Our rivers and oceans are under constant threat from fertilizer and weed-kill chemicals that run off from treated soils, and from chemical cleaners and prescription medicines that are being disposed of in our household water supplies. As a result, the concept of green living has naturally progressed to green cleaning.
Many of the ingredients needed for homemade cleaning products are probably in your kitchen cabinets right now. These recipes use vinegar, olive oil, coconut oil, fresh citrus juice or baking soda. To add a clean and fresh scent, you can use essential oils or infuse the vinegar with fresh herbs, or citrus fruit rinds.
1. Stubborn Drains: Would you believe that baking soda, citrus fruit peels, vinegar and boiling water could be just as effective as a bottle of Drano, but less expensive and less harmful to your eyes and skin? It’s true! You can even trust that it is safe enough to use it around your children, pets, and plants. You’ve probably seen the vinegar and baking soda volcanos made for childrens’ science fair projects, and the principal is the same except instead of letting it bubble into the sink or tub, you cover it and let it bubble down into the drain.
2. Fabric Softener: This one is so simple you don’t even have to mix anything. It involves hanging your clothes out on a line just before a summer rain and letting them hang until they are dry. The rain will give them a fresh clean scent that costs you nothing, and it works to soften the fabrics without breaking it down as the heat from a drying can do.
If you must dry your clothes in a dryer, you can make your own dryer sheets using leftover fabric squares or old cut up sheets. Simply put the squares in a jar with vinegar and a few drops of whatever essential oil scent you choose. When you need to use one, just wring out the excess liquid and toss it in the dryer with your clothes. When it comes out with the clothes, just put it back in the jar to use another day.
3. Antibacterial Cleaners: With natural anti-bacterial properties, citrus fruits are acidic enough to be used on every surface in your kitchen and bathroom. Using the peels of lemons or grapefruit, you can infuse vinegar before putting it in a spray bottle with water. You can also infuse vinegar with fresh sage. It has not only antibacterial properties but also antimicrobial properties against E. coli and Salmonella typhi.
4. An All Purpose Cleaner: Vinegar and water can do almost all the cleaning in your house that you want (but it is not recommended for use on marble or travertine). Adding a touch of fresh citrus juice or an essential oil will also give your home a fresh smell. You can also use fresh herbs or citrus peel to infuse your vinegar before diluting it with water in a spray bottle.
5. A Moisturizing Dust Spray: For a simply spray that will replace your store-bought (and aerosol) furniture dust spray, use one cup water, ¼ cup distilled vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 15 drops of an essential oil in your favorite scent combined in a spray bottle. Shake prior to a quick spritz on surfaces that need dusting and wipe off with a clean cloth.
6. Coconut Oil: Not just a healthy oil substitute for you, coconut oil is an incredible household jack-of- all-trades! You can create a 50/50 mix with lemon juice and use it as a furniture polish, or use it to remove stubborn spots from carpets. Use it to condition wooden cutting boards and utensils, and to remove rust from scissors and knives. It can be used to polish leather jackets, boots, and shoes, and to remove sticky label adhesive.
As green living becomes closer every day to being the “norm,” new ways of green living are developed. Substitutes for toxic cleaners and chemicals are being found that use natural materials and are better than or as effective as the “man-made” chemicals. More and more families are choosing to “homestead” by growing their own fruits and vegetables, and canning, freezing, or air-tight sealing their harvests. Hybrid cars are becoming more affordable, and soon new houses will be built with solar roofs as a standard.
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective”. Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.
The Drifter Collective: An eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us.
Decluttering does not have to be be overly complicated. You may want to devote some time to decluttering and organizing without the time that it takes to Konmari everything. If you work from a list of easy hotspots and items to get rid of you can tackle those areas specifically and just work a few each day. Day one, start with old makeup, perfume, and toiletries. Day two, move on to old mail and magazines, etc.
Things to Get Rid Of Right Now
- Old/unused makeup
- Old or unwanted perfume
- Old magazines
- Expired food
- Worn sheets
- Mismatched or worn socks
- Worn/ripped towels
- Broken toys
- Old cell phones
- Outgrown clothing and shoes
- Clothing that never gets worn
- Old spices
- Freezer burned or unidentifiable frozen food
- Old mail
- Scratched DVDs
- Eyeglasses with outdated prescription
- Old remote controls
- Hobby supplies for hobbies you no longer devote time to
- Books you don’t plan to read or reference again
- Expired medication
- Instruction manuals you don’t need anymore
- Miscellaneous cables, cords and wires
- Vases you don’t use
- Broken or duplicate kitchen tools
- Old or expired toiletries
- Storage containers without lids
- Chipped dishes and coffee cups
- Old or unused membership cards rewards cards
- Old calendars and greeting cards
- Anything on your frig you no longer need (notes, coupons, awards)
- Old software disks
- Board games you don’t play
- Old textbooks
- Old paint and home improvement supplies
- Unwanted gifts
- Blankets and sheets you never use
Less really is more, especially when it comes to practicing minimalism in the kitchen. And while there are hundreds of books and magazines that can steer you towards creating the ideal minimalist kitchen, the truth is that most of us don’t have the time or resources to spend on remodeling or even on purchasing new equipment.
The good news is that practicing minimalism in the kitchen does not require that you spend big bucks. It’s all about getting back to basics and eliminating all the extemporaneous things from your space. You can achieve the clutter free existence and peace of mind that come from minimalism simply by cleaning, re-organizing and rethinking the space and equipment that you already have.
Step #1: Rethink Your Stuff
In order to practice minimalism, you are going to have to rethink everything that you have in your kitchen. That means emptying out your cupboards – all of your cupboards – and deciding whether or not the items are truly worth the effort of keeping them clean and the space of storing them.
As you take each thing out of your cupboard, ask yourself how long it has been since you used it. If it has been longer than a year, out it goes. Feel free to sell it if it is still in good condition. But by no means allow it to clutter up your cupboard or counter space any longer.
Now, before you put anything back onto or into your cupboards, remove it from the kitchen altogether, because before you can truly go minimalist in your kitchen, you will need to clean out and rethink your space and what it is used for.
Step #2: Clean Out Your Space
Before you put even one item back into or onto your cupboards, it’s time to clean your space from floor to ceiling. Grab some vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. While you’re at it, repaint or resurface the counters if you can afford it (you can find both paint and resurfacing materials at most do-it-yourself home goods stores).
Take this opportunity to fill in any nail holes, replace light bulbs and clean out any light fixtures as well. You see, practicing minimalism brings the focus on the basics; the floors, the surfaces, the walls, and you want these to be clean and in good repair and not draw your attention because of the dirt or flaws.
Step #3: Rethink and Reorganize Your Space.
If you are like most of us, you probably weren’t blessed with a professional sized kitchen that enough room to store all of your gadgets and foodstuffs out of sight, leaving your kitchen clutter free. While going through your items will help reduce the clutter, reorganizing your space will reduce that clutter even further.
And while we are on the subject, just because you have always used a particular cupboard to store pots and pans in does not mean that you have to continue to do so. While your cupboard and counter spaces are empty, take a good hard look at every surface and determine what would best fit and how it could best be used.
Designate specific cupboards for specific uses (food storage, pan storage, dishes, electronic items etc.) Then only allow yourself to put as much into that cupboard as can comfortably fit. Do not stack things to the point that they fall out if you open up the cupboard door. If you have too much to fit comfortable, weed out the excess, keeping only as much as you actually need to get the job done.
Putting It All Together
With just three simple steps, you too can find yourself living with a minimalist kitchen where the focus is on the food and its preparation and where your attention is not diverted by dust collectors or prevented by having to work around gadgets and gizmos that you never use anymore. Now sit back and enjoy preparing and eating your food with the peace of mind that only a minimalist, clutter free kitchen can bring you.
Lavender is known as the swiss army knife of essential oils. It can be used for so many different things. This gorgeous regal flower is well known for its abilities to soothe (body and mind), help us find relaxation and calm, support sleep, and provide us with a fantastic flowery aroma. When a child is restless out comes the lavender. When my skin comes into contact with a hot pan in the kitchen, out comes the lavender. I use it for so many things that I carry it in my purse.
Lavender oil has many therapeutic uses but it can also be used for cleaning in the home. Generally when you think about cleaning with essential oils there are some other contenders that usually top the list…melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree), eucalyptus, a Thieves blend, and rosemary. Some of these oils have a strong medicinal scent though and lavender makes a great addition that will give your homemade cleaning products a flowery scent that everyone will enjoy. I grow lavender flowers in my backyard to use around the house for cleaning and I keep lavender oil on hand and at all times for cleaning uses.
Cleaning and Deodorizing Carpets and Mattresses with Lavender Oil
Lavender is antibacterial which makes it a great cleaner and germ fighter it is own right. It also deodorizers with a powerful flowery aroma. It is perfect for cleaning in areas that tend to get stinky. Carpets for instance, tend to harbor stinky bacteria. To deodorize and freshen up carpets and rugs just add 10 drops of lavender oil to a cup of baking soda, mix well and sprinkle on the carpet. Let sit for an hour or more and then vacuum up. Your house and carpet will smell amazing and the lavender oil will continue to fights germs in your carpets. I have also been known to add lavender oil to a small bit of unscented castile soap and then add that mixture to my carpet cleaner.
For mattresses you do the same, sprinkle the baking soda and lavender mixture on your naked mattress. Leave it on for an our and then use the house attachment on your vacuum to clean it up. This makes your mattress smell good, it draws away moisture and dirt, and it helps deter dust mites. The lovely scent might also help you get to sleep faster. Bonus!
Disinfect Surfaces With Lavender Oil
The antibacterial properties of this oil make it just as efficient for surface cleaning. Use it to clean countertops, tables, stoves, and other surfaces. Take two cups of white vinegar and 3 drops of lavender and 2 drops of lemon. Spray surfaces and clean as usual.
You can also make this same cleaner by soaking lavender flowers and lemon peels in vinegar.
Clean Laundry With Lavender
Never buy fabric softener or dryer sheets to make your clothes smell nice. They are loaded with chemical nasties. Try lavender instead! Add a few drops to your washing machine and a few drops to a dry washcloth or dryer ball and place it in the dryer. You can also use dried lavender flowers in a muslin sachet. When the scent starts to die away I add a few drops of lavender oil and keep using it. My clothes smell amazing!
Keep Bugs Away With Lavender Oil
This oil is a great pest repellent. Add lavender oil to a cotton ball or reusable cotton round and place in drawers, cupboards, under beds, in closets, etc. Very helpful if you have moths and other bugs that like to congregate in these places.
Freshen the Air With Lavender Oil
You can make a DIY room spray with lavender oil. Mix an ounce of witch hazel with a couple ounces of distilled water and 10 drops lavender oil. Or try 5 drops lavender and 5 drops lime. Yum! Spray as needed.
An even better way to freshen the air though is with a diffuser. You add water and oils and the diffuser does all the work. You can make your home smell amazing in minutes!
Citrus fruits are actually quite amazing. Not only are they delicious and refreshing to eat they have many other household uses as well. One of their most powerful side uses is their ability to clean your home.
When you have a tough cleaning job you need to do, you may automatically think you need a heavy duty commercial cleaner to get the job done right. Well, not only are those cleaners laden with chemicals that are not healthy for you and your family they are also very harsh and abrasive. Citrus fruits are a cleaning powerhouse that you should consider instead.
The natural ingredients of a citrus fruit can clean just as effectively as harsh, conventional cleaners without the harmful side effects. They are completely biodegradable and safe for use in your home. You never need to worry about your child’s exposure to lemons on a floor you just cleaned. And a big bonus is that they smell great too!
Here are just some of the ways you can use citrus to clean your home:
• Clean your garbage disposal and keep it smelling fresh with citrus. Drop a handful of citrus peels (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit) into your garbage disposal and run it with the cold water turned on. The citric acid will help deodorize your disposal and leave it smelling fresh.
• Use citrus as a degreaser wherever you have greasy build-up such as the stove, the outdoor grill, and the garage. Some major cruise ship lines are even using citrus a degreaser for their engine rooms!
• Make a citrus and vinegar all purpose cleaner. Just fill a jar with citrus peels and cover in white vinegar. Let is brew for four weeks, giving it an occasional shake. After four weeks, strain out the peels, dilute, and use to clean stovetops, bathroom surfaces, mirrors, and floors. You can even throw some in the laundry to give your whites a boost.
• Toss some orange or lemon peels in your wood burning fireplace to give the room a nice, fresh smell.
• Remove stains from enamel pots by filling ¾ full of water, adding a handful of citrus peels and boiling for 15 minutes.
• Put a used lemon half in your dishwasher to cut grease on your dishes.
• Use half a lemon to rub stainless steel draining boards and taps. Leave on for a few minutes and then rinse and shine.
• Mix some olive oil and lemon juice together and put in a spray bottle. Use the mixture to clean hard wood furniture, rubbing and then drying with a cloth rag.
• Use lemon juice to clean and shine brass and copper.
• Squeeze a little lemon juice on stained clothing or cloth diapers and set out in the sun to bleach away the stain.
• Mix lemon or lime juice with baking soda and vinegar to create a paste that will cut through soap scum and dissolve grime in bathtubs and sinks.
• Use Lemon essential oil and Purification essential oil blend in a diffuser. This clears away any bad smells and makes your house smell incredible! As an added bonus it helps kill off germs. Both of these oils can be obtained from Young Living.
When life throws a mess your way, break out the lemons!