Tag Archives: non-toxic cleaning

5 Plant-Powered Cleaning Products Worth Adding to Your Shopping Cart

Green cleaning products get a bad wrap for being weaker or less potent than their traditional counterparts, but these eco-friendly cleaners actually pack quite?the punch. Not only are they free of toxic chemicals, these green cleaning products?are just as powerful as?everything already in your cleaning closet.?Plus, they smell so much better! (Maybe it’s just me, but I like to be able to breathe after I clean the kitchen counter.)

Next time the last drop of your?go-to disinfecting spray or glass cleaner is used up,?consider adding one of these green alternatives?to your shopping list. Replace them one by one and, before you know it, you’ll have an eco-friendly cleaning arsenal ready to go! I’m certain you’ll never go back.

1. Branch Basics?”The Concentrate

If you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, this is the way to do it! Made from plant-derived ingredients like sugar, chamomile flower and baking soda, this concentrate can replace just about every cleaning product in your home. Use it?for everything from removing gunk from your stovetop to washing your dog!

2. ECOS Stain + Odor Remover

Perfect for everyday use, this plant-based stain and odor remover effectively eliminates stains and freshens even the most persistent?of odors. Who knew lemon peel oil was so effective! Use on upholstery, carpets and clothes – wherever those messes show up.

3. Method Daily Shower Spray

This toxin-free spray will have you singing in the shower. Just spray a fine mist on all wet surfaces and it will take care of the rest with its amazing plant power. And this spray isn’t just effective, it’s thoughtful too! Made by a certified B Corporation, this product is?biodegradable, BPA free, compostable and made in the USA. Awesome, right?

4. Bon Ami Powder Cleanser

Bon Ami Powder Cleanser is a wonderful example of non-toxic cleaning power. Made from naturally soft abrasives like limestone and felspar, Bon Ami can be confidently used on most hard surfaces in the kitchen and elsewhere in the house.?There’s a reason it’s been a household favorite since 1886.

5. Better Life Naturally Smudge-Smacking Glass Cleaner

It’s non-toxic. It’s 100% plant-derived. It’ll get the job done. Made from corn, coconut and palm kernel, this cruelty-free cleaner is full of just the good stuff. And it works fabulously – kicking fingerprints, greasy smudges, dirt and rain spots to the curb. And no streaks too!

When it comes to cleaning the house, chemicals aren’t the only way to get the job done. And with?so many excellent plant-based cleaning products on the market, there’s no reason not to jump on this train. Give it?a try!

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3 Ways to Kill Mold Naturally
3 Ways to Clean Your Windows with Vinegar
13 Natural Ingredients to Clean Almost Anything


5 Plant-Powered Cleaning Products Worth Adding to Your Shopping Cart

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15 Spring Cleaning Tips for a Healthy House

It?s the most refreshing time of the year. Yes, spring cleaning season has rolled around again. And even if you have no intention of making an official spring cleaning to-do list, there are still certain parts of your home that probably could use a serious cleanse. Here are 15 spring cleaning tips that can help make your house a healthier place to live.

1. Get some fresh air

Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

Many of us can?t wait to throw open our windows in the spring. (Sorry to those with spring allergies.) And your house might desperately need that ventilation to reduce indoor air toxins that built up during the winter months. Natural ventilation has the ability to reduce lung-related illnesses by up to 20 percent, according to the World Health Organization. It also helps with moisture control, which hinders mold growth. If you can?t open windows, some other ways to improve indoor air quality are to bring in some houseplants, invest in an air purifier, limit the products you buy that contain VOCs and simply remove your shoes at the door.

2. Declutter

Decluttering isn?t just for Marie Kondo fans. Getting rid of unnecessary possessions can do wonders for anyone?s health and wellbeing. According to Mayo Clinic, a tidy house can decrease stress, improve energy, spark creativity and leave you feeling happier and more accomplished. Plus, that organization can trickle into other areas of your life. For instance, you might be inspired to adhere to a healthier diet or a more structured workout plan. So jump on the decluttering bandwagon this spring, and start tidying up.

