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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

A Fix to No ‘Poo

If you’ve read any of my blogs, you have probably heard me talk about my no ‘poo experiment, which is basically stepping away from all the chemicals in modern shampoos and finding healthy substitutes. (You can find my blogs about it here.) I was using baking soda and water with a few drops of tea tree oil to “wash” my hair, followed by an apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water solution to “condition” my hair. Well, after about a month or so of this, I found that my hair just became too greasy. I couldn’t find the appropriate combination of water to baking soda and my water is super hard, making it even rougher on my hair. I just couldn’t handle it feeling so dirty, so I found an alternative. If you don’t follow Crunchy Betty, you NEED to. And I’m serious. Go over to her page now and follow her on Facebook or pinterest or whatever method you have to in order to find some really kreative koncoctions. Her blog is where I first heard of no ‘poo and where I also found a solution to my overly oily no ‘poo nightmare.

So, needless to say, my hair was oily. I mean, couldn’t run my fingers through it oily. And when I did try to run my fingers through it, my hands felt filmy, as if I was wiping away some of the oil that had accumulated. I had gotten in the routine of no ‘pooing probably every 3 days or so, whenever my scalp started to feel itchy or dirty. I wore it mostly in a pony tail, except for the few days when my hair didn’t look disgusting. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was looking through old photos and saw how long, shiny and pretty my hair was and felt envious. Why was I putting myself through this for the sake of being natural and not really reaping any benefit from it? Well, I still want to be somewhat natural and use organic and healthy things on my skin and hair but I also am somewhat girly and want to look nice. So, something had to give.

That’s when I stumbled upon “sorta ‘poo” as Crunchy Betty calls it, which is a mixture of coconut milk and castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s lavender because I love the smell, but there are a few different makers of castile soap out there). There is the recommendation to make your own coconut milk from pressed coconut and water (you can find the recipe here) but I just used organic coconut milk from Whole Foods and it worked wonderfully. And by wonderfully, I mean, OH MY GOODNESS!! There was so much lather, I didn’t know what to do with  myself. Having gone a month with no suds whatsoever, I felt I was in heaven.

So here’s what I did: I mixed 1 teaspoon organic coconut milk per 1 Tablespoon of castile soap. Some say you shouldn’t mix too much up at a time because it will go bad, but I’m going to keep mine in the refrigerator and hope I can get a week or so out of it. I probably mixed about 10 tsp/tbsp of each because I won’t be the only one in my house to use it. Then, you just sorta swish it around so the two mix together (not too much or it will get super sudsy) and then lather up. I probably used a little too much on my hair this morning just because it felt so gross from the bs/acv mess but you probably only need about a quarter-sized up to a tablespoon.

After I washed, I rinsed with my same koncoction of vinegar: 1 Tablespoon of ACV to 1 Cup of water. I let the ACV sit on my hair while I wash and hang out in the shower and right before I get out, I rinse it off. I promise, you don’t end up wreaking of ACV−the scent dissipates as your hair dries, but if you must, you can add some essential oils to make it smell all girly. I’m trying to be as simple as possible, so for now, I’m just going to use the basic rinse.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I found this solution to going natural. Castile soap is amazing. I’ve been using it for a while now as a body wash, but when it’s mixed with the coconut milk, it creates a creamy lather that you will die for! It’s supposedly great for shaving too. I have only done this today, so it will obviously take some time to see if it works on my hair long-term but I really hope the results are better than the no ‘poo. I’d been reading about the no ‘poo method and maybe I gave up too soon because some folks say it can take 8 weeks before your hair finally evens out and stops being so oily but I wanted my soft mane back again and so far so good. I can actually run my fingers through my hair. Today, I left the house with my hair slightly damp and it dried naturally on my way to work. It still looks great! I still have this natural wave that appeared when I gave up regular shampoo awhile back, which I really like. My hair used to be so straight, like I flat-ironed it straight, so it’s nice to have some volume and body now. I’m convinced that somehow I’ll find the perfect homemade substitution for shampoo. I hope this is it. I’ll keep you posted!!

