Not Just for Eating

By Michele Kadison

Salt

Salt has been a part of our history since the beginning of civilization.  From sharing bread and salt to being an inherent part of economy and trade, salt has played a role in our lives through time, besides helping to bring out the flavor in our foods.

There are actually over 14,000 chronicled uses for salt, a fraction of which I will list here.  From cleaning surfaces to removing stains, from dousing fires to melting snow and ice, salt makes an excellent alternative to chemical solutions.

Salt and White Vinegar

Make a paste with salt and white vinegar to restore the whiteness in enamel.  Pour this solution down drains to remove odors and grease.

Use this paste to clean tarnished copper and brass.

Rub your fingers with the paste to get rid of onion smell after slicing.

Salt and Salad Oil

Make a paste to remove the white marks made by wet mug and glass stains on wooden tables.

Salt and Soda Water

Make a solution to clean the inside your refrigerator without scratching the enamel surface.

Salt and Lemon Juice

Moistening mildew and rust stains with this mixture will help to remove them.  Put in the sun to bleach and then rinse and dry to see the difference.

Just Plain Salt

  • If you want to keep ants and moths away, sprinkle salt in areas where they usually congregate.
  • Fill your coffee pot with water and salt.  Boil the solution and you will have cleaned the inside of the pot.
  • Rub tarnished silverware with salt before washing to remove the stains.
  • Place salt in a greasy pan and then wipe with paper to remove the residue before washing.
  • Throw salt on a grease fire to smother the flames.
  • Rub salt into your coffee or tea stains in mugs and cups and then wash to clean.
  • Remove sticky spots on your stove burner by sprinkling them with salt while they are still hot.  When they cool, remove the salty areas with a brush and stickiness will be gone.
  • Soak sponges in cold salt water after you have washed them to give them a renewed life.
  • Blot wine stains dry and cover them with salt, which will absorb the wine.  Rinse with cold water, then scrape the salt off.
  • Remove sweat stains by adding 4 tablespoons of salt to a quart of hot water and sponge the fabric until the stains disappear.
  • Soak blood-stained clothing in saltwater.  Launder in warm soapy water and then boil the fabric after it has been washed.  (Only for natural fibers).
  • Clean the inside of fish tanks with plain (not iodized) salt to remove the hard water deposits.  Rinse well afterwards before returning your fish to their home.
  • Clean hard water stains from the inside of vases by filling with salt water and scrubbing or shaking.
  • Launder washable curtains and rugs in salt water to brighten up their colors.
  • Put a dash of salt in your laundry starch to keep your iron from sticking and to give your clothing a fresh finish.
  • Sprinkle salt on a piece of paper and then iron the paper to remove sticky areas from your iron.
  • Dip a damp cloth in salt and then run over your wooden cutting boards to keep them clean.
  • Throw extra salt in a washing machine that is too sudsy.
  • Clean wicker furniture with a solution of salt water and a brush.
  • Sprinkle the inside of your shoes with salt to remove moisture and odors.

Keeping Off the Ice and Snow

  • Rub the inside of your windows with a sponge dipped in salt water to keep the glass from frosting up.
  • Rub your vehicle’s windshield with a damp cloth bag containing salt to keep ice and snow from collecting
  • Throw rock salt on your walkways and driveways to keep them clear of ice and snow.

Eucalyptus Oil

There are over 600 species of Eucalyptus or Gum trees in existence.  The oil is steam distilled from the leaves of certain species and has a multitude of uses due to its fragrant scent and its disinfecting and pest deterring qualities.  Here are some ideas for using Eucalyptus oil in your home instead of toxic solutions.

