Thursday, February 28, 2013

Watch The Story of Cosmetics

Instead of documenting my green domestic adventures, today we're taking a field trip to the movies.

I invite you to watch The Story of Cosmetics. I'm sharing this 8 minute animated video because I think it does an excellent job of explaining:
  • what toxic chemicals are in most conventional personal care products
  • how these chemicals affect our health and the environment
  • how most of these chemicals are undisclosed in the ingredient labels on packages
  • how horribly unpoliced these chemicals are by the government
  • reforms that need to happen to protect consumers



Three things that stood out to me:
  • Since 1938 the government has only banned 8 of 12,000 new ingredients used in personal care products.
  • Only 20% of the chemicals used in personal care products on store shelves have been assessed for safety. This testing is done by an industry safety panel, this means the industry polices themselves. Yikes!
  • Terms like "herbal", "natural", and "organic" are unregulated when used on cosmetic products. These words mean nothing. I guess that explains how there exists such "natural" products as "organic" hair relaxer. (WTF! I'm glad someone else on the internet is giving them the side eye!)

What do you think of the documentary? Did anything surprise you? Can you recommend any other educational films on the issue? 

Connect with The Story of Stuff Project: YouTube // storyofstuff.org //  Facebook // Twitter // Also visit: SafeCosmetics.org

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cowl Gurl for WIWW

I usually just share what I am wearing while I am writing on Wednesday but today I'm sharing what I wore Thursday.

Why? Because last Thursday I wore my all time favorite sweater with what has become my  favorite (and longest) casual dress and I thought, what if none of my WIWW friends see this? It made me a little sad.

Totally taking pictures in the dressing booth at work. It was a slow day.
Cowl: H & M // Sweater: Joseph A faux silk //  Legwarmers worn as armwarmers // Bracelet: 70's Hippie vintage via mom // Dress: Velvet (via clothing swap)  // Leggings: Maggie's Organics (worn over thermal leggings #NEwinter) // Boots: Land's End. They're no longer available, but they're a bootleg version (pun intended) of LL Bean's Bean Boots

The pictures of what I'm wearing today didn't turn out so hot. I like my outfit but the lighting is terrible (because it's grey outside), I'm tired (because it's grey outside), and I've decided I hate my wig (because it's HUGE). I'm sharing a picture anyway, just to keep it real. We can't always think we look great, even on Wednesdays!

Me, today.
Afro wig: Fulton Mall // Cowl: H & M // Sweater: French Connection (via friend) // Bracelet: 70's Hippie vintage (via mom) // Skirt: Mandee's (memorable clearance rack score) // Leggings: Maggie's Organics (worn over thermal leggings #NEwinter)

Share your style or get style inspiration from other bloggers by joining the fun at The Pleated Poppy.

pleated poppy 


Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

I'm featured on Clueless Curl blog

I am so happy to have joined the resource of inspiration and sisterhood that is the Green Light features on Clueless Curl blog. In this recurring feature, Maggi interviews other Black women about their journey to living an eco-friendly life.

Read my recent interview where I talk about sometimes feeling like a hypocrite (it happens to the best of us!) and share my tricks for awesome hair.

Stay around to read more of Maggi's blog where she documents her own journey toward living a more natural lifestyle. I most enjoyed this post about her experiences with henna and clay hair treatments.


Maggi, the blogger behind Clueless Curl, has great hair!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

DIY Whipped Body Butter

I just made whipped body butter with two easy to find ingredients! If you've ever made cake frosting or chocolate ganache, you've got all the skills you need to make your own whipped body butter. But even if you have no baking experience, you should find this pretty easy to make.

I love my homemade body butter!

 You need:
  • 2 parts coconut oil (tip: use an ice cream scoop to get it out if it's a little hard)
  • 1 part cocoa butter (tip: use a cheese knife to chip off what you need)
  • essential oil(s), if desired
  • a double boiler or a sauce pan and metal or glass bowl
  • an electric mixer, handheld or stand with whip attachment
  • small wide mouthed jar(s) with lid, preferably glass. Select jars with the understanding that the ingredients will be more massive/voluminous once whipped.
How to make whipped body butter.


