DIY Lavender-Infused Vinegar Household Cleaning Spray

I have been cleaning my house with vinegar and baking soda for years. Part of my household cleaning arsenal is a vinegar-infused cleaner. You get the excellent cleaning and deodorizing power of vinegar as well as the fragrant and antibacterial/anti-viral cleaning powers of lavender. Together they create a fantastic household cleaner that can be sprayed directly on counter tops, toilets, light switches, walls, floors, sinks and any other flat surface you want clean and shiny. Continue reading

Lavender-infused vinegar spray is non-toxic, effective and economical. The vinegar scent disappears as the surface dries, leaving behind only a mild lavender scent.

Directions:

  • Crush about 2 cups of fresh lavender buds and leaves in your hand. Put them in a 1 L (quart) jar and pour distilled white vinegar on top. Make sure the lavender is covered. Cap tightly. (You can use dried lavender too.  Use only about 1 cup.)
  • Set aside in a cool, dark location for 2 weeks.
  • Strain lavender-vinegar through a colander to remove bits of lavender.
  • Store vinegar in a mason jar, capped tightly.
  • To use: Fill a spray bottle half full with infused vinegar. Then fill to the top with water.
  • Use as you would any spray cleaner: Spray on and wipe clean.

Enjoy!

Purchase dried lavender buds here.

My Healthy Green Family is a participant in the Mountain Rose Herbs Associates Program and if you make a purchase as a result of clicking on various links on this site, My Healthy Green Family may receive a small portion of that sale at no cost to you. This helps us pay our ever-growing feed bills and our farm animals thank you for your purchase.

This post has been shared on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 87From The Farm and Homesteader’s Blog Hop.

Chai Spice Sugar Scrub… and more! Great Gifts!

Last year I discovered the joys of sugar scrubs.  They are a great exfoliant, leaving your skin soft, moisturized and bright.  They make a great shaving “cream” or overall body scrub.  Talk about dessert for the skin!  Hand me a spoon!  They are almost too easy to make, and they make fantastic gifts.  My favorite to date is Chai Spice.  It is as simple as opening a Chai Spice tea bag, mixing it with the sugar, adding 10 drops of cinnamon essential oil to a base oil, and stirring!

Basic recipe:

2 parts sugar, 1 part oil. 

Choose your sugars.

  • Regular white sugar gives a soft, gentle exfoliation. (My favorite texture, although I don’t bake with it since it is likely GMO)
  • Brown sugar gives a deeper exfoliation.
  • White cane sugar gives a firmer, deeper exfoliation.
  • True demerara sugar (as opposed to demerara style) provides the deepest, firmest exfoliation.

Choose your oils.

Most liquid cooking oils will work fine.  I have used olive oil, sweet almond oil and grape seed oil.  Smell it first.  Make sure it isn’t rancid.

Choose your additives… or not.

  • Ground candy canes (run it through the blender to get small bits)
  • Ground coffee beans
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Almond or Vanilla Extract
  • Essential oils (Ex. Cinnamon)
  • Loose leaf teas (think, Chai Spice with cinnamon!)

Mix your ingredients.

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine liquid ingredients.  Add wet to dry and stir well.  Spoon into jars and decorate jars to your liking!  Enjoy!

Mountain Rose Herbs has exceptional quality, certified organic herbs, spices,oils, essential oils and more.  They maintain a strict emphasis on sustainable agriculture.  I highly recommend them for outstanding quality and service.

 

 

Before You DIY: Are your Essential Oils Phototoxic?

As we approach the summer season and the weather warms up we naturally gravitate outdoors and into the sunshine.  We have been pretty well trained to slap on the sunscreen when we are in the sunshine, especially during the heat of the day.  I have been using a safer sunscreen for years now to avoid unsafe chemicals used in many commercial sunscreens. This last year I have been making more of my own body products and the next one on the list will be homemade sunscreen.  I have recently come across some important information regarding homemade (and even commerical) body products and essential oils.

We are wrong to assume that all essential oils are safe no matter what.  Many are widely available, however, and if used for the wrong purpose or at the wrong time could create potentially dangerous situations.

