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Cleaning Supplies: A Round Up

18 January 2012

After posting my dishwasher detergent recipe, I thought it would be a good idea to round up what I find to be the essentials for cleaning supplies if you want to start your “pantry” so-to-speak.

There are a few products I’ve found useful, especially if you want to create a number of different products from scratch at home. If I were starting over today, here’s what my shopping list would be:
– baking soda (a big container)
– vinegar
– washing soda
– borax
– bleach
– vegetable based castile soap such as Dr. Bronners. If you get one with essential oil added, you don’t necessarily need to purchase that.

There are also a few extras that are nice to have, but not essential for cleaning things up. A good basic unscented bar soap can be used to create laundry detergent, along with a few of items listed above.  Essential oils such as tea tree, lemongrass, and lavender can be used to make your cleaning products smell better and also have some great properties themselves.

Spray bottles or other containers (such as used milk jugs) are great for premixing your cleaners to have on hand, instead of making a new batch each time.

Finally, I wanted to mention that both my mom and I have used the homemade laundry detergent and have been really pleased with the results. She had to add a little more water because the mixture had thickened so much, but it’s actually thin enough now that we put it in the dispensing tray in the front loading washer without any problems.

Do you have any questions about cleaning supplies or recipes I’ve used?

Washing the Dishes

17 January 2012

Sorry it’s been so silent here on UTNT. The start of the quarter combined with travel shenanigans have seemed to use up my free time.

Rest assured I haven’t forgotten about this space. I’m not short on ideas either, just room in my schedule to get to them all.

Today, I wanted to drop in and share an easy recipe for dishwasher detergent I found. My roommates and I had run out of our store brand and I was determined to make more from products I had on hand. It was super easy and has been working really well.

Mix 1 cup salt, 2 cups borax, and 2 cups baking soda together.  Put into airtight container.  Use two tablespoons per load of dishes.  Use either vinegar or lemon juice in the rinse compartment to remove residue from dishes.  (The lemi-shine mentioned in the recipe serves the same purpose.  I didn’t have any of that.)

Just make sure you fill the rinse compartment with vinegar to make sure you don’t have any residue on your dishes. The vinegar scent is unnoticeable when the dishes dry, I promise.

If you try this out, let me know how it works.

Friday Tidbit: Jeff Dunham Talks Hybrid

6 January 2012

Jeff Dunham is a ventriloquist comedian. If you haven’t watched him before, I definitely recommend it.

For now, enjoy this clip of him explaining how he got tricked into driving a Pruis (no puppets included) while his wife was behind the wheel of their Hummer.

Pretty amusing! Have a great weekend!

Thriftmas meets Upcycled

4 January 2012

I mentioned before the holidays that my family was doing a thrifted/homemade Christmas.  And it was a success. Sure, there are a few thing we’d do differently, like getting started sooner, but overall we gave and received a lot of great things.

And I’m pretty sure all of us saved some money, too.

By far, my favorite gift of the day was a quilt my mom made me (she also made one for my sister) out of fabric that had been my grandmother’s, who passed away when I was young.  She was able to use fabric that had just be languishing away in a box in our basement and my sister and I got something really special.

The quilt is gorgeous, goes perfectly with the colors in our room, and is something that I will cherish forever.  My future husband (whoever he might be) will just have to deal with some purple in his life.

Check out this beauty:

handmade quilt

A Christmas Gift of Clean

2 January 2012

Since I stocked up my cleaning supplies early on in my journey, it’s been much easier to test out new recipes as I need to.  There’s no rushing to the store.  Instead, I just find a recipe that works with what I have.  This has come in handy a few times.

For Christmas, my mom asked for cleaning supplies and recipes to get her started around the house.  Luckily the shopping was easy, as I had already done the searching and research earlier this fall.

Along with some supplies, I decided to make some laundry detergent for her.  It was a pretty simple process, though not without a few issues along the way.

I found a recipe at Why Not Sew that looked like a good starter.

Here’s the recipe, along with a few of my notes:

You need:

– 1 bar of soap (any basic kind, without fragances or dyes)
– 1 cup Borax
– 1 cup Washing Soda
– a large pot that holds more than 2 gallons
– a grater
– a funnel
– a long spoon
– 2 empty gallon jugs

To make the detergent:

1. Grate your bar of soap into your pot. Add one gallon of water and cook until soap dissolves completely.

2. Add the Borax and washing soda. Bring to a boil.

3. Turn off the heat. Add 1 gallon of cold water. Stir well.

4. Pour 1 gallon of your detergent into each container with funnel.

The detergent will coagulate as it cools. If it’s too thick to pour, stir in more water and use more per load. Use 1/2 cup per load. For front load washers, add directly to basin instead of the tray to avoid clogging the washer.

This won’t make many, if any, suds. And this detergent does work for high efficiency washers. For more information, visit the original post. A lot of issues have been answered in the comments section.

Have you ever made detergent before?

New Year, Still Me

1 January 2012

I’ve been blogging at UTNT for almost three months now.  I’ve made some small changes along the way, found new resources, and had a few bumps and bruises.

I’m excited to continue to look at how I live and how I can be a little more purposeful.  To me, that’s a huge part of being a good steward of the earth.  What I am in doing in my life right now without really thinking, researching, etc.?

We don’t all have to be extremists in lifestyle.  In fact, I would argue that our society doesn’t allow for that.  With cost of living, job allocation, division of resources, and the responsibilities and commitments each person has, it’s not possible.

But there are changes we can all make, from small to large.  This next year, I have a few goals in mind when it comes to living with the environment and my own health in mind:

  1. I want to make better use of public transportation, especially since for me it’s already paid for through my tuition at school.
  2. I want to continue to use a basic collection of products.
  3. I want to use my legs more, whether it’s walking or biking, to run errands nearby and to benefit my health.
  4. I want to make more by hand.
  5. And I want to research issues from both sides.  It’s all too easy to Google something, stumble upon one article and move on from that one point.  Nothing is that simple.

I’m not giving up my car, living off the land, or make extreme changes.  At least not yet. 😉

Happy New Year to all my readers out there!  Now tel me, what are you thinking about changing or focusing on this year?

Friday Tidbit: Baby Pandas

31 December 2011

First of all, this is late and I apologize.  I was busy traveling across the state and attending a family dinner last night.  Blogging just didn’t fit into the schedule.  Hopefully the cuteness in this post makes up for it.

Huffington Post had an article about an adorable panda yesterday and I just had to share.  I mean, this isn’t really related to living more green, but it’s cute and fun.  That has to count for something, right?

I’ll get back into my regularly scheduled programming this next week, with New Year’s resolutions, a look back at my fall, and a wrap up of all things green related to my holidays.

For now, enjoy this: (and make sure to click through to the article as it has more cute pictures and links to even more panda-related stuff.)

panda with toy