Here's what you do:
  1. Melt the measured out oils together in a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler (I don't), you can create one by simmering water in a sauce pan, then covering it with a metal or glass bowl that fits comfortably atop it. You wanna make sure the bowl is not touching the water. (If it is, pour out some water). Basically, you're using the heat from the rising steam to melt the oils together.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Let it cool so that it can solidify a bit. It's winter so I put mine in the attic for a few hours (brrr). You could probably put it in the refrigerator and get similar results. (This blogger did.)
  3. Whip the cooled mixture on high. At this point, you can add some essential oils. It shouldn't take long before you get whipped butter.
  4. Spoon it into jar(s). Since this is technically food, you could totally lick the beaters if you want, but it doesn't taste anywhere near as good as it smells. (Yep, I tried some!)
Yesterday was my first time making body butter and I am totally pleased with the results! The body butter is light, easy to use, and feels superdecadent on my skin. I decided not to add any essential oils since it already smells delicious. My boyfriend says it smells like a Mounds bar, which I guess makes sense because it's basically chocolate and coconut.

Another awesome thing about this concoction is the price. I used Dr. Bronner's Virgin Coconut Oil, a 30 oz jar of which is on sale at the Providence Waterman Whole Foods for just $13.99! (Today is the last day of the sale, so drop in if you can.) At that awesome price, the 4 oz I used were just $1.87. The cocoa butter is from Mountain Rose Herbs. Since it was my first time ordering from them, I tried a small jar for $4.75. I used 2 oz of it in this recipe for $2.38. (I would've saved more had I purchased a larger container and I plan to do so in the future.) The jars were re-used so that's free. So we're at $4.25 and rounding up for shipping fees and tax (not sure I paid any but just in case), it couldn't have been any more than $5, even if I had added essential oils. Whoa! $5 for almost 8oz of organic, fair trade body butter. Yes!!!!

I like supporting small, local businesses that make yummy handmade products, but I also enjoy exploring my creativity and making my own stuff too. Kinda like how I cook at home and dine in restaurants sometimes too. I'm thrilled to have this budget-friendly trick (or is it treat?) under my belt! I look forward to experimenting with making body butters from other oils and ratios once this batch runs out.

I wanna send love to my friend Liz at Raganella, who introduced to me the crazy notion that you can make luscious natural body care products in your own kitchen. Also wanna send love to Annie B. Bond for her recipe (found in Better Basics for the Home) and Rawmazing for their homemade body butter blog post which filled the gaps in the aforementioned recipe.

Have you made a body butter before? If so, what's your favorite recipe? And if you haven't, would you try this or do you prefer to buy body care products? Who makes your favorite body butter? 

Olivia Lane Lovejoy is a Green Living Educator trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // YouTube
Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, February 25, 2013

Super Quick Fix for Super Funky Kitchen Odors

We just started practicing the bokashi composting method in January and boy does it stink when we open that container! (I think it's because we're not using enough bran but my other half is the mayor of that project so I'm going to let him make that call.)

Keeping open mason jar of vinegar atop the bokashi scrap bin.
These days it's too cold to open the window for half an hour or so and let the fresh air take care of it. Good thing we've always got white vinegar on hand. Now after opening the funk factory (aka scrap bin), I quickly put out a little mason jar filled with the vinegar and the foul smell dissipates in 5 to 10 minutes.

The vinegar can be re-used for other projects later so you get double bang for the buck! You can also leave the vinegar filled jar out fighting funk all day and refill when needed, as it will eventually evaporate.

Check out Almanac.com for more interesting natural ways to tame indoor odors.

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Clean Copper Coins (and more)

We moved into a 177 years old house in June. To put it politely, the house has been "very gently restored" over that period. The good thing about this is our floor boards are the original old wooden planks. One entertaining Winter past time is pulling things out of the wide gaps. Our most interesting recent discovery is this 1924 wheat penny!

1924 Wheat Penny found in 2013. Wow!


A few days after finding it, I saw my boyfriend Googling how to clean a copper coin. My knee jerk reaction was to scoff at him. What a waste of time, I thought. Then the Angel of Procrastination offered me another perspective. I looked down at the pile of pots I was washing and suddenly it seemed so important that I help him immediately. I am a cleaning blogger after all, my ego nudged. Within seconds I was totally crashing his coin cleaning party.
 
Here's how we cleaned the copper penny together.