3. Check expiration dates

As you declutter, make a point to look at expiration dates on any products that have them. Spend a day taking inventory of everything in your fridge and pantry. Get rid of food that?s past its prime, and plan to use anything that will expire soon. Plus, check the expiration dates on medications and first-aid items, household products and even any fire extinguishers you have in the house. It should bring you some peace of mind knowing everything is in working order.

4. Be picky about cleaning products

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Before you really get down to spring cleaning, take inventory of your cleaning products to be sure you have the tools you need for a healthy house. Consumer Reports recommends closely reading the labels of any store-bought products and adhering to their instructions. ?A label with the words ?poison? or ?danger? indicates that some ingredients are toxic if ingested; one with the words ?warning? or ?caution? means there are ingredients that could be dangerous if swallowed,? Consumer Reports says. Even better, learn to make your own natural cleaning products that are better for your health and often your wallet, as well. You might already have many of the items you need right in your kitchen.

5. Dust often-overlooked spots

Let?s be honest: There are parts of our homes we often skip with the dust cloth, as they can be tedious or difficult to clean. But a dusty house can have several consequences for our health. So as the season changes, prioritize dusting all those overlooked spots ? blinds, baseboards, the tops of doors and cabinets, shelving, fan blades, etc. ?You can fit a pillowcase around the fan blade, and use it as a dust rag,? HGTV recommends. ?Any dust that falls will land into the pillowcase rather than on the floor or furniture below.?

6. Deep-clean rugs and upholstery

It?s also ideal to give your rugs and upholstery a good cleaning to remove dirt, dust and other allergens that have settled in them. If you?re able, move your furniture, so you can reach all of your flooring to clean. HGTV even suggests making this the time of year when you invest in steam cleaning your carpets. ?An annual steam clean helps to lift stains and refresh the fibers in high-traffic areas,? HGTV says.

7. Thoroughly wash windows

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Before you throw open those windows for the spring season, make sure they shine. Wash the insides and outsides, getting between screens and the glass. If you?re feeling especially ambitious, head to the exterior side to knock down any debris and cobwebs around your windows, so they aren?t trapping pollen and other contaminants near your open windows. Plus, freshen up your screens for the season, especially if they?ve been sitting idle (and dusty) all winter. ?To quickly clean screens, use a scrap of carpeting,? HGTV says. ?It makes a powerful brush that removes all the dirt.?

8. Disinfect trash cans

If you?ve never cleaned your trash cans, well, it?s probably time. It?s not a pleasant chore, but it will ensure that your cans are odorless and bacteria-free. The Kitchn recommends using a clean toilet brush and your preferred disinfecting spray to scrub down the inside of a trash can. Then, rinse, tip it upside down and allow it to dry thoroughly before you use it again.

9. Detox the refrigerator

A clean fridge is a healthy fridge. Besides killing any mold and bacteria, detoxing your fridge also removes spoiled food from the equation that could get you sick. Simply use your favorite natural disinfectant on the interior (and exterior). HGTV suggests working one shelf at a time, so you don?t have to remove the entire contents of your fridge all at once. ?Every time you go to the store, make it a goal to clean a single shelf before you pile in new groceries,? HGTV says.

10. Degrease the stove and oven

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Cleaning grime off stoves and ovens can take a bit of elbow grease. But the good news is you don?t have to resort to any toxic cleaners or even your oven?s potentially dangerous self-cleaning function. Simply create a paste of baking soda and water, and coat the dirty areas, The Kitchn says. Let it sit preferably overnight, and then wipe up the paste. Finally, spritz a little vinegar on any leftover baking soda, which will bubble, and wipe it away.

11. Make faucets shine again

Hopefully, sanitizing faucets is part of your regular cleaning routine, as they?re a prime spot for germs to live. But there are some parts of faucets that tend to accumulate buildup over time. For lime buildup, HGTV recommends placing a vinegar-soaked towel over the spot and allowing it to sit for about an hour. That should make the deposits easier to wipe off. Likewise, check your showerhead for any mineral deposits, which can affect its performance. ?Keep the jets in the nozzle clear and clean by misting the showerhead with a mixture of 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent water,? according to HGTV. ?Allow it to sit and drip for a few minutes and then wipe it clean with a dry cloth.?

