How to Clean Practically Everything in Your House Using Only Natural Ingredients

Are you looking to reduce your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals but don’t know where or how to start?  Here is an incredibly simple guide to replacing toxic household cleaners with safe, natural alternatives, many of which you probably already have on hand.  You’ll find out how to safely clean practically every surface in your house, from the windows to the toilet and everywhere in between.  These cleaners are safe enough for kids to use, so the whole family can pitch in around the house without any concern about what they’re being exposed to.  You will still want to keep these things away from young children who might accidentally ingest them.  While perfectly safe to use for cleaning, some of these ingredients can be harmful if ingested, so make sure they will only be accessible to people who won’t try to drink them 😉

There are a few basic things you’ll need to make the switch to natural cleaning:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Lemon Essential Oil
  • Various other essential oils (optional)
  • Dish Soap
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Olive Oil
  • Microfiber Cloth (or any lint-free cloth)
  • Glass Spray Bottles (plastic can break down over time from essential oils)

Using just these supplies, you can clean just about every surface in your house.  Sounds easy, right?  It really is! Here are some specific tips for tackling all of your chores with no harmful fumes or chemicals.

Dusting– This is one of those chores that’s perfect for little hands so I usually let my kids do the dusting, but I don’t want them exposed to commercial dusting sprays.  There are two all-natural dust-busters we use in our house, so I’ll share them both.

  1. The simplest method is to dampen a microfiber cloth, add 2-3 drops of lemon essential oil to the cloth, and simply wipe the surface with it.
  2. If you want extra shine, however, you can make this all-natural dusting spray that’s safe for all finished wood surfaces.  Simply add 1 cup of water, 2 T. white vinegar, 1 T. olive oil, and 15-20 drops of lemon essential oil to a glass spray bottle and shake well.  Lightly spray the surface and wipe clean with a soft cloth.

Tubs,Tile and Grout– A paste made with baking soda and a little water can make scrubbing stains from grout and tile a cinch.  Soap and water will also work on tile for everyday cleaning.

Toilets and Ceramic Sinks–  Sprinkle baking soda in sinks and toilet bowls and let it sit for up to an hour, then pour vinegar over the baking soda and scrub with a toilet brush or cloth.  The baking soda deodorizes while the vinegar sanitizes, leaving your bathroom naturally clean!

Floors (wood, vinyl, linoleum, and laminate)-  A basic solution of 1/4 C. white vinegar and 1 C. water will clean most floors easily.  For extra shine, you can also add 1 T. oil to the mix.  Spray floors with the mixture and wipe with a soft cloth or mop.  Alternatively, you can fill a bucket with 1 gallon of water and 4 cups of vinegar and mop the floor with this solution.

Marble and granite– While vinegar is an amazing natural cleaner, it should never be used on natural stone like marble and granite, which can be etched by acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus.  Mix 1 C. water, 1/4 C. rubbing alcohol, 3-4 drops of dish soap, and 5-10 drops of any non-citrus essential oil (such as lavender, peppermint, cedarwood, etc.)  Spray on surface and wipe clean.  This solution can also be used for most floors, and it dries quickly without leaving streaks because of the alcohol.

All-purpose cleaner– If you want to keep things really simple and just have one bottle of cleaner for most jobs, this is it.  Mix 3 parts water with 1 part white vinegar in a glass spray bottle, add 15-20 drops of essential oils, and shake well.  You can use this solution to clean countertops, sinks, tubs, showers, windows, floors, and even cutting boards and appliances.  Just be sure to avoid using this one on granite or marble.

If the idea of making your own cleaners is too overwhelming, or you don’t really want your house to smell like vinegar every time you clean something, there are plenty of non-toxic, natural cleaners available to purchase.  I’ve tried several companies over the years, but my absolute favorites are from Red’s Gone Green.

Her products smell so amazing that I genuinely want to clean my house just so I can enjoy the scent of clove-cinnamon-vanilla (which smells just like chai tea) or lavender-vanilla (incredibly calming.)  Check out all of her products here.  The all-purpose cleaners (except the grapefruit-orange-lavender) are even safe on granite and marble, so you can basically reduce your whole cleaning cabinet to just one incredibly fragrant bottle!

Hopefully this is a helpful crash course on how to start swapping some of your commercial cleaners for more natural alternatives.  It really is simple and affordable to enjoy the benefits of non-toxic cleaning supplies.  Have other natural cleaning hacks or tips to share?  Leave us a comment below!

Natural Skincare Routine for Blemish-Prone Skin

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Legalese Nonsense:  I was given two Timeless Skincare products for review.  All opinions, recommendations, and fantastic results are my own.

Most of us would like to minimize the chemicals and toxins we expose ourselves to, including the things we put on our skin.  But if you’re like me and have sensitive or blemish-prone skin, it can be really hard to find all-natural products that your face can tolerate.  Even the ones that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin often cause me to break out, so finding the right products for my skin has taken a lot of trial and error.  My current skincare routine is almost completely natural, and it’s working pretty well, so I thought I would share it here in case some of the things I’ve found might also be helpful for you!

Step 1:  Cleanse

I have started washing my face with water or honey in the morning.  At night I use Simple Micellar Cleansing Water. While both of these options are working fine, I’m not in love with either.  They don’t seem to get my face all that clean but they are good natural options.   Some people have great results with oil cleansing, but I’ve never had the courage to try it 🙂  If you’ve found an awesome natural cleanser that works well on acne-prone skin, I would love to hear about it.

Step 2:  Tone

If you have acne or oily skin, a toner can be incredibly beneficial.  It restores your skin’s natural pH, keeps shine under control, and helps minimize pores.  My absolute favorite toner to use is also 100% natural and super affordable.  It’s simply a mixture of distilled water, apple cider vinegar (with “the mother”), and tea tree oil!  Mix it up, store it in a glass bottle, and apply with a cotton ball once or twice a day.  If acne is not an issue for you, you can also leave out the tea tree oil.  Here’s the recipe:

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Step 3:  Exfoliate

We all know exfoliation is important, but for some of us anything that involves scrubbing can also irritate the skin.  That’s why I LOVE this serum.  It contains 20% Vitamin C, which exfoliates, brightens skin, and evens skin tone.  I’ve tried several products to try to even out the red, blotchy areas on my face, but nothing made much difference until I tried this.  I even feel comfortable going out in public without makeup, which I had always avoided because of acne scars and redness.  If you have uneven skin tone or dark spots, try Timeless 20% C+E+Ferulic Acid Serum.  It has been the most beneficial product I’ve added to my routine in a long time.

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Step 4:  Treat Blemishes (if necessary)

Most acne treatments are loaded with harsh chemicals, but the most effective spot treatment I’ve found is Tea Tree Oil.  It has anti-bacterial properties that seem to stop a zit in its tracks.  I just dab a small amount on as soon as I see a new blemish, and it usually keeps it from getting out of control.

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It can be strong, so if it stings too much or seems to bother your skin, just dilute with a small amount of non-comedogenic carrier oil.  My favorite carrier oil to use is shea butter.

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Step 5:  Moisturize

This can be a tough one for those of us who tend to break out easily.  Most commercial moisturizers contain loads of junk that can clog pores or mess with the delicate balance of our oh-so-sensitive skin.  So when I found this Timeless Hyaluronic Acid I was hooked.  It glides on like silk and absorbs beautifully, leaving my skin feeling moisturized but not the slightest bit greasy.  It fills in fine lines and even some of my acne scars and leaves skin feeling plump and healthy.  Two drops will cover my entire face, so one bottle will last a long time.  This is by far the best moisturizer I’ve ever used and I can’t say enough about it.  Plus, it’s surprisingly affordable!

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I hope those of you who have been searching fruitlessly for something that will work for your sensitive skin will have amazing results from some of the things I’ve shared about here.  As always, if you’ve had great success with anything in your own skincare routine, please share with us!

Five Unique Baby Shower Gifts You’re Overlooking ~ Mama’s Emergency Kit

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I was provided with a pack of BabyGanics Hand and Face wipes to clean off Tyler’s adorable yet always dirty face. All amazingly clever ideas, pictures, and messy babies are my own

Today’s gift idea of giving a Mama’s Emergency Kit is super practical and super fun!! I had the most amazing MOPs group in Boston and they always had the most clever, practical crafts–this is one of the ones we made and it has come in handy *so* many times since then! It’s small enough to stick into your purse or leave in your car glove box.

I tried to find where they printed off this beyond cute insert for the baggy but couldn’t find it–you could easily make one for yourself using PicMonkey and free stock people or if I get enough interest I’ll create a new, downloadable one–so let me know if you’d like me to!

