Monday, December 10, 2012

My M.V.P.'s

It all started with a bottle of Windex. My son was about 18 months old and like every good parent, I kept all cleaning supplies locked up with the child-proof latches on my cupboard doors.  My son was a bit mischievous and I was taking no chances. 

One spring day, I decided to wash the windows.  I sprayed the windows with my trusty bottle of Windex and started tackling the dog slobber and sticky toddler hand prints.  Immediately, I heard a sucking sound behind me.  I whirled around to find my son with the Windex bottle nozzle in his mouth, eagerly trying to sucking it down.  A few weeks back, we had bought him a squirt bottle and filled it with water for him to play with - he liked to suck the water out of the spray nozzle.  Apparently, my son thought the Windex was a water bottle too.  I rushed over to him and snatched it away from his mouth... and to my relief saw he hadn't actually swallowed any.  Whew.  So fast.  I had turned my back for 2 seconds.  What if I had walked out of the room for more than 10 seconds?  What would have happened?  What if I had done the same thing with toilet bowl cleaner?

I'll admit it.  I freaked out.  It terrified me that something so commonplace could seriously injure and sicken my child.  I vowed right then and there to rid my home of these horribly toxic cleaning supplies.  Reading the warnings on the back of the bottle made me cringe.  WHY had I never considered this before?  Why did I wait until it was almost too late?  And WHY in the world do we think we need these horrid concoctions to have a clean home?  Our cleaning products are harming us!  This is ridiculous!

After some basic research, I learned that making your own cleaning supplies is incredibly simple, easy and cheap!  It made me feel stupid for believing all those advertisements for cleaning products in magazines.  The cleaning aisles are filled with hundreds of different types of cleansers, but in my opinion, almost all of them are totally unnecessary and some are downright dangerous.  After ditching store-bought cleaning products, I've become very sensitive to the toxic chemicals in them.  Just walking past the cleaning aisle (I can hardly make myself walk down the aisle - I actually hold my breath and walk as fast as I can) makes my eyes water, my nose burn and my head hurt.  And good grief,  please, please, PLEASE ditch the air fresheners, especially in bedrooms.  The last thing we need is constant exposure to nasty toxins in our homes.  I used to put them in our bedroom and wondered why my husband's asthma would suddenly worsen and he would get headaches.  I was poisoning him in his sleep!  Get rid of them.  Even the cute little plug-in ones from the cute store in the mall (I can't even walk in there anymore either...).  They are toxic.  They are hurting you.  Out, out, out!  If you want your house to smell nice, try some essential oil diffusers.  Ok..... rant over.  Where was I?

Anyway....over and over, these homemade cleanser recipes called for baking soda and vinegar.  And thus, my love affair with these two wonderful ingredients began to blossom.  Imagine my delight when I discovered that baking soda and vinegar have thousands of uses!  I began to call these two items my M.V.P.'s.  I want to tell you a little bit about the role these items play in our household.

You might say I'm a wee bit obsessed with baking soda.  Whenever I have a problem that needs to be solved "baking soda!" always comes to mind first.  Rarely has it failed me.  Here are just a few things I use baking soda for:

  • Washing my hair.  Wait, what?  Baking soda in your hair?!?  Yup, this seemed totally wierd to me too, but now I love it.  I no longer use shampoo. A quick scrub in the shower with a tablespoon of baking soda diluted in water leaves my hair shiny, clean and oil-free.  Way cheaper than shampoo and I get to avoid the nasty toxins in some shampoos. If you are intrested in this, try searching the internet for "No Poo Method" (no sham-poo).
  • Face cleanser/exfoliant.  Mix a bit of baking soda with water until it makes a loose paste.  Gently massage into skin to rub away dead skin cells.  Rinse off.  Ahhh!
  • Cleaning my toilet.  Sprinkle some in the bowl, follow with a splash of vinegar, watch it fizz (this never gets old, especially for kids.... or 32 year olds) and then scrub away.  Ta-da.  Clean toilet.  Now go throw away that nasty toxic toilet bowl cleaner.  That horrid stuff has no place in your home, especially if you have children!!!!  If your child manages to swallow some, it would burn a hole in their esophagus.  Is a sterile toilet worth that?!?  I didn't think so.
  • Degreasing/cleaning counter tops.  No need to buy Soft Scrub (and the yucky toxic chemicals that come with it).  Baking soda mixed with a drop of dish soap will do the trick.
  • Deodorizing carpets.  Sprinkle on carpet.  Let sit for a few hours (or the whole day).  Vacuum.
  • Cleaning up stains or spills on the carpet.  For wet stains, dump some baking soda on top.  It will absorb much of the stain and then you can vacuums it up.
  • Toothpaste.  In a pinch, wet your toothbrush and dip into baking soda.  Works great!  In fact, we ran out of toothpaste and have been using this method for a few weeks now.  Not sure if we'll ever buy toothpaste again!
  • Deodorant.  You can dust it onto damp armpits right after showering (it will keep you odor-free and fairly dry) or you can mix it with other ingredients to create your own deodorant.
  • Laundry.  Add baking soda to particularly stinky loads of clothes.
  • Baking. A staple item for delicious baked goods :)

