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2.27.2010

My household staples

I have been focusing a lot lately on being thrifty. Being eco-conscious is still a really big part of our lives, it's just been really, well... quiet on the green front. I haven't done anything new (although I did just go back over my posts and realized I never posted about my new glass food storage- I got a bunch of Glass Lock and love it!). I've just been keepin' on, so to speak. I'm sure there's more I could do, I just don't know what it is and the things I would like to do all involve owning a house. I have lately halved my gas budget, which was both a frugal and an environmental decision.

So, in the interest of staying true to my blog and encouraging growth in others I've decided to list some of the staple items I use to keep my home, myself, and my kids clean and chemical free. And most of the items are frugal as well- I love that, of course. So here they are, the household items I can't live without and what I do with them.

  • White vinegar and baking soda. Duh. These are the musts, the basics of going both frugal and green. I use one or both for ALL basic cleaning- kitchen counters, floors, bathtub, toilet, and anything grimy. Both are great for deodorizing something smelly. And I use baking soda in rotation with my shampoo bar to wash my hair.
  • Apple cider vinegar. We use this to rinse our hair after washing and in our baby wipe solution, mostly. It's also good to use in the bath if your children have a rash (particularly yeasty rashes). Or for either diaper rash or oily skin mix equal parts ACV and water and apply to skin with a cotton ball or soft wipe (if rash is particularly bad or has open sores dilute vinegar more). It's also good for brining chicken and has health benefits when drank on it's own (diluted with water).
  • Dr. Bronner's soap, both liquid and bar. I use the liquid (diluted) mostly in our hand soap pumps. I don't like it as well for other applications, but you can use it literally anywhere to wash anything except in the dishwasher. I make my homemade laundry detergent with the bar. Some use Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds for their laundry (it's a liquid). Many also use it as their body wash in the shower/bath.
  • Tea Tree Oil. I use this in my wipe solution for it's anti-fungal properties and in my "all purpose" cleaning solution (1/2 water and 1/2 white vinegar) for the smell. I've also used it in the past to treat acne. And I put it on the little fabric square in my diaper pail to fight smell.
  • Cold pressed olive or grapeseed oil. While these both have obvious applications in the kitchen, I also use them as moisturizer and massage oil, sometimes mixed with a little essential oil.
  • Arnica. Another essential oil, this one has an analgesic affect. I mix it with one of the above oils to rub on Izzy's legs when she's sore.
  • Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Another lesser known cooking oil (a pretty healthy one, too), I also use this to make my deodorant, recipe HERE. Although I do it a little differently, I use equal parts coconut oil, baking soda, and cornstarch, melt them over very low heat until everything is liquidy and disolved, and then poured into my cleaned out deodorant container (an old one I had saved). I think it's easier than mashing it all together and scooping it into the container. Then I refridgerate it until solid. You can't use it straight out of the fridge (it won't roll up!) so make sure you take it out a good 1/2 hour or hour before you need it the first time. After that it's fine at room temp. You could scent it with essential oil, but I totally dig the light coconut smell of the oil on it's own. I also have to say that I think this deodorant works far better than any commercial "natural" deodorant I've bought. Just remember, this isn't like your average bottle of Secret. You will still sweat. You just won't smell. But you won't be absorbing aluminum and other scary crap into tissue that is alarmingly close to your breasts, so I feel it's a fair trade.
  • Ivory dish soap. I feel like a traitor listing this, but in the entire scheme of things it's an economical and mild on the environment cleaner. I just don't like using Dr. Bronner's to wash dishes. I also use it to wash my wool diaper covers (don't yell at me, I know it's not the best, but don't worry, none of my wool is really nice wool that I'm ruining, it's all recycled wool).
  • Palmolive Eco dishwasher detergent. See above. The only reason I'm even listing this is because I've TRIED homemade dishwasher detergent and not been pleased- the recipe I used called for washing soda, borax, salt, and ascorbic acid ie. lemon kool-aid. It didn't get my dishes clean, my glasses and silverware looked worse coming out than they did going in, and all my plates and bowls developed a gross film. I'm willing to make sacrifices for the planet, but that was too much. And that was even with using vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser AND in the bottom of the dishwasher. So if anyone has a better recipe, let me know!
And that's pretty much it. I have other products, obviously, but these are the products I couldn't live without for my body and home... hopefully soon I'll remember to post on the less than necessary items that we use and love!

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