We cleaned our old copper penny.
  1. Sprinkle some salt into a little bowl. Pour a shallow pool of white vinegar into the bowl. Add the coil and let it soak. (We waited about 5 minutes before removing it and wiping it dry. From this alone we saw lots of improvement.)
  2. Sprinkle a little baking soda on a spot of a damp cloth. Put the coin on the spot. Rub it between your fingers to buff the coin. (I didn't get a picture of this. Sorry!)
  3. Laugh all the way to the bank. A copper wheat penny is worth $.75 to $450 or more today, depending on the year. Today's pennies are made of 97.5% zinc and only 2.5% copper, according to Wise Geek.
You can apply this technique of using salt and an acid (vinegar, lemon juice, or a sliced lemon for example) to clean anything made of copper metal. You can use baking soda on a cloth to buff any metal too.


Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Victory Roll Roll-out for WIWW

Last week an adorable customer came into Craftland sporting a victory roll and deep red lips. Later that evening, I couldn't sleep and my late night travels on the world wide web led me to The Retro Natural blog and her YouTube channel, CurlyChronicles.

Was the Universe giving me a sign that I needed to try my hand at 40s style? Perhaps! Normally, I frown on era style dressing: It feels too costume-y for me. But I can hang with a little bit of the 40s. I love all things grandma anyhow, so why not dress like grandma did in her heyday? I don't own any clothing from that era so I'll have to start with my hair.

I finally got my boyfriend to take my photos for WIWW. This is a victory!

Hair: This morning I created my very first victory roll (#harderthanitlooks) and made some crazy twisty updo in my hair while I listened to a podcast on bringing a public compost program to RI. The entire production took about 15 minutes! // Hair Clip: handmade by me // Earrings: Leetie Lovendale // Cubic Zirconia Necklace: Dahlia Kanner Studio // Sweater: Moth (via my friend Kate) //  Legwarmers worn as armwarmers // Dress: H & M Forever 21 (clearance)  // Leggings: Maggie's Organics (worn over thermal leggings #NEwinter)

Share your style or get style inspiration from other bloggers by joining the fun at The Pleated Poppy.

pleated poppy 

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was entertaining. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Hip Recycled Jewelry from PVD's Hint Studio

One beef I tend to have with accessories made from trash is they often look very much like the trash they're composed of. Little is done to separate the materials from their former form. I get that that's some folks' aesthetic but, in my opinion, it makes it hard for the jewelry to both distinguish itself from other recycled jewelry and have an artisan energy.

Thankfully this isn't a problem with Hint Studio creations. Sonja and Carolina Arentsen, a Providence-based mother-daughter team, reclaim copper electrical wires, fabric scraps, plastic bags and other materials that would otherwise end up in landfills to handcraft quirky, distinctive jewelry that has a voice of its own without screaming "I'm recycled."

Necklace by Hint Studio. (See more on Flickr.)

If the Arentsen's aren't trying to make an in-your-face statement, why are they using 100% recycled materials? Well, when Carolina entered the jewelry design industry after graduating from RISD she encountered two things: unsafe working conditions and sheer waste of resources. Workers, often undocumented, were required to cut and treat jewelry with dangerous chemicals in rooms without proper ventilation. All the jewelry was made with either mysterious mixes of metals or plastic bits purchased for cheap in China. Carolina wondered why not just reuse the plastic we already have rather than fly all the way from America to China to buy plastic made from newly mined petroleum to ship back to the US.

Being confronted with the reality of the role the jewelry industry was playing in global warming was enough for Carolina to want to make a difference. She left the mainstream jewelry industry and teamed up with Sonja, who has a natural sense of style and is good with her hands, to create Hint Studio. Carolina does most of the design and Sonja does most of the craftwork. Together the two women hope to remove the mainstream stigma that recycled materials are "unsanitary" and to help consumers and retail shop buyers explore the value of having something that is unique as opposed to something created in identical multiples for mass market consumption. Carolina also campaigns and talks to local officials in hopes of making reforms in jewelry industry standards for worker safety.

Hint Studio jewelry can be found in Paloma Boutique in Providence, RI and Green Envy Eco-Boutique in Newport, RI. Carolina also creates visual art which can be purchased on Etsy and seen hanging in Providence Optical, Blaze, and Runcible Spoon.

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was interesting. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

12 Ways to Keep Your Hair from Taking Over Your Home

I love my naturally kinky, coily hair! I think it's 99% fabulous. Why only 99%? The one thing I don't love about it is finding bits of it all over my apartment. Perhaps you've experienced this with your long, curly, or coily hair too. Here are a dozen tricks, treats, and habits I use to keep my hair from joining dust bunnies in a coup to take over my apartment.

