Chemical free · Cleaning products · DIY

DIY: 2 ingredient all-purpose cleaner(natural)

Although I could never be convinced to fold up the laundry before it gets back to the hamper, I do consider my housekeeping skills to be pretty commendable when relating to cleanliness.

Believing that the harshest chemicals would do the best job, I have scrubbed away many floors and breathed in gallons of the strongest all purpose cleaners.

Until I was pregnant with my eldest…

The paranoid mommy features kicked in almost immediately and with the help of trusty Google, learnt of the toxic nature of the fumes I previously associated with cleanliness.

Turns out, cleanliness does NOT have a smell.

We have been taught to believe that the sharp smell of disinfectant is a sign of cleanliness but at what price?

After hunting through couple of stores, switched to organic fragrance free products. Turns out, old habits definitely die hard. I missed having a smell; switched to naturally fragranced cleaning products.

As beneficial as it was to the family and environmental health, including chemical free cleaners in our shopping list was eating into our budget more vociferously than we liked.

Since I already had a few toes dipped in the grand ocean of DIYing , began experimenting and researching on possible alternatives.

After several failed attempts, one that nearly blew up my test lab, sometimes known as my kitchen, I found the perfect solution that ticked all the boxes: easy to make, cost-effective, naturally fragranced and most importantly, a very powerful cleaner.

A few squirts of this on my oil-steeped stove top, and it shone with merely a wipe; this solution that needs minimum elbow-grease is made from just 2 ingredients, one of which would otherwise end up in the trash.

So what were those ingredients?

White vinegar and orange peels

That was it.

I popped orange peels (make sure they are pulp free) into a large bottle and filled it with white vinegar that I buy by the gallon. I let this steep for a week or two and strain it into a spray bottle. If I had forgotten to steep a new batch, I would use the mix with a few drops of citrus based essential oil in the spray bottle.

A glass spray bottle would be ideal and be completely chemical free but being a gifted klutz made me resort to plastic.

I have been using this product for over an year and use it all over the kitchen, the floors and amazingly, on windows and glass tables. It works much better than any commercial glass cleaner I have tried. The only product we purchase to make this is the vinegar and half a bottle of this is enough for an entire month’s supply  of the product; the remaining is used in my DIY Nearly Natural Fabric softener.

Here’s to toxin free cleaning on a budget! 

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Chemical free · Cleaning products · DIY · DIY Cleaning products · Natural alternatives · Nearly Natural Alternatives · Undomestic goddess

DIY Nearly Natural Fabric softener

For someone who associates “clean” with the smell of antiseptic infused with a fruity or flowery fragrance, accepting the fact that “clean” has no true smell was a tough one.

Dishes were deemed clean only if they were slicked with the tell-tale fake lime fragrance from the dishwashing soap, floors had to emit an essence of cinnamon but most importantly, clothes just had to be coated with that fresh flowery scent of fabric softener.

Whilst the fresh fragrances of laundry let me pretend to be one of those women in the commercials, laughing as they hung clothes to dry and have their dreams come true because of their choice of fabric softener, little did I know that all those fragrances were actually toxic.

I am not sure of how much of toxins they leave behind on the fabric but this is about the smell. They were keeping the linen fresh but harming our lungs with their gorgeous fragrances.

This discovery led me to look for natural alternatives. Although I did find a non-toxic brand, the store was not very consistent with stock and the price tag was not very reasonable.

After surprisingly few trial and error, I settled on this recipe. I did not actually come up with the solution but read about another who had but that did not work out for me. The following mix is an altered version of the original that I liked and I call it nearly natural because it still contains some undesirable ingredients in the hair conditioner. You may opt for a natural kind but I used a more economical one; this batch lasts me quite a while and can be mixed in no time at all. I was surprised at how simple this actually turned out to be!

The DIY Nearly Natural Fabric softener contains just 3 basic ingredients: white vinegar, hot water, and hair conditioner

The vinegar is the active ingredient and the hair conditioner is essentially for the fragrance; you can customize the mix till you find what works for you. Try it out and feel free to leave suggestions below.

