Tag Archives: baking soda

7 Great Natural Beauty Products

7 Great Natural Beauty Products

I’ve never been much into beauty products. I don’t wear makeup most of the time, don’t dye my hair, etc. Still, there are some natural products that I enjoy using on my skin and hair that do a wonderful job.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is great for the skin and hair. I get the cold pressed stuff, which is supposed to be better. It’s a nice moisturizer for the skin, just rub it on. Be careful about using it on your face, as it can be comedogenic, but I like using it on my arms and legs.

For hair, rub the coconut oil between your hands to melt it, then apply to the length of your hair. Leave in for an hour or so, then wash out. Wonderful, soft hair!

Castor Oil

Yes, this notorious oil has its uses. I mix it with some olive oil to use as a facial cleanser – about a third castor oil to two third olive oil for my skin, but experiment to figure out your own best mix. Too much castor oil can be drying on your skin. Try oils other than olive oil too – it can be comedogenic, but not everyone has that problem with it. Apply the mix with your fingers, then hold a hot, damp washcloth to your face, then wipe the oils off.

Jojoba Oil

When I want a lighter oil on my skin or hair, jojoba is wonderful. It feels much lighter than coconut oil, but is still a great moisturizer. It works well in the oil cleansing method with castor oil too.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

I hardly ever use traditional shampoo or conditioner these days. I mix some baking soda in a lot of water in a squeeze bottle to wash my hair, and condition with watered down vinegar. Then I condition using watered down vinegar, about two parts water to one of vinegar, although I never measure it out.

If the smell of the vinegar bothers you, just add some hair-friendly essential oils. You will get used to it if you don’t, and the smell doesn’t stick around after rinsing, but if you find it too unpleasant without essential oils, or you just like the smell, go for it.

Homemade Sugar Scrubs

When you want to indulge while exfoliating your skin, a homemade sugar scrub is the way to go. Pick your sugar – some use brown, some use white, and mix with a skin friendly oil. Massage into your skin, leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse off.

Have some fun with your ingredients too. Vitamin E can be a good addition, as can certain herbs or essential oils.

Aloe Vera

We grow aloe vera in our garden and really need to use it more! You scrape out the gel from inside the leaves and apply it to the skin. It feels amazing on sunburn (or burns in general) and is a good moisturizer. Some people drink aloe vera juice, but I haven’t tried that.

Homemade Bath Bombs

Homemade bath bombs are easy to make and feel great. The basic ingredients are baking soda, epsom salts and citric acid. Essential oils and food coloring are optional. Some people add oils as well. There are instructions all over for how to make these, and it’s much cheaper than buying them at the store. Add the wet ingredients slowly to the dry ones, or you’ll start the fizzing reaction that belongs in your bath.

7 Ways to Live in a Greener and Cleaner Home

One of the best ways to live a more eco friendly lifestyle is to get rid of toxins in your home. The fewer toxins you use, the fewer get into the environment. It’s great for you and your children too. Best of all, a greener and cleaner home doesn’t have to cost a lot.

7 Ways to Live in a Greener and Cleaner Home1. Avoid pesticide use

Pesticides don’t just kill bugs and rodents. They’re not good for your kids or the environment in general. I know very well how nice it is to have a great looking yard and home, but there are alternatives to pesticides.

Indoors, keeping things clean will take care of most pests. They don’t stay where there’s no food for them. Ants may be discouraged by spraying white vinegar to remove their scent trail or by placing bay leaves or cloves near where they come in. Yeast mixed with sugar and molasses can be used to kill ants. A fly trap with a couple inches of apple cider vinegar and a quarter teaspoon of sugar can catch and kill flies.

Mice can be more difficult to handle. A cat can do the job pretty well if you’re up for a pet. Traps also work, and there are humane traps for those who don’t want to deal with dead or injured mice. I don’t like glue traps, however, as the mouse can suffer quite a bit on those, as they may injure themselves trying to get free. There are also plug in repellers you can try.

2. Open the windows

This may not work all year, but when you can, open your windows for a while. In summer, we wait until evening or even after sunset, when the air flow is really nice to have. Not only does this help to clear the air in your home, it may even help cool it if you choose the times right. You might be able to run your air conditioner less if you learn to appreciate your evening breezes during warm weather. No need for air fresheners with questionable ingredients.

