Tag Archives: cheap

7 Homemade Cleaning Recipes | Non-toxic and Cheap

May 4, 2012

Non Toxic Homemade Cleaning Recipes

 

Are you looking for safe and cheap homemade cleaning recipes? Cleaning your home with natural, non-toxic cleaners helps keeps your ecological footprint low, saves you money, and creates a safer home for children and pets. Consider how much money you can save by utilizing eco-friendly substances already on hand (which you can also purchase in bulk!), rather than purchasing a specialized cleaning product for each part of your home.

#1 – White distilled vinegar

  • Use undiluted or diluted vinegar to disinfect and deodorize kitchen and bathroom surfaces, floors, sinks and tubs.
  • Use on carpet stains to effectively blot out color or burn marks.
  • Add a cup of vinegar to the final rinse cycle to act as a fabric softener and to remove soap residues.
  • Clean windows with diluted vinegar (then dry and buff with crumpled newspaper).
  • Soak dishcloths and dishtowels in equal parts vinegar and water overnight to remove stains and prolong fiber life.
  • Avoid using undiluted vinegar on marble, as the acid can corrode it!

#2 – Baking soda

  • Sprinkle over carpets to deodorize, leave for an hour and then vacuum.
  • Sprinkle inside garbage cans before putting in a bag—swill with water after removing a full bag.
  • Add a tablespoon to cut flower water to prolong life—change water every few days.
  • Substitute half of your laundry powder soap with baking soda—this will use fewer chemicals, make your detergent powder last longer, as well as make the detergent more effective.
  • Place a saucer of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors, change regularly—pour the old baking soda down the kitchen drain and follow with a kettle of boiling water to clean and deodorize drains.
  • Combine with water and soak in teacups and teapots to remove tea stains.

#3 – Lemons

  • Swirl lemon juice around to deodorize glass water bottles and jars.
  • Use juice to disinfect and clean wooden cutting boards (wooden boards are more ecologically sound than plastic ones).
  • Make lemon-scented dusting cloths by wrapping peeled lemon rind up in a clean, dry rag and then placing in a closed glass jar until use.

#4 – Eggshells

  • Crush and combine with baking soda and water to make a fantastic abrasive cleaner for hard-to-reach places such as glass decanters and long bottles.
  • Eggshells are also a great fertilizer for plants because of their mineral content; they are easy to crush up and sprinkle in pots of household plants or in gardens.

#5 – Mild, natural bar soaps

  • Use a bar of Castille or ivory soap as a stain stick to treat stains before putting into the laundry.
  • Use as a gentle and eco-friendly hand soap in the kitchen & bathroom.
  • Any natural bar soap works wonders for skin—try Burt’s Bees brand, or handmade soaps from a market.

#6 – Epsom salts

  • Use mixed with a little water as an abrasive scrub in the home.
  • Also does wonders in the garden as a commercial fertilizer substitute—Epsom salts are high in magnesium and give natural nutrients to flowers and edibles without adding petroleum to the soil.
  • They are also proven to promote a greater yield in both flowers and edible fruits and vegetables than commercial fertilizers.

#7 – Beeswax

  • Purchase natural beeswax polish to use as a polish/wax for wooden furniture and tabletops. Furniture polish sprays create a shiny, impenetrable glaze over wood, whereas beeswax feeds the grain of the wood with a deeper, richer luster.
  • Another alternative is a drop of olive oil.

Bonus household cleaning tips:

  • Soft cotton cloths
    • Keep old white cotton shirts, dresses and towels to clean with.
    • Cotton is a reusable and natural fiber, and is a far superior alternative to paper towels.
  • Newspaper
    • As mentioned, a great way to reuse old newspaper is to buff glass windows with it after spraying with vinegar water.
    • Newspaper absorbs oils or remaining residues and leaves windows free of streaks, with a nice sparkle.
  • Essential oils
    • Adding a small drop of essential oil to homemade cleaners or after deodorizing surfaces offers a pleasant lingering scent.
    • Nice and comparatively cheap scents are lavender, citrus or clove.