12. Cleanse the bathroom

Use spring cleaning as a reason to finally tackle any mold and mildew lurking in your bathroom. Try a spray bottle filled with white distilled vinegar, which is highly effective on its own in killing mold. For a more pleasant smell, you can add a few drops of essential oils ? or even some tea tree oil, which is an antifungal itself. And if you have a shower curtain (and liner), simply throw it in the wash with a cup of vinegar to kill mold and mildew.

13. Refresh the bed

Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

A spring refresh might be just what your bed needs, especially if you have allergies. You should wash your sheets and pillowcases at least weekly, according to The Spruce. Pillows should be washed about every one to four months, depending on whether you use a pillow protector. And if you use a duvet cover, the duvet itself probably only needs to be washed a couple times a year, so spring cleaning can be one of those times. Plus, throw your mattress cover in the wash (ideally do this monthly), and give your mattress a good vacuuming to remove dust and dirt. Then, relax and breathe a little easier in your sleep.

14. Hunt for home repairs

The spring cleaning season is a prime time to spot any potential repairs your home might need. So as you move about your cleaning tasks, keep an eye out for damage. ?Investigate all doors and windows for leaks and drafts, particularly near the corners,? HGTV recommends. ?Look for peeling and chipping paint, which can signal water intrusion.? Try to take care of any issues as soon as possible before those spring showers and hot weather complicate matters.

15. Pace yourself

Just because it?s called spring cleaning, it doesn?t mean you have to get everything done before the flowers fully bloom. Divide and conquer your to-do list, while being mindful that some of these jobs can be pretty physically taxing. Do what you can. Pace yourself. Check off the tasks that are most pressing. And remember to stop and smell that fresh spring air.

Main image credit: AlexRaths/Getty Images

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Ways You Might Be Contributing to Water Pollution

The health of our planet?s water is critical to life on Earth, yet it?s being polluted at an alarming rate. And humans are to blame. In fact, roughly 80 percent of ocean pollution comes from land, primarily from human activity. Here are five ways people contribute to water pollution in their everyday lives ? and what you can do to help combat the problem.

1. Plastic use

Maybe you?ve seen the viral video of the sea turtle who got a plastic straw stuck up its nose, and you decided to give up straws. That?s a great start. But the plastic problem facing the ocean goes a whole lot deeper. Millions of metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, influenced by population size and waste management standards, according to one study.

It all comes down to how much plastic people use. If you want to do your part to minimize plastic pollution, avoid disposable plastics wherever you can ? straws, drink lids, cutlery, grocery bags, water bottles, etc. Steer clear of beauty products with plastic microbeads. Consider the packaging when you make a purchase. For instance, you might be able to buy food from bulk bins using your own reusable containers, rather than purchasing a product packaged in plastic. And, of course, always responsibly recycle plastic whenever you can.

2. Pouring toxins down the sink or toilet

If your kid tries to flush one of their toys down the toilet, it might just mean a hefty plumber?s bill for you. But if an item that isn?t biodegradable makes it down a drain, that could affect the sewage treatment process. Those items often end up polluting water and beaches, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, so never let them go down the drain.

Furthermore, keep toxins far away from your drains, as well ? think old paint, chemical cleaners and unused medication. Instead, find a hazardous waste collection facility near you to dispose of them responsibly. The extra effort certainly is worth it to avoid those chemicals someday making an appearance in your drinking water.

3. Washing your own car

Being a model car owner doesn?t just make the roads safer. It also can keep our water cleaner. ?Good maintenance can reduce the leaking of oil, coolant, antifreeze, and other nasty liquids that are carried by rainwater down driveways or through parking lots and then seep into groundwater supplies,? according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

So what about a car wash? Although it costs more money, it actually might be more environmentally friendly to head to a professional car wash instead of doing it yourself. ?The pros are required to drain their wastewater into sewer systems, where the water is treated for all the bad stuff before being discharged,? the Natural Resources Defense Council says. ?Many even recycle that water.?

