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Solid soaps and dishes

I think refills are brilliant. In fact, I actually get a little bit excited when my Eco Leaf washing up liquid is running low because it means I can take my bottle and meander down to my local Better Foods to refill it. When I am there I generally get some treats too :). It’s a good opportunity to check out any interesting new lines and the seasonal local produce as well.

That said, and as much as I love Eco Leaf washing up liquids, if my search for a solid dish soap finally returned fruitful (I’ve tried to find a natural one) I would definitely switch to a solid one, no questions asked, as long as it worked effectively, I’d make the switch because it’d require less packaging = better for our waste foot print.

A bar or a rope of soap 

I have been using solid soap instead of liquid for sometime. I felt like a teenager on discovering LUSH, exploring the different options for solid soaps. I love essential oils and those that have strong citrus or warming aromas generally get my vote. Although, unlike my teenage self, my objective isn’t to buy bright or neon coloured, glittery soaps; instead this time around I’m seeking out natural, handmade, colour-free, organic and above all package free solid soaps. And luckily, within one mile radius of my front door I have about several options to choose from.

…Don’t forget that solid soaps need a home

If you have or are planning to switch from liquid to solid soap you’ll also need a soap dish or three to house your soap. I didn’t carry out any research before buying mine, the ones I now own and use came about through spontaneous purchases. But through observations I can include how effectively the soaps each fair in their own dishes. For example, I have considered how effective they are at keeping their  soap free from excess moisture and water to avoid squidgy soap scenarios. Below you will find my reviews.

Kitchen:
SOAP: Faith in nature solid grapefruit unpackaged soap from La Lune, Gloucester Road

DISH: Hemu soap dish with narrow grooves from Living Naturally

I really like Faith in Nature products but decided to stop refilling our hand soaps with their lavender hand soap as I felt the bulk quality wasn’t ask good, and the scent not as strong. But their solid grapefruit and aloe-vera soap has a great smell, and was  purchased loose from a local shop.

The hemu soap dish with narrow grooves retains a lot of soap residue which then keeps that side of the soap soggy. I do rinse and dry the dish as often as I can throughout the day, which doesn’t take very long. Possibly because it’s in constant use, this isn’t the best option. We benefit from direct sunlight in the kitchen through out the day as it’s an attic flat, which does help the soap dry out, though. I wonder it it didn’t get the opportunity to dry out, then perhaps it would be even less effective.

Bathroom x 2:

1. Sink-

SOAP: Suma coop Tea Tree and Eucapluptus

I LOVE this soap! It has made the bathroom smell fresh and energised. It was perfectly formed (I just love a well-formed soap) and it has managed to stay really dry?! But perhaps this is also due to the magical soap dish we have it in.

DISH:  Platanesoap dish ladder from Living Naturally

The soap dish is as describe, just like a ladder, meaning the gaps allow the water and soap residue to slip out,  and the soap has he opportunity to dry. This is why  I think I will opt for this design in the future. And it looks pretty snazzy as well.

2. Shower-

SOAP: Charcoal soap from Living Naturally

I really enjoy washing with this soap and although I am planning to try out a different body soaps  once this one is finished, I will be ordering more of this in the future. It’s detoxifying with a great smell. If like me, you’ll wear face masks, exfoliate your face etc but forget about the rest of you, then this soap ensures your whole body can get a bit of detoxifying lathering!This soap is basically a good all rounder- it’s warming and lasts ages!

DISH: Ceramic soap dish from Seven Seas, Cheltenham Road

I love the aesthetics of this dish. It’s from a local independent shop that stocks products made by local artists.  The soap dish has 3 holes in the center where the excess water and soap residue is meant to drain through, but I feel it isn’t doing the  job effectively.

I switched it to look after my charcoal body soap instead, meaning it will only be used once/twice per day max. Of course now it’s fine and the charcoal soap is another that seems self-drying! is this a thing with good soaps? As for constant use, this soap dish doesn’t cut it

Overall favourites:

Bathroom SINK! The Suma and the ladder combo- it just works: it’s look stylish, smells amazing, works effectively and it’s super anti-bacterial. Only downside it, this Suma soap came in a paper box. Apart from that I’m really in love with this combo and it might just become a staple…

 

To end I’ll proffer this top top: drying your soap on its side a few times seems to extend its life and last longer which is what we want right?

 

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Christmas in an air freshener

 


Because the first batch of Christmas in a cleaner (vinegar infused with Christmas smells) was so gorgeous, and moving with the Christmas theme, I wanted to try out my first air freshener, nostalgic of everyone’s favourite Winter festival.

I did a quick ecosia (instead of Google! and planted another tree in the process hihi!) and happened upon a very, very simple recipe. And, seeing as its my first attempt, its raining cats and dogs and I have the two ingredients the recipe required, it seemed obvious to experiment with this one first.

