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My Favorite DIY Home Cleaners

It’s been awhile since my last “hippy post”, as I like to call them, but that doesn’t mean I’ve completely fallen off the wagon and stopped going au naturale as much as possible. I’ve still been trying new things and figuring out ways to use less harmful chemicals, but honestly just haven’t made it a priority to blog. My apologies (I’m working on changing this…see this post)

I have tried lots of kreative koncoctions that I use regularly and don’t even think twice about anymore, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite homemade cleaning remedies that I’ve learned thus far. You’ll find that it really boils down to three main ingredients that have multiple uses: baking soda, borax and apple cider vinegar (ACV) (and maybe some essential oils to make things smell nice:)). Between these three things, you’ll find you won’t need all those store-bought chemicals that are full of carcinogens and other harmful ingredients and they alone can handle most of your cleaning needs.

To jump right in, I’ll go through both the bathroom and kitchen (the yuckiest parts of my house) and share my favorite remedy for each “problem” area.

Bathroom

I really don’t like to clean but the bathroom has got to be my least favorite. I’m sure you can relate and understand without me needing to go into further explanation here. It’s just yucky! Despite that, it absolutely must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent build up and germies that can make us sick.

I typically start with the toilet. I’ll sprinkle a little bit of baking soda in after a fresh flush, then leave it sit while I clean everything else. I may even add a bit of ACV to make it bubble for some added scrubbing power (think of middle school science class volcanoes!). Then I’ll come back after a half hour or so, when I’ve finished cleaning everything else, and give it a quick wipe with the toilet brush. (I must confess here, though. I DO use Clorox wands to clean my toilet because I simply cannot stand the idea of a dirty toilet brush hanging around the bathroom. So, after each use, I can toss the cleaning wand ‘head’ in the trash, where it belongs. Even though I use the Clorox wands now, I know this works without them because I’ve used a regular scrub brush before. Super easy. Maybe I can come up with a way to make my own ‘homemade’ wands to get rid of the bleach in the Clorox wands? I’ll have to research!) Anyways, the baking soda works like a charm and if you add ACV, even better. Hardly any scrubbing necessary here. And let’s be honest, the less time you spend scrubbing the porcelain throne, the better, right?

On the bathroom sink and counter, I like to sprinkle a little bit of baking soda and use a wet sponge. Sometimes, because of the Oil Cleansing Method that I use on my face, the sink can get pretty gunky and build up lots of grime quickly. I usually have to do this a few times a week to prevent it from getting totally disgusting. The baking soda really breaks down all those oils and brings back the shine, especially on the porcelain sink and faucet handles.

For the tub, I like to use a mix of borax and baking soda. The borax is very grainy, like sea salt, so it gives it a good scrub. The baking soda is much finer and more powdery, but because of my serious oil usage, the borax alone is not enough; it doesn’t break down those oils like the baking soda. Together, you’ll find they can really get your tub to shine! I’ve used baking soda alone on my tub, but recently tried a combo of the two and the borax adds some extra scrubbing power that baking soda alone just doesn’t give. Sometimes, if the tub is super grimey, I’ll even add a little Dawn detergent {GASP! Not super natural but boy does it help break down the oils I use.}

Borax, Baking Soda and Dawn

How to: I’ll usually spray the tub down with the shower head to get it wet first, then sprinkle a small amount of borax and baking soda on it (and Dawn, if necessary).  The first time you do this, if your tub has some stubborn stains, you may want to let it soak for a bit after you scrub. I mix the ingredients with water into a nice paste then let it sit on the bottom to break up the dirt. This really surprised me how nice and WHITE my tub got! Below are some pictures. Pretty, pretty please, with sugar on top, please don’t judge my tub. The combination of oils that I use, along with my black soap (not a paid endorsement…I literally love the CRAP out of that soap!) leaves my tub stained a nice grey-ish color most of the time, until I clean it. It’s really not THAT dirty…the black soap debris makes it look much worse!

On top of that, I bought an old house, with original old plumbing and every so often my drain gets clogged and moves very sloooowwly…the pics represent a few days of a clogged drain; before that it was sparkly clean:)! (Learn about my plumbing issues with my house and my homemade remedy for clogged drains here!)

[Forgive the state of my pictures; I am no professional photographer and these were taken with my handy-dandy iPhone, thank you very much.]

Before1

The “before”: full tub

Before

The “before”: near the drain that was backed up

The "after": full tub

The “after”: full tub

The "after" near the clogged drain

The “after” near the clogged drain

I hope we can all move past the former state of my bathtub and leave behind any judgments going forward. I have now let you into my home and shown you the grossest part of it. I hope I didn’t lose you in the before pictures…you may now remove your jaw from the floor and continue reading…

Another thing that drives me crazy is when my shower head gets a build up of lime or calcium (like I know the difference! Lol) that minimizes the pressure the water. Mama needs a good, powerful shower after a long, hard day at the office, so I did some research to find a remedy. I found that soaking the shower head in a bit of ACV really does the trick. I put a bit of ACV in a ziplock baggy and tie it to my shower head. I leave it soak for a few hours to let the ACV get into those crevices to bring life back to my shower head; if it’s really bad and you’ve never done this before, leave it overnight. This really works! I have a few different pressure settings on my shower head and I noticed that a few of them weren’t working hardly at all because they had so much gunk built up. I actually did this today and now my shower head is like new!

Lastly, for your bathrooms, I’ve got a separate post that talks about clogged drains. If you notice that your tub or sink are draining slowly (remember those photos I posted that you promised to forget? My clogged sink is the culprit!), then a safe way to unclog the drains is with a combination of ACV and Baking Soda. Please check it out here! This is, by far, one of my favorite DIY fix-it remedies.

Kitchen

Most kitchen appliances I clean with baking soda alone. It has just the right amount of grit, but not too much, so it won’t scratch any delicate, pretty surfaces. Keep in mind that anytime you use baking soda, you can always add a bit of your favorite essential oil to give it a fresh scent. My “go-to” favorite oil for the kitchen is definitely lemon. You could probably even use some fresh lemon juice as well – it’s great for fighting germs and will definitely give you a nice, fresh scent. I haven’t tried it but it certainly couldn’t hurt:). I use baking soda for everything from counter tops, inside and outside the refrigerator, stove top and over many other surfaces. I’ve even converted the BF…when there’s something sticky on dishes that he can’t get off, he always reaches for the baking soda!

You could also use baking soda in the microwave but I’ve found the microwave has a lot of crevices that the baking soda can sneak into and get lost forever. Instead, I’ll mix about a cup of water with a half cup of ACV and microwave them for about 5-10 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave. You want the water to get hot enough to start to steam and condensate but make sure it doesn’t boil over inside the microwave. This steam will loosen up some of the built up stuff and the ACV dissolves some of the funky smells that you may have gone “nose blind” to. When the microwave dings, just wipe it down with a sponge and it will be like new!

ACV is really good at getting rid of those funky smells and refreshing your appliances. Just as it works well with the microwave, it does wonders for your coffee pot! Fill your coffee pot 3/4 of the way with water, then top it off with ACV and run this through your coffee system without a filter. This is a great way to clean your coffee pot so that you can always have the freshest tasting coffee. Once it brews, then run just water through your pot, to get rid of any remaining vinegar scent.

I know that was a long post but hopefully you found some handy ideas that you can use for your cleaning. Do you have any other favorites? Please share in the comments!

XOXO

Unclog that drain, baby!

A little over a year ago, I became a first time homeowner. Super exciting, right? Except, not. A few days after we moved in, we started having plumbing issues. And I’m not talking minor issues here…I’m talking water-coming-from-every-possible-crevice-of-the-plumbing problems! This all occurred despite a “thorough” home inspection and even an extra ($350!) video inspection of the pipes. (That’s a whole other post…but HOW is it possible that they missed this in the inspections?!)

Anyway, needless to say, that was an interesting situation. Thank God the BF has some plumbing experience and was able to come to the rescue. The sucky thing about my house is it’s a slab house, so should there be a SERIOUS plumbing issue, it’s gonna cost $$$ because the slab has to be broken and they have to dig to get to the pipes, replace them and then refill the hole with concrete — LOTS of labor costs! We’re talking thousands of dollars, here. I’m not getting paid for blogging, so I considered selling my soul, but the devil was busy with my home inspectors.

I have NO idea what happened but our big plumbing issues eventually ceased. I think the gods decided to have mercy on me because I was turning to tequila for stress relief and when I turn to tequila – ain’t nothing pretty about that!

One weekend last January we tried a DIY fix-it solution and rented an auger (an electric snake, basically, that can go hundreds of feet into your pipes – that sounds dirty, doesn’t it?:)) The BF didn’t think it did anything because the auger never “caught” on anything like it was busting up any gunk, so we figured it was a waste of time and money. But, it must’ve done something because we haven’t had any more leaking since then. (KNOCK ON WOOD and PRAY to the plumbing gods PLEASE because I cannot relive that nightmare!)

Since then, we have had to deal with the occasional clogged drains. I have to say, I shed. A LOT! My hair is EVERYWHERE and when I wash it, it goes straight down the drain! I even bought one of those hair traps but it doesn’t do anything. On top of my hair constantly falling out, some of the products I use in the shower only compound the situation – washing my face with oil, thick black soap, etc. So, we’re always dealing with standing water by the the end of our shower.

My remedy for this is a magical combination of BAKING SODA and VINEGAR. Remember those old science experiments you did as a kid when you mixed the two together to form a nice volcano…same concept, only imagine the volcano effect in the small confines of a 1.5 inch pipes (or whatever the dimensions are). I keep this stuff handy all the time and because I use it for many other things besides unclogging drains, I buy it in bulk at Costco for hell-a cheap! (Note the sizes: 1.32 gallons of Vinegar and 13.5 lbs of BS – for under $10!!)

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Here’s my method:

  1. At the FIRST sign of slow drainage, I grab about a cup of BS and shove it down the drain as far as my little fingers will reach.
  2. Immediately following, I SLOWLY pour about a cup of vinegar over the BS. The combination will start to bubble. I usually pour a little vinegar at a time; each time you pour more, it will bubble more.
  3. Once I feel like the BS and Vinegar have combined pretty well, I grab an old wash cloth and shove it in the drain to trap them in so they’re no longer bubbling into the tub.
  4. I leave it sit as long as I can. This might be an hour (depending on if I need to get ready for something) or overnight. I don’t think that this will ruin your pipes in any way – at least not any more so than those harsh chemicals that cost WAY too much! I’ve read several blogs about this and no one has mentioned damaged pipes as a result of this. (Please NOTE: I’m no professional plumber! Just know that I’ve been using this method up again 60+ year old cast iron pipes and have had no negative repercussions.)
  5. Once the time is up, I remove the wash cloth and allow really HOT water to run through the pipes. This helps push that deadly combination further along the pipes.
  6. Then, I use my plunger (for the BATHTUB only…Yes, I have a special plunger just for the tub) and pump it a little bit. Run some more hot water, plunge and repeat a few times.
  7. Watch as the water freely flows down the drain…just the way nature intended!

This has been a lifesaver for me since buying the house. At my old apartment, I always called my landlord and I’d have to wait days for him to come snake the drain. Now, I can basically do it on my own with no muscle power at all. So, next time you have a plumber disaster (or a minor clog), give this a try and see how it works. It’s pretty fantastic!

Enjoy!

XOXO