Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Got Fruit Flies? Get Rid of them Fast with this Simple Natural Ingredient!

No one likes those pesky fruit flies, especially when they are swarming around our food and our kitchens! Maybe it's the extra warm summer we had this year, but for some reason, they have been particularly problematic this season.  Well, take heart, there is something incredibly simple you can do to rid your home of them once and for all!  And likely you even have what you need already in your kitchen!  So what is the trick?

Yep, another one of our natural cleaning superstars stepping up to do the job again - Apple Cider Vinegar!

And the solution is so easy you'll wonder how you missed out on this little secret before!  All you do is pour some Apple Cider Vinegar in a few little dipping size dishes, add a tiny dab of dish soap and set out where the flying pests seem to congregate - around fruit, near the window, next to plants, and so forth.  The bugs are drawn to the Apple Cider Vinegar like crazy and they will flock to it to drink it down.  The dish soap will kill them and very soon you will see less of and eventually no more little flying pests!

FYI:  This also works somewhat well for house flies, which is how I first discovered this trick.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

12 Simple Ways to Keep Home Cleaner between Cleanings

Whether you spend your valuable time cleaning your house yourself or you spend hard-earned dollars paying someone else to do it, isn't it always nice to have that fresh and clean house feel last as long as possible?  Well, here are 12 easy tips which can help you do just that and best of all, once you get into the habit, it will only take minutes of your time each day!

  1. Shoes stay at the door.  
  2. Making a habit of washing hands will prevent the spread of dirty, grimy fingerprints everywhere.
  3. Wipe down kitchen stove and counters immediately after cooking. (Spraying with vinegar will cut the grease!)
  4. Move the tea kettle off the stove when cooking with grease or oil and it will stay clean and pretty.
  5. Place an old towel on the floor in front of the oven when frying to keep grease and oils from splattering all over the floor- only to be tracked all over the rest of the house, making for grimy floors everywhere!
  6. Cover your food when using the microwave and you will rarely have to clean it! (Read more about keeping the Microwave clean.)
  7. Brush Fido! A daily brushing can do wonders in helping keep the hair at bay, instead of all over your house, clothes and furniture.
  8. Everything in its place! That's including clothes, to the hamper or back to the closet.  Make the kids get into the habit of picking up after themselves and cleaning up before bedtime.  It will work even better if they are able to follow their parent's example!
  9. Mother knew best! Make your bed in the morning and your whole bedroom will automatically appear neater.  And it only takes a minute or two.
  10. Give the sink a quick once over the scrubby sponge after dishes. Also, giving it a real quick rinse after you dump things into it (especially that super staining coffee!) will help keep it always looking decent.  Likewise, giving that coffee pot a quick rinse after dumping it will help keep it from getting horribly stained.
  11. After draining the tub, giving it a couple quick rinses around will eliminate the hair and dirt from drying to the surface of the tub, as well as lessen the ring of dirt.  Applying that same principle to the sink, give it a quick rinse after using for messy things like brushing teeth and shaving.
  12. Giving the shower a quick spray over with a cleanser after getting out will help cut down on the film of soap scum from drying on  the surface.

Naturally, I could think of many more things which I do so routinely that it feels as though I hardly even need to clean my house on actual cleaning day.  I hope this will get the ball rolling for you in the right direction so that you may develop some of your own routines which apply to you!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Eliminate Stinky Trash Syndrome for Good!

Garbage…. It's the things which we have to deal with, have to have in our kitchens whether we like it or not.  At times, it can seem a bit contradictory to trying to maintain a clean environment.  But, believe it or not, there are ways of getting along with your kitchen trash.   All it takes is establishing a nice, working relationship with it.  Did I say relationship?!  With my trash?!  Yes, I did, and I am going to tell you exactly what I mean.