  •  Add several drops to water and liquid soap.  Shake and apply to surfaces in order to clean and disinfect them.
  • Dilute a few drops with water to remove fingerprints from surfaces
  • Place a few drops on a cloth to remove sticker and decal residue from glass
  • Add an ounce of oil to a liter of water and use to disinfect your toilets
  • Place a few drops on a mop to scent and disinfect tile and linoleum floors.
  • Add 25 drops of oil to a solution of 1/4 cup of white vinegar and two gallons of water to disinfect and remove dirt from wooden floors.  Rinse your mop each time in fresh water before dipping into the solution again.
  • Add a few teaspoons of oil to your laundry to remove microbes and create a beautiful fresh scent for your clothing.
  • Gently apply a few drops of oil to remove grease, ink, or paint from clothing.
  • Add a few drops of oil to your old hanging fresheners to revive them
  • In a spray bottle, place a half teaspoon of oil in a half liter of water and use as a bug repellant for your plants.
  • Saturate a cloth with a few drops of oil to clean stainless steel.
  • To freshen rooms, place about 15 to 20 drops of oil in a spray bottle.  Mix with a half-teaspoon of vodka and two cups of water.

Commercial and Domestic Vacuuming

By Michele Kadison

 One of the top vacuum cleaners that does the job in both professional and domestic settings is the Lindhaus HealthCare Pro Hepa upright model.  Versitile and lightweight, it cleans both carpeting and hard wood areas, with a low noise level.

The Lindhaus HealthCare Pro allows you to choose between either a HEPA filter or an active carbon cartridge, depending on your needs.  With a HEPA filter, you are able to remove particles at up to 99.97% efficiency, which is great during allergy season or after you’ve done your dusting and want to eliminate excess floating particles.  Using a carbon active cartridge allows you to remove odors and gasses that may be lingering in the immediate environment.  Because of the vacuums advanced exhaust technology, all carbon dust emitted from the exaust system is purified as it comes out of the motorized brushes, eliminating further contamination of your surroundings.  Containing an electrostatic micro-filter, which is used in hospitals to ensure that the air is biologically sound, the HealthCare Pro is ideal for maintaining optimum health requirements.

This Lindhaus vacuum cleaner comes with two motors, a 12 or 14″ power head base, standard on-board tools, an automatic shut-off feature, and the ability to adjust the machine to a comfortable working height.

 

 

 

My Latest Cleaning Revelation

By Michele Kadison


Where have I been?  I have had pets all my life and it has been a constant struggle between my love for them and my antipathy towards the fur and dander they leave behind.  Vacuuming, dusting, and mopping becomes a constant with a dog and several cats in the house, as all of you pet lovers know.  Pillows scoured with lint rollers that barely do the job, carpets that need going over and over to remove imbedded hairs, it’s a never-ending cycle.

Only recently did I find the miracle sponge known as the Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter.  This is a dry sponge that needs no water or chemicals in order to work like a dream.  With this sponge, you don’t need to vacuum or dry clean to remove pet hair and dander.  Just wipe any surface and all the debris rolls up into a ball that is easy to pick off and toss into the trash.  There is no trace of residue and you can use the sponge on any type of surface, including clothing, bedding, drapers, upholstery, lampshades, carpets, wallpaper, and wood.  It’s also great for cleaning regular dirt and dust, as well as pollen.  I’ve been cleaning my window screens, Venetian blinds, and the inside of my car with it and getting amazing results.  You can even use it on lights, ceiling vents, baseboards, acoustical tiles, as well as for cleaning your computer screen.

Once the Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter gets dirty, all you have to do is wash it with soap and water, let it dry, and its ready for reuse.  Because it is made of all natural materials, it’s toxin-free and environmentally safe.  So if you have pets, whether they be dogs, cats, horses, or lions, take my advice and get yourself this magical sponge, which takes the headache and backache out of keeping your surroundings clean.

Green Holiday Tips

By Michele Kadison

Whether its Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanza, any holiday can become Earth Day if you take a little time to rethink your old habits and adopt some green thinking.  Did you know that every year Americans throw away more than 5 million tons of trash between Thanksgiving and the New Year?  This means 25% more garbage is generated than usual.  Here are some helpful tips to keep your festivities eco-conscious and productive for your home and the planet.