4. Not picking up after your dog

If you have a dog, hopefully you?re already a responsible pet owner picking up its waste. And you can pat yourself on the back twice because you?re also preventing pathogens from entering our water supply. ?Rain can carry pathogens in dog waste into streams where people swim, making them sick,? according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The nitrogen and phosphorus in dog waste also can contribute to toxic algae blooms and harm marine life.

And if you have a feline friend, never flush your cat?s poop down the toilet unless it has tested negative for toxoplasmosis. Cats excrete the parasite that causes the disease, which can lead to serious health complications in some people. If you don’t have a municipal compost program that accepts pet waste, the most practical option is to bag it ? preferably in an eco-friendly bag ? and throw it in the trash.

5. Applying lawn chemicals

As long as people insist on having the greenest lawn on the block and growing plants that don?t really belong in their environment, they?ll use fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Those chemicals might make your grass green, but they also have some serious consequences.

?When lawn chemicals are applied improperly, they can run off into streams, harming fish and other animals and contaminating our drinking water,? according to the Environmental Protection Agency. ?Overapplication of any lawn chemical can result in runoff that carries toxic levels of chemicals or excessive nutrients into lakes, streams and groundwater.?

Thankfully, there are many viable alternatives to toxic lawn chemicals that will keep your garden growing. Try organic lawn treatments or compost to feed your plants. Landscape with native species, which require less assistance from you. And test your soil for nutrient deficiencies before you apply anything unnecessarily.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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10 Unusual Uses for Olive Oil

Olive oil is a “healthy fat” and in moderation can help reduce your risk for all sorts of ailments, like heart disease and high blood pressure. We know that olive oil is healthy for our insides, but did you know it has all sorts of other uses for you, around the home, and even for pets?

Let’s take a look at some uses for olive oil beyond the kitchen, and I’d love to hear your unusual uses for olive oil in the comments!

1. Make your own sugar scrub

You can use olive oil to create a moisturizing, exfoliating sugar scrub that’s great for soothing dry winter skin. Just mix up sugar with enough olive oil to form a paste, add scent with your favorite essential oils, and you’re ready to rock. Massage the sugar scrub into your skin in the shower or bath.

2. Moisturize your hands and feet

To give those dry hands and feet some extra TLC this winter, massage a small amount of olive oil into your skin after you take a bath or shower. Put on socks and gloves afterward to help that moisture absorb into your skin. You’ll notice results almost immediately!

3. Oiling your hair

Oiling your hair is a practice that’s been around for centuries. While some tutorials call for coconut oil to oil your hair, olive oil works just as well. Just put a few drops of olive oil onto your hands, massage into your scalp, then brush or comb to distribute the oil evenly. Let it sit for about an hour, then wash the excess oil away with your favorite non-toxic shampoo.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by pinguino

4. Hairball prevention for cats

Even your cats can benefit from olive oil! Depending on your cat’s size, feed her 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of olive oil to help prevent hairballs. The olive oil will help their coats look shinier, too!

5. Unsticking a zipper

Ever gone to take off your boots, only to discover that the zipper is stuck? Free yourself by dabbing a bit of olive oil onto the zipper’s teeth to help it slide along smoothly. Remember: a little oil goes a long way.

6. Makeup remover

Store bought makeup removers and cold creams are often loaded with toxic mystery ingredients. You can skip the polysyllabic guessing game with olive oil instead. Use a warm, damp wash cloth or a cotton ball with a couple of drops of olive oil to remove makeup and moisturize your face at the same time.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Perfecto Insecto

7. Soothe a sunburn

You don’t want to put oil onto your skin the day that you notice a burn, but start moisturizing with olive oil a day or two later to help prevent peeling and heal your damaged skin.

8. Treat a dry scalp

Forget the Head and Shoulders, which is full of mystery ingredients! Massage a small amount of olive oil into your scalp to moisturize and fight those flakes.

9. Revitalize wood furniture

Whip up a mixture that’s 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice. Put a small amount of oil on a soft cloth, and wipe down your wood furniture. It will keep the wood from drying out and help hide small nicks and scratches.

10. Wash your face

Washing your face with oil may sound counter-intuitive, but many green beauty gurus swear by the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). Need some tips to get started? Kayla Coleman has an excellent how-to for OCM newbies!