Allies in managing shed hair: dust mop, microfiber towel, lint roller, vacuum, rubber mop, and drain hair traps.

  1. Comb hair before getting into the shower. I usually spritz my hair with water then comb deep conditioner, coconut oil, or just water with aloe through my curls before getting into the shower. This reduces the shedding of hair that can clog drains.  
  2. Stay in a confined area and wear a towel, t-shirt, or pillow case draped around your shoulders while combing, unbraiding, untwisting, styling, or trimming hair. This minimizes the area that you need to clean up later. You can just ball the fabric up and shake it out over the trash or compost bin before washing it.
  3. Have a lint roller or vacuum nearby for clean up that way you don't have to wander about your apartment spreading shed or cut hair all over the place while searching for these things.
  4. Never leave shed or cut hair laying around. Not only will your housemates hate you, but it's sure to wind up a dust bunny before you get to it later. Give your natural hair back to Mother Nature by composting it! (New to composting? Check out my Lazy Person's Guide to Composting.)
  5. If you have a private backyard, deck, or rooftop, it's so nice to be able to do your hair outside on warm days. Not only will you not have to worry about shed hair, but you'll also enjoy vitamin D, fresh air, and fresh style!
  6. Use a hair trap in sink and tub drains. I've found that inexpensive mesh wire hair traps are best for me, but your best choice will depend on your hair type and the placement of your drain. Try out a few different ones at the hardware store.
  7.  If you already have a clogged or slow drain, check out my blog post on how to unclog drains without chemicals using a Zip-It.
  8. Use a microfiber towel to dry your hair. They don't snag hair and cause breakage like traditional towels with loops do. I've also noticed that loose hairs do occasionally stick to them, rather than falling off onto the floor. Yay! I have two: one by Aquis and another from DevaCurl. I prefer the Aquis, but both are fine. I've read of people using t-shirts too!
  9. Wear your hair in protective styles like twists and braids. These minimize daily shedding and reduce breakage. Black Girl Long Hair is a great resource for inspiration. There are also thousands of natural hair bloggers on YouTube.
  10. Become besties with your vacuum. I love my Miele Olympus Vacuum. I prefer canister vacs because they have attachments you can use to easily suck up hair from various surfaces like the floor (even hardwood), upholstered furniture, and clothing. Just always be sure to choose attachments and adjust settings according to surface. Beware of buttons too!
  11. If you don't have a vacuum, a dust mop is a great alternative for wood floors. If you already have a microfiber mop, you could just purchase a dust mop head and cheer yourself for saving space and resources! Step outdoors to shake dust and hair from dust mop after each use.
  12. Another vacuum alternative is a rubber broom. In my experience, it's not great for catching my shorter hair, but it is exceptional at catching longer hair, cat fur, and big ol' dust bunnies. There are lots of varieties of rubber broom and some are better than others so read reviews. (I use the one my boyfriend bought from TV years ago but I'm not sure I see it was listed on Amazon now. Sorry!) Rubber brooms work on various floor surfaces, including carpets.
Did I forget anything? How do you keep your curly, kinky, coily, long, whatever hair from taking over your apartment?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
Follow on Bloglovin
Consider supporting this blog by shopping via my Amazon shop or buying my green cleaning eBook. Thanks. 

Subscribe to my mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Feeling Blue for WIWW

Some people see a bathroom, I see a photo studio!
My bathroom has *the best* lighting in my house. That's sad because it really isn't all that great. I'm adding lighting to one of the things I want to learn about and improve in our apartment for 2013. But enough about my lighting, here's what I wore today:

Afro: Mother Nature- no wig today. (I don't think my hair looks anything like my wig, but people get confused so I figured I'd note that. LOL! ) // Earrings: Leetie Lovendale // Blue Enamel Necklace: DA Metals // Cubic Zirconia Necklace: Dahlia Kanner Studio // Bracelets: from Burkina Faso, available at One World Projects // Long sleeve tee: Macy's INC brand // Shirt: clothing swap via H&M // Skirt: ???, I bought it at Macy's over 10 years ago and the tag is missing.

Share your style or get style inspiration from other bloggers by joining the fun at The Pleated Poppy.

pleated poppy 

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How to Make & Use Rose Water

You're lovely so chances are someone awesome (yourself or a beloved) will give you roses this Valentine's Day. A vase of fresh roses is great, but once the perky buds start to slump the celebration doesn't have to end. You can make rose water!

Making rose water.

  1. If you have already have organic roses, dry the petals by laying them in a single layer over paper towels. If not, you can purchase fair trade, organic dried Red Roses from Mountain Rose Herbs. That's where I bought the roses used for this project.
  2. Put a handful of dried rose petals into a pint sized mason jar.
  3. Boil water. (I recommend distilled or filtered.)
  4. Pour the water over the petals.
  5. Put the lid on the jar and leave on your counter overnight.
  6. Then next day, strain the water from the roses. Et voila, rose water!
What do you do with rose water now that you've made it? There are lots of hair, skin, and culinary uses.

I used the rose water to make an oil-free "hand lotion" recipe I found in Better Basics for the Home. It was combination of 1 part glycerin and 3 parts rose water with a bit of honey and grapefruit seed extract. While it is indeed moisturizing, I don't really like it as a hand lotion. I find it too sticky and unfamiliar to me since I am used to creamy oil-based lotions. Instead, I have been lightly misting this concoction into my hair. I think I like this application better.

I also made a hair rinse by mixing 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (ACV) with 3/4 cup rose-lavender water. (I steeped rose and lavender together, but plain rose water is fine too!) I shampooed my hair as usual (using Alaffia). Rinsed the shampoo out with water. Then did a final rinse with the floral-ACV mixture being careful not to get it in my eye. I love this!

Read Cooling and Cleansing: The Benefits of Rose Water to read about the benefits of rose water and to discover more uses.

Also, check out this curious recipe for Vegan Rose Water Almond Milk Pudding from May I Have That Recipe blog. How gorgeous would this be for Valentine's Day breakfast?

And how about Vegan Pistachio-Rosewater Cookies, from the book Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, for dessert?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
Follow on Bloglovin
Consider supporting this blog by shopping via my Amazon shop or buying my green cleaning eBook or shopping at Mountain Rose Herbs via my affiliate link. Thanks. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to Wash a Down Coat or Comforter

Washing your winter coat or comforter doesn't need to ruffle your feathers. It's supereasy to launder down items at home. Here's how:

I used Whole Foods laundry detergent to pre-treat stains and to wash. An old sock and a tennis ball find unusual and noble work in my laundry room. 

  1. Pre-treat stains by rubbing diluted detergent (1 TBS detergent with 4 oz of water) onto spots with a gentle cloth. You can also use a commercial stain remover as directed. Dirty spots on coats are usually around the collar, pocket openings, and sleeve edges.
  2. Using a natural detergent that doesn't contain fabric softener, wash according to the manufacturer's directions. (Jillee explains how to read the laundry symbols really well.) If the label is missing, setting the machine to warm wash and warm rinse should be fine. According to Marmot.com, it's a good idea to do a double rinse cycle when washing down. If your machine is old like mine, you'll need to turn the wash dial to rinse once the first complete wash cycle ends to make this happen.
  3. While your coat or comforter is in the wash, look for two clean tennis balls. Clean tennis balls don't really exist in my house thanks to my critter friends, so I put each not-so-dirty tennis ball inside of a sock and tie a knot at the ankle opening.
  4. When wash cycle ends, place the coat or comforter in the dryer set to low heat with the balls.The balls will bounce and toss around in the dryer and help fluff the feathers while they dry. 
  5. Make sure the item is entirely dry but not over dry. Remove from dryer.
Get outside and enjoy the winter! (This photo was taken before I laundered my coat, but I couldn't resist sharing it!)


Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
Follow on Bloglovin
Consider supporting this blog by shopping via my Amazon shop or buying my green cleaning eBook. Thanks.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fabulous DIY Mail Pouch

A chip bag easily becomes a mailer.

My post office sells mail pouches for a dollar. As much as I love the USPS, I'd rather save my money for postage. That's why I re-use potato chip bags as mailers. They're eco-friendly, fabulously shiny (making them perfect for gifts), and water resistant. Here's how you make one:
  1. Eat lotsa yummy chips or ask your neighbors for their chip bags.
  2. Turn the bag inside out over a trash can and shake out the crumbs. 
  3. Wipe clean with a spritz of all-purpose cleaner and a cloth.
  4. Fill bag with whatever you're mailing and seal it with packing tape. 
  5. Use mailing labels to adhere the address onto the bag. 
Do you use anything interesting for packing materials?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Natural Baby Wipes

No, I'm not a Mommy blogger, but in the spirit of the upcoming Valentine's Day, I figured I'd share three awesome baby wipes wipes plus one adult wipe made by an entrepreneurial spirit smart enough to take notice not only parents buy baby wipes.