  • Decorate with natural products like popcorn, berries, or outdoor greens rather than conventional holiday décor.
  • If you want a live tree, search for an organic tree farm that grows pesticide-free trees especially for the holidays.  Find out where you can recycle it once the holidays are over by contacting Earth 911.  Other alternatives are using an artificial tree or decorating a large house plant.
  • Buy LED holiday lights.  They use 90% less energy than conventional lights and can save you up to $50 on your energy bills during the season.
  • Use sustainable candles made with soy or other natural base.  Remember that candles made of paraffin, a byproduct of petroleum, emit toxins when they’re burned.
  • Send out invitations and cards via email.  If you must send your holiday greetings by snail mail, make cards from recycled paper or from paper you already have in your home.  Fold and seal your note paper so that it doubles as an envelope or send postcards to avoid using extra envelope paper.
  • Print your party flyers on recyclable paper.  Avoid red and green paper as these colors are harder to recycle than the lighter pastels.
  • Bring your own bag when shopping for gifts and food.
  • Wrap your gifts in fabric, newspaper, old comics, or opened up brown paper bags.  Avoid foil, plastic-backed paper, and ribbon as these materials hinder the recycling process.  And absolutely no Styrofoam please!  Save boxes for re-use each season.  Find creative and natural ways to decorate your gifts by using springs of herbs or drawing something fun on the outside.
  • Instead of focusing on material gifts, give a gift of your time and talent.  Gift certificates for babysitting or doing a helpful task make a thoughtful present for loved ones.  Gift certificates for restaurants or movies are another great option.  Donating to a charity in a friend’s name or giving renewable energy credits are another ways to give consciously and with love.
  • Pass along heirlooms and hand-me-downs and heirlooms that carry memories with them.
  • Make your own gifts.  Bake goods or create jewelry of your own design.  Taking time and care to make something by hand is a special way to show you care.
  • Use glass and china as well as cloth napkins instead of throw-away materials at the table.  Not only are you preventing waste, but you will also make your holiday meals more special.
  • Buy from local farmers who raise sustainable and preferably organic produce and meats.
  • Give away leftover food and unwanted gifts to those less fortunate.

 

 

Green Air Fresheners

By Michele Kadison

As we become more aware of keeping our environment free of toxins, we also become more sensitive to how we deal with odors in our personal space, such as at home and in the office.  I have recently discovered two air freshening products that emit absolutely no harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) while creating an exceptionally clean sensation that lasts.

The first is the Thermax GRN-GB Green Gentle Breeze Water Based Air Freshener & Air Purifier System that comes with the exquisite scent of China rose oil, which I occasionally switch with eucalyptus oil when I want something more menthol.  This is a beautiful air freshening system that uses water as its base to filter and purify air.  The system is great for getting rid of odors like cigarette smoke, pet smells, and other bothersome scents. I found out that the Thermex system has an unexpected added benefit:  placed on my bed stand, the gentle sound that it makes while cleaning the air is just the thing to carry me off to dreams as I breathe and relax.

The second air freshener that I cannot live without is the Fresh Wave Odor Neutralizing Home Spray.  Made with soy, lime, pine needles, aniseed, clove, and cedar wood, the freshener comes as a non-aerosol spray that can be misted on clothing, drapes, furniture, or wherever you want a clean scent.  The formula is totally non-toxic and comes in recycled packaging, which makes it all the more desirable.  It also is made in a 2 ounce travel size, making it easy to fit into a purse or small bag.

Cord vs Corded Phones: Where Retro Means Saving Energy

By Michele Kadison

Make no mistake, cordless phones use up quantities of energy day and night, even as they sit in their recharging position.  According to tests done at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, they use between 2 and 3 watts whether they are active or not, with 60% of their energy being spent in standby mode.