I bet this only scratches the surface of olive oil’s many uses. How do you use olive oil when you’re not cooking with it? Let’s keep the ideas coming in the comments!


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Should You Use a Paper Towel Or Cloth Towel For That Mess?

In the quest to live a more environmentally-friendly life, there are a few questions that consistentlycome up for eco-minded folks.

One of these conundrums is the question of whether you should reach for a paper towel or a dish towel when presented with a spill or other small mess. Like so many of these arguments, the answer is, “it depends.”

On the surface, the answer to this question might seem simple.After all, paper towel waste is a big problem for Americans. “Here inthe U.S. we currently use more than 13 billion pounds ofpaper towelseach year and that number is growing steadily,” according to The Paperless Project. “This equals more than 3,000 tons ofpaper towel wastein the U.S. alone.”

Holy paper waste, Batman! Since cloth towels can be reused for years, it may seem like they’re the obvious green choice, but wait just one second…

Related Reading: 7 Best Eco-Alternatives to Throw-Away Paper Towels

Reusing textiles requires washing, and washing requires water (and in most cases electricity). Water is increasingly becoming a precious resource in post climate-change world(just ask California), and not everyone gets their electricity from clean sources like solar, wind or geothermal power. Depending on the age/efficiency of your washing machine, each load could sendaround 20 gallons of water down the drain, not to mentionthe energy used to dry it (unless you’re using a clothesline). There’s also the chance that cloth towels can harbor or even spread bacteria if not properly maintained. Yuck!

So what’s an earth-loving humanto do?

The answer is to employ a hybrid approach that reduces your paper towel consumption as much as possible (if every household in the U.S. used just one fewer70-sheet roll of paper towels,it would save 544,000 trees each year), and to use recycled paper towels when the situation calls for a disposable cleaning solution (every ton of recycled paper saves an estimated 7,000 gallons of water).

When To UseCloth Towels

1. Drying hands after washing
2. Drying clean dishes
3. Wiping crumbs/dust off surfaces
4. Soaking up water-only spills
5. Polishing furniture
6. Cleaning up after a meal/using as a napkin

When To Use Recycled Paper Towels

1. Spills that could spread germs/disease (think: raw egg, or liquid from raw meat)
2. Soaking upgrease from bacon/fried foods
3. Cleaning germy surfaces (think: toilet, diaper changing table, or litter box)
4. Cleaning toxic items (think: paintbrushes, glue spills, etc)

What do you think?Do you hate paper towels or do you think they have their place? Tell us in the comments!

Related Reading: 9 Paper Products You Should Give Up For Good

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Should You Use a Paper Towel Or Cloth Towel For That Mess?

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5 Appliances You Should Be Cleaning (& Helpful Tips for Cleaning Them Efficiently)

Clean my appliances? you may ask. I thought they were supposed to make life easier, not harder!! Well, yes. But occasionally cleaning appliances will not only keep them fresher and cleaner, it will also help them work more efficientlyandlast longer. And its a simple procedure once you know how. Here are a few appliances that are likely getting ignored during spring cleaning chores, but shouldn’t be.

1. Washing Machines

Does your washing machine have a weird, moldy smell?Then it needs a little TLC. Over time,mold and bacteriado tend to collect in washing machines, especially front loaders.

Try one of these fixes (or all of them if the appliance is really smelly):

  1. Wipe around and under the rubber door seals.
  2. Pull out the detergent drawer and give it a good scour.
  3. Pour 1 cup of vinegar into the detergent dispenser. Follow up with a hot water or sanitary wash cycle.

To help prevent odor build-up in a front-loading machine, leave the detergent drawer, as well as the door, open between uses. Make sure small children and pets wont be able to get inside.

2. Dryers

Yes, it’s important to remove the flint from the dryer after every load — but that’s not enough. If you use fabric softener in your wash, you will need to remove the lint screen occasionally and wash it with soap and water. This will remove softener build-up that tends to interfere with the dryers functionality. Let the screen dry completely before replacing it. In addition, once a year, you should have ahandymanclean the lint out of your dryers ductwork to eliminate a potential fire hazard.

