your family’s exposure to controllable allergens like pet dander and tobacco smoke. I know I’ve had to work on this in my parents’ house. My father is not allowed to smoke anywhere but their bathroom due to my allergies and my mother’s health issues.
  2. If you can afford them, get high efficiency particulate air filters in every room of your house. This is something I want to work on once I get my own place.
  3. In humid areas use dehumidifiers to limit mold growth. We have to do this due to my allergies.
  4. You can purchase allergy proof bedding to reduce symptoms if you have consistent problems. If not, then regularly wash your linens in hot water.
  5. Wash stuffed animals as they can hold onto dander and allergens.
  6. Carpet is an enemy to anyone with allergies. Either vaccum regularly or try to get rid of them.
  7. Use non-toxic house hold cleaners.
  8. Talk to you pediatrician about natural supplements that can help with preventing allergies. Some of these include: probiotics and essential fatty acids.
  9. Neti pots are your friend….and if that won’t clear it…try this recipe to clear your sinuses with one: 1 drop peroxide, 1 drop apple cider vinegar, a pinch sea salt and baking soda, and boiled water that has been cooled to room temp. It hurts but it’s the only thing that clears my sinuses.

The Dirty Theory

The dirty theory proposes that the rise in all these health conditions has to do with not allowing our children’s immune systems to develop naturally.  This includes protecting them from everything dirty and overexposing them to antibiotics instead of allowing the immune system to do its job. Some of these toxic chemicals we use to clean our homes also destroy too many bacteria. We have become so germ phobic, with little to no need, that our immune systems don’t get their proper exercise.

There are tons of bacteria that are beneficial to our health. Our intestines would not work without some of the bacteria that live there and our body has to learn to tell the difference. That becomes harder when we don’t allow our bodies that opportunity.

If you would like to learn more about hygiene hypothesis or the dirty theory, there are tons of articles out there.

And if you would like to learn about helpful bacteria in the body, here is a link from Scientific American

Antibiotic Overload

We touched on this in the last article, but antibiotics are used way too often in modern society. A kid gets sick, the school wants them to immediately go to the doctor, get on meds, and come back to school. I know it’s inconvenient when your kid misses school, but pumping them full of meds that prevent their immune system from getting its workout isn’t the answer. Nor is sending them to school where they can infect more students.

This is not to say that antibiotics are bad. They are a great tool and they aren’t dangerous, but we do pay a price for using them too often.  The more we use antibiotics the more resistant our bodies become to them. If we overuse them, they won’t work as well when we really need them to.  Continuing this trend will most likely create superbugs that we can no longer treat.

It doesn’t help that they are encountering it in other items they eat and drink either. Milk and meat are pumped full of antibiotic due to our horrible farming practices.

Growing Up Green presents a few alternative options. I’ve posted a few of them on my Herbal Remedies page. The one I did not include was for colic as it was fairly intensive and meant looking at your diet and mental health. So, if you are struggling with colic in your baby you might look up colic in Growing up Green on Google Books if you just need to read that section.

I would also recommend looking up homeopathic and natural remedies whenever you can. I’m not saying to use them for serious conditions. Only that a cold or cough doesn’t need cough syrup when chamomile tea and honey will work just as well.  There are natural remedies made with organic, non-toxic products that you can make at home for cheap (and most of the time they work better than the overpriced stuff you buy at the store).  For example, burns can be treated with aloe vera plants, poison ivy can be treated with a tincture made of different plants. Or on a slightly less organic track, toothpaste can be used to make zits shrink.

Or if you’re not into making your own remedies I suggest looking up Boiron products. They are all natural holistic alternatives.

The Happy Pill

Just as antibiotics are over prescribed, so are meds for other mental health issues.  From ADHD to depression, the doctors these days just want to throw meds at the problem without diagnosing the underlying issue. As a college graduate with a Bachelor’s in psychology this really disgusts me and is a disservice to the profession, as well as those they serve.

If we just look for the underlying causes we won’t have to use medication.  Some problems like ADHD can be related to diet, while others may be rooted in past events and experiences in life.  Giving a child, or adult, a pill and hoping the problem goes away is like putting a band aide on a gaping wound.

Not to mention the side effects that these meds may have.  Unfortunately green medicine is fairly rare in psychology and mental disorders.  I really do wish that we would stop trending toward self-gratification and the quick fix.  Instead we’re putting children on meds that could damage their long term development because their minds and bodies are not fully developed.

I realize that some parents do not see an alternative, but there are solutions, you just have to look for them and find holistic doctors. It really is a choice and a lifestyle.  The problem can be vitamins, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or hormonal imbalances.  These are complex issues that simply cannot be cured or treated with a pill and there not be consequences.

Head Lice

We know it runs rampant through the school system at times. Or you might catch it from your child’s friend. I know I often had to treat myself for it. But very few people know that lice are actually attracted to clean hair, so don’t take the infestation as an insult. However, please don’t insult your body by using toxic chemicals to remove the pests when there are much better alternatives. Using agricultural pesticides on our scalp or those of our children does not sound like a good idea.

Some oils can be used to prevent lice, such as tea tree, rosemary, lemon and ylang-ylang.  If you already have it before you can work on prevention there are a couple of simple household products that work just as well if not better. You still need the lice comb though. Slathering your head with mayo , vegetable oil, or olive oil works great. I recommend vegetable oil as it is the easiest to get out of the hair. Just soak your child’s scalp and hair in the oil and cover it for about forty five minutes. The dense oil suffocates the pests and then you wash it out and nitpick just like you would otherwise.  Another preventative tool is to rinse your hair in apple cider vinegar at the end of a shower. It just takes about a fourth of a cup poured over the scalp. It makes it harder for the little buggers to latch on.

Growing Up Green recommends an oil mixture of tea tree, ylang-ylang, anise, rosemary, marjoram, sage and eucalyptus in a coconut oil base.  Mix it with a small amount of shampoo and leave it on for fifteen to thirty minutes then wash and repeat daily for a week.

These are just a few of the ways you can go green with your medical routine.

Blessed Be.