Tea tree oil and no ‘poo

Well, I’m well on my way to detoxing my scalp and hair of chemicals and the vicious cycle of over-washing. Today, for the first time, I wore my hair down with confidence that it didn’t look gross and actually looked pretty. Again, I’ve gotten this wave in my locks that I’ve never had before, which I hear is common when going no ‘poo. I have no complaints about it. It’s better than straight, stringy hair that I normally have. I’ve gone a good THREE days with no baking soda/ACV rinse and certain that I’m on the path to recovery–I can feel it!

But, this weekend I felt a hiccup in my routine. I was going to go all weekend without rinsing but on Saturday, my scalp got really itchy. And I mean ITCHY! I have had dry scalp in the past but usually this happens when the air is cold and dry–neither or which happens often in Southeastern Louisiana. So, my only conclusion for the itchies was detoxing from the chemicals my body was used to. I did some research online and after a hunch, I already knew that tea tree oil may be just the thing to cure my itch. Tea tree oil is great for scalp conditions and because it’s a natural anti-fungal, it can be great if you have dandruff or other fungus-related stuff like that going on. (My boyfriend uses it mixed with coconut oil to get rid of athletes foot from time to time and it works great!)

Anyways, I decided to add a few drops of tea tree oil to my baking soda mixture to see if that would do the trick and immediately I felt relief. I can’t tell you why, but the tea tree oil is fantastic and I plan on making it part of my routine from now. It’s a nice, clean scent and feels like it opens my pores up and just feels good! Rather than reinvent the wheel, I found a couple of great sites that list some of the many uses of tea tree oil. It’s pretty amazing how one oil can be used in so many ways! Here’s a list of sites I found with lots of helpful information:

So there you have it…if you are struggling with the no ‘poo method and maybe have itchy, irritated scalp, try a little tea tree oil  and see if that helps. But remember, a little goes a long way–some folks have sensitive skin and the TTO has an adverse affect. Always try it on a small area of skin and see how your body reacts. Good luck!! 🙂

no ‘poo…no doubt

It’s been a few days since my last post and I promised a follow up to my no ‘poo experience. (You can view my previous post here, which discusses the what, why and how of no ‘poo.) After a brief setback due to a hot oil hair treatment gone wrong, I am back on track and looking forward to the expected results of no longer using harsh chemicals on my locks.

It’s been five days for me now on the no ‘poo treatment. I last washed my hair Thursday morning (4/12/12) with regular shampoo. On Saturday, I “washed” with my baking soda and water/ACV conditioner. My hair was, of course, a little oily after nearly two days of no shampoo, but that’s to be expected. I can’t wait for my head to get out of this routine of over-producing oil!!

Last night, I did my baking soda and ACV wash again after three days of no washing. (In between my days off, I usually just wet my hair in the shower and call it a day.) My hair is still feeling a little filmy but I know on the road to recovery and it’s not that bad.  I wish I had taken a before picture so that I could compare my hair then and now but I don’t think pictures would even do it justice. It’s more about the texture that I’m experiencing. My hair feels so thick!–and it’s crazy for me to say that considering my hair doesn’t normally even hold a curl or any kind of volume whatsoever!

I tried something new last night as well. I decided  I needed a little extra wave, so I tried to braid my hair and sleep on it in hopes of creating something fantabulous, but, that was a no go. When I took the braids out this morning, my hair took me back to 4th grade, when crimping your hair was cool. Yeah, I have no desire to return to my pre-adolescent style, so I had to bring out my straightening iron to the rescue. I didn’t want to use any heating products on my hair, just because I know that stuff dries my hair out and since I’m “detoxing” from shampoo, I figured I’d just go for the gold and opt out of all styling/warming products. Either way, I straightened it and it looks fuller than my hair ever looked when I straightened it in my “shampooing” days. It’s amazing! Now, I think because I just cleaned my hair last night and then used the straightening iron on it, it looks a little frizzy but I’m also in desperate need of a trim, so that could be part of it as well.