The way you do that is through a simple system.  Here is what it looks like at my house:

1. Recycling Can.  For glass, plastic, metal and cardboard.  Rinsing out containers first will help eliminate any stench from developing there.  
2. Main Trash Can.  In here, we put things which can't be recycled, but also aren't food or any messy type stuff.  It actually takes us quite a while to fill up this can.
3. Compost Pail.  This is where we put our fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags, bread scraps, etc.
4. Food scraps Can.  Since we don't use a garbage disposal at our house, we use this small can to scrape the remnants of our dinner plates and basically anything yucky that we can't put in the compost, like prepared meals, dairy, oils, dressings, meat, sticky things, etc.  Get the picture?  Being a small bathroom size waste can, this is actually the can we dump the most often (about every other day). You may ask, why don't you just use a bigger can?  Because, then it would just get to stinking, right? This is what makes this whole system work like magic.  Another thing you can do to eliminate/prevent odors, is to soak a piece of bread in vinegar and place it in the bottom of your can. Finally, a good use for those heels!

It may sound like a lot, but it really isn't.  And it doesn' t have to take much room either. Believe me, when I started this system, I had a small, inefficiently laid out kitchen in an old house, but I managed to make it work.  My recycling can is actually in my laundry room (which is connected  to the kitchen), my compost pail lives under my kitchen sink, and the other two cans are side by side in the kitchen. 

It may seem a bit awkward at first, but trust me, stick with it, and once you have it down, it will feel wrong not to do it!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Make Your Own Tile Floor Spray Cleaner

Are you still spending money on store bought floor cleaning products such as floor sprays and Swiffer mop pads?  I did, too, (for far too long, I might add) before I discovered there was a better, far less expensive, more eco-friendly way.  And its super easy to boot!  You probably have all the ingredients on hand already!

Here's what you need:  (For a typical size spray bottle)

  • 1 cup Distilled Water
  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 cup Alcohol
  • Squirt of Castile Soap or Dish soap
  • (Optional) Add choice of essential oils such as Tea tree, known for its antibacterial properties.

  1. Just pour all ingredients into the bottle and give a shake. That's it! 
  2. If you want to make a gallon size, like I do, just make triple the recipe.

To use:
  1. You'll want to be sure to give it a quick shake each time you use it to distribute the soap inside sufficiently. 
  2. Simply spray and mop.  I use a large hardwood floor mop with washable pads (less waste, more eco-friendly).

Friday, August 28, 2015

10 Simple Ways to Conserve Water

By now, everyone knows that we are in a serious time of drought.  Who knows how long this could go on and what kinds of consequences there may be, but in California they are already feeling the repercussions of being frivolous with our precious water sources.  

And because three-quarters of the Earth is water, most people seem to have the mistaken impression that our water supply is endless, but that's what got us into this mess in the first place! However, of that, 97.5% of is salt water, leaving only 2.5% as fresh water. But then, crops consume a rather large portion of freshwater supplies leaving less than one percent (0.37% to be exact) of the Earth's  water for drinking. 

When you take into account mass pollution of our waters both accidentally and intentionally (billions of gallons of water are used in the fracking process every year which will forever be contaminated), it seems those numbers are seriously declining.

According to Planet Green, each person in the world is allocated 2.5 gallons per day; yet the average American uses an average of 400 gallons! Thirty percent of this is consumed by outdoor uses such as watering lawns and approximately 25 gallons are flushed down the toilet.

All this staggering information might make you feel it is hopeless.  After all, what can one person do to possibly make any difference?  The answer is PLENTY!

  1. Place a pitcher under the faucet to collect the water when waiting for a temperature change, rather than letting the water run down the drain.  This water can then be used to water houseplants, pets, etc.
  2. Same goes for the shower.  Place a bucket under the faucet to collect the running water.
  3. Take shorter showers and install a low-flow shower head.  Try to keep it to five minutes or less.
  4. Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth.
  5. Modify your flush habits.  Toilet flushing is the single largest consumer of household water. Americans flush a staggering seven billion gallons of water every single day.  That begs the question, is it really necessary to flush away every single little tinkle? As the old saying goes, 'Yellow let it mellow, brown, flush it down!'
  6. When you steam or boil a pot of veggies, that water can also be used to water plants, giving them a nice little boost of vitamins.  Of course, you'll want to let it cool first.
  7. Only run the dishwasher when full!
  8. Don't leave the water running as you hand wash dishes.
  9. Wash full loads of laundry. If possible, switch to a high efficiency washer which uses a fraction of the water that the standard machines do.
  10. Consider planting native plants in your landscape which do not require an excess of water beyond what nature provides.  This would include the type of grass you choose for your lawn. Better yet, forego the water-sucking lawn altogether and stick with more hardy plants and flowers.

