Natural Housecleaning Book Recommendations

For those of you who are new to natural housecleaning and looking for some more information and recipes or you have been at it awhile and need some further knowledge, I wanted to highly recommend you check out the following resources. These may very well be available at your local library, but they are very worth having as references in your home, so I recommend purchasing your own copies.

Picture 6Easy Green Living by Renee Loux – This is my favorite resource on green living and educating yourself on the various harmful and safe replacements for all arenas of your home. It is the ultimate resource! She also supplies an abundant list of recipes for safe household cleaning that are very useful. She also reviews all the popular brands on the market.

Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan – This book focuses specifically on natural housecleaning and addresses every Picture 7chemical and safe homemade replacements for your home. I love the wit and charm in this book. Karen makes housecleaning actually sound like fun as you learn to make your own frugal natural substitutes. From natural car wash cleaners to an emergency cleaning kit in your car, Karen Logan thoroughly covers every need you may have!

Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd – This book is an excellent resource on eliminating toxins from your home. She provides over 400 tips, including do-it-yourself formulas for every area of your home. She compats every chemical with a thorough knowledge of its harmful effects and an easy solution. This book has little pictures and is more textbook in style. This has more educational material than recipes but there as definitely many helpful hints in there. Clean House, Clean Planet has more of the recipes over the educational aspect…so both resources are a great balance!

Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Way of Cleaning Your Home - A thoroughly current guide to natural and safe housecleaning. She reviews all the standard and eco-friendly brands on the market in addition to various homemade recipes. The author proceeds through every room of your home to supply you with safe solutions and helps you to make a green cleaning plan.

Picture 10Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of by Vicki Lansky- A helpful little guide that supplies you with all the knowledge you need on how and where to use vinegar (the cheapest natural solution out there!) in cleaning your home. I love how this little guide makes natural cleaning so frugal!Picture 11

Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of by Vicki Lansky- I think these two books truly prove that you don’t really need chemicals in your home. These frugal alternatives completely do it all!

Do you have any recommendations?

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Using Soap Nuts for Household Cleaning

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Soap nuts are an effective cleaning agent that grows on trees! If you haven’t heard about soap nuts, learn more here. They are as natural as you can get! They are safe for your family and the environment. No chemicals. No waste. Not only have I found them very useful for cleaning my laundry, but I also have found them to effectively clean my dishes at the sink and in the dishwasher. You can make your own liquid cleaning detergent from raw soap nuts by following these simple steps:

1. Place 12-15 raw soap nuts in a pot with 6 cups of pure filtered water.
2. Bring to a boil and then turn to a simmer for 1 hour.
3. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
4. Strain the nuts from the liquid. Compost the nuts and use the liquid for your housecleaning!

If you make a large batch as described you will want to refrigerate it between uses to preserve it. It is recommended to use within 3-4 days. I store mine in a glass 1/2 gallon jar in the refrigerator. As it is completely natural, it can go bad without preservation. A few ideas for helping to preserve it include: freezing it in ice cube trays, adding essential oils, vegetable glycerin or citric acid. All of which are natural preservatives. Experiment and see what works for you. You will know when it goes bad when it develops a pugnet bad smell. If storing in the refrigerator, make sure to label your product. It looks a lot like apple juice!

Here are all the wonderful housecleaning uses:

All-Purpose Cleaner: Fill a small spray bottle with full strength soap nut liquid (you can dilute it if desired, but I found it to be more effective in full strength). Add a few drops of tea tree oil or lemon essential oil. Use for spraying down countertops and floors and other general cleaning. You can also keep this cleaner by the kitchen sink for dish washing. I like to add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice for more grease cutting effectiveness. Add white distilled vinegar for more disinfectant jobs.

Windows & Glass: Combine 1 cup of water with 1 Tablespoon soap nut liquid and 1 Tablespoon white vinegar. Place in a spray bottle and spray your surfaces and wipe clean.

For Dishwashers: Fill the dishwasher soap dispenser with soap nuts liquid – about 1/8 cup. Wash as usual. Tip: For extra sparkle, add a half-ounce of vinegar to the rinse dispenser or during the rinse cycle. This works amazingly well! It is in a tight race with my homemade dishwasher detergent/dishwashing soap.

For the Laundry: Use 1/4 cup soap nut liquid in cold or hot water, as desired. I have found using the liquid version is the best way to thoroughly clean your clothes, especially cloth diapers. The raw nuts didn’t seem to agitate enough to clean my diapers thoroughly so I tried making the liquid soap and my problem was solved. Wonderfully clean diapers!

For Steam Cleaning Carpets: According to NaturOli, Soap nuts work exceptionally well in carpet cleaners because they are so low sudsing and odor reducing. Add about a quarter cup of soap nut liquid to hot water in the portable cleaner. Great for urine stains!