3. Stainless Steel Appliances

Don’t let the name fool you. Stainless steel items still need to be cleaned. Heres how to do thatwithout scratching their elegant surface:

  1. Wipe down with warm soapy water, using a soft cloth or a sponge.
  2. Rinse off with clean water. This is especially important for your stainless steel range, which might otherwise develop a permanent soap stain when you heat it.
  3. Buff with a soft, dry cloth.
  4. Never use abrasive cleansers or pads on stainless steel.

DID YOU KNOW? An environmentally safe stainless steel conditioner is great for quick touchups, and prevention of annoying fingermarks and grease stains. It also leaves your appliances nice and shiny. Use a soft cloth and always apply in the direction of the grain.

4. Ovens

Have you ever made a lasagna that overflowed and landed on the oven floor? When that happens, make life easier on yourself; deal with it ASAP. Sprinkle the overflow with salt immediately (it will help loosen the residue) and finish your cooking process. After turning off the oven, take out the casserole dish. Scrub the floor with a damp sponge; be careful to avoid contact with the oven racks, which will still be very hot. Enjoy your dinner!

HELPFUL HINT: The salt trick also works miracles with burned food in the bottom of non-coated metal cooking pans.

5. Dishwashers

Yes, your dishwasher is regularlyexposed to soap and water, but italso dealswith leftover food, grease and soap scum. (Yuck!) Giving it a good cleanse will increase its efficiency. Remove the bottom rack and clear particles out of the drain. Next, place a dishwasher-safe container full of white vinegar (about 1 cup) on the upper rack and run a hot-water cycle to remove grease and odors. If the interior is stained, sprinkle 1 cup ofbaking sodaover the bottom surface. Once again, run a hot-water cycle a short one will be fine this time.

Laura Firszt writes fornetworx.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Appliances You Should Be Cleaning (& Helpful Tips for Cleaning Them Efficiently)

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How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in the Kitchen

Few things are peskier than asudden onslaught of fruit flies in your kitchen. It doesn’t matter how quickly you eat your produce, they always seem to find it first!

Fruit flies breed extremely quickly, so it’s pretty easy to end up with a colony in no time. But if you’re dealing with an infestation in the kitchen, odds are you don’t want to spray toxic chemicals in the area.

Sick of them taking over? Compostyour overripe fruit, then testone of these tried-and-true, chemical-free remedies to banish them from your kitchen forever.

Vinegar Trap

Non-toxic and works like a dream! This classic recipe will get those little bugs in no time.

Grab a small jar and put a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in the bottom.
Gently mix in several drops of liquid dish soap.
Place the jar on your kitchen counter, wherever you see the most gnats.
They will be drawn to the smell of the apple cider vinegar, but the soap will catch them.
When you’re satisfied, empty the jar and rinse.

Catch & Release

Humane and low-tech, this catch and release methodis a winner.

Set a nice piece of soggy, rotting fruit in a container with a lid.
Wait for the bugs to start feasting.
Quickly cover the containerthen release the flies outside, away from your home and your food.

Sticky Honey Trap

Easy to make and works like a charm.

Spread an index card with honey.
Tape the trap to a window frame or otherwise open location.
Dispose of the trap when you’ve captured all the pests you can.

General Tips & Tricks

Have an indoor kitchen compost? Empty it daily to eliminate it as a food source for fruit flies.
Keep your indoor compost’s moisture content balanced and dryishby adding “browns” i.e. any compostable element that is carbon-based, like newspaper or wood shavings.
Toss old flowers and the stale water they are standing in.
Deodorize your garbage disposal. Drop a quarter of a lemon and a splash of vinegar down the drain, then run the disposal.
Clean the kitchen and sweep up crumbs. Fruit flies zero in on food wherever it may be. Deep clean to remove any sweet residue or forgotten piece of food that may attract them.

Do you have any other creative ways to rid your kitchen of fruit flies? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in the Kitchen

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How to Get Rid of Hard Water Stains the Natural Way

Hard water brings with it a lot of problems, including unattractive rings around your toilet bowl. Hard water is simply H20 that contains high concentrations of minerals such as magnesium and calcium, but it leaves behind ugly brown stains on toilets and other bathroom appliances when the water inevitably evaporates into the air.

