How to Clean Stinky Towels – Without Harsh Chemicals

by Tiffany in A Green Home

One of the things I miss about living in the Southwest is the fact that we never, ever had to deal with things like mildew and stinky towels. As a child, bathing suits and towels could be tossed on the carpet all willy nilly and only an hour or two later they would be crunchy and bone dry. Mildew didn’t stand a chance. Later when I was cloth diapering my babes I had the luxury of being able to let the diapers sit in the diaper pail for a week or longer with no smell and no mildew. The first time I tried that after moving to Ohio…well let’s just say it didn’t end well. There was a noxious smell, there was mildew, and there were bugs. Argh!

We also learned that you don’t leave wet bathing suits and towels lay around and every so often your towels start to smell mildewy no matter if you wash and dry them on hot repeatedly. The first time this happened we ended up throwing them out because I thought it was hopeless without the use of something harsh like bleach. Well, we started to notice the same issue with our towels recently and since so many are organic and/or a super luxurious bamboo I did not want to throw them out. Didn’t want to bleach them either. Time to get creative!

With some tips from Facebook friends I had a game plan, and it worked! Yay for clean smelling towels!! But why in the heck do they get stinky in the first place?? We do let our towels sit wet in the bathroom between showers/baths so that doesn’t help, even though they are on a hanging rack. I also think that they have a tendency to get stinky for the same reason cloth diapers do…a detergent buildup. Cloth diapers need to be “stripped” every so often to get rid of detergent scum/buildup and so do towels.

How to Get Rid of the Mildew Smell in Bath Towels

  • Wash with hot water, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 10 drops tea tree oil
  • Rinse with 1 cup vinegar
  • Repeat wash/rinse (tea tree oil optional for the 2nd go round)
  • Dry on hottest setting or dry outside in direct sunlight

This method worked wonders for me! Even after using the same towel over several days, no mildew smell. Now I just need to use this method every time I wash towels over the next 1-2 weeks to make sure I got them all.

Do you ever have this issue? How do you handle it?

How to Clean Stinky Towels


All Natural Head Lice Remedies

by Tiffany in Beauty, Health & Healing

All Natural Head Lice RemediespinA few months back now my family had its first ever bout with the big bad…head lice. I managed to go through my entire life without ever having had lice or even having it in my house. Luckily, I can still say I have never personally had lice but one of my kids did get a visit from these little guys and I was at a loss about what to do since I have zero experience with this issue. As the digital mom that I am, I sought advice from Facebook about natural – pesticide free – ways to get rid of these scary goobers. I say scary because they managed to reduce my child’s head to a bloody mass of scabs from biting and my child’s scratching. To make matters worse, we actually got the lice from a neighbor kid who had them, spent the night at our house (in my child’s bed), and never bothered to inform us. Ugh!

Anyway, from Facebook I was able to figure out that tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and vinegar would be my go-to resources for this adventure. The oils are hated by lice and they are also helpful in killing them. Vinegar would help dissolve the glue that the lice use to “stick” their nits on your hair shafts. I ended up making a list of all the stuff I found helpful…

Natural Ways to Remedy Head Lice

  • Peppermint Oil
  • Tea tree Oil
  • Oregano Oil
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Coconut oil, another vegetable oil, or mayo – smothers lice – apply to hair and wrap with plastic wrap
  • Flat Iron – To melt the nits “glue”
  • A nit comb – or as I prefer, a metal flea comb from the pet store

We wanted to avoid conventional lice treatments for obvious reasons. They are pesticide based and if we work so hard to eat foods without pesticides and wear clothing grown from cotton without pesticides then it only goes to follow that putting it on our children’s heads will just not do. We also found that the tiny plastic combs sold as lice combs were nearly useless. The metal flea combs found online or at pet stores are more durable, the spaces between slats are smaller, and the one we chose actually has a double row of teeth. We compared it to the plastic lice comb from the drugstore and it was so much more effective with pulling lice and nits from the hair.

Once armed with our flea comb I made my own lice shampoo and guessed on the proportions.