3. Grow indoor plants

Indoor plants make your home look nice and help clean the air inside your home. I like my orchids, but there are plenty of other wonderful houseplants you can choose.

4. Use less plastic

In general, plastic isn’t good for you. Many types can release toxins over time. Use it as little as possible. There are plenty of alternatives, such as stainless steel water bottles rather than plastic ones, and glass or ceramic dishes rather than plastic.

That said, there’s only so much you can do sometimes to avoid plastic. Just keep it down as much as possible.

5. Avoid convenience foods

Most convenience foods really aren’t that good for you and your family, containing many additives and preservatives. Try to cook for your family when you can. It doesn’t have to be complex or fancy.

You can make this easier by preparing some ingredients in advance. Some vegetables will stay good even after being chopped for a few days, which is helpful if you have limited time for food preparation. It also makes them more available for snacks if you prepare ones your family enjoys. That would be bell peppers for my youngest, for example.

Try to eat more organic foods when you can. At the very least, be aware of the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables that tend to be the most contaminated by pesticides. These are the most important ones to try to buy organic rather than conventionally grown.

6. Clean with nontoxic products

Cleaning supplies can release a lot of toxins in your home. Fortunately, it’s easy to clean with much safer products. Baking soda and vinegar will clean many surfaces, either on their own or mixed together. I also like citric acid for cleaning.

Steam cleaning works well also. We use a steam mop on our tile floors rather than your standard cleaning chemicals. Our current one is a Eureka Enviro steam mop, and it does a great job using only water. One of these days I’d love to get a more general purpose steamer for other surfaces.

7. Reconsider your personal care products

So many personal care products are filled with chemicals you really don’t want your skin to absorb. If you want to avoid toxins, it’s better to use simpler products. I like the no-poo method of washing my hair, for example.

A good resource is the Skin Deep database. They review a wide range of personal care products and rate them for safety. Care2 offers some good tips on ingredients to avoid.

8 Ways to Make Cleaning Your Kitchen Less Toxic

The kitchen is a great place to work on being more eco friendly and less toxic, and it goes beyond buy local and/or organic produce for your family. How you clean your kitchen matters too.  These cleaning products are easy to make and use, and of course you can use them beyond the kitchen when appropriate as well.

1. Vinegar

My favorite! I use diluted vinegar for all kinds of cleaning. There’s a reason why I buy it at Costco and not the grocery store. Besides, Costco’s price is better by about $1.50 for the gallon and a half size than what my grocery store charges.

Mix water and vinegar about 2:1 in a spray bottle and use for general cleaning purposes. You can add a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender essential oil to get rid of the vinegar smell. Another alternative is to place orange peels in a jar, then fill with vinegar and wait two weeks. Filter it into your spray bottle and dilute with water, and you have a great smelling cleaning spray. Lemon works as well.

2. Baking soda

Baking soda does some cleaning on its own, but it’s also vinegar’s loyal companion. Baking soda gives that little bit of grit to help with scrubbing. Sprinkle it where you need it, then spray with vinegar to get the fizzing going. The reaction really helps with cleaning.

3. Castile soap

For those times you need soap, castile soap should be less toxic than the usual sorts of dish soap. You can use it as is, or water it down just a touch.

For dishes, combine a cup of castile soap, a quarter cup of water. Use as you would other dish soaps when hand washing dishes. If you’re having trouble with a film left behind on your dishes, have vinegar mixed into your rinse water. According to the Dr. Bronner’s website, mixing lemon juice or vinegar directly into the soap just doesn’t work that well.

4. Cleaning rags

Old towels or burp cloths which aren’t good for anything else are great for cleaning anywhere in the house, not just the kitchen. I have a bin full of old burp cloths, most of which have been in use since my 10 year old was an infant, first as burp cloths, but now for general cleaning. They work great.

You can cut up larger towels for use as rags when they get too old too. Think about what sizes you need, and trim by your preferences.

5. Steam mop

I hate mopping floors, but using a steam mop makes it more pleasant and doesn’t require anything other than plain water. I like that. Haan and Enviro Steamer are both considered good brands and are reasonably priced in my opinion.