Phototoxicity, or photosensitization, is a reaction that occurs when an agent (in our case essential oil) reacts to the UV in sunlight.  This can cause increased skin sensitivity and an elevated risk of sunburn, skin damage and potentially, skin cancer.  The agent can be applied topically or can be ingested.  It is important to stay our of the sun for at least 12 hours after applying or ingesting the agent.

While making homemade lotions, sunscreens, massage oils and lip balms make sure the essential oils you use are not phototoxic.  Make sure any commercial ones you might use aren’t either.

Many citrus essential oils are photosensitive, as well as Angelica and Bergamot.  For a more complete list head to Jo’s Health Corner: Avoid These Essential Oils if You Are Going To Be In The Sun.  Read the labels on your essential oils and make sure your dilute them appropriately before use.

If you are looking for high quality essential oils check out Mountain Rose Herbs.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days Sustainable Ways #28.

Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

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I have tried many different “eco-friendly” dishwasher detergents over the years.  From 7th Generation to Ecos, Method to Ecover, I just couldn’t find one that worked very well.  And with a price as high as those, I certainly wanted something that worked.

Eventually I came across a recipe to make my own dishwasher detergent.  It contained washing soda, borax, salt and citric acid.  It worked… somewhat.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results and neither was I satisfied with the ingredient Borax.  I am not convinced Borax is safe, especially when used on eating utensils etc.  After discussing the homemade recipe with some others, the thought came up “what if we just removed the Borax?”  So when I ran out of my detergent I did just that.  I removed the Borax.   I also added white distilled vinegar as a rinse aid.  The combination provides great results!!

So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:

  • 1 cup washing soda (old recipe used  baking soda)
  • 1/4 c. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. coarse salt
  • 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional.  Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
  • Distilled white vinegar (in the rinse aid compartment)

Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil.  Mix again.  Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.

UPDATE:  More is not better!  If you are having any build up issues use less! 

Where to find ingredients:
Citric acid is easily purchased in bulk at  U-Brew  stores.  You may find it at grocery stores near the canning supplies, or in the bulk section.  You can also buy it at Mountain Rose Herbs Co.   Some people use plain, uncolored koolaid and get the same effects.  (Make sure you use the colorless koolaid or you will dye your dishwasher!) This is because koolaid is very high in citric acid.  I don’t like the other ingredients in koolaid though so I choose not to use it.  Lemi Shine is also sometimes used to replace citric acid.  I feel the same way about lemi shine as I do about koolaid.
Coarse salt: same as pickling salt.  Found in most grocery stores or purchase coarse sea salt online at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Don’t use regular table salt because of the iodine content.
Baking Soda: We all know where to find it!
Essential Oil: Found in most natural food stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Tips:

  • I rinse off my dishes reasonably well ever since I switched to chemical-free dishwasher detergents.  Rinsing off grease and baked-on food will help any cleaner, not just a homemade one.
  • Hard water: I don’t know if this would work in hard water or not because my water is soft.  However, my own research indicates that citric acid is often used in addition to regular dishwasher detergents to help prevent mineral deposits on the dishes.  Try it out and let me know!
  • I placed one glass in the dishwasher and left it in for many loads as my tester.  I have done over 30 loads with this recipe to date.

Cost: (based on Mountain Rose Herbs prices)
5 lb. of citric acid is $20.
5 lb. of baking soda is $11.75.
5 lb. of coarse sea salt is $15.
Essential oil (optional) varies in price..

Is it worth it to make your own?
Based on the prices above (not including essential oils), and the fact that there are 36 tbsp. of sugar in a lb. (similar texture and weight to this detergent), I worked this detergent out to cost $0.08 a load. 

7th Generation dishwashing tabs (about 1 tbsp. each) are $6.99 for 20. (based on online price from London Drugs)  So 7th Generation dishwashing tabs cost $0.35 cents a load.   

You’ll be saving a lot of money (not to mention your health and the environment) by making your own eco-friendly detergent.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #25, Simple Living Wednesday, Homestead Helps Wednesday #5, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #61MorrisTribe’s Homesteading Blog Carnival #6, Whole Foods Wednesday #56 and  Fat Tuesday.