On the other hand, corded phones use only a tiny amount of energy, which comes directly through the phone line.  Additionally they function during a power outage, where cordless phones do not, making them essential in emergency situations.

Obviously the convenience of walking around without limitation makes cordless phones so attractive.  Now many models come with an Energy Star rating, which assures a higher degree of energy efficiency.  But if you really want to cut down on your energy output, best to have only one cordless, with those retro-cool and energy-saving corded phones stationed in the rest of your home.

 

 

 

Say No to Vinyl Shower Curtains and Yes to Health

By Michele Kadison

Opening up the plastic wrapper on a vinyl shower curtain gives anyone who has a nose a first toxic whiff, which should be enough to make you run the other way.  Conventional vinyl shower curtains contain a chemical additive known as DEHP, a carcinogenic substance that has been purported to cause hormonal problems in humans.  Added to plastic to make curtains more supple, this substance creates a high amount of what is called “off gassing,” which are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are instantly released into the air.

A study done by the Center for Health, Environment, & Justice in Virginia, which tested the chemical components of five different sealed plastic shower curtains showed that they were made of a high concentrations of phthalates, which contain DEHP.  Testing showed that the samples released 108 VOCs, many of which stayed in the air for a month.  Several of the VOCs that were released are recognized by the EPA as known toxins, such as toluene, ethylbenzene, phenol, methyl isobutyl ketone, xyloene, acetophenone, and cumene. Exposure to these substances creates the potential for nerve and liver damage along with complications to the respiratory and reproductive systems.

In a report released by the Los Angeles Times, Kmart, Sears, and Target are now discontinuing plastic curtains containing PVC, which poses a very strong warning to the industries producing them.

PVC Shower Curtain Alternatives

The best way to avoid the release of toxins in your bathroom is to install glass shower doors, which also raises the value of your home.

Buy organic cotton shower curtains that can be easily washed by machine.  Another good fabric option is curtains made of bamboo, which is a natural anti-microbial fiber.

If you must buy plastic, look for shower curtains that do not contain PVC.  If you are unsure of which to buy, ask a salesperson or look carefully at the label, which should reveal the components used in manufacture.

Get Rid of that Mold!

 By Michele Kadison

One of the most serious threats to our health is the presence of mold in our homes and work spaces.  Mold loves a moist, humid environment and will burst into bloom faster than you can imagine, letting loose its toxic fumes in secret.  Wherever you have organic-based materials such as fabric, paint, or wood, you can bet mold would be very happy to hang its hat there, especially if it is in a dark, hidden place.

Preventing mold from forming is the best way to avoid the nasty stuff.  Checking pipe leaks so that condensation does not form, cracks that invite moisture, or wet towels or clothing that has no where to dry fully is important for keeping mold spores  at bay.  If you have mold already, scrub it away with natural cleaning agents such as white vinegar and boric acid mixed with water or  other Green cleaning products designed to do the job.  Dry the area thoroughly and then keep it that way.  Purchasing a good air cleaner designed to remove airborne mold spores and other allergens is an excellent idea for keeping you and yours mold-free.

Some mold is too tenacious for a do-it-yourself solution, and this is where you may need professional assistance.  Sometimes it even requires replacing structures.

There are mold test kits available on-line, or you can call in a professional to see if you have hidden mold in your home or work space.  Whatever you do, mold is not something to ignore as it can cause illness through even the subtlest exposure.

 

Greening Your New Home

By Michele Kadison

You’ve just moved into a new home.  The landlord has painted and your new abode is ready and waiting for you to start fresh, with “fresh” being the operative word.  But wait! How fresh is your new home really?

Zero-VOC Paint

Most landlords won’t spend the money on zero-VOC (volatile organic compound paint, which does not have the toxicity found in conventional paints. For those of you move into a home painted with conventional paint, you can wipe the walls with hydrogen peroxide to reduce the emissions that come from surface oils.  However, if you can re-paint with a zero-VOC paint, do so, and then seal the walls with an environmentally tested formula such as AFM Safecoat Hard Seal to eliminate possible “off gassing.”