Natural wipes.

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Wipes
I'm really excited about Seventh Generation's new improved baby wipes. They've recently reduced plastic in their product 70% by using new plant materials. The wipes are also now larger in size, making each individual wipe more efficient. As always, their baby wipes are free of alcohol, dyes, synthetic fragrances, parabens and phthalates. I thought these wipes were as wonderful as you'd expect any Seventh Generation product to be.

Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value Baby Wipes
This is what we have in our cabinet now. They're cheap, easy to grab while grocery shopping, and don't contain any fragrance or weird chemicals so you're good to go.

Elements Naturals
These wipes are not only 100% natural, but they're also 100% compostable (in an aerobic composting facility, sadly you can't toss them in the worm bin). Visit their website to read more about them and find out where to buy them. I've never tried these, but they sound nice.

Swipes Lovin Wipes
Just so you know you're not stuck in the baby aisle, I'll tell you about Swipes Lovin Wipes. They're biodegradable, flushable wipes that are made with natural ingredients. I was lucky enough to sample the cucumber and unscented variety. Both were just as gentle as baby wipes, but without the disturbing image of a baby on the package! Read more about these crazysexycoolasacucumber products on their website.

What is your favorite wipe?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

DIY Natural Orange Wood Polish

I love my natural Orange Wood Polish!
Last summer I wrote about how to make your own basic wood polish. Today I thought I'd share a fun citrus twist on that recipe.

Materials for making orange wood polish.

I made orange wood polish using some of the orange infused vinegar I made earlier in the week and olive oil from my pantry. I simply poured equal parts of citrus vinegar and olive oil into a squeezable honey container and shook them together. It's just like making salad dressing. (Actually, you could use any remaining polish to top your salad!)

To use, squirt about 5 drops onto a soft folded cloth (or old sock or flannel pajamas, #realtalk). Rub into a small area. Refold the cloth so that you can use a clean surface when needed. Repeat until you are done. Easy!

Check out these results:

I polished my ratty "entertainment" table (above) and our bookcase.

The polish created a sheen on my superratty old third hand TV table which has all sorts of scratches, rings, and water damage action going on. It didn't restore it (of course, I'd be foolish to expect it to), but it does look much better. I also did a quick pass with the cloth on one shelf of our bookcase, which is solid wood and in pretty good shape. The polish made it look even better. (You can see the contrast in the spots near the books where the cloth didn't reach.)

This orange wood polish actually makes me excited to give my wood some TLC, which is not something I normally think about. I usually draw the line at dusting because I'm selfish/ afraid of dust bunnies and have more fun things to do (#realtalk), but polishing wood is important because the oils keep furniture from cracking, allowing it to age gracefully like people who remember to use moisturizer do.

This wood polish contains olive oil so be sure to store it out of direct sunlight, preferably in a dark cabinet.

Do you have wood furniture? (I feel like in the IKEA age it's becoming rare.) How often, if ever, do you polish your wood furniture?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sometimes What I Wore Tuesday is WIWW

I slept in until 11am today because I drank too much the night before. It's not as wild as it sounds. I only drank two glasses of wine in celebration of my boyfriend's birthday. Wine randomly makes me perk up in the middle of the night so even though I went to bed at 11, I was up from 2:30am to almost 7am.

When I sleep in, I usually just grab what I wore the day earlier so that I can bounce into my day. Today was no exception.

Tuesday morning: perky and bewigged. Wednesday night: "Is it bedtime yet?"

Afro wig: Fulton Mall // Earrings: Aye' Shanti Designs // Scarf: clothing swap // Sweater babydoll dress: clothing swap, designed by LinQ Los Angeles  // 1/2 sleeve tee: H & M // Bracelet: 70's Hippie vintage via mom // Legwarmers, worn as armwarmers //  Leggings, over thermals over more leggings. (I'm serious about staying warm!) // Socks: Hue, similar to these, but from an earlier season. I love these! // Boots: Land's End. They're no longer available, but they're a bootleg version (pun intended) of LL Bean's Bean Boots

And because he's so handsome, especially on his birthday, here's what my guy wore:

What He Wore Tuesday
Blazer: Urban Outfitters clearance rack // Shirt: J Crew 80s 2 Ply Cotton // Screenprinted Tie: Made in Providence by Bit & Little Bit, available at Craftland

Share your style or get style inspiration from other bloggers by joining the fun at The Pleated Poppy.

pleated poppy

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was entertaining. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

My Experience with Oil Pulling

I tried oil pulling for the first time two months ago as part of my review for Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil. It seemed like one of the kookier ways to use coconut oil but because it was easy to do and associated with many health benefits, I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a whirl.

Coconut oil and me, home sick, faux oil pulling while photographing myself.
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice where you swish vegetable oil around in your mouth for twenty minutes first thing in the morning. Oil pulling enthusiasts claim the activity stimulates the saliva, which is full of enzymes that draw toxins out of the blood, which raises metabolism and stimulates the body's eliminatory system. Check out OilPulling.com and this Coconut Research Center article for more complete claims and info.

There's a long list of diseases which people claim to have been cured from by using oil pulling therapy. This includes: acne, migraine headaches, bronchitis, diseased teeth, arterio thrombosis, chronic blood disorders such as leukemia, arthritis, neuro physiological paralysis, eczema, gastro enteritis, peritonitis, heart disease, kidney disease, meningitis, and women’s hormonal disorders. This laundry list of diseases cured makes me suspicious. I do not believe in crazy catch-all therapies.

That said, I've been oil pulling with coconut oil for two months and I think I'll keep it up. I still totally have acne and PMS, but oil pulling makes my teeth and gums feel incredibly clean, which is enough of a benefit for me. I happened to stop drinking my daily cup of coffee very easily during a superstressful time at work when I began oil pulling. I also feel a reduced craving for sweets and the ability to drink way more water since I started oil pulling. I feel confident in crediting oil pulling with making these healthy changes easier.

Also, I've done oil pulling while home sick with a cold (today) and while experiencing minor sinus issues and whoa! It makes my head feel like it may explode. It's overwhelming and almost unbearable. Something is definitely happening more than just my teeth and gums getting cleaner!

If you're interested in trying oil pulling, check out Mama Natural's video of how to do oil pulling and to read about her experiences.

(Required fine printy stuff: None of these claims have been evaluated by the FDA.)

Have you tried oil pulling? What kind of oil do you use?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
Follow on Bloglovin
Consider supporting this blog by shopping via my Amazon shop or buying my green cleaning eBook. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

3 Ways to Make Vinegar Smell Better

White vinegar is an awesome all-natural cleaner, but the smell can be off-putting to some. I remember using undiluted vinegar to clean the tops of a client's cabinets. She walked in and said the kitchen smelled like salad. Ha!

The thing about vinegar is its smell, though strong, usually dissipates in a few minutes. After half an hour, you'd never know vinegar was used to clean at all. If you'd rather not wait, here are three ways to make your vinegar smell better.

Add essential oils.

Image via iHerb.


I love to add essential oil of eucalyptus in cleaning solutions that include vinegar. The lovely Kate Payne, author of Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking, likes peppermint oil, but notes that clove oil is also strong enough to cover the smell too. About 10 drops per cup of cleaning product works a charm.

Infuse it with citrus peels.

My first attempt at citrus infused vinegar.

I've been eating tons of citrus fruits this winter and it makes me sad to just toss the vibrant zesty peels in the compost pile without using them. That's why I was really excited to learn that I could use them to make citrus scented vinegar. It's so easy!
  1. Stuff the peels into a jar. 
  2. Pour white vinegar over them to cover.
  3. Leave them alone for 2 weeks stored in a cool, dark place. The back of the kitchen cabinet is a good hiding space.
  4. Strain the vinegar from the peels into another jar.
  5. Use as you would white vinegar in cleaning recipes. I actually sipped some at it was really tasty, so I bet you could also use it in food preparations like salad dressings.
There is no "right" way to do this but the higher peel to vinegar ratio you have the more citrusy your vinegar will be. I infused about 3/4 cup of vinegar with 1 1/2 tangelo peel for 2 1/2 weeks and it turned orange. I made another batch, 1/2 cup vinegar with just 1/2 a peel, and it wasn't nearly as orange, but it didn't smell as strongly of citrus either. This is all something to be mindful of when diluting the citrus vinegar, as you probably don't want to dye anything orange.

