Category Archives: Cleaning Products

June UFH Challenge Round 4: Everything Else

Here it is the end of June and I’ve gone missing. Where am I? Out in the goat barn milking or inside making cheese, weeding the garden or inside making cheese, chasing the gazillion chicks that keep escaping from their aerial-predator proof run or inside making cheese. Or I might be inside making cheese.

I never even posted pictures of Mary and her baby Flip, or Mona and her babies Rose and BT (though I will.) I never shared with you that Bessie was so quiet I was sure she was bred and in fact watched the coupling happen at least three times but it turns out that she was just big because I fed her like she was pregnant all winter. I never shared with you that I took Val and her doelings up to the miniature dairy goat show two weeks ago and Val and the babies won heaps of ribbons, and one of Val’s was best of breed. And then the babies went to new homes and I grieved with Val for a day and then she moved on, only it took me three days to move on I missed them so much. I think I have a case of empty barn syndrome. But the cheese is helping me get over it.

And now here it is nearly the end of June and I want you to think about making herbal concoctions not just to drink with spirits – but to ease troublesome coughs and support your immune system. I want you to think about making super simple lotions from Laurie’s infused oils. And I want you to think about drying some flowers and berry leaves from your own garden and making teas with them, or think of planting a Sochi tea plant if you like green and black tea.

I know this last one is a curve ball coming at you fast in the bottom of the ninth inning but I want you to take a big swing at it and give it your all. If the hydrosol challenge was too much for you then try making lotion. If that’s too much then just use your infused oil directly on dry skin. And if that’s too much then buy some quality essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs and make your own house cleaners and personal care products.

Surely there is something this month that speaks to you, if even just infusing the milk for your homemade chocolate mint ice cream with real garden mint.

Tune back in for the next post, which will be the roundup to see all that you’ve been brave enough to try, and to throw your hat in the ring to win some great June prizes!

Portage Bay Grange – Your One Stop Urban Farm Shop

Have you been to Portage Bay Grange yet? I’ve been going in there since shortly after they opened, while the dust was still settling. Owner Kevin is fantastic – helpful, friendly, down to earth. A real urban farming kind of guy. Last Saturday Joshua and I were there signing books and making up some spelt waffles with local grains.

Kevin has an amazing assortment of stylish and functional urban chicken coops and runs.

He’s got chicken tractors and rabbit hutches.

Lacia was there with her urban mini La Manchas. She jokes whatever the occasion, she’s got a goat for it.

After you stroll past the coops and the feed and the goats you walk through this door. This amazing door.

Kevin’s got all the things any self-respecting urban farm store might have. He’s got feed and feeders and chickens. He’s even got cover crop seeds.

But what really made me weepy wasn’t so much the urban farming supplies. It wasn’t the stacks of our book he had scattered around the place. It was the fact that his lovely wife Elle had so taken the book to heart that she stocked up on all the supplies I call for in the section on personal products. She had essential oils and herbs.

She even had coconut oil, soap molds, baking soda and vinegar for cleaning and soap making. She had emulsifying blenders and lotion and salve supplies.

Now for Christmas wouldn’t you love to get some salve in a cute little tin like this one?

Perhaps this year you can give the gift of the twelve days of urban farm Christmas – complete with a partridge rock in an espaliered pear tree. Just tell Kevin I sent you.

Do it Yourself Cleaners – for the house and for you

Now that I rarely go to the store it really irks me to make a trip because we’ve run out of toothpaste or cleaner of some kind. And with so few labels to read I can scrutinize the heck out of everything.

My goal this year is to come up with solutions for everything I buy. I’ve learned how to make my own lotion, salve and lip cover. I’ve learned how to mix my own facial oil which actually works better for me than lotion although when I have time I still plan to mix some of that into lotion form since I think in the summer it may be nicer to have a lotion to put on frequently.

I’ve been making my own toothpaste which works and tastes great. I’ve been making my own underarm deoderant which works fine for me but I’m not training for the half marathon this winter so perhaps that one isn’t a fair test yet.

I’ve been making my own vapor rub, both for us and the kids and it’s nice to know it’s not petroleum based and contains the same active ingredients as Vic’s.

I’m still testing dish soap, dishwasher soap and laundry soap recipes but hoping to share those with you soon. You can bet your bottom dollar they are earth friendly (not just claiming to be) and contain nothing creepy.

The last thing I’m geared up to do but still looking for time to make is a year’s worth of soap – both bar soap and liquid soap.

The great thing about all of these things is that by buying a small arsenal of essential oils and using pantry ingredients plus a few specialty items like sodium carbonate (washing soda) or potash (lye) you can make your own solutions to what encompasses multiple aisles at the druggists or grocers. You invest one time in spray bottles and recycle food or lotion bottles to store things in.

