Anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners have become quite the rage (read ”marketing success”) haven’t they? And it sounds so good. I mean, who doesn’t want to avoid germs these days?! I mean, what’s a clean house all about?
But what if I told you that anti-bacterial soaps have not been proven any more effective than regular soap in preventing infection among average consumers? Would that make you stop and think? Okay, so what if I also told you that the substances that make a soap anti-bacterial are actually herbicides, pesticides and fungicides? Would that make you say, Whao?
Some of these “active ingredients” have been linked to some serious health problems including liver, kidney and digestive damage; behavioral problems in children; damage to the nervous system; and brain development and reproductive defects. Even more, overuse of these products can impair the body’s ability to fight off common infections.
The bacteria fighting agent, triclosan, is of particular concern. Unfortunately it is in all kinds of products from liquid soap to acne creams, toothpaste (!) to deodorant, and a slew of household products besides. Look for triclosan on the labels of things you buy. It may also be listed under the brand names of Microban, UltraFresh, Amicor and BioFresh. There’s a slew of information on the web about triclosan, but suffice it to say here, You don’t want it in your body if you can help it.
So, do you ever need to use anti-bacterial cleaners? According to leading microbiologists, they are needed only when someone in a household is seriously ill or has low immunity. Otherwise, plain old soap and warm water will do just fine.
What can you use instead? For house cleaning, try soap and hot water, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, alcohol or lavender oil either by itself or suspended in a solution of mineral oil. For hand soaps, try Trader Joe’s “Next to Godliness.”
Hope this helps. Love to hear your comments!!
First of all let me say I hate germs as much, if not more than, the next person. I’m an inveterate hand-washer, I never cut meat and vegetables on the same cutting board, I carry sanitizing wipes in my purse. Get the picture? So how do I keep my kitchen germ free without antibacterial sprays or bleach? Read on. (And please comment if you have something to add).
- First, I rarely use sponges except for the scrubby side when I need to remove really tough stuff from a baking pan, etc. Sponges probably harbor more germs than anything else in your kitchen.
- I use a sink brush to wash pots, pans, dishes.
- My sponges and sink brush are sterilized in my dishwasher every time I run a load.
- I use a barely damp microfiber cloth to clean my counters. I add dish soap and hot water if necessary.
- Wooden cutting boards are time-consuming to clean adequately so I use lightweight plastic cutting boards which I then throw in the dishwasher to sterilize.
Now I admit everything gets a really good scrubbing when my housekeepers come to clean, but these things work beautifully for me on a day to day basis. And they’re easy. Let me know what works for you!
Everyone knows you can keep your fridge smelling nice and sweet by putting in a box of baking soda. But have you thought of all the other things baking soda can do?
- Closets can easily get a slight musty smell especially if they aren’t well-ventilated. But a box of baking soda can solve that problem in a jiffy. Just change it every month or so.
- Sprinkle baking soda in stinky sneakers as soon as you take them off. Empty the shoes before you wear them next. This will not only keep sneakers smelling fresh, but your closet as well.
- Babies may be sweet as can be, but their diapers sure aren’t. Sprinkle baking soda on each layer of dirty diapers to keep everything deodorized.
- Sheets, towels, socks and workout clothes can be stinky too. Add a half cup to the rinse cycle of your washer to keep them smelling clean and fresh. (To make it easy, just put the baking soda in the fabric softener dispenser).
- Clean your microwave with a paste of baking soda and water. Ditto the plastic surfaces in your refrigerator. Don’t ever use an all-purpose cleaner on these surfaces.
- Sweeten a sour sponge by wetting it and then rubbing it with baking soda. Rinse after 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle your cat’s kitty litter with baking soda to help keep the house smelling fresh.
- No time to bathe the dog? Baking soda makes a great dry bath for in between shampoos. Lightly sprinkle the fur with baking soda, work it through with a brush and then thoroughly remove. Whew!! No more doggie odors. (Remember to freshen the carpets with baking soda too. Vacuum after 15 minutes or so).
- Mix baking soda with your favorite shampoo and wash your hair as usual to remove all that build up of hair care products. Your hair will be cleaner and more manageable. And did I say shinier too?
- Oops! You forgot to dump out the coffee (or tea) from your morning cup and now it’s all discolored. No problem. Just scrub it clean with baking soda paste.
- To keep the septic system flowing freely, put one cup baking soda down each drain once a week. What a simple way to maintain a favorable PH balance in the septic tank.
There are lots more uses for this inexpensive wonder worker. But these are some of the best. What have you used it for?
A few months back I bought the most beautiful thick, fluffy terry towels for our guest bathroom. Now I knew that the dark color would mean they didn’t absorb as well as white or pastel, but what the heck, they wouldn’t be used that much anyway.
