Thursday, July 29, 2010

vinegar my new friend

wanting to bring more mindfulness to how we keep our home and our planet, i have begun in this move to choose more sustainable products to use in the house for cooking, cleaning, gardening and health. each day is a new step towards the switch over. little steps make this switch doable. so my new favorite household product is the humble vinegar. rather then listing everything for you here, please go here.

a few of my favorite that i am either trying or will try in the near future:


renew sponges and dishrags by placing them in just enough water to cover them. then add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. let them soak overnight.

kill germs all around the bathroom with a spray of full-strength white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

to kill germs, spray full-strength white distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe them dry.

to clean and disinfect baby toys add a good-sized splash of white distilled vinegar to soapy water.

clean vinyl baby books or board books by wiping with white distilled vinegar. wipe clean with a damp sponge or cloth.

clean and deodorize urine on a mattress with a white distilled vinegar and water solution. then sprinkle the area with baking soda and let dry. brush or vacuum the residue after it is dry to the touch.

clean and deodorize a drain by pouring in 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. let this sit for 5 minutes or so, then run hot water down the drain.

deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring in 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup hot white distilled vinegar. let sit for 5 minutes then run hot water down the disposal.


get stained white socks and dingy dishcloths white again. add 1 cup white distilled vinegar to a large pot of water, bring it to a rolling boil and drop in the articles. let soak overnight.

some stains on clothing and linens can be soaked out using equal parts milk and white distilled vinegar.

before washing a mustard stain, dab with white distilled vinegar.

attack spaghetti, barbecue, or ketchup stains with a white distilled vinegar and water solution.

remove perspiration odor and stains on clothing, as well as those left by deodorants, by spraying full-strength white distilled vinegar on underarm and collar areas before tossing them into the washing machine.

forgot that you left wet laundry in the machine and it now smells moldy? pour a few cups of white distilled vinegar in the machine and wash the clothes in hot water. then run a normal cycle with detergent.

get cleaner laundry! add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to the last rinse. the acid in white distilled vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, yet strong enough to dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents. besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew.


kill weeds and grass growing in unwanted places by pouring full-strength white distilled vinegar on them. this works especially well in crevices and cracks of walkways and driveways.

give acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and gardenias a little help by watering them with a white distilled vinegar solution now and again. a cup of white distilled vinegar to a gallon of tap water is a good mixture.

stop ants from congregating by pouring white distilled vinegar on the area.


stop insect stings and bites from itching by dabbing them with a cotton ball saturated with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

soothe sunburn with a spray of white distilled vinegar, repeating as often as you like. ice-cold white distilled vinegar will feel even better, and may prevent blistering and peeling.

for cuts and scrapes, use white distilled vinegar as an antiseptic.


remove the leftover odor after a rider has been carsick by leaving a bowl of white distilled vinegar overnight on the floor.

loosen chewing gum stuck to carpeting or upholstery by soaking it in white distilled vinegar.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

doing the math

keeper of the home has a post over here on price comparisons for making your own household cleaning products v. store bought. good to note!


borax is great for:

pots & pans (aluminum and porcelain)
cleaning refrigerators
cleaning ovens
cleaning microwaves
stainless steel
fine china
garbage/diaper pails
mattress odors
outdoor furniture (plastic and metal)

*safe for all machines and high efficient compatible

diy non-toxic cleaners

before we moved in, i intentionally chose to make my own cleaning products rather then buy all the store-bought versions. i wanted not only to save money (which i am certain is significant, although i don't have the actual numbers) but also clean with elements that will NOT harm my family or the environment. i came across a spray bottle at target that had a list of house cleaning product recipes printed on the side. i came over by myself and cleaned for 2 days before our stuff arrived. it felt so good to wipe every surface! here are the recipes i used:

general cleaner: add 2 tbls. baking soda to 16 oz. warm water

window cleaner: add 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar to 16 oz. warm water

disinfecting cleaner: add 10-20 drops of tea tree oil to 16 oz. warm water

floor cleaner: to 16 oz. warm water add:

1/2 tsp. liquid soap (i used 7th generation dish soap)
1/2 tsp. borax
squeeze of lemon or splash of vinegar. spray floor with solution and mop as usual.

it seems that you can do a million things with borax, white vinegar and baking soda!! this might be my favorite past time: collecting useful house-hold recipes!

setting up home

we have been in our rental for a few weeks now. sunday we got our small shipment of storage + the piano!! we are so excited about the piano. the rest of the stuff i could leave it. when we had to move last fall from rhode island to california for g's language school, we were expecting to have to squeeze in to 1200 sq. feet. so we purged big time and then put all the rest of it in storage. i realized, as i knew i would, that i really didn't need any of the storage things. i mean -- of course my grandmother's china and crystal -- and now that i have my craig'slist farm hutch -- i have a place for it! sooo there is this area in our finished basement where the toys are going to be, that is now about 1/3 full of boxes. for the most part all the other boxes (from the california move) have been either stored or unpacked. the garage is still a wreck. BUT the kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, living room, sunroom and laundry room are all unpacked and relatively put together. no pictures up yet -- but we do have curtains up -- so it is beginning to feel more like home. i have even planted a few pots with some herbs, petunias and impatients. yesterday afternoon, my neighbor, pointed out that i have several large azaleas in our front yard - i was so pleasantly surprised by this news. i had thought they were boxwoods - which i love, but now we shall have bright red flowers in the early summer! it was a tad bit cooler yesterday, so i actually was able to weed a bit of the crab grass out of the flower beds by my front door. this past friday night (and then again unexpectantly on sunday evening) we had a lovely dinner party - the first in our new home! it was a group of graham's siblings and cousins - everyone all grown up now. it was magical. we moved the dining table and chairs in to the sunroom and lit candles too! i really didn't want the evening to end. cheeries and chocolates were served for dessert.