If you are curious to see how much water you may be using per day, here is an interesting quiz you can take from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  The results for my household's estimated use was 118 gallons per day (we are a family of three).  A good number to be at is 40 gallons per person.  I would love to hear yours in the comments!

For those of you who want to really make a difference, you can install newer toilets which use 1.6 gallons compared to the 3-4 gallons used by older toilets.  You can also splurge on a new high efficiency washing machine which will use half or sometimes even less than the typical forth gallons used by older models. 

The main thing here is just to get into the habit of being mindful of how you use water.  If we all did this, it could turn around our situation rather than making it exponentially worse, so that none of us would have to concerned with a potential water shortage in our immediate future.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yucky Microwave? Here's how to Clean it Super Easy...

Microwaves. . . Probably the most used appliance in our kitchens.  It's no wonder they get so yucky so quickly.  The thought of cleaning them may even strike fear into the hearts of some. . .  But, take heart!  Cleaning that grime monster doesn't have to be as treacherous as you think!  In fact, all you need is one ingredient and a few minutes!

So, what is the magic ingredient which will be your shining knight?  Need you ask, I say?  I'll allot you one guess.  If you said Vinegar, then you are absolutely correct!  That's right, good ol' vinegar comes to the rescue again.  If you have not bought yourself a gallon or two by now, you probably should!

Alright, here's all you need to do:

  1. Arming yourself with either White Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar (especially good if you really need to cut tough odors!) spray the entire inside (don't forget the inside of the door!)  If you don't have a spray bottle handy, place a bowl with solution of 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup water inside. 
  2. Now, simply run the microwave for 1 minute.  Two minutes if you used the bowl method. The steam combined with the vinegar for this will loosen the grime, making it super easy to tackle.
  3. With a scrub sponge, quickly go over the inside, tackling any tough spots.  If you used the bowl method, you can also dip your sponge into the solution for extra scrubbing power.
  4. Wipe clean with a cloth or two.  Voila!  Your microwave is clean!

Now that your microwave is sparkling clean (how long has it been since you've seen it this way?), you may be wishing it would always stay this way.  Well, that is easy, too!  To keep your microwave everlastingly clean, all you need do is be diligent about covering the contents every time!  I keep a basket stocked with old cloth napkins beside the microwave just for this purpose, but there are also plastic microwave plate covers you can purchase at the store specifically for this.  Personally, I am not keen on the idea of heating up plastic with my food.

Do this devotedly and your microwave will virtually never need to be cleaned again!  However, I would still advise doing at least a quick spray and wipe weekly or so to keep it fresh smelling.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Make Your Own Natural All-Purpose Cleaning Spray!

Did you know that rather than buying expensive green home cleaning products, you can make your own at a fraction of the cost and just a few household ingredients?  And, they are actually far more natural than the commercial ones since there is little to no regulation on the usage of the word 'Natural' on product labels. Here is how you can make your own natural all-purpose cleaning spray.

What you'll need:

  • 2 cups Distilled Water
  • 2 cups White Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Alcohol
  • Squirt of Castile Soap or Dish soap

Simply mix all ingredients in a reusable spray bottle and use!  

Great for kitchen, cleaning up general messes, wiping walls and trim, etc.  The start of the show here is vinegar, which is all natural and safe, has antibacterial and disinfectant properties and is excellent at cutting through all sorts of grease and grime.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How to make your own Dishwasher Detergent

For those of you who are trying to go the more natural route with your home cleansers, one of the simplest things you can make is your own dishwasher detergent.  You only need four simple ingredients.   Making your own will keep damaging phosphates and sulfates out of the environment.  And as an added bonus, you will save money!

Here's what you do:

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup Salt
1/2  cup Lemon Juice

  1. Mix first three ingredients together in a plastic storage container.
  2. Add lemon juice and mix well.
  3. Put in dishwasher and run as usual.
  4. Adding white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment will soften water and combat film.

That's it!  This stuff works great for me.  I just keep it in a plastic container under the sink.  Scoop it into the detergent compartment of your dishwasher just the same as you would your store bought stuff.  Comments welcome!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Have Musty Smelling Towels? Here's how to Freshen them up...