I have edited it bit however, by adding leftover whole spice and baked and dried orange peel, I have from the first batch of Christmas cleaner.

You will need:

  • A jar
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • Whole spice and/or Christmas essential oils. I used tangerine
  • Water
  • A spray bottle

 

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As simple as ABC:

Put all of your ingredients in a jar. Shake and open the lid to release some of the gas. Leave for about 24 hours. Use the funnel to sieve out the whole spice and transfer to an empty spray bottle. It really is as simple as that!

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Christmas in a cleaner

I have infused a blend of vinegar and water with the smells that denote winter and Christmas meaning with each spray, you are enveloped by the nostalgic cosy scents that are always in abundence at this time of year. Its gorgeous ❤.

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I have infused vinegar’s before with rose, lemon balm  and lemon peel. But this one is by far the best of all the infusions so far!

I am still on a journey to creating and maintaining a toxic-free home, which means I am still very much in the early, experimentation stage. A stage I actually really enjoy! I think I have it sussed with regards to the general household anti-bac spray; I just need to do a bit more research and exploration into the following:

  • shower soap/wash
  • no-poo shampoos/conditioners
  • hand-soaps

…if I intend to go totally chemical-free.

In making homemade products, you are also able to cut-down on your plastic consumption in addition to reducing toxins you aren’t sure are good for your skin or general health. I can remember working as a dishwasher while studying my art foundation course in Swansea, many moons ago now. In order to make the plates and cutlery extra shiny, I was instructed by the boss to use **bleach**. Not only does bleach smell horrific, it also had a terrible effect on my skin: my hands became blistered and very sore.

While I wasn’t there very long, the restaurant didn’t own washing-up gloves to protect my hands, so the  overall  experience while really bad at the time, has actually reinforced my desire to rid my house of these nasty chemicals. I mean you can actually drink this Christmas cleaner, where as I am pretty sure drinking bleach would harm if not, kill you-yikes! If memory serves, I think the female victim in ‘An Inspector Calls’ died from drinking bleach:(

The result of this Christmas fusion is so good I plan to make more and distribute  among friends and family. You can also use as a hair conditioner, and why not?!

What you’ll need to bottle  Christmas:-

•Empty spray bottle

•Orange peel

•Cinnamon bark

• Tsp of cloves

•Tangerine or frankincense essential oils

•Cider or white vinegar

•Water

Method:-

Bake the orange peel and cinnamon in the oven at 150 degrees for about 15-mins or until the orange peel has dried out.

Then, add 1 part vinegar to 5 parts water to your empty clean spray bottle.

Add your cloves, peel cinnamon and essential oils.

Leave to infuse for about 24 hours to appreciate the smells, although its immediately useable as an antibac spray!

If like so many others (including my husband) you still feel uncertain about the powers of vinegar in zapping your bacteria, then read my post ‘Infused vinegar‘ to get the lowdown on what vinegar contains to make it so effective. Trust me, it WORKS!

And if you are worried how your spices and peel will come out of the spray bottle, you could just use a large jar. This would make it much easier to replace the dry ingredients once they’ve lost their potency. You can then compost these ?

 

 

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Going green with your cleaning utensils

Adjusting our lifestyles to be more sustainable requires a reassessment of every part of our daily regime, including what we use to clean. It might not be instantly obvious when we address the parts of our lives we want to make greener, but what we clean with, and more importantly how and what its made from, also impacts on our planet, which means our utensils need as much thought as the chemical free cleaning solutions we seek out.

More often you find that the common household wash sponge, the standard yellow sponge with green scourer,  is made from plastic based foam and the blue and white gingham dish/surface cloth from viscose and EVA resin. Knowing what we do about plastic, we should empower ourselves to make better choices as consumers, and cleaning utensils are no exception: let us all refrain from plastic and go in search of kinder, earth-friendly alternatives that will biodegrade.

These days, the larger supermarkets stock their own brand of ‘earth-friendly’ cleaning products (Waitrose Eco for example) and larger brands such as Ecover, all claim to offer an alternative to nasty  chemical based household detergents. While I want to focus on cleaning utensils, I would urge  shoppers to read and research the ingredients and the claims, as they can be wildly inaccurate. And often, good old-fashion vinegar and water is as effective.

Since the larger supermarkets and many of the smaller independents stock these ‘ecobrands’,  I find it paradoxical that the same is not the case for earth friendly cleaning utensils to complement your ‘earth-friendly’ cleaners. Scourers, bottle cleaners, brushes, cloths, and so on, are still largely derivatives of plastic.

As a result, I found myself rummaging a number of local shops, in search of biodegradable cleaning utensils.  To this end, I have had to think outside the box to find earth-friendly options, such as buying a nail brush for the bathroom sink and bath, and demoting my dish brush to the toilet once it was unfit for its original purpose.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

For example, a wooden potatoe cleaner is not limited to veg; we can use it to scrub the sink (although not concurrently) or in the bathroom. A wooden handled, hessian bottle cleaner does not simply need to be purchased for bottles and glasses (even though they’re amazing at this task), you can purchase for a myriad of other purposes and rooms besides the kitchen. And when it is too worn to for its original purpose, they can be demoted and used for another purpose.