There are no planetary resources that go into manufacturing, distributing, marketing, corporate research and develop which may include animal testing, and there are no bottles for you to recycle when you are done. It really doesn’t get much more sustainable than that. And you just can’t beat the cost of making things using stuff you already have in your pantry.

Once you’ve built up a nice library of essential oils, that is.

If stored properly, essential oils will last for years. You can buy essential oils at almost any health food store but I’ve found the quality of oils from Mountain Rose Herbs to be amazing and they don’t have those “not for human consumption” warnings on them which is nice if I plan to use them in a toothpaste or mouthwash. I’m increasingly wary of the source of all my spices and oils in the wake of food recalls related to black pepper this year.

Please consider trying some of these solutions and let me know what you think!

Daytime Face Oil for Aging Skin
This is great for rosacea-prone skin as well
2 Tablespoons sweet almond, olive or apricot oil
1 teaspoon any or all: jojoba oil, borage seed oil, carrot
10 drops evening primrose oil
15 drops German chammomile essential oil
5 drops lavendar or geranium essential oil
5 drops palma rosa oil
Spray clean face with a lavendar or rose and water spritzer (add EO to distilled water in a spray bottle) then gently massage in the oil. After a few minutes if it feels like there is excess oil you can blot it with a tissue but it seems to soak right in for me.

Nighttime Face Oil for Aging or Rosacea-Prone Skin
2 teaspoons wheatgerm oil
2 teaspoons avocado oil
30 drops jojoba oil
10 drops borage seed oil
20 drops evening primrose oil
10 drops German chammomile oil
15 drops Geranium oil
10 drops Carrot oil
Use as the day time oil.
Note: I am just using the daytime oil which seems to work fine for me. I am adding some olive oil that I infused with chammomile, comfrey and borage flowers last summer since I have it on hand. I use that same infused oil in my lotion mix and my salve since it is so anti-inflammatory and soothing.

Window and Glass Cleaner
For windows, glass and any shiny surface I use vinegar.

Scrubbing Cleaner
For anything needing scrubbing powder (like the shower or sink basin) I use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate.) This includes the stove top with it’s baked on gunk that I’m afraid to scratch, as well as my white tiled bathroom floor and grout. I remember whining to my grandpa once when I was tasked with cleaning the bathroom as a small child. “How do you expect me to get it clean?” I asked. “Put some elbow grease into it, kid” he said. So add elbow grease to my list too.

Carpet Stain Remover
For carpet stains I use borax which you can buy with most laundry detergents. It’s sold as a laundry booster. Blot your carpet stain dry, sprinkle borax on, let it dry and vacuum it up.

Disinfectant/Cleaning Spray
Dash liquid soap such as dish soap or Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap
2 Tablespoons vodka
5 ml lavender essential oil
5 ml niaouli essential oil
5 ml lemon myrtle essential oil
3 ml oregano essential oil (you can use pine if you like that scent but I abhor that pine smell)
32 ounces distilled water (I’ve used filtered and it seems to last forever without molding)
Mix everything together and put into a spray bottle.

Toothpaste
2 Tablespoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vegetable glycerine* (you can omit and use this as a powder which you sprinkle on your toothbrush instead)
10-20 drops essential oil like clove, cinnamon or mint
Liquid stevia to taste

Mouthwash
2 oz water
6 drops tea tree oil
6 drops peppermint, cinnamon or clove oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 oz vodka

Deodorant
1/4 cup vodka or witch hazel
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (optional)
10 drops tea tree oil
20-40 drops essential oil of your choice (lavendar, rose geranium, clary sage, vanilla, clove or citrus would all be nice. More masculine scents might be fir, sage or bay laurel)

Air Freshener
Add any combination of essential oil drops to water to get the strength and scent you love. Spray with abandon, avoiding eyes. You can also place your liquid in a shallow bowl of pebbles with a bamboo skewer to scent the room, or use direct essential oils to scent pine cones or dried flowers in a bowl potpourri style. Some stores also sell those plug ins with blank “filters” that you can simply put your own essential oils on and plug into an outlet. Compare this with those chemical laden “air fresheners”.

Remember the first R is “Reduce.” By reducing the number of personal or household products you buy you really are making a difference.

Update: I had totally forgotten about this link which I posted sometime last spring. This site has some really simple and effective home made cleaning solvents too.

Pay special attention when they say “According to a study at Virginia Tech, spraying hydrogen peroxide and vinegar right after one another is just as effective at killing germs as lung-irritating, stream-polluting chlorine bleach.” How cool is that?

* I recently read something that said you should avoid toothpastes with glycerin in them because it coats your teeth, making it difficult for them to remineralize so I’ve been leaving this out.