Check out The Yummy Life's awesome tutorial, with citrus-herb combo suggestions and  downloadable labels.

Infuse it with herbs and flowers.


You can totally be fancy (or frugal, if you have a garden) and infuse vinegar with your choice of potent smelling fresh or dried flower petals or herbs. Use the same technique as described above. (I haven't tried this yet, but it seems like a wonderful idea and is definitely on my projects to-try list.)

A blend of equal parts lavender, thyme, sage, and rosemary with garlic is known as "Four Thieves" and is rumored to have defended those who ingested it from The Black Plague. That's probably a myth, but why not give the combo a go anyhow? Mint is a great addition that will make the concoction smell a little better.

Herban Lifestyle blog shows us how to make Four Thieves Vinegar. She recommends infusing it for 6 weeks and shaking the jar everyday, but there is a pay-off. The solution can be used externally "as a surface disinfectant, a hair rinse, a skin cleanser, to treat insect bites, as a hand-sanitizer, just to name a few." Wow! Commentators note that if you leave out the rue and wormwood, you can take it internally.

Of course, you can make various combinations of essential oils, herbs, flowers, and citrus peels to infuse your vinegar. The only limit is your imagination.

Do you think vinegar smells funky or clean? Do you add anything to your vinegar to change its smell?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
Follow on Bloglovin
Consider supporting this blog by shopping via my Amazon shop or buying my green cleaning eBook. Thanks.

Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Clean Glass with Corn Starch

Looking for a new homemade green glass and mirror cleaning recipe? I discovered one via the fabulous Crunchy Betty: She's coined it Alvin Corn.

Gathering ingredients for Alvin Corn glass cleaner. I forgot to photograph the spray bottle.

Alvin Corn glass cleaner has normal ingredients like water (of course), vinegar (everyone's favorite cleaner), and rubbing alcohol (known to help cut gunk), but it also contains corn starch. Corn starch!

I had no idea cornstarch was such a cleaning superstar, but according to DIY Life it has several household cleaning uses. Many of these applications center around its ability to grab hold of oil and grease.

Totally curious and encouraged by the accolades Crunchy Betty commenters gave the recipe,  I tried Alvin Corn myself. I actually made three batches before I got it right.

I think the key to Alvin Corn is to make sure that water is warm enough to dissolve the cornstarch, but not boiling or super hot. Also don't add the cornstarch to the water. Follow the directions exactly: Add the water to the cornstarch in the bottle.

I didn't do this with my first batch. I just stirred the corn starch into the pan with the very recently boiling water. I ended up with a cleaner that left a disgusting cloudy film over my mirror. I also used my fancypants homemade orange infused vinegar for my first batch, but I don't think that was the source of the problem. I also noticed that the corn starch is an important part of this solution. Without it, the mixture is just bleh. I found that out during my second try, which only included alcohol, water, and orange vinegar. 

After "perfecting" the original Alvin Corn recipe on the third go around, I added 2 extra tablespoons of alcohol to boost drying time. I don't think it made a huge difference but it seems a little more efficient. Here's how I got the best Alvin Corn results:
  1. Add 1/2 TBS to a spray bottle.
  2. Add 1 cup distilled water that has been boiled then cooled to warm. Shake vigorously to dissolve corn starch.
  3. Add 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol and 2 TBS white vinegar. Shake some more to combine.
  4. To use: Shake vigorously before using. Spray glass lightly. Wipe clean quickly with newspaper, coffee filter, or your favorite glass cleaning cloth.

Alvin Corn works okay. There is a dirty spot, but it's possible I didn't wipe there. This photo was taken before I added additional alcohol.


I prefer club soda to clean glass and mirrors. In my experience, it works just as well, is much simpler (just pour into a spray bottle or twist a trigger top onto the bottle, no mixing or shaking), and it's even cheaper. However, I am curious if Alvin Corn would perform better than club soda on exterior windows. Not so much that I'm willing to try. LOL! Some things I'd rather leave to the pros!

Visit Crunchy Betty for complete recipe and instructions, a tutorial video, and to read lots of comments.

Have you used corn starch to clean glass before? Grammar buffs: Is it "corn starch" or "cornstarch"? I can't figure it out! Everyone on the internet writes it as one word but the box spells it as two. Help!

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
Follow on Bloglovin
Consider supporting this blog by shopping via my Amazon shop or buying my green cleaning eBook. Thanks.

AddThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...