Posts Tagged ‘Baking Soda’

Natural Teeth Whiteners

One of my readers contacted me about natural teeth whiteners.   Great question!

We all want whiter teeth, especially as we age, and teeth whitening has become big business. According the ADA, bleaching is the most requested procedure among patients ages 40 to 60. Americans spend billions on over the counter whiteners too. For those of us who want an alternative to chemical whiteners, there are several do-it-yourself options.

  1. Baking Soda – Or sodium bicarbonate has been around for a long time and as been accepted by the American Dental Association since 1931. It reduces stains and plaque through its gentle polishing action, as well as deodorizes the mouth leaving a clean feeling.  Here’s how: Put a little baking soda on a wet toothbrush and brush normally; for extra whitening make a paste of 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of food grade hydrogen peroxide.
  1. Strawberry Tooth Brightener – Strawberries have a slight bleaching action and if used daily can help get rid of stains from tea, coffee or cigarettes.  Here’s how: Remove the stem and mash the strawberry into a pulp, dip your toothbrush into the pulp, brush normally, then rinse.
  1. Oil Pulling – Oil pulling is an Ayurveda remedy started in India thousands of years ago that uses oil to clean, detoxify, and nourish teeth and gums. Oil pulling removes excessive and bad bacteria from your mouth, which also helps with detoxification of the entire body. And it whitens teeth and makes your mouth feel clean.  Here’s how: swish a teaspoon or two of coconut oil (sesame oil or olive oil) for approximately 20 minutes. Spit it out and rinse with warm water.
  1. Activated Charcoal – I haven’t tried this remedy yet, but charcoal is being used in everything now from soaps to toothbrushes to towels due to its antimicrobial benefits. Activated charcoal is a highly absorbent porous substance that binds to tannins that stain and yellow teeth and pulls the toxins from the mouth to remove the stains.  Here’s how: Dip a clean wet toothbrush into the powdered charcoal and brush in small, gentle circles for 2 minutes. Spit and rinse well. (Be careful not to stain your sink!)
  1. Turmeric – Turmeric spice is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available and along with its numerous health benefits is reducing gum inflammation and teeth whitening.  Here’s how: Dip a wet toothbrush in 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder and brush as normal. Allow the turmeric to sit on your teeth for 3-5 minutes, then spit and rinse. Brush your teeth again using your regular toothpaste.  (It also can stain your sink.)

It’s important to remember that natural remedies take longer to work. So, give it a few weeks – you’ll be pleased with the results. Email me with which remedy (ies ) you like.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Information compiled from: http://wellnessmama.com/35837/natural-teeth-whitening/, Baking Soda Bonanza, Peter A. Ciullo, Organic Body Care Recipes, Stephanie Tourles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greener, Cleaner Spring Cleaning

Spring is here! Whether it feels like it or not, there is a psychological lift to just spotting a crocus or a daffodil and knowing that winter is officially over.  It may be too early to start gardening, but it’s not too early to start a thorough spring-cleaning!

Non-Toxic Cleaners

If you don’t already use non-toxic cleaners, now is the time to switch!  Indoor air pollution, partially caused by the use of chemical based cleaners, is a much more serious problem than people realize and one of the reasons for increased cases of asthma and allergies, among other diseases. Fortunately you can find several brands of greener, ‘‘cleaner” cleaning supplies at your local grocery store; many of the conventional brands are now making a less toxic product as well.  Be sure to read the ingredients though; some products claim to be “natural” when they really aren’t. Visit Environmental Working Group’s Cleaners  database to check the toxicity of your brand and for the lowest toxicity cleaners.  Seventh Generation, Mrs. Myers, Ecover, are a few good ones.  Remember, you really don’t need a different product for each surface in your home.  That’s just marketing.

Make Your Own Cleaners

Making your own cleaning supplies using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice is a fun and easy option too!  Baking soda cleans nearly everything from stained kitchen sinks to mildewed showers to tea stained coffee mugs to flatware to fruit or even teeth, and it’s cheap!  White vinegar works great on hardwood floors.  Easy, long-lasting microfiber cloths lift off dirt, dust and grime with no need for additional products.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that if there is no “clean” smell, then it’s not effective – fragrances are part of the chemical danger. (Organic cleaners with safe, natural essential oils are an exception.)

Recipe for All-Purpose Cleaner

All-Purpose Cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Store and keep. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, countertops etc.  Keep out of reach of children.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Gardening with Baking Soda

 

 

Cheap, effective and OG (the original “green”), baking soda bakes, cleans, heals, disinfects, scrubs, deodorizes, exfoliates, and brightens just about everything in the home.  But did you know baking soda works in the garden too?

 

 

I recently came across the following fabulous tips from plantcaretoday.com.

1. Make a Non-Toxic Fungicide

Mix 4 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 gallon of water. Use on roses for black spot fungus and also on grapes and vines when fruit first begins to appear.

2. Spray to Treat and Prevent Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is causing major problems with impatiens this year, but also can be a problem for other plants, like lilacs, cucumbers, squash and zinnias.