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DIY Nearly Natural Fabric Softener

  • Servings: Nearly 2.5l
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
  • Print

Ingredients

900ml white vinegar

1.5l hot water

360ml hair conditioner(get a bottle with the exact measurement for ease of use)

Large bucket

An old long handle spoon or a whisk

Funnel(to pour the finished mix into container)

Bottle to store(I used an empty softener bottle but looking out for good glass containers)

Directions

Squeeze out all the hair conditioner into the bucket and add the hot water. I pour some water into the empty bottle to shake out any remaining conditioner too but do be careful since it can be too hot to handle.  Once the hair conditioner is completely mixed in, add the vinegar and mix again. Let it cool and pour into the bottle using a funnel. Use as regular store-bought fabric softener.

 

Craft · DIY · Parenting · Recipes

Homemade Play dough(Basic)

Mothers are creatures with strange fetishes; they creep across the dark dungeons of “expected milestones” and do the dark deeds of comparing them with their progeny. If they exceed expectation, all’s well. If they do not, they immediately swerve down the guilt-wrecked road till the milestone has been hit.

The cycle continues with every popular infant-based newsletter that ends up in their inbox.

Picture an agitated, wild haired mother surrounded by different brands of play dough, coaxing a very reluctant 9 month old to dabble in the complex art of play dough model creation. The mother fears the day she would have to make something more sophisticated than a ball (and tiny balls) or hastily rolled out geometric shapes as she never stepped into the said realm and was actually clueless about how such magical creations came about.

When the child refuses to do anything but throw the lump of (kind of expensive) dough, the hassled brain of the mother immediately points towards sensory issues.

Could my child have a sensory problem?

Or could it be something more sinister?

Was this what the anti-vaccination squad warned me of?

Or maybe she hurt her fingers when I held them too tight by accident?

This must be my fault.

Was this because of the cold mocha I gulped down the day before she was born, despite the refusal of the sweet barista to serve coffee to a pregnant woman (this was the one and only cup of caffeine I had in my entire pregnancy!)?

After many sleepless nights coupled with weary mornings filled with some subtle and downright tricky methods of getting the child to play with play dough (failed methods, obviously), the mother eventually gives up.

Pauses

Then one afternoon, after receiving THE handbook on being a domestic goddess from the best aunt in the world, the mother decides to make bread. Being too lazy to set up the Kitchen Aid (also belongs to said aunt; some may call it stealing but she calls it safe-keeping), sleeves were rolled up and the kneading began. Since this was before the era of 2 under 3 years, the level of anxiety when attempting some actual cooking was quite low. As the mother’s height prevented her from using the kitchen counter to knead, she decided to sit on the floor with a bowl of flour.

The patter of tiny footsteps later, a tiny fist bumps a piece of dough. With bated breath, the mother hands the child a ball of dough. The child squashes it. Eureka!

The child just did not like the texture of store-bought play dough!

The joy was short lived due to a failed and extremely oily attempt at making play dough. After sifting through a dozen or so recipes and reading up on the science behind it, the mother came up with the following fool-proof recipe meant for mothers with short-lived patience and extra-large ambitions.

This play dough lasts up to 3 months if stored well in airtight containers; it also survives uncovered nights behind the couch and sometimes, under the pillow of the mother. It does develop a salty crust once in awhile; a good kneading is all it requires.

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Homemade Play dough

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup water
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour
  3. 1 tbsp oil
  4. 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  5. ½ cup salt
  6. 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  7. Food colouring

 

Use a whisk to combine all the dry ingredients in a heavy-bottom pan. Add the water, oil and cook on medium heat. Stir constantly till the mix resembles mashed potatoes. Take it off the heat and add in the vanilla. Give it a good stir. Do not be alarmed and start the cussing if the dough is still quite sticky.

Tip the contents on to a clean counter space, add in the colouring and knead till cool. You could split the dough into portions and colour each one differently too.

You would be kneading quite warm dough and it would be best not to let the kids get involved in the making process. My asbestos hands do not mind the heat but do be careful.

Once the yummy scented play dough is cool, you can pop it into airtight containers or use large zip lock bags like I did; just make sure to get all the air out before sealing.

 

Enjoy and do comment with results, if you do try it!