But with the advent of our Remodeling Project (from hell!!) my husband and I started using the guest bathroom shower and the new towels. They were terrible! Like wiping your body with a squeegee!
So I did a little research and found that manufacturers now add a super fabric softener to their towels so they appear fluffier and more appealing to us dumb consumers. But this same fabric softener drastically reduces the absorbency of the towels! Hmmm. I thought that’s why we have towels: to absorb water!! Well, it is what it is. But there’s an easy, green solution:
Wash your new towels in hot water, and then add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse. I can’t tell you what a difference that makes!! It’s fabulous. This works to a lesser degree on older towels as well.
It doesn’t get any easier than that!
So, you’re feeling right on top of things when you clean out the lint trap every time you run the dryer–well, maybe not every time, but at least some times. But if you use fabric softener sheets, you absolutely must wash the lint trap with soapy water and a brush every 6 months or so. Why? Because all that waxy stuff in the dryer sheets that make your clothes static-free and smelling fresh, builds up on the lint trap.
Why is this a problem?
- It can cause the heating element to burn out.
- You use a lot more electricity.
- You run the risk of starting a fire!
So remove the lint trap, run it under hot water. If the water just puddles up, you’ve got a problem. Grab an old toothbrush and some soap and give it a good scrub–about 30 seconds or so–until the water runs through it again.
If you’d like to do away with using fabric softener sheets altogether, try putting a half cup of white vinegar in your washer’s fabric softener dispenser, or add it to the rinse cycle. No, your clothes will not smell like vinegar!! But they will be nice and soft, your towels more absorbent. And besides you will feel every so “green” as you do your part to save the planet!
Comments? Please share!
You wouldn’t believe how many websites and blogs address the problem of mildew and soap scum! We’ve culled the best and most frequently suggested solutions for you. Use one or more of the following methods to get your tub and shower sparkling clean again. All of these solutions will work best if you let the water run on the hottest setting for several minutes before you begin.
Getting Rid of Soap Scum
Getting Rid of Mildew
If you are feeling overwhelmed by this project, consider getting a professional maid service to come in for a one-time cleaning. Most companies have a four hour minimum, and it’s amazing how much can be accomplished in that length of time. Once your house is all clean it’s so much easier to maintain!
Think about it….
Questions? Comments? Please share!!
As we said in our previous post, the first thing we notice about a home is the way it smells. Here are a few more ways to freshen your home.
- Sour sponges can make your whole sink area smell disgusting! To freshen your sponges, rinse them thoroughly after each use. In addition, put them in your dishwasher with every load you wash and/or put them in the microwave oven for 30 seconds and/or wash them with baking soda.
- To freshen your house while you vacuum, add a cotton ball soaked in your favorite essential oil or perfume to your new vacuum bag or in the dirt receptacle of a bagless vacuum cleaner. Choose the right aroma, and you might even enjoy vacuuming–well, at least a little.
- For shoe odors: spray inside with Frebreze or shoe deoderizing spray made by Odor Eaters (available in shoe repair shops and drug stores), or loosely wrap a cotton ball soaked in an essential oil in plastic wrap and place in shoes or boots. Fabric softener sheets will also take care of shoe odors.
- Keep food cupboard shelves clean–especially where there might be drips from food containers.
- Heloise suggests making your own aromatic jars. Take a small, clean glass jar and put a few cotton balls inside. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil such as clove, cinnamon, orange or peppermint and punch holes in the top. Now put your jars under a bed, behind books on the book shelf, near the cat litter box or wherever you need to freshen the air.
- Use high quality aromatherapy candles.
The first thing anyone notices about your home (however unconsciously) is the way it smells. Try these tips to freshen the air.
- Sprinkle borax or baking soda on the carpets. Wait an hour or so before vacuuming. You’ve brightened and deodorized in one simple step.
- Put a dab of your favorite perfume or essential oil on your light bulbs when you entertain. Heavenly!
- Have a smoker in the house? Discreetly place a saucer or two of vinegar in the room(s) and cigarette odors will vanish.
- Grease accumulates on your range hood exhaust screens and turn rancid in time. Wash them thoroughly with a grease cutting detergent and/or run them through the dishwasher.
- Put a few cotton balls soaked with an essential oil, such as cinnamon, orange or eucalyptus, at the bottom of the garbage container before putting in the garbage bag. Renew the oils as often as necessary. Alternately, place a fabric softener sheet at the bottom of your waste basket.
- Freshen Fido’s bed by combining a few drops of lavender oil to a quart of water and spraying your pet’s sleeping area or use a commercial pet deodorizer. lavender oil has the added advantage of shooing away the fleas…for a little while! Your dog will thank you.
- And speaking of Fido, if you suffer from his bad breath, put a couple of drops of peppermint oil in a quart bottle. Shake thoroughly and pour into your dog’s water dish.
What do you do to keep your home smelling fresh and clean? Please share.