The minerals left behind by hard water may leave ugly stains in your WC, but theyre not inherently dirty. That said, you probably want to get rid of them as best you can if you want to maintain a pretty, clean-looking bathroom.

Unfortunately, most of the cleaning agents meant to attack this problem are harmful to the environment. If you like to use nontoxic products in your home, here are some tips for getting rid of hard water stains.

Step 1: Buy the Right Products

Vinegar is by far the most tried-and-true natural product for getting rid of hard water stains. Home bloggers like Jen of The Thrifty Home swear by it, as it is both completely nontoxic and packed with heavy-duty cleaning powers.

Of course, you also have other options. Something acidic, like lime juice, lemon juice or, according to the environmental blog Grist, even Coca-Cola (gross, right?) could also do the trick.

Step 2: Soak the Area in Your Cleaning Solution

Whatever product you chose, now its time to apply it to your hard water stains. If its the toilet youre concerned about, youre going to want to turn off the water valve and scoop all water out of the toilet bowl, Grist says. Fill the bowl with your cleaning solution so that it covers the stains.

If youre concerned about stains around your faucet or in your bathtub, youll want to soak some paper towels in your cleaning solution. Place the sopping wet towels directly on all spots that you want to dissolve.

Youre going to want to let the cleaning solution sit for a whilemaybe even overnight, depending on how bad the stains have become.

Step 3: Scrub

Finally, its time to get your hands dirty! Scrub away at the stains with a sturdy brush until theyre gone. Grist also recommends using a pumice stone on really hard-to-clean spots. Just make sure that if you go this route, youve brought the water level back up around the area. This will ensure you dont scratch the surface of your appliances.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Get Rid of Hard Water Stains the Natural Way

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The Ultimate Green Moving Guide

Yes, it’s true. Pulling up stakes and moving is an awful lot of work. No matter how much you are looking forward to life in your new home, change is difficult and stressful. That doesn’t mean you should forget about your green goals, though. Minimizing the wear and tear on our planet when you move is really not so hard. Just follow some — or all — of these 10 tips for an eco-friendly move.

  1. Choose a green new home.There are so many environmentally friendly angles to focus on when selecting a new place to live. Perhaps you will look for a house or apartment with a highWalk Score, LEED-certified construction, or a place to share with roommates or other family members.
  2. Start early.Take plenty oftime to decide which green elements are a must for you to include in your move. Then do your homework to discover how to achieve your aims.
  3. Declutter responsibly.Bringing along only what you really need/want will reduce the quantity of packing materials you requireand the amount of fuel your transport vehicle will consume. Try to sell, donate, or recycle as much as you can.Fringe benefit: This way, you will also pay less for the reduced poundage if you’ll be using professional movers.
  4. Remember your furred and feathered friends,If you have beenfeeding the birds and squirrelsin your current locale, don’t just stop abruptly. Find someone to take over for you when you’re going to move away in the wintertime.
  5. Use sustainable packing boxes. For a small local move, clean secondhand cartons from the nearby grocery or liquor store will be fine. Pass your containers on once you are settled in your new home sweet home. If you are planning a larger or long distance move, you’re likely to need a substantial numberof uniformly sized containers. Rent from your moving company, if you’re using one, or a green packing company. We recommend sturdy crates manufactured from plastic bottles — which can be used and reused an amazing 400 times — and recycled packing and wrapping materials.
  6. Pad your fragile items with towels or sheets.This beats using and discarding newspaper or (shudder!) Styrofoam. Unpack with care.
  1. Minimize your carbon footprint when transporting your possessions.Though making multiple short hops to drop off stuff at your new place may be convenient, it sure does use a lot of gasoline. One trip in as small a truck as possible is much more efficient. When hiring a mover, look for one that practices environmental responsibility, such as working with trucks that run on biodiesel fuel, bicycles, or train transport for long distance moves.
  2. Pick green cleaning supplies.One of the many chores that moving brings is a ton of cleanup (often at both ends of the move). Even though you’ll be tired and stressed, take the time to use green cleaning supplies, such as vinegar and old rags, rather than paper towels and harmful chemical cleansers.
  3. Prep your new home the green way.Seal potential sources of air leakage (cracks around doors and windows, for example) and insulate (ductwork, attic, and crawlspace are excellent places to start). Both these simple home improvements will allow your heating and cooling system to work more efficiently. When you redecorate, chooselow- to no-VOC latexto paint the walls.
  4. Don’t forget the furnishings.Shop charity stores and garage sales for home furnishings to reuse or repurpose. Should you plan to purchase new appliances like a washing machine orair conditioner, opt for Energy Star models.

By Laura Firszt,Networx.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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The Ultimate Green Moving Guide

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4 Tips for Green Cleaning Your Wallpaper

Green cleaning has been a hot topic in the design world for quite some time. From nontoxic cleaning supplies to less-abrasive chemical alternatives, eco-friendly and safe products are now more important than ever to homeowners. Whether you have little ones, pets or just want to create a healthy environment for yourself, green cleaning is an effective alternative to everyday soaps and suds.

Weve come up with a few simple ways to green clean your wallpaper without using harmful chemicals or ruining the wall covering.

Dust It Off

Its no surprise that wall coverings gather dust, just like the rest of your home. Because your eye is trained to see only your beautiful wall covering, you probably arent looking close enough to notice the dust bunnies attacking your wallpaper.

A quick, green way to instantly refresh your wallpaper is by dusting or lightly vacuuming it. While it may seem odd to vacuum the wall, it easily and effectively gets rid of surface debris and dust that have collected overtime, and there are no chemicals involved.

If you have flat, non-textural wall coverings, use a microfiber cloth and start at the top of the panel, then gently work your way down, trapping dust as you go. For more intricate wall coverings, use a vacuum with a soft-bristled brush attachment and gently sweep downwards. Be careful of cobwebs along the way!


Back when wallpaper was uncovered and made from, well, actual paper, wallpaper dough was used to clean dust mites and pesky stains. If you have a particularly fragile or intricate wall covering, consider using wallpaper dough to help maintain its beauty.

Take a ball of dough out of the container, roll it between your hands, and roll the ball downwards to pick up dirt. If you cant find store-bought wallpaper dough, its a simple DIY recipe to make at home: some salt, a pinch of corn starch, a sprinkle of baking soda, and a dot of natural dishwasher detergent. When the outside of the dough ball gets dirty, simply knead the dirty part towards the center to expose a clean, fresh surface.

Spectacular Spot Cleaning

For tougher stains that are splashed on your wall covering, you may have to toughen your cleaning regimen. Vinyl wallpaper (found most often in kitchens and bathrooms) is made to withstand stains and the scrubbing that ensues, but always start by using a dry, soft cellulose sponge to wipe in small circles. Most of the time, dry scrubbing works for surface stains. However, if a sticky smudge has been on your wall covering for a while, we suggest combining warm water with a dollop of mild, natural cleanser to gently apply to the stain. Use your soft sponge to wipe in small, circular strokes, and continue until the spot comes off. Let dry and repeat if its a particularly stubborn stain.

Avoid Harsh Cleansers

While you may be ready to reach for some pretty abrasive cleaning supplies to rid yourself of wallpaper smudges and stains, think twice. Modern wallpaper is strong and durable, but still susceptible to scratches and smears. Read the manufacturer label before you fight fire with fire, and always start gently with mild cleaners and sponges. Never use scouring powders or scrubbing cleansers to attack wall covering stainsyou may end up rubbing the wallpaper right off!

To ensure youre cleaning with green products, always check the label. Ask your local home goods salesperson for their favorite eco-friendly products, and which would work best with your particular type of wallpaper. Be sure to arm yourself with sponges, microfiber cloths and plenty of patience before you start green cleaning your wall coverings!

California interior designerKerrie Kellyhas a keen “green home” awareness which she incorporates with her clients whenever possible.Kerrie’s wallpaper cleaning tips are designed to keep your home’s wall in great shape. To review Home Depot’swallpaper selection, including styles Kerrie writes about, you can visitwww.homedepot.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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4 Tips for Green Cleaning Your Wallpaper

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