You can also purchase the Liquid Extreme 18X version of soap nuts and use that in replacement of the homemade soap nuts liquid above. That is a bit more expensive but definitely makes it easier! You will be able to use a lot less as well because it is a concentrated liquid.

Soap nuts are definitely simplifying my life over here for all their usefulness!

For the best deals on soap nuts, visit NaturOli.

Please note: Passionate Homemaking is an affiliate of NaturOli and will receive a percentage of each purchase made through our links. Thanks for your support!

Stay tuned for our upcoming Natural Housecleaning Carnival this Friday!

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My Favorite Frugal & Re-Purposed Housecleaning Tools

Picture 3This week we are focusing on natural housecleaning in preparation for the Natural Housecleaning Carnival this Friday! If you haven’t heard about it, check it out and prepare all your tips and recommendations.

I wanted to share with you three different frugal and effective housecleaning tools. I am always looking for ways to re-purpose and reuse items after their original purpose been spent. Two of the three ideas accomplish that to the fullest extent!

Scotch Brite Scour Pads

Picture 1 Scotch Brite Scour Pads are very useful when you need a good scrubbing for various housecleaning tasks. I keep one at the kitchen sink for all my dishwashing needs. I have used many different scrub brushes over the years specially designed for the task but they don’t work as well. The Scotch Brite (or green scratchy as I call it) works so well on scrubbing all the leftovers off both my stainless steel cookware and my favorite hard anodized non-stick pan and everything else. I use it to scrub all the gunk off my stove top as well. When you have some dried food product on a glass or plate, the green scratchy saves me so much more time and energy because it scrubs effectively. No intense elbow grease needed here! I also keep one in my cleaning bucket for those tough water stains in the toilet or bathtub.

Make sure to get the variety that has the green heavy duty scour pads on both sides for ease of use and effectiveness. I have found the blue softer side on the other variety to be pretty worthless. They are very cheap and are available everywhere. Tip: You can wash them in the laundry multiple times before they start falling apart, thus stretching your dollar. Also, just make sure to wash the dishwashing pad from the cleaning bucket one. ;)

Re-Purpose an Old Toothbrush

Picture 4When your toothbrush has seen better days, before throwing it into the trash, consider adding this useful tool to your cleaning bucket or by your kitchen sink. A toothbrush is a good instrument for getting into all the crooks and crannies of housecleaning. Scrubbing around the toilet or sink, drain and cover, faucets, in the tracks of sliding shower doors or windows, tile grout, or any small hard to access places. Keep one in the kitchen for cleaning the wheels on your can opener, baby bottle lids or sippy cups,

Handy Dandy T-Shirts

When your old t-shirts have pass their prime, re-purpose them for cleaning your house! My husband’s old cotton undershirts are my favorite housecleaning rag! I just cut or tear each shirt into four rags. They work great for all my needs including windows. I have completely eliminated paper towels from my house because I didn’t like the waste, so t-shirts is my substitute. Surprisingly, they leave very little lint behind.

Those are my favorite tools. What are yours?

This post is a part of Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.
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Safe Paint for Your Home

Picture 3I love how a fresh coat of paint is such a simple way to transform your house more into a home. Whenever we have painted rooms in our home in the past, we have always been overwhelmed by the intense smell of fresh paint, to the extent that you just knew it was bad for you. Did you know that while adding color to a room, you are also slapping on lead, formaldehyde, benzene, toluene and xylene-all potentially hazardous to your health? These neurotoxins are powerful enough to vaporize into the air you breathe. After automobiles, paint and its companions are the second highest source of VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions. The smells tend to stick around upwards of a week as the paint dries but can last up to three months. That is three months of exposure to toxic chemicals!

We recently painted our children’s bedroom and were thrilled to discover that there are several high quality chemical free paints on the market that are safer for your home and the environment. We were also pleasantly surprised to find these alternatives to be comparable in price to the conventional brands. Now that it is finally painted (it has been white walls for three years now!), we truly feel more settled in to our home and I love it!

What to Choose & Understanding the Labels

  • Natural paints and finishes: Using a paint that is made from natural raw ingredients will produce a paint that gives off no smell. This is the ideal and safest choice if you have access to it (see sources below), but will be more expensive than the other options. Ingredients include: plant dyes, oils and resins; minerals such as clay, chalk and talcum; natural oils and waxes such a bee’s wax; milk casein and natural latex.
  • Zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) : This paint meets the EPA Standard of 5 g/L (grams per litre) or less. It appears that it can still have some chemicals though (learn more about this debate here). Pigments will increase the VOC ratio.
  • Low-VOC: This paint meets the EPA minimum requirement of no more than 250 g/L and no more than 80 g/L for oil based paint to be consider low-VOC. These paints, stains and varnishes use water as a carrier, contain no petroleum-based solvents and have very low levels of heavy metals and formaldehyde. So it can still have an off-gassing effect, just not as significant as conventional paint. Look for paints with the Green Seal Standard (GS-11) certification or the Green Guard Air Control label. Pigments will increase the VOC ratio.
  • So next time you are considering doing a little redecoration in your home, check out these safer alternatives.

