Over disinfecting

antibacterial

Kitchen Cleaner?

Are you still using antibacterial soap and cleaners in your home? My family has been opting out of both for a while now, and I just assume everyone lives like we do. But recently a friend of mine sent me this FAQ titled, Ditch Disinfectants, by Dr. Andrew Weil. I thought I would share the article because is has a lot of good information about how the ingredients in disinfectants, triclosan in particular, are building up in the environment and, “potentially making germs tougher and more harmful to us.” If you’ve never heard of him, Dr. Weil describes himself as a, “world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit.” The FAQ is really interesting, stating that antibacterial products are not, “necessary except in nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare settings where there is a high risk of spreading infections from person to person. There’s no proof that the antibacterial soaps and washes marketed for home use serve any useful purpose. Soap and water do just as good a job of cleansing.”

Marketing for antibacterial products has done a number on us for years now, especially moms. The ads make you think that your house will be crawling with bugs and harmful germs if you don’t use antibacterial cleaners. Here is a snippet from Lysol’s website, “LYSOL® Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner cuts through grease to help clean kitchen messes and kills 99.9% of germs* to help protect your family from the spread of foodborne bacteria like salmonella*.” Scary, right?

I’m a full believer in the science behind, “dirt don’t hurt.” We like to play in the dirt, and the only thing I don’t like about dirt is trying to get it out of my kids clothes. Call me old school, but a good soap and warm water scrubbing will kill everything you come into contact with, plus it doesn’t smell weird.

If you are looking for an anti-antibacterial cleaner, I wrote a post a while ago on how to make your own glass/counter cleaner using castille soap, vinegar, and water. And there are hand soaps out there without antibacterial chemicals in them, Softsoap makes a version, you just have to look around at the grocery store and you’ll find them. I’m still searching for a hand soap that has no chemicals, and more soap. I’d love to hear from you guys on what soaps you use, I need recommendations!

Homemade baby wipes

babywipes

Make your own baby wipes!

Someone gave me a recipe years ago for homemade baby wipes, like ten years ago. My sister and I both used these wipes with our kids and I’m so thankful for whoever passed this wonderful idea along. Whoever you are out there, thank you! This recipe is cool because it is mostly all natural, minus the paper towels.

I recently visited my parents and was feeling lazy so I didn’t make wipes beforehand. I thought I would save myself the time and effort and just use some Huggies wipes I keep in the car for wipe-worthy situations. As always, trying to save time actually made more work for me. My youngest ended up with the worst case of diaper rash she has ever had. I think it must be the alcohol in them, or something. Even though they say fragrance-free, they always have a flowery smell. My homemade wipes smell like sweet babies, you should definitely try it!

You need the following items:

  • 2 Rubbermaid servin savers, 3 quart
  • 1 Bounty select-a-size regular paper towel roll, not super or large or basic (which isn’t normal sized I learned after a stupid purchase at a warehouse store)
  • Baby shampoo – I use Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Fragrance-Free Shampoo & Wash because I have this on hand anyway for bathing babies
  • Water
  • Really good, sharp knife
  • Arm muscles

How to assemble:

  1. Cut the paper towel roll in half, this will be a little difficult, but then you feel like a rock star, so don’t give up.
  2. Mix together 1 tablespoon of baby shampoo and 1 to 1.5 cups of water. I tend to use less water in the humid NC summers, and more in the dry winters.
  3. Pour this mixture in the first Rubbermaid container, then repeat Step 2 and pour that in second container.
  4. Drop one paper towel roll in each container, count to 20, and flip the paper towel rolls over.
  5. Put the lids on and give them ~ 10 minutes for the water/soap mixture to completely saturate the paper towels.
  6. Take the lids off and carefully pull out the cardboard from the middle of the paper towels rolls. Recycle the cardboard and…
  7. You made your own baby wipes! You can pull the towels out from the middle of the roll each time you need a wipe.

It seems like a lot the first time, but it is so simple. Once you make it a couple of times, you’ll be an expert. Good luck!

Composting – back at it

I recently started composting again. I think it had been at least a year and a half since I last composted. I’ve been meaning to get back into it, feeling guilty about my laziness, and finally bit the bullet last week. You see, I had a baby a little over  a year ago, and no matter what you think you know about kids, and raising kids, and making time, nothing prepares you for how busy you are when you have multiple children. It is like the work triples overnight. So, I decided to feed and bathe my kids, and hug them instead of composting.