6. Credit card scraper

When you have tough foods to get off, an old credit card is pretty effective as a scraper, as are similar cards. Obviously you have to be more careful about leaving it out, especially if it’s expired but otherwise a current card number. If you have a card of the same sort of material as a credit card but without such risk to your personal information, it will be a far better choice. Some store loyalty cards may be appropriate, especially if you use your phone number rather than your card when you’re at the store anyhow.

7. Recycled dish scrubbers

Full Circle makes a variety of cleaning supplies made from recycled plastic, plant based plastics and other generally eco friendly materials. A few other companies also make scrubbers. Natural fiber scrubbers

8. Skip antibacterial products

Antibacterial products have great marketing, but the way most people use them, they aren’t as effective at killing bacteria as many think.  In fact, antibacterial soaps may kill only about as many bacteria as regular soaps. With the environmental hazards of triclosan, it’s better to skip the antibacterial soaps.

4 Green Ways to Unclog a Drain

When facing a clogged drain, many people go straight for the harsh chemicals. It’s pretty understandable – you want that clog gone! But have you thought about where those chemicals are going? There are better ways to clear a drain.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

This is my favorite way to unclog a sink once the water has drained. Pour about a cup of baking soda down, and follow it with a half cup of vinegar. Let it work for several minutes then pour down a pot of boiling water.

This unclogs drains much of the time. I like it because it’s cheap, doesn’t have that chemical stink, and you aren’t using anything dangerous to your family. No need to keep those chemicals out of reach of children other than to avoid a mess.

Washing soda is another good choice in the place of baking soda if you have it available. It’s stronger.


A Zip-It is a little strip of plastic with teeth on it. Put it down the drain and pull back up. It will bring hairs and all kinds of gunk up with it on the teeth. This only works for clogs near the drain, as it’s not very long. It also has to have something to catch, so greasy clogs are out of its league.

The one trouble is that the manufacturer considers it a single use item. Not a fun thing when it’s plastic.

Plunger or Auger

Sometimes the baking soda and vinegar just don’t cut it, or it’s a toilet clog where they really can’t get down to the mess. You still don’t need to reach for the chemicals. You can attack the clog directly with a plunger or plumber’s snake.

To use a plunger, put it over the drain with the best seal you can manage. Work it up and down to see if it can push the clog through. Especially if you’re unclogging a toilet, give the plunger a rinse after by flushing the toilet and holding it in the middle of the water.

A drum auger can take a bit of extra work. You put the end down the drain and turn a crank to help it work its way down the pipe. This can be hard to do, and it takes a bit of work to get around bends sometimes. But if you can reach the clog, a snake does an excellent job. Just be prepared for a little frustration if you aren’t used to using an auger, and sometimes even if you are.

Clean Out the Trap

There’s nothing saying that you can’t just get under a sink and clean out the part that’s probably clogged anyhow. Have a large pan or bucket under where you’re working to catch any water that comes out. This takes some effort, but no chemicals and you might be amazed at what’s caught in there.

Finally, don’t forget to take precautionary measures if you have a drain that tends to clog. Pour a little vinegar and baking soda down the drain regularly, let them work, and rinse. Better to stop a clog before it gets serious.

Still Playing with Washing My Hair with Baking Soda and Vinegar

I’m still trying out washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar. The first day didn’t go great, but things have improved since then.

I rewashed and rinsed my hair with the baking soda and vinegar, this time using the full tablespoon of baking soda in a bit less water, and a bit heavier concentration of the vinegar too. This time my hair feels much better.

I don’t use products in my hair very often anyhow aside from shampoo and conditioner, so I can’t say that there is much excess residue to come out from anything. No old hair spray or whatnot. But I am definitely noticing that my hair feels just a little lighter. It’s soft in a slightly different way from how it feels after using shampoo and conditioner, but definitely soft.

A big difference is that it feels to me as though the natural oils are moving further down the hair shaft between washings. Maybe I’m imagining it, but that’s how it feels, and I don’t mean that my hair is looking more oily right off the bat. It does seem that using this method I may need to wash my hair a little more often than I did with shampoo and conditioner, which I had down to every 5 days or thereabouts. When I shower without washing my hair it just goes up in a knot. I don’t even use a shower cap. Long hair has its advantages!