As promised, here are yet more fabulous uses for that kitchen staple, baking soda!
- Sprinkle some on the bottom of your kitchen garbage can. It will effectively remove any odors there.
- Got a slow running drain? Pour half a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar, wait 15 minutes for the fizzing to subside, flush with hot water. The clog is gone. It’s like magic!
- Cleaning your bathroom and kitchen fixtures to a blinding brilliance with a paste of baking soda and liquid dish soap.
- Appliance manufacturers will tell you never to use any kind of chemicals when cleaning the inside of the refrigerator or microwave. Use baking soda and water only.
- For a sour sponge, wet it and sprinkle a goodly amount of baking soda on it. Work it in and let is set up overnight. Works every time.
- A grease fire in your kitchen or barbeque can be put out quickly by smothering it with baking soda.
- Use a baking soda and water paste to remove scuff marks on vinyl floors, crayon from the walls.
So, that’s about it from us on baking soda. What can you add?
With people becoming increasingly concerned about the chemicals we use to clean our homes and the toxic conditions they produce, we’re finding more and more uses for plain old baking soda. Try these on for size:
- Use half your usual amount of dishwasher detergent and then fill the cups with baking soda. No worries about what harm caustic detergent may be doing to your body long-term, and it makes your silverware shine, saves you money and means fewer scratches on your glassware! Who knew??
- Throw a cup of baking soda in with each load of wash. The baking soda softens the water and makes the detergent more effective. And of course your clothes will smell fresher too! You can also cut down on the amount of detergent you use per load.
- Use baking soda just like you’d use powdered cleanser: for the bathroom and kitchen sinks (including stainless steel), bathtubs and shower stalls.
- Sprinkle a little baking soda to absorb grease in a pan instead of pouring it in a can. (You’d never pour grease down the drain, would you)?
- When you scorch a pan, try sprinkling dry baking soda over the scorch, let it stand awhile and clean as usual.
- A paste of baking soda and water will effectively remove coffee and tea stains from the inside of your coffee cups.
- Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets 20-30 minutes before you vacuum. Brighten and deoderize in one easy step. This is especially effective if you have inside dogs: no more doggie odor!
- Pour a cup of vinegar in your toilet, add baking soda. When it stops fizzing clean as usual.
- Use a baking soda and water paste to clean the window of your oven.
A measure of baking soda’s popularity is that it now comes in 12 pound bags.
One more thing: you know baking soda absorbs odors (we put it in our refrigerator, right?) so if you use it for….well….baking, be sure it comes from a new box or sealed container. Your chocolate chip cookies will taste better that way.
Look for our next post for even more ways to use bicarbonate soda (baking soda). And please feel free to give us your comments here.
The following post is by our good friend, Suzanne Brocato, who is passionate about saving our earth–but in a very non-tree-hugging way. (And living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we know a tree-hugger when we see one)!! Suzanne just wants to save the planet one house at a time.
Allergy season is right around the corner. At least in the comfort of your own home you should not have breathing problems or eye irritation. The EPA found that the level of pollutants are often five times and occasionally 100 times higher indoors and than outdoors. Housecleaning should be enjoyable, safe and actually ease your allergies, not irritate them.
A good start for healthier living and reducing environmental allergy reactions is to get rid of chemicals and toxins in your home. In an average home there are 150 chemicals associated with allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological disorders. Chemicals in household cleaners can be linked with respiratory problems and asthma. It is said that one in every 13 school-age children in America has asthma! And the condition has increased 160 percent since 1980 in children younger than five years old.
Switching to green cleaners which are non-toxic and bio-degradable is healthy for you, your family and your planet. When toxins in the home are removed, problems with asthma related to the environment can diminish. When you are fighting allergies your immune system needs all the power it can get. Being in the midst of “irritants,” as most chemical cleaners warning labels read, make your body work harder to defend itself.
Most people think they need to compromise effectiveness or price with Green cleaners. That is not true. There are many to choose from now that the “Green” movement is sweeping the nation. Look for green cleaners that are concentrated so that you are not contributing unnecessary plastic to our land fills.
You can even save money while saving your health. For example, some like Shaklee’s “Get Clean” line can save you up to $3000 a year! When a product is in concentrated form, the company uses fewer bottles, less packaging, etc. So it costs less…. and wastes less…. our planet likes that!
If you have someone else cleaning your home have them use your Green products to do the job. You won’t have to come home and open all the windows to get the so-called clean chemical smell out. You also won’t have to worry about babies, small children or pets coming in contact with chemical residue on floors or surfaces like counters and sinks.
Cleaning Green makes sense. If your are in harmony with nature it will be in harmony with you. Everyone wins. You, your family and your planet.
Suzanne Brocato, a concerned mom and advocate for healthy people and planet, may be contacted at www.shaklee.net/suzannebrocato.