It really doesn’t take that long to manage composting, you will need to devote time to where the compost will be dumped, but managing it doesn’t take long at all. Here is a link to the Composting 101 website I found that helped me set up our composting system. My version of composting is keeping the scraps from cutting up fruit and vegetables, as well as egg shells, coffee grounds, banana peels and apple cores, and putting them in a container under the sink. When the container fills up, I take the container to a spot in our backyard that we sectioned off using chicken wire, and dump the scraps out. I take some organic materials from our yard, mostly leaves that are decomposing, and put those on top of the rotting food, mix it up a bit, and I’m making compost! It really is pretty cool for several reasons:

  1. You aren’t filling up the local landfill with your food scraps. A lot of stuff, even food, won’t disintegrate in landfills because the trash and dirt are packed so tightly that air can’t get in to help things break down. 
  2. You aren’t filling up your trash can with food, so you are saving money by using less trash bags.
  3. You don’t have to buy gardening soil, you can make your own super organic brand and save more money.
  4. You can teach your kids about conservation and help them think about the consequences of their actions.

I was intimidated, but have been really pleased with how simple composting is. I haven’t taken the next step to use the organic soil in a garden, but I’m not a gardener, at least not yet.

Glass/Counter cleaner recipe

I know everyone out there is just dying to learn this natural glass cleaner recipe, on the second day of the new year. I’ve been meaning to post this recipe because I absolutely love it, but I kept forgetting, probably because it is so exciting. (Can you tell I’m being sarcastic?) Anyway, a friend suggested this and it is simple to make, and works better on glass than the store-bought cleaners I’ve tried. Some advice when using it: spray less cleaner than you normally would, use a little more elbow grease, and let it dry for a little bit before deciding whether or not you like it. Since there is vinegar in it, you can also use it on your kitchen counters, too. One cleaner for multiple jobs, score!

Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • squirt of castile soap

Mix it together in a spray bottle (that you can buy for $.99 at Lowe’s) and voila! – you made your own glass cleaner. I could not find castile soap when I went to the grocery store and had to ask the manager. At Harris Teeter they keep the castile soap in the natural/organic section on the same aisle as baby products, like diapers. Just fyi.

Good luck and happy cleaning in 2013!

One seriously cool cleaning trick

Simple 'Green' Cleaner

These two ingredients make a simple, ‘green’ cleaner

The smell of bleach never fails to make me feel sick. For most of the day after I use bleach for cleaning, I feel like I’m breathing the horrid smell back in. Actually, I feel this way about most cleaning products, the smell is just too much. I have eczema and if I don’t wear gloves when I clean, my skin goes bonkers. I always felt like it was a necessary evil in order to get our kitchen and baths clean. I’ve spent many a nap cleaning bathrooms, showers, and toilets, and recently noticed that the bleach smell was permeating the entire house. Then it occurred to me, if my nose and lungs were hurting, then my kids were probably suffering, too. Probably more so than me, since they are still growing and developing.

I started researching and asking some of my brilliant mom friends, and discovered you can use baking soda and vinegar to clean your sinks, tubs, toilets, and showers. When my friend told me, I was doubtful, it felt too good to be true. I figured I would give it a try since I already had the items on hand and had a nasty sink to attack. (I like bullets and don’t get to use them enough, so here goes.)

Recipe for Sink/Tub/Toilet/Shower Cleaner

  • Shake some baking soda in a wet sink
  • Pour a bit of vinegar in on top of the baking soda
  • Scrub the fizzing solution until clean

When you mix vinegar and baking soda, they start fizzing like mad, like you are performing your own little science project. Maybe I’m 100 years behind the times on this one but it really made me so happy to not have to use something that smells bad. I have these two items in my home already, they are mostly environmentally friendly, and they don’t stink, or burn your nose when you use them. Everybody wins! Well, not the cleaning products industry. I feel like I’ve purchased so many “green” cleaning products that don’t really get the job done or over-promise on what they can do, plus they are expensive. It was nice to use something I had on hand, and I know is safe for all of us to breathe in. You should try it, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.

*Improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can eat away at tile grout.