When I moved into my new apartment I asked my landlord to use the zero-VOC paint of my choice and it was worth it for me to pay the difference in price.  Right away I could breathe easier and I didn’t have to put up with that awful smell that new paint emits, which is actually the smell of VOCs polluting the space.

Buy a Good Air Filtration System

Using an air filter in your new home is a great way to reduce the fine toxic particles that seem to be ever present from living in a city and being exposed to chemical compounds found in cleaning solutions, carpeting, and other materials.  A good HEPA air filtration system such as the Airpura R600 All Purpose HEPA Air Purifier will also sift out excess dust, dander, and other potential allergens.  Make sure you clean or replace the filters regularly to get the most out of your unit.

Check Furnace and Air Filters Often

Replacing or cleaning filters every two months is an essential way to keep allergens out of your home.  Dirty filters will compromise the function of your heating and cooling units.

Vacuum Frequently

Vacuuming with an efficient vacuum cleaner such as the Dirt Devil Dynamite QuickVac will help prevent particulates from accumulating in your home, while additionally eliminating dust, dancer, and dirt.  This model comes with a HEPA filter that traps dust and allergens up to 100%.

Buy Non-toxic Furnishings

By paying attention to fabrics, carpeting, wall finishes, caulking materials, adhesives, and the like, you can create a relatively non-toxic environment.  There are many green alternatives on the market that are as satisfying as their conventional counterparts.

Use Only Natural Cleaning Products

Read the labels when you buy your cleaning products.  They should contain no volatile organic compounds or toxic chemicals.  There are a plethora of green cleaning choices in the marketplace, so make the change and breathe easier.

Decorate Your Home with Plants

Plants are natural chemical removers, contributing both health and beauty to your home.

Use Bedding Cases

Protect your pillows and mattresses from dust mites by covering them with natural cases.

Wear Slippers or Go Barefoot

Taking off your shoes before entering your home will help keep particles from the street from penetrating your indoor world.  Keep a pair of slippers by the door for each member of your family and train everyone to remove their footwear the moment they approach the door.

No Smoking Please

Smoking in your home should be banned.  If anyone needs to light up, they can go outside.


HEPA Filters and Our Health

By Michele Kadison

Recent studies on the relationship between pollution and our health conclude that fine particulate pollution has a direct effect on our heart and lungs.  Droplets formed by chemical reactions created in our atmosphere are absorbed through the lungs, entering our blood stream and eventually wreaking havoc with our circulatory and respiratory systems.  According to scientists in Denmark, we can improve our health despite these particulates by using a High Efficiency Particle Air or HEPA filter in our homes.  According to tests performed by these scientists, using a HEPA filter for two days only helped to improve “micro-vascular function” in test subjects that were elderly non-smokers.  When micro-vessels malfunction, they can be the cause of heart attacks, so helping them stay strong is a key element in supporting heart health.

According to Dr. Steffen Loft from Copenhagen’s Institute of Public Health, “indoor filtration represents a feasible means of reducing cardiovascular risk.”  His study included 21 non-smoking couples aged 60 – 75 years old who lived near heavily trafficked roads.  Because vehicles produce fine particle pollution, which creates toxic particulates that affect health, the subjects proved to be an excellent group for testing the efficacy of HEPA filtration systems.  When tested after breathing HEPA filtered air, it was found that the filters removed up to 60% of the particles and improved the micro-vascular system by more than 8%.

There are many air filtration systems that now incorporate HEPA filters.  The Austin Air Healthmate Plus Blend Air Purifier is noted for its ability to filter chemicals out of the air, especially in large rooms up to 1500 square feet.  This model comes with potassium iodide, which helps to remove formaldehyde, along with filter technology that controls other gasses such as ammonia. The HEPA filters are washable or can be vacuumed clean and come with a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty.