Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to Clean Wood Floors Naturally

All-natural, hardwood floors are great for our health (because, unlike carpet, they hold no allergens) and are great for the planet (because they can last decades without needing to be replaced). Not to mention, they're downright gorgeous. A lot of folks are stumped, however, when it comes to how to clean wood floors. There are a lot of unnatural AND natural products on the market that claim to be excellent floor cleaners, but why waste your money (or health) on those when a bucket of water, some clean rags, and a little vinegar will do the job just as well - if not better - at a fraction of the cost?

How to Clean Wood Floors (Hardwood, Bamboo or Engineered):

In a bowl, bucket or sink combine FOUR parts water to ONE PART distilled white vinegar. Dampen a mop or soft rag with the 4:1 mixture and wipe across small areas of the floor. For example, start by cleaning a 4ft by 4ft section and before you move onto the next section, swirl the dampened section with a clean, dry rag until all moisture is alleviated. If you leave wetness on wood (like you can on tile or other surfaces) you will eventually ruin it. It will become watermarked and the wood will begin to slowly warp. Drying small sections of wood as you clean will avoid this disaster ... and will prevent unattractive streaks.
To clean sticky spots or occasional spills, make a small batch of the 4:1 water and vinegar mixture, then spot clean and immediately dry.

Another option that works well on food spills and sticky areas of wood flooring is natural orange cleaner. Simply spray some on the mess and wipe dry with a clean rag. Orange Plus by Earth Friendly Products is a good choice. Or, better yet, skip the extra plastic bottle purchase and make your own orange cleaner, which is also great for cleaning counter tops AND degreasing stove tops. Barbara H. Peterson shares a terrific recipe for homemade, all-natural orange cleaner on her self-sufficiency and sustainability blog "Surviving the Middle Class Crash". (Love that name!)  To visit her blog and learn how to make her natural orange cleaner, click here.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Packaging-Free All-Natural Soap by One With Nature

Package-Free, All-Natural Soap Bars by "One With Nature" at Whole Foods Market
In my on-going quest to live as package-free as possible, I came to discover the 100% unpackaged Dead Sea Mineral Soap display by the company One With Nature at our local Whole Foods Market (pictured above). I'm telling you, the display itself drew me in and won me over. I love that the company does not provide any paper or plastic bags to hold their soap and that the display is all wood and uses a chalkboard instead of a plastic sign for product information and pricing. And speaking of price, this all-natural soap is merely $1.99 per bar. My favorite is the Shea Butter bar, which contains a very mild scent. (I am not a fan of spicy or floral scented soaps - even those with 100% natural fragrance.) I find that the moisturizing shea butter and dead sea mineral ingredients make my skin feel extra soft.

The complete list of ingredients in the Shea Butter Bars by One With Nature are: Saponified Palm and Palm Kernel Oils, Shea Butter, Vegetable Glycerin, Natural Fragrance, Dead Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Salt, Vitamin E

If your local store doesn't carry a package-free soap bar display, contact One With Nature and ask them which stores in your area do:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Most Eco-Friendly and Affordable Laundry Product

Eco Nuts - An Affordable, Green Alternative to Laundry Soap
For over a decade I've been researching the healthiest, most eco-friendly AND economical way to do laundry. As a result, I've switched brands every time something more pure and less packaged came along. My most were two companies that make highly concentrated, all-natural powders that require a mere tablespoon to clean a large load. While the small and easily recyclable cardboard packaging was great, I was always troubled by the plastic scoop these "natural" companies provided - and that I was collecting on a bi-monthly basis. This over-packaging (something I loath) sent me on a quest to finally give soap nuts a try.

Soap nuts are the reusable dried berries of the Chinese Soapberry Tree (Sapindus Mukorossi) which grows in the Himalayan foothills. Soap nuts contain saponin, an all-natural surfactant that breaks through the surface tension of water to more easily penetrate and clean fabric. There are several online retailers and companies that sell soap nuts to local health food stores and such, but I decided to try the relatively new brand Eco Nuts. Why I chose to go with Eco Nuts was primarily their minimalistic packaging - a small paper box with no plastic whatsoever. Each tiny Eco Nuts box comes with two small, unbleached 100% cotton sacks that hold the soap nuts when you do your wash. I immediately fell in love the fresh, natural smell of the dry berries and was very impressed with how well they cleaned my family's clothes in our front load HE washer.

Eco Nuts claims you can get 100 washes out of their $10 box. That translates to about 10 washes per  grouping of 4-5 soap nuts. I believe this to be true - if you actually have the time to dry your soap nuts between washes. With a large family that does a lot of sports and dirt digging, however, I found that to be impossible. I tried rotating the soap nuts and drying one set while using another, but since I tend to do a whole week's worth of dirty laundry in one day, that was hard to do. I would say, in our family, we get about 70 washes per box, which is still an amazing deal.

Last week we ran out of Eco Nuts and I decided to pick up a box of all-natural powder. My 9 year saw that I was using powder again and exclaimed in horror "Mommy! Where are the Eco Nuts? I love Eco Nuts! They're so much better for the planet!" Her reaction resulted in me (a) immediately adding Eco Nuts to my shopping list for the week, and (b) taking a relaxed breath because clearly the future of our planet is in good hands with this very concerned and highly-informed generation of children at the helm.

Eco Nuts can be found at Whole Foods Market,, and many local healthfood store. To read more about Eco Nuts and all their cleaning products go to: