Castile Soap

I discovered the wonders of Castile soap about two years ago. I don’t know why it took me so long, but I’m glad I found it. Castile soap is wonderful in so many ways.

Castile soapEndless uses

Castile soap can be used for

  • shampoo
  • laundry
  • facial cleanser (if you’re not doing the
    oil cleansing method!)
  • body wash
  • toothpaste?!
  • cleaning

The Castile Soap FAQ page has more details.

Environmental responsibility

The real magic in Castile soap is its gentle, earth-friendly ingredients. It’s certified fair trade, which means it’s people-friendly too. They call it “Constructive Capitalism,” which means they share profits with the workers and the earth.

All of the oils used to make the soap are organic. Though they use palm oil, it’s grown on decades-old plantations in Africa, not newly planted, a.k.a. clear-cut forests.

Castile soap is not tested on animals. And it’s 100% vegan, packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottle. (I like to buy the big one and put it into smaller, reusable containers.)

My experience

I used Castile soap as body wash, face wash, and laundry a few years ago. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the film that was left in my sink and tubs. However, I’m back to using Castile soap as a body wash. (I have another eco laundry method that I’ll post later.) I can put up with a little film, knowing that I’m using a product that matches so many of my values. Though the bottles seem expensive (maybe because I buy the big one to reduce packaging), it lasts forever and it’s just so good for you, the workers who make it, and the planet.

Check out Dr. Bronner’s website for all the details.

Spring Cleaning!

It’s that time of year! It really is quite funny how excited I am about cleaning my house but this year, besides getting everything sparkling clean, I had a new mission in mind. To actually do it all… and do it naturally!

Before I set out on this journey, I did some research for the best “recipes” for homemade cleaning products. I found two really great cleaning sprays, a furniture dusting spray and a multi-purpose cleaner.

Multi-purpose Cleaner

  • Mix equal parts water and vinegar
  • a few drops of essential oil

Since I try not to be wasteful, I reused my spray bottle from my Green Works cleaning spray that recently ran out and 4 cups water and 4 cups vinegar nearly filled it up. I also added some lemon essential oil to help cover up the vinegar smell. In the future I may add more seeing as my grandpa asked me later in the day what I had been doing with vinegar.

Furniture Dusting Spray

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon essential oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cup water

I bought a spray bottle for this since I did not have one on hand. Overall, this new experiment cost me so much less than going out and buying harmful cleaning products. For an idea of the cost let me share this with you…

  • Vinegar- $3 for a gallon bottle
  • Lemon Essential Oil- $4.99 from a local store or you can find oils on Amazon ( and you only use a couple drops for an entire bottle so it will last for years)
  • Olive Oil- already had on hand for cooking
  • Extra Spray Bottle- $1

Will I be doing this again? You betcha!!! Everything looks so amazing and clean. I think it is important to also note that the vinegar smell doesn’t linger (well maybe on your hands a little). Best part? It is completely non-toxic and my little children (aka pets) are safe too!

See doesn’t she seem happy about it?

Now let’s see…. what other cleaners can I make myself…

Waste less at the grocery store

Real Simple has come up with 8 ways to cut waste when grocery shopping. Keep these things in mind to save money, and the environment:

1. Skip single-serving items.

2. Purchase juice concentrates.

3. Avoid disposable goods.

4. Use your own canvas or string bags.

5. Use produce bags only for moist or small, loose items, such as lettuce and berries.

6. When possible, purchase goods in cans or glass instead of plastic containers. Glass can be recycled indefinitely.

7. Look for multipurpose cleaners instead of buying one for each kind of surface. Or, make your own.

8. Close the loop. Purchase products that have been recycled and can be recycled by you.

Veggie Wash

If you feel like you need to wash your veggies in more than just water, try this recipe from Planet Green:

DIY Veggie Wash

1 tbs organic lemon juice
10 drops grapefruit seed extract
2 tbs baking soda
1 cup filtered water
3/4 cup white vinegar