Additional resources and references:

  • A Guide to Green Housekeepingby Christina Strutt
  • Non-Toxic Housecleaningby Amy Kolb Noyes
  • Green Housekeepingby Ellen Sandbeck
  • Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Ofby Vicki Lansky
  • Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of by Vicki Lansky

5 Tips on Saving a Bundle While Traveling

March 31, 2011

1. Take your trip during the off-season
In shopping around for hotels and flights, you’ll usually notice a difference in price between the peak and slow seasons. I usually plan to take a trip within the month immediately before or after peak season.
Pros:
  • It will be cheaper and much less crowded
  • You’ll have an easier time booking arrangements
  • Better opportunity to mingle with locals (while they’re not overwhelmed by your fellow countrymen)
  • Your trip will be groovier. Ever read up on population density studies? Hordes of people do not make for the most relaxing vacation.
Cons:
  • It may be the slow season for a good reason (monsoons? descent of the mosquitos? impassable winter roads?)
  • Businesses may take this as an opportunity to renovate.
  • There may be fewer English speakers around.
2. Use Farecast Technology to know when to buy and travel
Say you and your special lady/gentleman friend want to go to Paris in May. Bing travel (formerly Farecast) has a flexible date search tool that will allow you to find the lowest prices. Being open with your departure date could be the difference between paying $900 vs $1700 per round trip ticket. A bit of planning ahead can save you and your sweetie a (rather shocking) $1600 on airfare.
Another neat Farecast feature is the ‘future ticket cost’ arrows. The color coded arrows let you know what historical trends and number crunching predict regarding future fare changes:
  • Green: Buy right now. Prices will be jumping in the near future.
  • Red: Wait! This price is coming back down.

3. Stay in Somebody’s Sweet Vacation Home.
Check out www.vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) for a list of houses, condos and studios to rent by the day or week. Since these properties are managed by a normal person instead of a company, you can often find really great deals. Listings are available worldwide, but are most concentrated in the States. I was shocked to see how many places were available within a few hours drive of Portland, making this a great resource for weekend getaways. Outside of camping, this is probably your cheapest option for accommodating a group of people.

Pros:

  • Many vacation rentals include a full kitchen — take advantage of this! Cook your meals at your homebase instead of dropping a small fortune eating at restaurants every day.
  • I cannot stress enough how cool and affordable some of the listed houses are.

Pro/Con:

  • Many of these properties will be a bit off the beaten path. If you like seclusion & a unique experience while on vacation, this should work out nicely for you. Make sure to get thorough directions from the home-owner and/or current maps before leaving. You may find yourself in a residential neighborhood without streetlights, or maybe in the middle of the woods off a dirt road. Also it’s somebody’s house, so there usually isn’t a sign.

Cons:

  • Be sure to read the rental contract. Know going in what sort of cleaning you’re expected to take care of before departing.
  • VRBO rentals usually need to be planned in advance (shoot for at least two weeks.) Leave enough time to snail-mail payment/contracts/keys.
4. Concerning Cash
This may seem obvious, but plan ahead with a travel budget and three (yes, three) cash acquisition plans. Most places in the world have ATMs for cash, but sometimes things go awry. Maybe the ATM keypad is upside-down and you enter your pin number incorrectly, rendering your bank card useless. Perhaps you forget to call your bank and let them know that you’ll be making charges from outside the country and they freeze your account. Sometimes your hotel doesn’t take credit/debit cards and you have to come up with enough cash to cover your stay. Not that I’m talking from experience or anything. (cough cough.) In America, you can purchase most anything by debit card, not so elsewhere. Depending on your bank and destination, different fees (flat transaction fees, exchange fees, or both) will be attached to getting money. Choose three from the list before you leave the country:
  • ATMs at your destination – consider both withdrawal and exchange fees.
  • Get Visa or American Express travel cards pre-loaded with your destination’s currency.
  • Travelers checks. Dated? Yes. Accepted worldwide? Yes.
  • Get foreign currency at your bank before leaving. Make sure to get one of those geeky under-the-shirt-money-hiding-pouch-things.
  • Airport exchange office – convenient, but often higher exchange rates.
  • Line up a trusted friend or family member as your emergency cash backup. Don’t forget to let them know they’re your last hope in an emergency.
5. Have an Adventure
You’ve made it to your destination, now go have a real experience! Wander. Notice things. Live like a local. Avoid tourist traps – they’re designed specifically to part you from your money. Make a list of ways to have a new, inexpensive experience, such as:
  • Talk to the locals. Go to their favorite cheap restaurants.
  • Consider alternate transportation. Drive instead of fly. Take the bus instead of drive. Rent a moped (Ciao!) Avoid cabs unless it’s an emergency.
  • Go to the grocery store & grab some local fare. Find a nice spot, eat, and enjoy the view.
  • Check out blogs devoted to your destination. Somewhere on the internet, somebody is dying to tell you about all the great things to do there. Listen to them!