Wet towels = mildew, and mildew = smelly!  That's yucky enough by itself.  But even worse, what if I told you that unpleasant odor is actually the smell of bacteria breeding!  Yep.

You may have also noticed that sometimes towels aren’t as absorbent as they used to be.  Well, guess what?  Both these problems actually stem from the same source: Commercial Detergent and Fabric Softener Build-up.  One thing you can do is to avoid both.  Read my post on making your own Natural Laundry Soap here.

You see, over time, your bath towels will build up detergent and fabric softener residue. This not only attracts smelly mildew, it essentially “waterproofs” your towels.  If water can’t get into the fabric to clean it, the towel won’t be or smell clean.

What you’ll need:

• 1 cup of white vinegar
• 1/2 cup of baking soda
• HOT water


  1. Put the towels in washing machine and fill with HOT water! You may even want to boil some water on the stove and add it to the load.
  2. Add one cup of vinegar to the load and run through an entire wash cycle.
  3. Leave towels in the washer and refill again with HOT water, this time adding 1/2 cup of baking soda. Run through another entire cycle.
  4. Now dry towels thoroughly!  This is key!

 Vinegar, which contains acetic acid, breaks up water mineral deposits and dissolves buildup, and baking soda, which contains an alkali— sodium bicarbonate— neutralizes odors and dissolves dirt and grease. 

This combination should take care of the problem.  However, if you are still experiencing “smelliness”, try repeating the same process above until it is gone.

You don't need to do this every time you wash your towels.  Just when you start to notice that “funky” smell or the towels don’t seem to be absorbing the way they should.  

So now that your towels are better smelling and more absorbent, here are some tips on how you can keep them that way:

• Be sure to check that your towels are 100 percent dry before putting them away. Even a small amount of moisture can make towels smell sour.
• Mold and mildew love it when towels are left in a puddle on the floor! They should be hung up to air-dry after each use. Bathmats, too, should be hung to dry.
• Make sure you’re not using too much detergent. Too much detergent leaves a residue, especially with high-efficiency washers which use less water.
• Don’t use commercial fabric softener on towels; it coats towels with a thin layer of chemicals which makes them less absorbent. White vinegar is a fabulous natural fabric softener. It prevents further build-up, eliminates static, and makes towels softer. 
• Make sure towels are drying quickly enough after using them. Hang them on towel bars or spread across two hooks until they’re completely dry.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to make your own Natural Homemade Laundry Soap

Why spend tons of money on expensive 'green' commercial laundry detergents when you can make your own?  The recipe below costs only a total of $4-6.00 and makes two gallons (256 ounces).  For roughly the same amount of Seventh Generation Liquid Laundry detergent you would pay upwards of $20-25.00.  That's a savings of about 75-80 percent!

You only need four ingredients, plus a stockpot, a long stirring spoon, a grater, a funnel and two jugs to put your homemade soap into after you are done.


  • 1 bar of soap your choice.  (If you want your laundry soap to be as natural as possible, then you probably should use a natural bar soap as well. There are many choices out there.  Be sure to pick a scent you love!  This is what your clothes are going to smell like!)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 2 gallons distilled water (using tap water could cause bacteria to grow after several months.)

  1. Grate the bar of soap into the stock pot.
  2. Pour one gallon of distilled water into pot.
  3. Heat until soap dissolves. stirring will help.
  4. Add borax and washing soda.
  5. Bring to a boil.  The mixture will coagulate. (Be careful to watch and stir, otherwise it could boil over and let me tell you, this highly concentrated soap is no fun to try to wipe up!)
  6. Turn off heat. Add second gallon of water.
  7. Stir well until uniform consistency.
  8. Using a large funnel, pour soap into gallon jugs of choice. Be sure to go slowly or it will bubble up and not all fit.
  9. Soap will thicken as it cools. 
  10. The first time you use it, it will have gelled.  Shake it up firmly.
* Your soap will be affected by the temperature of the room it is kept in, making it thicker if it is cold and thinner when hot.

** Use 1/2 cup per average size load of laundry in a standard machine. About 2 Tablespoons for average size load in High Efficiency machines, add another tablespoon for higher soil level.

I have been making and using this now for a couple of years and just love it!  It's fun to make, far more economical and lasts us for about six months (doing an average of 3-4 high efficiency loads a week.)

Happy Laundry! :-)