Spray Recipe: 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 gallon of water, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid

Mix all the ingredients together and spray plants weekly. Apply on overcast days to prevent any potential foliage from burning.

3. Discourage Gnats In Soil & Fungus on Leaves

Mix in 1 gallon of water, 4 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon biodegradable soap. Mix well, spray infected foliage or soil as needed.

4. Discourage Weeds

Pour or sweep baking soda in a thick layer into cracks on a sidewalk or patios. The baking soda should kill any small weeds already sprouted and prevent new ones from coming up.

5. Kill Cabbage Worms

Mix equals parts flour and baking soda and dust plants (cabbage, broccoli, kale) being eaten by cabbage worms. They munch on the leaves and die usually in a day or two. Repeat as needed.

6. Kill Crabgrass

Simply wet the crabgrass, pour a heavy dusting of baking soda on the weed. The crabgrass should start dying back in 2 or 3 days .CAUTION: When applying baking try NOT to get it on your grass as too much baking soda can burn and kill it.

7. Clean Your Hands

After a day in the garden and dirt, clean your hands by rubbing and scrubbing wet hands with baking soda. Rinse.

 

To those comprehensive tips, I add:

8.  Garden Mildewcide 

Another simple recipe to combat powdery mildew on cucumbers, zucchini, melons, roses, and lilacs.  Fill a spray bottle with 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 pint water.  Spray as needed.

 Baking Soda Bonanza by Peter A. Ciullo

 

And I really like this ingenious tip:

9.  Test your soil PH. 

Wet the soil and take a small amount of baking soda and sprinkle it onto soil.  If the baking soda bubbles, your soil is acidic with a PH level under 5.

http://thegardeningcook.com/

 

You clearly can’t go wrong with tried and true baking soda, in the home and garden!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

Swiffer vs An Old-Fashioned Dust Mop

Below is a question from a reader about Swiffer.

Dear Betsy:

I just got the latest issue of Vermont Country Store catalog and inside is an old-fashioned wool dust mop, which up to 10 years ago I used and used to shake outside like my Mom used to do! 

This made me think about all the Swiffer products I use.  Hmmm – I’m wondering if anyone has compared cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs Swiffer – certainly one is more economical.  The Swiffer products are expensive!  Thanks –

Jennifer M.

Winchester, MA

Hi Jennifer:

Great question!  I don’t know of any actual studies about the cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs. Swiffer, but I know I prefer an old fashioned dust mop.  Swiffer disposable dry cloths are made of polyester and polypropylene and work well to pick up dust and grime from most surfaces, but so does an old-fashioned wool dust mop.  The natural lanolin in wool attracts and holds dust. Wool won’t scratch floors and gets better every time you wash it. I try to avoid single use products that go directly into the landfill, as well as petroleum-based products like polypropylene.

The Swiffer wet cloths are treated with propylene glycol and though categorized by the FDA as “generally regarded as safe”, that’s not assurance enough for me. According to Swiffer, the wet cloths may irritate skin and aggravate known skin conditions.” Considering that concentrations of toxic compounds are higher inside than outside, it’s best to avoid them when you can. Indoor air pollution, partially caused by the use of chemical based cleaners, is a much more serious problem than people realize and one of the reasons for increased cases of asthma and allergies.  Additionally, the chemically treated, single use wet cloths end up in the landfill leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and water table.

There is no question that Swiffer is easier than an old-fashioned mop, but what happened to cleaning with natural and safe ingredients like soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax?  All it takes is a little elbow grease and a good sponge mop.

If you insist on the convenience of a Swiffer, there are similar, more eco-friendly options.

  • Method Home floor cleaning mop with non-toxic compostable sweeping cloths.
  • Gaiam’s Spray Mop Kit where you add your own cleaner or nontoxic vinegar and water, spray the fine mist and mop up with a microfiber cleaning cloth (the eco-friendly cleaning rage today).  The set includes five washable MicroTech Cleaning Cloths.

    Gaiam’s Spray Mop

  • Amazon also sells a microfiber mop called E-cloth microfiber mop, as do Bed, Bath and Beyond and Whole Foods.

E-cloth Microfiber Mop

I hope this helps Jennifer– let me know what you decide.  Safe cleaning!

Betsy

Information compiled from www.treehugger.com, inhabitat.com, www.swiffer.com, vermontcountrystore.com, classic.akc.org

 

 

Are Air Fresheners Really Fresh?

By the time I got home from a ride in my friend’s car one day, my lungs felt tight and I was coughing.  I knew immediately the air freshener in the car was the culprit, one of those new clip on air fresheners filled with a “scent” to eliminate car odors like food, dirt, and cigarette smoke.  I decided I must post about this on my blog!

Car air fresheners have gone from pine-scented cardboard cut outs of trees that dangle from the rear view mirror to the new plastic (more plastic!) containers filled with chemical scents.  They clip on the air vent and are activated with the airflow.  There are several brands with enticing names like Meadows and Rain, Hawaiian Aloha, or Linen and Sky complete with adjustable dials to control “freshness”.  The Febreeze ad says, “In just a few moments, you and your passengers can all breathe happy.” I was not happy!

A basic gel fragrance air freshener.