Continue reading “Five Unique Baby Shower Gifts You’re Overlooking ~ Mama’s Emergency Kit”

Pretty As a Princess

Pretty As a Princess Hair Products for Little Girls

Pretty As a Princess ~ Hair Products for Little Girls

“Aren’t I just SO pretty??!!”

That’s a pretty common saying around here these days–from Amber of course, and usually after she’s put on her clothes and brushed her hair by herself. So much the “big girl” now she is in that fun stage where everything is innocent and fun while being big enough to carry on an entire (if sometimes hillarious) conversation!

 Her “big girl” status also means that her hair needs some “big girl” shampoo & conditioner that works great since she insists on brushing her own hair and still cringes and “ows” at tangles. (Which her plentiful but very fine and silky hair gets *lots* of) Finding a great shampoo & conditioner for her has always been a challenge due to her eczema. Baby products no longer make the cut and it’s super hard to find “big kid” products that aren’t full of nasty chemicals and artificial scents that make her break out.

When I heard about Eco Princess products I knew I wanted to try them out! The line offers an organic line of kids bath time products and play makeup for little girls–very cool! We were sent the Detangling Conditioner and Citrus Shampoo to try out on Princess Amber. I love when companies take a few extra steps to make you feel like you’re getting a gift in the mail and that’s exactly what I received with Eco Princess as you can see in the picture above!
 I have been so impressed with the quality of these products! The shampoo has a great, fresh scent that lathers nicely (see above, haha) and, most importantly, it cleans well and doesn’t break Amber out–yey! Since I can only bathe her a few times a week (again–due to her eczema) it’s really important for the shampoo we use to work very well and this definitely fits the bill.
The conditioner is excellent as well–it’s super thick, rich, and creamy (see the top picture) and does a great job of leaving Amber’s hair soft, shiny, and tangle free! I absolutely love these products and just shot my mom and MIL an email asking that they add the Bubble Bath and Makeup sets to their Christmas list for Amber!
Country Baby Handmade Flower Hair Clips

Of course once her hair is soft and shiny I have to take it up a notch by using one of those uber popular bows and clips in it! (Headbands have never worked for Amber, but we love us some flower clips!)

The clips that I have the most of and that I have been the most impressed with consistently as far as adorable factor, quality, and durability are those from Country Baby Handmade — her Etsy Shop is seriously wonderful and if you look through any of my personal Facebook photo albums you’re bound to find at least one picture of Amber wearing one of these silk bloom clips! (you might remember them from her 5 Year Old pictures) Our most recent love from this shop is the Shabby Rose Hair Clip set–oh my soul–SO cute!!!! I love that these are really easy to dress up or down and come in colors you might not usually find. Amber wore the pale green one with her Easter dress then when we changed her to dye eggs it continued to look adorable!

In case your new to her awesome shop she has a code out right now for new customers:  NEWTOSHOP gets 10 % off of your total purchase before shipping!

Country Baby Handmade Flower Hair Clips

What are your best and favorite products to make your little one Pretty as a Princess–leave me a comment and let’s chat about them!

Nicole Elliott

Spring Cleaning Tips

With the warm in the air, the beautiful flowers poking their heads up out of the earth, and my parents flying out next week we are in full on Spring Cleaning mode over here! I thought I’d share some of my tops tips-please share yours in a comment or leave a link to your blog post–I’d love to read!

Spring Clean all Year Long ~ Ever since January I’ve been using FlyLady’s zone method and am super pleased with the results! I’ve been able to get my kitchen and our bathrooms super organized and decluttered using it and all by just doing a little bit 15 minutes a day–definitely do-able even with my crazy busy schedule!

Game Plan ~ Even if you have been “spring cleaning” all year long it still feels good to go on a good cleaning spree–especially before company comes. I found that I am the most productive when I write down a list of what exactly needs to be done–then I can even accomplish “deep cleaning” when I’m on the phone–I just look at what is next on my list and tackle it!

Set that Timer ~ another idea from FlyLady–set your timer and clean as fast as you can! You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in a short amount of time! Don’t try to go TOO fast though…if you’re clumsy like me you’ll end up bumping into everything and spilling things, haha!

Try Some New Products ~ I’ve also mentioned before that ever since having kiddos I’ve been straying away from all the more toxic cleaners and starting to use green cleaners a lot. I even used good old baking soda and vinegar to clean the inside of my stove shiny bright (yes it really did work!) In the bathroom though I have a hard time not using something more “heavy duty” though–so Colorox Green Works has been a great solution for me!

I don’t normally use wipes but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how nice they are for quick tidy ups throughout the week of the bathroom counters and also for wiping down the outside of the toilet. The toilet cleaner has been my favorite–it works just as good as any of the bleach kinds do and I will definitely be purchasing it again. The All Purpose cleaner worked well also for the counters in the bathroom during my weekly “deep” cleans. I wouldn’t recommend it for the bathtub though, ours usually need something with a little more “omph”.

What are your spring cleaning tips and what products do you love to use for it?

Make Recycling Easy with Rubbermaid

I have a confession to make….

While I really *do* feel that being good stewards of our planet is important….and while I’m normally *not* a lazy person there is one thing that I find super hard to do…

and that’s recycle. You see–as long as it’s easy I’m on top of it! In NC we had 2 big bins right next to the other garbage dumpster where we could put our recyclables into and since it was easy I did it. When we moved here there wasn’t any easy set up, however, and while I would have a fleeting “oh this should probably be recycled” thought as I chucked paper and plastic bottles into the trash the effort of NOT chucking it right then and there made it no more than a fleeting thought.

So when I got the chance to review the Rubbermaid Hidden Recycler I jumped on it! I thought it was just the nudge I needed to get me in the right direction again–and while I still need to figure out where I need to bring the things I’m saving to recycle–as you can see from my full container I *have* been doing it!

This is so super easy to instal and use–and it doesn’t even take up much room in the cabinet itself–just genius! It’s a 5 gallon bag that can holds up to 36 12-ounce cans and can fit a milk jug. I have used ours for all the scrap paper and junk mail we get–it has fit several weeks worth!


Connect with Rubbermaid on Twitter @Rubbermaid, their Adventures in Organization Blog, or Visit FaceBook page




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The Magic of Paper and Notebooks

As I’ve mentioned before, even though I’m a techy girl I feel like for many things you just cannot beat good old fashioned paper and pen! We use paper for so many different things at our house all day long!

I always have a big Paper Notebook like the Roaring Spring Wirebound Notebook 3 Subject on hand. My mom saw it the last time she was here and asked me what it was, I replied, “My Brain.” She laughed but it really is so true! I use it to organize my review papers (the pockets are great for that), keep my list of passwords and log on information, use it for my devotion journal, a list of all our family and friends birthdays (some people aren’t on Facebook you know) and prayer requests, and for work information, notes, and ideas.

I also love using office supplies that are fun and pretty for writing down goals. I’m going to use the Roaring Spring Elephant PooPoo Paper to write down my work out goals, including my 10 year goals that Fit Moms for Life inspired me to write down! And yes–when they say poo they mean poo. The notebook is made from, get this, recycled elephant poo!!!!!!! For real, it is the most hysterical thing I’ve ever heard of (and no it’s not stinky and actually super cute–I love it, bahaha).

 Amber continues to LOVE doing school each day and so we continue to go through *lots* of paper for it. Although she has lots of workbooks during her free unstructured drawing time she’s still been defaulting to doing “school” by herself–as you can see here. I can barely believe my “baby” is big enough to write out the alphabet by herself! The Roaring Spring Landscape Format Writing Pad – College Ruled will be perfect and much better for her to “practice” on than scrap paper is.

I received the above products from Shoplet your source for Note Pads and Notebook Online 

Conscious Box *Review & Giveaway*

 
 Do you love trying out new companies and getting boxes full of fun little gifts and goodies in the mail? Are you interested in ethical products and green eco friendly companies? Then you’ll be extremely intersted in the Conscious Box. This fun and innovative new company hand selects the best, most fun, and most eco friendly brands and products and sends them in an adorable little monthly box, right to your doorstep for only $19 a month, including shipping! I’ve received the November and December boxes and they contained everything from tasty goodies to luxurious lotions to toothbrush sanitizers. It’s so much fun digging through the box, not knowing what you’ll pull out next! My favorite samples from the November box were definitely the lotions, I loved them so much I’ve used them all up already! Amber thought the cookies and bars were delicious too, and it was awesome having new healthy all natural goodies to give her.

I thought it would be fun to do an “unboxing” video of the December box so you’d discover what was inside the same time I did, hope you enjoy it! One lucky reader will get to win their very own December Conscious Box–a perfect present to give, or to keep for yourself!



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