Hang in there through the rough days when it feels like you can’t stand it anymore. After getting used to the idea of not having to wash my hair the “traditional” way, I’m enjoying the extra time I have in the shower to just relax and let my day wash away! And, there have been a lot of days when I just said, “To heck with it” and just tossed my hair in a bun or ponytail because the oil is overwhelming. I’m getting past that stage now and today is the first day I’ve worn my hair down since I started no ‘poo. I know it will all be worth it, when I can save boat loads of cash on hair products and just visit my local grocery for all my hair care needs. Until then, I have no doubt this no ‘poo thing is doing something great for my head, hair, scalp, etc. I’ll let you know how it all turns out!

The Beginning of Kreative Koncoctions

Over the last few weeks, I’ve discovered Pinterest and I feel that it has awakened within me a desire I’ve had for years–to be naturally healthy–and sometimes lose sight of. It is sometimes so much easier to stop at a fast food joint or buy detergent from the grocery store instead of making my own. I hope that starting this blog will hold me accountable to how I really want to live my life. I also hope that at some point I can go further than this blog with my quest for naturally made products and make and sell enough to be self-supporting. Alas, I have big dreams!

But, that’s all in the distant future. For now, I want to take baby steps in the right direction and find my own recipes. It’s easy to Google a recipe for “homemade body butter” but it’s another to create one on your own. I may find stuff online (and will give credit where credit is due) but I also want to create my own recipes and concoctions using different scents and oils and oy…just thinking about it makes me want to go home and start experimenting! Regrettably, I must earn a living, so I blog at work when things are slow. (I’m very grateful for a wonderful work environment!)

These hours I’ve spent on Pinterest over the last few weeks have led me to discover some really cool natural remedies and creations. The first thing I have really started experimenting with was this “no ‘poo” concept—where you sustain from using harsh chemical laden shampoos and conditioners on your hair and realize that those chemicals are creating a vicious cycle of your sebaceous glands over-producing oil that the shampoos strip it of. After only one day, I would have to wash my hair because these glands would try to overcompensate for my daily washes, thus overproducing oil. The result leaves the ends of my hair so dry and the roots, well, clean for about 24 hours and then gross all over again. I’m tired of it! So, I felt like this was the answer I was looking for. I would just have to suffer through a few weeks of leaving my hair in a pony tail while I get my head back to “normal”.

I went a week with no ‘poo and instead “washed” with a baking soda and water concoction and “conditioned” with an apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water mixture. I mix 2 tbsp of baking soda to 2 cups of hot water for the wash. I generally like to massage my scalp with it a little and kinda work it around. It doesn’t get soapy or anything–just helps me feel like my head’s getting cleaned. Then I rinse with about 2-4 tbsp of ACV in about 2 cups of water. This I usally just keep on the ends of my hair because I’ve heard that ACV can cause the scalp to generate more oil, thus defeating the purpose of my no ‘poo experiment.

This has been a PHENOMENAL experience!! I have always had very straight, fine hair with very little body or movement. But, after just a few days of no ‘pooing, my locks looked healthier than ever!! I got incredible compliments about how great my hair looked. I’m NOW a believer in the no ‘poo method.

However, yesterday, I found another recipe for a homemade hot oil treatment that I just had to try because it sounded so divine and luxurious! Unfortunately, it left my hair too oily for my baking soda and ACV tonics, so I have to start my no ‘poo routine over again. My next post will talk about my first few days of my no ‘poo detox. I look forward to sharing this journey with whoever stumbles across this blog and finds it somewhat interesting! Here’s to a natural health and beauty endeavor that will make us much happier and less chemically inclined!