The chemicals used in air fresheners are anything but fresh and do nothing to improve the quality of the air.  They just mask the odors and in fact can be quite toxic.  The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that most air fresheners contain phthalates, which are at the center of a large debate about their negative health affects.  High exposure to certain phthalates, also found in cosmetics, nail polish, paint and other everyday items, can cause cancer, developmental and hormonal abnormalities and can affect fertility.  One of the active ingredients found in mothballs, 1,4 dichlorobenzene, is also found in some air fresheners.  The EPA lists this ingredient as toxic since its vapors can affect respiratory function.  There seems to be a correlation with air fresheners and asthma, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health Sciences. Other known ingredients that cause serious health issues are formaldehyde, acetone and terpenes.  According to ehow.com, “These chemicals contain pollutants that, when mixed with ozone, cigarette smoke or dust can cause breathing complications, headaches and damage the central nervous system.”  What’s worse is that companies aren’t required to list the ingredients if the product is labeled a “fragrance”.

Air fresheners are everywhere – in the home, office and car.  It is estimated that around 75 percent of American homes use some form of them, which amounts to more than $1 billion in profits for the industry. The best air freshener for your car however, is rolling down the windows. You can also easily make your own– a sachet with natural potpourri or dried lavender flowers, baking soda poured into an old sock and placed underneath the seat, or a piece of felt scented with a pure essential oil.  You control how much scent you want!

Play it safe and do away with air fresheners!

Information compiled from www.ehow.com, www.the-lifestyle-doctor.com,

www.silentmenace.com

 

UNCLOG YOUR DRAINS SAFELY

One of my readers contacted me about unclogging her bathroom sink.  As a conscientious environmentalist, she was surprised and frustrated when baking soda and vinegar didn’t unclog her drain.  She was adamant about not using conventional, off the shelf products with lye and other toxic chemicals and wondered if there were other natural products that work.

Baking soda and vinegar really do work, but it‘s important to use the right amount and follow the directions of this tried and true recipe I’ve listed below.  For stubborn clogs, you may even have to repeat it a couple of times.

Cover of "Home Comforts: The Art and Scie...

Unclog Your Drain Safely Recipe 

Important:  Do not use this recipe if there is standing water in the sink.

Pour ½ to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain; slowly pour ½ to 1 cup of vinegar (distilled white vinegar is good) after.  Cover the drain immediately with a cloth or rag so the fizzing interaction cannot escape. (This is the same fizzing action that happened when “erupting volcanoes” with the kids by mixing baking soda and vinegar.)  Let it sit for 5 minutes or up to 30 minutes depending on the severity of the clog.  Follow with a gallon of boiling water.  If necessary, pour more boiling water down the drain or repeat the entire process.

Some recipes add a cup of salt to the boiling water, followed by running warm water for 10 minutes to clear any product from the drain.  If this doesn’t work, try using a sink plunger after pouring down the liquids.  The plunger creates suction and forces open the clog.

English: Plunger icon from SuperTuxKart

Image via Wikipedia

This procedure by the way also cleans your pipes at the same time.  And unlike conventional chemical products, baking soda and vinegar won’t harm your pipes and of course not you or the water table.

I used to tell my kids if you are ever stranded on an island, make sure you have baking soda with you. There are millions of uses – culinary, medicinal and for cleaning.  Click here to read more.

 

Information compiled from Home Comforts – The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson and thegoodhuman.com.  

Home Comforts is a great book, a true encyclopedia of anything and everything having to do with the home.

 


 

 

DON’T JUST BAKE WITH BAKING SODA!

Image by Peter Wild

I used to say to my kids, if you are ever stranded on a deserted island, make sure you have baking soda.  Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a natural salt essential to the functioning of the human body.  In addition to its primary use as a leavening agent in baking, it can be used to heal, clean and polish just about everything. Baking soda is simple and cheap and over the years people have discovered some ingenious uses for it. It is used in animal feeds, fire extinguishers, textile processing and more. In addition to its common use as a deodorizer for refrigerator smells, baking soda can be used in numerous ways for personal care.  For example, as a natural tooth polish, athlete’s foot treatment, burn soother, deodorant, earwax softener, or foot soak.  It can be used to treat bee stings and insect bites or as an antacid.

There are environmental and health concerns about toxic chemicals in cleaning supplies. Baking soda’s versatility, safety and effectiveness have led to using it as a cleaning alternative.  Its gentle abrasion makes it perfect for cleaning stained kitchen sinks and mildewed shower tiles.  Baking soda’s effervescence and detergency clean spills on rugs and deodorize pet bedding.  Try it for dirt and grime on the legs of kitchen tables and chairs. Coffee and tea stains on your china are easily removed with baking soda.  So are counter and tabletop stains.

Baking soda has been around since the 1800’s.  It is tried and true.  Don’t just use it for baking.  Check out Peter A. Ciullo’s book called Baking Soda Bonanza, which lists hundreds of ways to use baking soda, or go on line for ideas and recipes.  It’s safe, effective and cheap.

Information compiled from Baking Soda Bonanza by Peter A. Ciullo.