Sunday, May 10, 2009

Favorite castile soap uses and recipes

My newest favorite substance in the world, castile soap, has so many uses. Made from organic oils, it has a wide variety of cleaning uses. Here are some of my favorite uses and recipes!

Health and beauty

*Wash your face and hair. Just a drop for each. Mix with a dime-sized amount of baking soda for the greatest cleansing experience of your life!
*Use in the shower. Again just a drop for each your hair and face and a little squirt on a washcloth or poof for the rest of your body. Finish up by using it to shave your legs, a drop for each leg.
*Use in kids' bathwater. A good squirt in the bathwater, no other soap needed.
*Hand soap. Fill the hand soap bottle up with water and put a little squirt of castile soap in there. If it doesn't make enough suds for you put another squirt in.


*General cleaning. A drop or two for cleaning or scrubbing anything up in the kitchen or bathroom.
*Laundry. A good squirt or two in with the wash water. Also great for washing cloth diapers!
*Dishes. A good squirt in the dishwater.
*Carpet stains. Gets those right up. A drop or two on a damp clean towel or squirt the fabulous cleaner/disinfectant spray on it.
*Cleaner/disinfectant spray: This is wonderful. I love this. Take a spray bottle and fill it about a fourth full with vinegar, just the white kind. Fill the rest of the bottle up with water. Then put in a squirt of castile soap and a few (three or four) drops of tea tree oil. Use this to clean literally everything -- counters, sinks, toilets, freshen carpets and furniture, and it even kills pesky little bugs. Vinegar naturally kills germs and so does tea tree oil, and castile soap cleans, so you have a fabulous cleaner and disinfectant just like that. What's also so wonderful about this cleaning spray is that it is perfectly natural, nontoxic, and you don't have to call poison control if your two-year-old decides he'd like to clean the carpets with it. It is not poison like commercially produced harsh chemical cleaners, which are harmful to the entire family as well as the environment.

Since you only use a drop or a squirt at most for everything, this terrific stuff lasts a long time. Coupled with the fact that you can use it all over the house, it is great for the money. You can get a 16 oz. bottle for less than $10 and it will last forever. (Unless your two-year-old, the clean freak that he seems to be although he also loves to make as many messes as possible, decides to pour out one third of a bottle straight onto the carpets.)

I have not found that I like to use it to mop the floors; it leaves a thin filmy residue on the floors at my house. Could be the cheap floor covering. And a word about an interesting science experiment, if you put straight vinegar and straight castile soap together you will get some oily globs. Make sure you have some water in there first before you put those two together. Not harmful at all, just a bit annoying.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Castile soap at Target!


I had read on the Internet that someone thought you could buy Kirk's castile soap at Target, so I went looking today. Couldn't find it. Asked someone. She told me it was over with the shampoo and body wash. Still couldn't find it. Asked someone else. She got on it for me, paging someone and then calling her. Then she took me back over there to the health and beauty area. STILL couldn't find it. So I said, "Do you have a natural/organic area?" So the young lady paged the person again, who told her where the natural/organic area was. It was the aisle before where we were looking, before you get to the facial cleansers area. When I saw it I squealed with delight and actually hugged the girl! It was right beside the big Burt's Bees area, and I started to ask where that was since I figured it would be close.

Anyway, they had a bunch of different kinds. The 16 oz. bottles are $8.39. (I paid nearly $10 for the same size bottle at Whole Foods.) They had the bigger bottles for $13 and some change but they didn't have it in the tea tree oil variety so I just got the 16 oz. bottle. They also had a couple of the little "trial size" bottles in lavendar and though I don't like lavendar I grabbed them anyway so I could place them throughout the house. (I use castile soap in all the bathrooms, the kitchen, and the laundry room.)

This was a delightful find! It's cheaper at Target than at Whole Foods, and Target for me is a lot closer. There are so many uses for this wonderful substance as far as health and beauty and cleaning goes, and a little bit goes a very long way.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Favorite green and thrifty multi-purpose household products

There are a lot of natural, nontoxic items that are green, thrifty, multipurpose, and perfectly safe to use around the house! Here are some of my favorites:

Baking soda
Washing soda
Tea tree oil
Castile soap

There are so many ways to use these fabulous products but here are a few of my favorites.

Vinegar: Add it to the laundry wash water, use less detergent and softer clothes. Use it in a spray cleaner. Mop the floor.

Baking soda: So many beauty uses for skin and hair. Great scrubbing agent for cleaning up around the house.

Borax and washing soda: Make laundry detergent with it. Make dishwashing detergent and bathroom cleaner.

Tea tree oil: Wonderful on the skin. Very good as a household disinfectant.

Castile soap: Also wonderful on the skin and hair. Use it to make household cleaning spray. Use it in the laundry.

To make laundry detergent, use two cups borax, two cups washing soda, and a grated up bar of Ivory soap. Mix together well, store in an airtight container, and use a tablespoon or so per load. Add some vinegar in with the wash water for very fresh, clean, and soft clothes.

You can mix half borax and half baking soda and use that in the dishwasher (about tablespoon or less per load) and even wash dishes in the sink in a pinch. It's also good for scrubbing!

Since the borax box is bigger than the washing soda box I always end up with more borax, so I make a jar of a little washing soda and mostly borax (maybe 1/3 washing soda to 2/3 borax, it doesn't really matter) for scrubbing the bathroom sink, toilet, and bathtub.

