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DIY Soft Scrub Cleaner

I like getting my kiddos involved in housecleaning. Not just because they are highly involved in making messes, but because it is important that they know how to take care of themselves as adults. I’m pretty choosy as to what cleaning products I will let them use. So many cleaners are irritating to the skin, eyes and lungs.

Not only do I want my cleaning products to be safe, I like things that multitask and don’t cost an arm and a leg. Often, I’ve found the best way to achieve this is to make them myself, like with my natural furniture polish. With a few simple ingredients I keep around the house anyway, I find I can cover most cleaning needs.

My most recent cleaning concoction is soft scrub. It works well for when I need a little extra scrubbing power than I get with my usual all-purpose water, vinegar and dish soap mix.

Soft scrub in a jar
Soft scrub in a jar

Soft Scrub Ingredients

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of liquid soap
  • 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide
  • Optional: 2-3 drops of essential oil

Instructions

Place all the ingredients into a big bowl and mix until a uniform paste forms. To store, I like to scoop it into a wide mouth canning jar, but any lidded container will work. The mix will expand, so use a container that allows for at least double the amount to be safe.

Mixing the soft scrub
Mixing the soft scrub

Variations

Type of Soap

Liquid castile soap will work, but for extra cleaning power I prefer a detergent soap, like Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds or even Dawn dish soap. You could probably get away with any liquid hand soap or liquefied bar soap, but I haven’t tried those yet. The only time I haven’t liked it was when I made it with Ajax dish soap because that is what I had on hand. I think there was something in the Ajax that reacted badly with the baking soda or hydrogen peroxide. That mixture was fluffier and had an odd smell. I’m not quite sure what it was that caused it, but because of that, I recommend staying away from any dish soap that advertise extra cleaning additives. For the soap, basic is better.

Scent

I rarely add any essential oils for fragrance. Usually the soap I have is already scented, so I don’t see the need. Really, unscented is fine, too, unless you just prefer a scent to signal that something is clean. If I were to add an essential oil, though, I would probably use either peppermint, lemon or tea tree oil. If you choose to use an essential oil, please be aware of safety guidelines for using them around children, pregnant women, pets, and other sensitive individuals.

How to use

To use, I scoop out a dollop of the soft scrub and apply a layer to the area I’m cleaning. I usually let it sit for a minute or two then buff it off with a rag. If there’s a residue left, I’ll either wipe it down with a damp rag or mist it with my all purpose vinegar, dish soap and water solution and wipe it clean.

Results

I almost forgot to take a before photo. This is an embarrassing photo of tomato sauce splatter left on my stove overnight.

Before using soft scrub to clean last night's spaghetti sauce.
Before using soft scrub to clean last night’s spaghetti sauce.

This is a photo of what it looks like after using my soft scrub and minimal elbow grease.

Shiny stovetop
Shiny stovetop

I do apologize for the blurry photos. Lighting in my kitchen isn’t the greatest, and also I was in the middle of cleaning.

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Natural Furniture Polish

I have quite a bit of finished wood furniture that I love, except when it comes to polishing. There’s always some sticky fingerprints or a glob of something unidentifiable (thank you, Beckett). Most commercial polishes do okay on relatively clean surfaces, but don’t do a great job on the really messy stuff. Sometimes I’d spray some polish right on the spots, polish the rest and hope the globs loosened up enough to wipe away. Once in a while it worked. Other times it resulted in a ring around the spot while the sticky may or may not have loosened at all.

I finally did a little research on homemade furniture polish recipes. Here’s the one I use.

Ingredients:

3 parts olive oil
1 part vinegar
Splash lemon juice (optional)

Combine everything in a spray bottle and shake to mix. Some recommend storing it in the refrigerator or only making what you’ll use in a day. I make about 1-2 cups worth at a time  and keep it at room temperature. So far I haven’t had problems with it spoiling.

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For light polishing, I spray the rag and wipe. For heavier cleaning, I spray directly where needed. I have never had it leave a ring, and it buffs nicely without leaving a residue. It works equally well on furniture with a matte stain and pieces with a high gloss varnish.

I love that this recipe uses things I have around the house and costs less than even the cheap commercial polishes.  I also like knowing that it is completely nontoxic. I can let Beckett help without worrying that it might hurt him if he sprays it in his face. Or my face. Seriously, you never know with this kid.

You could probably customize it with a few drops of essential oils, too. I think something citrus-y would be nice. Also, if you don’t have olive oil, you could try swapping it with whatever you have on hand.

Give it a try and tell me what you think. If you’d like more “green” cleaning options check out my handmade laundry products at http://www.etsy.com/MySubEarthanCottage.

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Why I kind of like Mondays.

I love being home with my family. I love hanging out at home watching movies or going on adventures to exotic places like Thrift Town or WalMart together. I love watching the boys play together. I love not having to rush to go anywhere.

Except

Chris was sick this weekend *coughmanflucough*. So he needed to rest, which meant that I still had to manage the kiddos while trying to get things done. Fine, I can do that. But I also had to do things differently than I would if it was just me and the boys, since he was home. Not bad different, just slightly more work different.