Dishcloths:

I have not purchased a ‘dishcloth’ for ages. The one I am using is crocheted and was produced by a cooperative in India. I call it a dishcloth as this is how they’re known, but in fact ours is used as a surface cleaner. In theory it can be used forever as it washes at 40 degrees (although we wash at 30) and after a number of washes already both are still going strong. Before washing I steep in vinegar to be sure I attack and kill bacteria. Some people like to boil theirs- this would ensure death the any deadly bacteria that could be lurking.

As I have already mentioned, when we aren’t presented with all the solutions for leading a sustainable life, we must use our imaginations and think outside the box to facilities our vision, until the day sustainable is (once again) the norm.

Here is the lowdown on my current cleaning utensils:

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This is a wooden with bristles nail brush that I use for the bath and sink. Its really easy to handle and will biodegrade once the brush has stopped working properly.
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This is a bottle and glass brush. I reuse so many bottle and jars that this really was an invaluable addition to my utensils. It is a vital part of my cleaning regime. The bristles as super-duper tough, I’ve had it for half a year and it shows no signs of waning yet.
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This was my dish brush but it became a bit worn and in truth, we weren’t getting on all that well. So I demoted it to the bathroom, where it has taken on the role of toilet brush.
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I love this crocheted cloth so much. It was made by ladies in India who work in a cooperative. I have two. One lives in the kitchen and is used for surface cleaning. The other lives in the bathroom for the tiles, mirrors, walls and so on. I wash them at 30 degrees and they literally feel as strong as when I first bought them. Apart from the colour fading slightly, I have faith these cloths will last a long time. But, when they do finally give in, they will be added to the compost heap as they’re 100% and therefore will easily break down and become part of the earth again.
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This is my loofah or luffah scourer. It’s a Michael’s original and produced in Philippines. I use this for all the dishes, pots pans etc and it too has lasted a long time. It’s completely natural so the entire thing will biodegrade once its fulfilled its purpose as a scourer.

A bit more about Michel’s originals: I purchased this from Earthbound, a shop local to me. Michael’s Original is a washing-up loofah grown in the Philippines (they look a bit like dried up cucumbers) and are 100% biodegradable. Interestingly, loofas absorbed c02 when they’re growing! Double wammy!

 

Eco force produce kitchen scourers from 97% post-consumer/industrial materials. They work really well and I use them for cleaning the worktops, scrubbing the sinks as well as the dishes.

Continue reading Going green with your cleaning utensils

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Coconut cotton dental floss

Today I experimented and made my own homemade dental floss. It has played on my mind for sometime, and today I put paid to my idea and found the results to be very positive, while still a work in progress, with room for improvement. It is a bit fiddly and while I used a largish jar for the purpose, one of Bean’s used food jars. It would have worked better with a small thin jar, but I had to work with what I had. Essentially, it is cotton dipped in coconut oil. You can either make a tub that lasts for a long time, or just melt and dip as and when you need. I pierced the lid as I envisaged the cotton to be pulled through here and torn, but in my first experiment. It didn’t work quite as effectively as I wanted, although this is a first attempt.

You will need the following:

  1. A reel of cotton
  2. Coconut oil
  3. A pot with lid (if you intend to store)
  4. A cocktail stick
  5. A bowl of hot water to make a bain marie to melt the coconut oil

FACTS about coconut oil:

  1. Coconut oil is contains medium chain fatty acid
  2. It is a saturated fat, solidifying at room temperature
  3. It is ANTI-microbial, parasitic, fungal and bacterial which is why it is excellent for oral hygiene 

If you make a batch as you need, then you can reuse the left over coconut oil in your cooking, your hair, for your skin or simply let it solidify until you find a purpose for it!

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Soap nut shampoo

This morning I boiled 6 soap nuts in 2 cups of water and added a few drops of lavender and tee tree essential oils. This is going to be my new shampoo.

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I have been told to apply to wet hair, lather as best you can but not to expect suds to form, and leave for 5-10 minutes and then rinse.

I plan to follow with a cider vinegar conditioning rinse. This is 1 part vinegar, to 4 parts water.

As soon as I’ve used this home made shampoo for a week, I will start adapting it. I am already considering creating a shampoo bar, or keeping with the liquid, and simply adding conditioning oils.

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I have already posted about soap nuts for washing clothes, which I am continuing to use. I am happy with the results, especially when combined with vinegar and essential oils.

FACTS about Soap nuts:

  • Contain a natural surfactant known as saponins
  • When the nuts come into contact with water they release this naturally chemical free surfactant
  • They were used to clean clothes in Asia and America for thousands of years