Vinegar is my other M.V.P.  There are two main types I use around the house:  white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. White vinegar is used mostly for cleaning and baking.  Apple cider vinegar is for body care and cooking.   I use vinegar for:
  • Conditioning my hair.  After washing my hair with baking soda, I pour a bit of apple cider vinegar into a small cup and dilute it with water.  Then I slowly pour it onto my hair and scalp, gently massaging it in.  Rinse and you're ready to go.  The vinegar smell completely disappears when your hair dries.
  • Facial toner/astringent.  Pour a bit of apple cider vinegar (organic is best) in a bottle and dilute with water, about 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.  Wipe on your freshly washed face to adjust your pH (soap is alkaline, vinegar is acidic) and remove dead skin cells.  Who needs expensive alpha-hydroxy creams?!?  Vinegar does the same thing for much less.
  • Cleaning my toilet.  See instructions above in the baking soda comments.
  • Cleaning my coffee maker or tea pot. Fill tea kettle with vinegar and bring to a boil.  Dump the boiling vinegar down your sink drain (sprinkle with baking soda before hand for extra cleaning power).  For coffee makers, fill the pot with vinegar and pour it into the coffee maker.  Run one cycle with vinegar and then two cycles with water to rinse the machine.
  • Deodorizing sinks.  Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain, followed by boiling hot water. 
  • Washing windows.  All you need for clean windows is vinegar and newspaper.  Put the vinegar in a spray bottle and go to town.
  • Washing/mopping the floor.  Fill a bucket with hot water.  Add about a cup of vinegar.  The vinegar will clean and disinfect the surface.
  • All Purpose Cleaner.  No need for that toxic 409 stuff.  Simply fill a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water, a drop of dish soap or Dr. Bronner's soap and 3-4 drops of Tea Tree Oil.  You now have a bottle of non-toxic disinfecting cleaner.  I use it on everything - counters, sinks, windows, wall, carpets, bathtubs.  Hasn't let me down yet.  Sprinkle the surface with baking soda first if you need a little scouring action. 
  • Removing lime buildup or calcium deposits.  Spray area liberally with vinegar, or better yet, soak in vinegar overnight, if possible. 
  • Fabric Softener.  Ditch those nasty fabric softeners and toxin laden dryer sheets! Do you really want to be wearing and rolling around in toxins all day? Instead, add a 1/2 cup of vinegar to your wash cycle.  Dry as usual.  Or better yet, line dry/air dry.
  • Rinse aid for dishwasher.  I use a splash of vinegar instead of JetDry.
  • Culinary delights.  Vinegar adds flavor and bite to delicious dishes. 
  • Egg substitute.  You can omit the egg in many baking recipes by adding 1 tbsp of vinegar instead.  If the recipe doesn't already include baking powder or baking soda, you might want to also add a tsp of baking soda. 
These are just the few uses that came to the top of my head!  Do you use baking soda and vinegar?  Anything new to share with me?!?


  1. Hi Mrs. Hernandez! I religiously follow your blog and am working hard on getting rid of all the chemical crap in our house/food. I also ADORE baking soda and vinegar - for face wash, I grind some oatmeal in my food processor and mix it in with baking soda...even better for your skin! :)

    *Justine Keuning-LaFrence

  2. Justine, Good for you! Wish I would have known this stuff earlier. I may have to try the oatmeal - that sounds great!