    Safer Paint Alternatives

    Acro Pure by Miller Paints (Oregon & Washington) is described by the company as being “free of anything inappropriate, contaminating, extraneous, polluting, or impure.” A buy 1 get 1 free coupon is available in the Chinook book, which was an incredible deal, saving us $30.  Acro Pure is green seal certified and contains ZERO-VOC. The label says absolutely 0 g/L. There was a very slight smell when originally applying but it went away within a few minutes. I was told the smell would be a result of the pigments but not the base.
    by Rodda Paint (Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon & Washington) – A buy 1 get 1 free coupon is available in the Chinook book as well.
    Old Fashioned Milk Paint – All natural milk casein based paints with earth pigments. Completely natural option that I will be trying next time.
    Green Planet Paints – Another mineral based paint.
    Homestead House Paint Company (Canada)

    For a complete guide on 35 eco-friendly paints, visit Eco-Friendly Paint, The Complete Guide.

    Have you used any of these alternatives? What were your results?

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    Simplifying Your Book Collection

    booksChristina asked: I had a question on how to simplify my bookshelves. I went to conferences on the value of collecting and keeping godly books and lets just say I’ve gotten quite a collection! How do you determine what books should be saved? My Aunt said the likelihood of my reading a book twice is minimal so I should just get rid of all of my books. But others say there may be books I want my future children to read for a “generational library” and that godly books are hard to come by! I definitely want to de-clutter my shelves but I really have no clue how to go about it! Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!!!

    Books! Oh glorious books! I am a huge fan of reading myself and it can be easy to amass a large collection, especially if you practice frugal book reading and buying practices. It is definitely very wise to collect books, especially if you can choose them carefully. Books can be very dangerous as well. It is best to take wise precautions and ask thoughtful questions before even purchasing a book. These same questions can be asked as you simplify your collection.

    Is this book beneficial and edifying?
    Would I or did I grow as a result of this read?
    Or is/was it fluffy (light in truth and not really stretching my understanding)?
    Would I read it again?
    Would this book help build mine or my children’s intellect as a result of this read?
    Did it stretch me?

    Does this book truthfully retell history?
    Does this really deserve a place on my shelf?

    Books you will find on my bookshelf include: Christian living (not just light weight books but books that really challenge and grow me spiritually), Bible-study helps, historical books (learn from history or we shall be doomed to repeat it – books that truthfully detail the past), good solid classics (that we enjoy as a family and/or my children will benefit from in the future), and lots of biographies. I love learning about the lives of those who have gone before me, especially missionary biographies. I honestly have only a few select fictional books.

    There is definitely a place for fun and light reading, especially on those nights when you can’t sleep, but those books can easily be found at the library and do not need to take up space on your shelves.

    If a book really truly deserves a place on your shelf, make sure it gets good use after you have completed it. Loan out your books to family and friends. Start a loaning library or donate books to your church’s library. Share your books and see others be blessed as a result. This is one simple way of being generous! Don’t just let them sit and collect dust for years…make them worth the purchase!

    If a book does not deserve a place on your shelf, pass it on! Sell it on Cash4Books or Ebay or simply give it away.

    Simplifying the Home School Resource Collection

    For all the home school mommies out there, consider giving your input on simplifying the home school resources collection. Some of the above evaluation questions may be helpful, but I would love to hear from those with a bit more experience than I. ;)

    Heather asked: I have 7 children and we are relaxed homeschoolers, so the education of my children partially depends on the material we have just hanging around our house, so I keep alot of books. I do use the library, but I also purchase many. There is no telling what the children will be interested in the next day. So getting rid of books is tough. Do you have any helpful guidelines on keeping/getting rid of books?

    What tips do you have to share on managing the book collections? Do you have any specific tips for managing home school resources? Please share!

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    Slowing Down

    Karis & Aaron enjoying the quiet streams..

    Karis & Aaron enjoying the quiet streams..Aug 08

    “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.” Psalm 23:1-2

    He lets me rest in green meadows. Did you hear that? God desires for us to slow down and take time to rest. He designed it that way! He calls us to rest! Everything is damaged by hurry. Speed does not yield devotion. The more hurried our pace, the less intimate we will feel in relationship to God or any other relationship. Hurry damages intimacy in every relationship. Jesus was never in a hurry. You never hear about him running. He was always sitting down to teach or reclining at meals. You even hear about him sleeping in a boat while a storm ragged around him.