1. Mix well in a sprayer bottle.

2. Shake before use.

3. Spray produce (except mushrooms, because they absorb and retain water) and let sit for 5-10 minutes.

4. Rinse well

The importance of furnace maintenance

Our house was 53 degrees this morning! We keep it at 61 and use our fireplace to warm up when we’re home, so 53 was pretty frigid, even for us. The furnace went out some time last night. I don’t think it’s related to the furnace filter not being replaced for a while, but it just reminded us that we have not been keeping up on that simple task. (actually, we just bought one, but it was the wrong size, so our intentions were good)

Replacing your furnace filter makes your furnace more efficient, saving energy and money on heating bills. We’re off for a new filter today, and the furnace guy will be coming soon. Fortunately, I recently read that there are permanent furnace filters available. These electrostatic filters simply need to be washed monthly, but they save the hassle of spending $15 on a new filter every month, as recommended. Permanent filters will pay for themselves in less than 4 months, saving you money and reducing the need to produce so many filters. (This place has electrostatic permanent filters starting at $25)

Throwaway filters only remove about 10 percent to 40 percent of pollutants from the air, while electrostatic models—which also happen to be permanent and easy to wash—siphon off about 88 percent of the nastiness, including bacteria, mold, viruses, and pollen.

Home maintenance saves energy by keeping appliances more efficient, which saves money and keeps our homes warmer. Have you changed your filter lately?

Vinegar Cure-All

It’s hard to find a good cleaning product that is safe for you, your children, pets, and the environment. Many products look and smell clean and pure, but you can never be too sure. And most are needlessly tested on animals. Here’s one product you can use with confidence – vinegar!

Vinegar and water can be used with great success to clean just about anything (test a spot if you’re nervous). Clean windows, countertops, mirrors, wall smudges – the list goes on. It may smell at first, but the smell goes away. You could also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your vinegar spray bottle to lessen the smell. Vinegar is excellent for getting rid of ants or fruit flies – wipe everything in the affected area with a sponge dampened with vinegar-water and they’ll be gone before you know it.

Combine vinegar with baking soda and you’ve got an excellent scrubbing cleaner that’s not harmful to the environment, you, or your pets. (use equal parts vinegar and baking soda, and let the foam settle first)

To get rid of weeds, spray the area with undiluted vinegar on a sunny day. They’ll shrivel up in no time. (Remember, every chemical you use in your yard could end up in groundwater… would you rather have vinegar, or Weed-B-Gone?)

Apple Cider vinegar can be used to cure anything from allergies to acne and high cholesterol. It can even help dogs and cats.

I put a bowl of apple cider vinegar with a touch of fruity dish soap near my fruit, and the fruit flies are gone.

Bonus – vinegar is very inexpensive, and a big bottle will last a long time!

Green clean for drains

Here’s a good way to clean your drains – as a preventative measure, or if they’re clogged. We tried it last night and it really works!!

1/2 cup baking soda
1-2 cups cheap household vinegar

Pour the baking soda down the drain, followed by the vinegar. Put a plug in the drain and fill the sink with water. Wait a few minutes, then pull the plug and let the water push everything down the drain, cleaning as it goes. Awesome! -Heloise

(more on the magic of vinegar later)

Sweet Kitty Litter

litterA while back, I was reading Peppermint Lisa‘s blog and she wrote about a new kind of kitty litter called Swheat Scoop. It’s made of wheat, ground down to the size of regular kitty litter.

The clay kind was nice at first, but the cats kicked up a lot of unhealthy dust, and a lot of plastic bags were used to remove the mess. Also, the clay kind is mined out of the earth, which is not so nice. This new wheat litter comes from a renewable resource, is biodegradable, and can be flushed down the toilet. It also smells better – more natural. You also don’t need to put a plastic bag in the garbage every day – just flush it down the toilet.

One word of caution: my cat Lemon thought it was food, because his is sometimes given buckwheat pancake mix. To avoid that, sprinkle the old litter on top for a few days, but be sure to throw that out – don’t flush it until it’s pure Swheat Scoop.

be efficient: Wash your car on the grass.