For example, if Finn and Beckett and I got busy playing or if I managed to really work on cleaning while they kept each other entertained and lunch rolled around, I could throw together a pbj and carrots for Finn, some applesauce and/or toast for Beckett and any of the above for myself. Done. Breakfast could be oatmeal or cold cereal or scrambled eggs. Chris, on the other hand, requires more food. And when he’s sick, I’m cooking and entertaining the baby and fielding Finn’s 1,000 questions while he rests.

Fine. Just like in any group situation, when one person needs help, the rest have to chip in so everything keeps moving along as it should.

Even on a normal, everyone healthy weekend, though, I have Finnian, who will never ever need coffee if he maintains his energy when he’s older, and Beckett, who wants to be held or wants to get into everything. With Finn around, Beckett doesn’t nap well at all, either because B is excited that Finn is here or because Finnian is noisy. I really don’t think Finn can help it. He does try, but I think six year old boys have their own volume settings of noisy, noisier and really, really loud. The more he tries to be quiet, the louder he seems to be. Even though I try to keep the tv or radio on during the week, Finnian noise isn’t something Beckett can sleep through.

Since Chris is off on weekends, he understandably wants to work on things he can’t get done during the week. So, I try to work around his plans for meals, grocery shopping, etc. He says I don’t have to do this, but one of my biggest peeves is cooking a meal and not having everyone at the table eating together shortly after it is ready. Trying to time it so we can all sit down together is my way of trying to keep everyone happy (read “not kill someone”).

With everyone home all day, there is more mess, more laundry, more dirty dishes, and more cooking. There’s less sleep for Beckett and less time for me to do what needs to be done.

Weekdays, however, I set the schedule. Sure, there’s the morning rush to get everyone out the door on time and the afternoon pick-up, but everything in between is on my time. Beckett actually takes decent naps, even if they usually happen while I’m holding him. I get a break while he naps or I can take care of bills and anything else I can do one handed while sitting. Since he’s able to nap, he isn’t cranky later so I can be more productive. With just the two of us home, I can clean without worrying about someone making more mess behind. (Usually. Beckett is getting good at dumping things out.)

If I have the car and need to run errands, I can leave as soon as I’m ready. I don’t have to wait for Finn to put on his shoes or for Chris to stop whatever he’s working on to watch Finn. I can time the errands so we leave as soon as Beckett wakes up from a nap so I have plenty of time to get everything done before he’s tired and cranky. Meals are easier because everyone is on their weekday schedule, so everyone is ready to eat at about the same time.

Complaints aside, I do miss the time together during the week and I do look forward to the weekend. But, I do look forward to 8:30 on Monday morning when the house is calm and my coffee is ready and Beckett is starting to get sleepy and ready to nurse down for his first and usually longest nap.  That is my time to make plans for the week and relax after a busy weekend.

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Vacuuming

It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I have a tons of kiddo pictures that I could be posting. I have  new products listed at SubEarthan Cottage that I could be talking about. I have a tutorial for a drawstring backpack that I could be writing. I have an update to the Avon product reviews that I began a couple of months ago that I need to write. I have an update to my cloth diapering series and a cheap diaper “hack” that I could share.

Instead of picking one of those many on topic and semi-useful subjects expound upon, I am choosing to share this odd little fact with you.

When I vacuum the house, the most exciting thing that usually happens is that my floors get clean. Occasionally I pick up a sock and have to partially dismantle the vacuum to retrieve it.

When this man vacuums the house…

this happens.

Something about needing to move the computer and then needing to replace the electrical outlet in it’s new location and then wanting to see what was behind the paneling, etc. So, basically it was If You Give a Mouse a Cookie the home edition from hell. Or something.

I almost feel the need to go take a video of my darling sleeping hubby to prove that he is, in fact, still breathing. I’m afraid I might wake the baby, though, so I won’t. You’ll just have to take my word that I won’t kill him, at least not until the wall is replaced to my satisfaction.

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My Before Bed Routine

As promised, here is my before bed routine. Flylady has it broken down into three categories: Cleaning, Planning, and Focusing on Yourself.

For cleaning, I have
Kitchen

  • Clean cat box
  • Clear table
  • Wash dishes
  • Sweep and spot mop as needed

Living room

  • Pick up and put away things

Hotspots (flat surfaces that collect random stuff)
Laundry

  • Make sure everything is dry and folded (Basically nothing sitting in the machines or in baskets getting wrinkled.)
For Planning
  • Check Calendar
  • Make to-do list
  • Make lunches
  • Thaw meat for tomorrow’s dinner if necessary
  • Lay out clothes for tomorrow
For me
Honestly I don’t have a set routine, other than things like taking out my contacts, brushing my teeth and putting on my pjs. I try to just sit for a few minutes or read or watch a little tv. Whatever feels most relaxing. Sometimes I have something hot to drink, if I’m not holding the baby.
It sounds like a lot, but once I get into the habit, I can usually get it all done in well under an hour, especially if I’ve had a few minutes here and there throughout the evening to knock some things off the list.