    Richard Swenson says in his book The Overload Syndrome, “I have thought long and hard about the issue of speed and have come to believe that it is as much responsible for the problem of personal and societal dysfunction as any other single factor. Virtually all of our relationships are damaged by hurry…I think I would not be far wrong if I were to postulate [say] that our sense of the presence of God is in inverse proportion to the pace of our lives.”

    Nancy Leigh Demoss shares in her radio program, titled Slowing Down, “Hurry just is not conducive to godliness. It’s not Christ-like. It’s not conducive to healthy relationships. It’s not conducive to spiritual growth. Godliness and intimacy with God are not cultivated on the run. They require time, meditation, focused attention.”

    I encourage you to read the full program or listen to it here.

    Let’s not get too wrapped up in that to-do list. Take time to just enjoy your family. Spend time sitting at the Master’s feet rather than being the busy Martha in the kitchen. I’m preaching to myself today!

    This is another call to the simple lifestyle…

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    Frugal & Fun Makeshift Kiddy Pool


    We decided to be creative while trying to bear the heat of the summer this year by making our own kiddy pool. We took a under the bed plastic storage bin which had been storing random pieces of clothing and filled it with water for our own makeshift pool. Karis loves it and has a blast in it for most of the day during a few heat waves we have had this summer. Works great for small spaces as well as we are limited on our condo patio. We replace the lid when not in use to prevent the water from getting dirty, but also to save the water! In the winter, I want to transform it into a sand box. We will probably keep it on the deck but may also experiment with bringing it into the kitchen for some winter fun.

    Have you been keeping cool? How are you enjoying the summer?

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    Setting Up & Harvesting Your Own Worm Composting Bin

    My good rich compost!

    My good rich compost!

    I began my own composting bin this past February using the helpful starting kit offered through Azure Standard. It is actually a very good deal and an easy way that kicked me into gear to start saving my food scraps and turning them into lovely new nutritious soil. But, you can easily set up your own bin with a few basic supplies. I have finally gotten around to figuring out a simple method of harvesting my bin as it was definitely overdue. I wanted to share a few tips with you that I have learned in the process.

    Why Worm Compost?

    1. No waste! You can use the majority of your food scraps (no meat or dairy) and put them to good use. Composting is all about re-using and recycling! Since beginning composting, we have decreased our garbage quantity significantly. Previously we would fill up the kitchen garbage in one week, but now we can easily stretch it to every two weeks. So it saves money!

    2. Turn your food scraps into rich organic soil. If you don’t have a garden or can’t use it all yourself, this rich soil can be a great gift to a neighbor or local farmer. Your offer will not be turned down.

    3. Worms are fast, efficient, and odorless. The only cause of odor in your bin will be if you add meat or dairy scraps. Avoid these products, bury your scraps well, and your bin will be perfectly odorless!

    4. Worms are self-propagating. You only need to purchase worms once and then they will multiply on their own! You will have a continual supply of good rich compost.

    Continue Reading →

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    Chicken & Bacon Shish Kabobs


    We had a fun time hosting a neighborhood BBQ at our home on Sunday evening. We served these delicious shish kabobs and I just had to pass on the recipe to you all. They include marinated chicken chunks wrapped in bacon and barbaqued on the grill. You can skip the marinade if desired. We recommend a naturally fermented soy sauce (learn more here) and add more vegetables (cherry tomatoes, green & red peppers, yellow onions). They were awesome! Try the recipe here. We use apple smoked nitrate free bacon from Trader Joes’s, which is fabulous! We also picked up the fresh vegetables (green peppers, onions, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes at our local farmer’s market. This was a fun company meal!

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    Healthy Appetizers: Bruschetta

    IMG_6274I love making fresh bruschetta as a delightful appetizer during the summer months when fresh tomatoes and basil are coming off the vines. This is traditional bruschetta with a marinating twist. We served this while having a neighborhood BBQ party at our home on Sunday and everyone loved it! Enjoy!

    4-5 tomatoes, roma is preferred
    2-3 Tablespoons fresh basil
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    2-3 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    1/2 red or yellow onion, chopped (red onion is best!)
    2 Tablespoons olive oil
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    salt & pepper to taste
    Serve alone or on bread of your choice – We love serving it on baguettes that have been lightly pre-toasted in the oven with olive oil brushed on them. You could also use flatbread or french bread.

    In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients above and allow to marinate for several hours, preferably overnight. If using baguettes, thinly slice baguette bread and brush with olive oil. Toast in the oven at 425 degrees for 5 minutes or so. Remove bread from oven when it is slightly firm to touch. Scoop a spoonful of the marinated bruschetta on each slice of bread. Return to oven and allow to broil for another 5-8 minutes, until warm. Top with additional parmesan, if desired. Enjoy!

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