All Natural Head Lice Shampoo Treatment

  • 1 Quart size ball jar
  • 1 Tablespoon (1 squirt) Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap
  • 8-10 Drops tea tree oil (we use Trader Joe’s brand)
  • Fill jar to top with water, shake before each use.
  • Rinse with vinegar and let sit in hair for 5 minutes. Plastic wrap is optional (we didn’t use it)
  • Comb hair with flea comb or lice comb

We spent 1-2 hours each night doing this whole process and we did it every night for about 2 weeks. Getting that pesticide lice treatment would have been a whole lot easier, I will grant you that. It is not necessary though. Suzanne at Mommy Footprint shared on Facebook a theory that perhaps kids whose hair was washed less frequently and with non-conventional shampoos (no poo) were better safe guarded from lice. Smart Mama kind of confirmed by saying that lice cannot stick as well to hair that is “dirty” or containing the natural oils it is meant to be coated with. Very interesting! Perhaps my kiddo’s no poo hair may have helped us avoid lice until now but when the infestation is on your pillow (thanks to the aforementioned sleepover) I think the deck is stacked against you.

For bedding and stuffed toys we simply washed in hot water with a few drops of tea oil thrown in. We also dried everything on hot. We could have also dried them with a washcloth containing a few drops of tea tree oil or peppermint oil but I did not think of it at the time. If there is a next time though, we will be set!

** A reader also recommended Lice Shield Leave in Spray. It is supposedly made up of natural essential oils but I cannot find a full ingredients list so you may or may not want to check that out. LiceMD is also highly recommended and it is pesticide free.

Have you experienced head lice? Do you have any tips to share?

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30 Day Clean & Green Kitchen Plan

by Tiffany in Green Cleaning

30 Day Clean Green Kitchen PlanCleaning the kitchen is one of those things that I know needs to be broken down into daily tasks but an actual plan of action seems to elude me. I always seem to get the bare minimum done… aka cleaning the counters so I can prepare the day’s meals or loading/unloading the dishwasher so we have clean dishes to eat off of. But cleaning the spray off the backsplash and stove, wiping down the walls, or cleaning up stray peas underneath the kitchen table… forget it! This year I totally planned to hire someone to clean the kitchen for me 2-3 times a month but contributing to our retirement accounts before the deadline has taken precedence. It’s always something. Even though I LOVE the idea of having outside help, and I DO hire someone a couple times a year, I really struggle with forking over money for something I can do myself.

So I decided to sit down and write out a 30 day plan to see if I can tackle this once and for all. We shall see how it goes. I figure each item should only take 10-15 minutes tops and it will hopefully help me stay on top of the kitchen so it never gets so bad I decide that takeout sounds like the best option. I plan to hang this on the fridge and check things off each day after the relevant task is accomplished. I have my bottle of vinegar, castile soap, and tea tree oil at the ready. I also acquired a Neato Automatic Vacuum Cleaner that will clean of debris from my kitchen floor for me. I just have to remember to press the button at least once a day and “Cheese” as my son lovingly named him, will cleanup those stray peas for me. As a bonus he will even clean the rest of the first floor! I highly recommend a Neato if it is in the budget.

So…assuming that I can make the time to wipe down counters and do the dishes daily here are my 30 day tasks…

1. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
2. Wipe down and de-grease cabinets
3. Mop floor
4. Wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
5. Deep clean and shine sink
6. Clean the trash can inside and out
7. Clean drawers and declutter counters
8. Mop Floor
9. Wipe down all walls and baseboards
10. Clean out the fridge/freezer
11. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
12. Clean under the fridge and stove
13. Mop floor
14. Deep clean and shine sink
15. Wipe down and de-grease cabinets
16. Clean windows and sills
17. Clean out the pantry
18. Mop floor
19. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
20. Deep clean and shine sink
21. Deep clean stove
22. Wipe down interior of cabinets and pantry
23. Mop floor, wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
24. Wipe down all walls and baseboards
25. Dust light fixtures and vent covers
26. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
27. Deep clean and shine sink
28. Mop floor
29. Organize pots and pans
30. Wipe down and de-grease the backsplash

Do you have any advice or tips to offer?


The Healing Powers of Cinnamon

by Tiffany in Essential Oils

Healing Powers of CinnamonThis time of year many people love to smell cinnamon and eat dishes that use this aromatic spice. We use it to bake apples, apple pies, pumpkin pies, etc. A house that smells of cinnamon makes us feel warm and content. It has a long history of use in baking yummy desserts and it is one of the oldest known spices. It has a long history as an herbal remedy for colds, flu, and digestive issues. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we gravitate towards foods with cinnamon as temperatures dip and the chance for exposure to colds and illnesses increases.

Cinnamon oil is 90% comprised of a pale yellow oily liquid called eugenol. This makes it antiseptic and antibacterial. This is also what is responsible for its reviving effects and immune boosting properties. The peppery, spicy aroma of cinnamon is perfect for helping to restore anyone who is feeling cold, weak, or tired. It has a stimulating effect on our mind and body and is thus effective in treating stress too. So how can you go beyond using cinnamon in your apple recipe to using it therapeutically?

Cinnamon oil is the most common way to utilize cinnamon but you might want to test a small section of your skin before you go whole hog, because it is some strong stuff and can cause irritation. You also should not use it while pregnant.

The essential oil can be placed in a carrier oil and then be massaged into the skin for help with digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and diarrhea. You can also put it on a warm compress for the abdomen. Since it is stimulating it can also be used on the extremities to improve circulation. Put some in a foot bath to revive tired or numb feet.

Use it as a room fragrance for a mood boost and to fumigate the room against infectants and illnesses. Cinnamon paired with a citrus scent like lemon or sweet orange smells divine! Cinnamon oil, tea tree oil, and lemon oil would make a great antiviral combo to go inside your vaporizer and hep fight against germs and bugs.

Inevitably when the germs start to make thier way into the house this fall and winter think about giving this medicinal herb a try. Enjoy!

Related: The Healing Power of Cloves

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

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Natural Sunburn Remedies

by Tiffany in Health & Healing

Natural Sunburn RemediesIn the past few weeks I have already gone over some of the things we can do to avoid getting a sunburn such as covering up or using a safe sunscreen. In addition to those things we also need to be spending some time in the sun unprotected each day… about 10-20 minutes, so that our bodies can absorb Vitamin D. This will help protect us from burning when we spend more time in the sun. A healthy diet will also help prevent burns. Our diet should be rich in healthy fats and foods with Vitamin C, D, E, Carotenoids, and Lycopene. These are sun safety foods.

But what do we do when we end up getting burned anyway? It happens.

Well, there are some natural ways to reduce skin damage and help soothe your irritated skin. You can buy a couple products that claim to soothe sunburned skin but the two front runners.. Burt’s Bees After Sun Soother and Kiss My Face Sun Soother both scored a moderate hazard on EWG’s safety database (5,3). Depending on how rarely you need to use products like these that may be acceptable.. or not. You can also make your own using a couple natural remedies and since the ingredients are so useful to have on hand anyway… why not?

* Take a cool shower, air dry a bit and then rub coconut oil on the burned areas to seal in moisture.

* Hydrate with lots of water and fresh juices and use cool compresses.

* Mix a couple drops of Lavender essential oil with plain yogurt and rub on the affected area.

* Apply cool cucumber slices.

* Apply cooled chamomile tea compresses.

* Spray skin with vinegar and tea tree oil.

* Mix together Aloe Vera, coconut oil, and Vitamin E oil and rub on skin.

* Mix Aloe Vera with about 10 drops of peppermint oil and use a spray bottle to apply to skin.

Aloe Vera is a super powerful healing ingredient, and coconut oil and vitamin E will help moisturize, soothe, and heal. Peppermint and Chamomile help soothe as well. It is best to use products on your skin that you could also eat if you wanted to, organic too.

What do you do to soothe sunburned skin?