For a wonderful household cleaner and disinfectant, get a spray bottle and fill it about 1/4 full of vinegar. Fill the rest with water and then add a squirt of castile soap and a few (as in three or four) drops of tea tree oil. Shake and spray on anything to clean and disinfect!

A couple of sort-of failures here -- a mix of borax and washing soda does not make the greatest thing for washing dishes in the sink, but it does work. Castile soap is not good to mop the floor with. It leaves a filmy residue. And if you mix straight vinegar with straight castile soap you get this odd reaction where oily globs are formed. Just make sure the water is in there first before you mix those two.

TTO and castile soap are available at the health food store; I've bought TTO at Wal-Mart and I hear that castile soap is at Target (I hope so, Target is closer to me than the health food store.) Baking soda and vinegar are sold at all stores. Borax and washing soda are usually in the laundry aisle of the grocery store.

The truly wonderful thing about these natural products is that they are far superior to commercially made synthetic cleaners because they are safe, clean better, are usually cheaper, and do not pollute your house and body. Some people seem to believe that their home is not clean unless they have used toxic chemicals but if you'll stop and think a minute ... who's smarter, God or man? Nature trumps science EVERY TIME.

Enjoy being green and thrifty!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A real-life test of the homemade carpet sweeper pads

After several real-life tests the homemade carpet sweeper pads work okay but not all that great. If you had better tape they might work better but then you're looking at more expense. It takes two pads to clean one fairly large sized area since the tape stops sticking after not very long. While you're making the second pad you wonder why you didn't just pull the vacuum cleaner out and be done with it.

For really quick jobs the homemade pads work well but for heavier jobs its easier to just vacuum. It actually might be worth the expense to buy the pads that go in the sweeper, but I tried that a few days ago and it didn't work. I went way out to the "big box" store that I don't like anymore and after walking all over the store looking for them it appeared that not only were they out, they don't even carry them anymore. Big bummer.

Since my son loves to run the carpet sweeper on the floor I'll make him a sticky pad but I don't think I'll keep making them for normal use.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Homemade carpet sweeper pads

My experiment with making carpet sweeper pads to fit into a name-brand carpet sweeper was met with guarded satisfaction. There are some drawbacks but I pronounced the experiment an overall success.

The pads that come with the sweeper or that can be bought separately work wonderfully but are a bit pricey and seem to be only sold at the notorious big-box discount store that is too far and too much trouble for me to patronize regularly.

My 21-month-old son loves to push the sweeper around on the carpet so I thought I'd try my hand at making some sticky pads to put in it. (May as well use free labor, right?) My original list of supplies included cardboard and double-sided tape but a quick trip to my favorite dollar store yielded only some super-cheap regular tape, the wide kind. Not to be outdone, I figured I could make this work.

I took a cereal box (never throw those away, they are so very useful) and cut out a rectangle that I thought would fit inside the sweeper (it did, exactly) and wound some tape around it. Winding the tape around it was a bit tricky at first but gets easier with practice. After the tape was applied I wrestled it into the sweeper and gave it to my son to try.

To my smug satisfaction, it worked pretty well! It picked up fairly well, not as good as the pads that are made to go in it, but good enough. The compromised stickiness along with the slight difficulty of getting the pad in and out of the sweeper are drawbacks but for a dollar you can make dozens of these things and pick up the crumbs off the carpet during those times when you don't have the energy to pull out the vacuum cleaner and run it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hydrogen peroxide for cleaning and whitening

In a move toward even more homemade and natural cleaners for my home, I decided to start using hydrogen peroxide to whiten our white clothing and diapers. I did a little bit of research and found that it also kills germs. Wonderful! It turns out that it is a replacement for bleach.

The Green Living Tips blog hydrogen peroxide tips list has several uses for hydrogen peroxide, including that of a bathroom disinfectant and laundry additive.

For an excellent explanation of how hydrogen peroxide works along with other non-chlorine bleaches check out a wonderful piece on What is Non-Chlorine Bleach? on Bright Hub.

What are some of your favorite hydrogen peroxide uses? We already use it for first aid and for oral hygiene.

Now I just need to find a place to get it very cheaply!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cheap and safe cleaning

Many people think you must use harsh, toxic and expensive cleansers to get your home clean and disinfected. Advertising has planted this idea into our heads, but it is just not true. All you need are a few natural products and you can make your own cleaners and disinfectants.

I clean everything with natural products and make my own cleaners, and was intrigued to find this wonderful list of 25 Safe, Non-Toxic Homemade Cleaning Supplies. Here are two that I am going to try, copied from the site:

Disinfectant all purpose cleaner: Mix a few drops of castille soap, 2 cups water, and 15 drops each of tea tree and lavender essential oil. You can spray this on all surfaces, like cutting boards, counters, toilets, walls, (except it will streak glass). This stuff disinfects but is so safe you can actually spray it on your baby - you can’t say that about most commercial household cleaners.

Herbal disinfectant: Choose one fresh herb - lavender, eucalyptus, juniper, sage, thyme, or rosemary. Simmer the leaves and stems for 30 minutes. You can use any amount of water, but the less you use the stronger the solution and disinfectant properties. Strain, pour liquid into bottle, and use on any surface but glass. If you add a dash of natural soap or biodegradable dish detergent it will cut grease.

Back to me now; I know these will work because I have a bottle of nontoxic disinfectant that is made with thyme. The label says it even kills the virus that causes AIDS. Tea tree oil is antifungal, antimicrobal, pretty much anti-anything bad and makes a wonderful cleaning additive.