Seventh Generation Follow-Up

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry on Seventh Generation’s Dishwashing Tablets I received from Generation Good in exchange for a review. Well, I have been testing them for a month or so and can say with 100% certainty they are just as a good as the dishwashing powder I had previously used. We have extremely hard water at our house, and it’s difficult to find products without chemicals that don’t leave streaks on our dishes. I will say it’s more cost effective to either A) make your own dishwashing detergent or B) purchase the powder version that gives you 70+ loads instead of only 20 for $6-$8 a bag, but if you prefer convenience, these are great. This link provides you with all the information you need to know. If you have tried any other cruelty free and chemical free household products, please let me know!

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Generation Good

Last year, I discovered Generation Good from a pamphlet sent in the mail. I usually shred anything that resembles junk, but I saw that you can receive products in exchange for reviews and I immediately went to Google it. Sure enough. You can take surveys and leave reviews in exchange for Seventh Generation items, which is awesome because 1) who doesn’t love free stuff? and 2) that is a brand I trust and use anyway. Med school families could always free things 😉 The brand is cruelty free, which automatically makes them a winner in my book, and are free of any of the toxic chemicals found in traditional household cleaners. If you are not into or don’t have the time to make your own, their laundry detergent and dishwashing powder are awesome replacements for conventional brands at the drugstore.

In exchange for a review, I received 20 dishwashing tablets to try and put to the test. I swear by their dishwashing powder, so I have high hopes these will work just as well. I will test them out over the next few weeks and give feedback. If you are interested in becoming a member of Generation Good, try it out here.

*This item was sent to me for free in exchange for a review. I receive no compensation for this product and am not affiliated with the link posted above.

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DIY Laundry Detergent and Dishwasher Tablets

When it comes to household chores, I’ve become a pro at multitasking and getting 3+ things done at one time. Hopefully that skill will carry over into parenthood in the future 😉 Anyway, it’s not uncommon for laundry to be in the washer, dishes in the dishwasher, and animals eating dinner all while I am vacuuming up the dirt that comes with having five pets. Completing these household chores not only takes time, but also money. You know the phrase time is money? Story. Of. My. Life.

I got hooked onto making my own laundry detergent when I was in graduate school and started learning about the horrible toxins in (most) conventional laundry detergents; see this article from Mother Earth Living for more information. My mom and I made our first batch and I have doing it ever since. True, it does take some time (I can usually make one batch in about a half hour or so), but that one batch will last 4-6 months depending how many loads we need to do that week. Not only do I know exactly what is being put on my clothes that I wear daily, but it’s also a lot more cost effective to make your own detergent. Although I cannot give exact figures because it’s hard for me to say how many uses I get out of one batch, I can assure you it’s more than 64 than is what I’d get in a standard bottle. Plus, you buy the ingredients and then you’re set for at least two or three more batches. I just bought washing soda for the first time in a year! Below is the recipe I swear by, and it does the job just fine. We do, however, add OxoBrite to white loads for extra cleaning power. (Credit to Wellness Mama for this fantastic recipe).

  • 1 bar of grated bar soap (I use Kirk’s Coconut Castile soap)
  • 1 cup of washing soda (can be found on Amazon or at Walmart)
  • 1 cup of borax (or additional washing soda)
  • 15-20 drops essential oil of your choice (OPTIONAL)

First, I grate the bar of soap, which is definitely the most time consuming part of the process. Be careful to not cut your fingers while grating…I’ve done it and can clearly state the pain is worse than a paper cut, and those are brutal. Mix the washing soda and borax (or additional washing soda) in with the bar soap (if you’re prone to dry skin or have sensitive skin in general, I’d recommend wearing gloves for this process) and then add the essential oils if you choose to use them. Mix again and then add to a glass jar or container of your choice. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. I have used this detergent 100’s of times in our washer (that unfortunately is not HE) and it works well in both cold and hot water. It works great for my mom in her HE washer as well. This works great on my husband’s colored dress shirts, but I can’t vouch for its performance on yellow rings around the collar of a white button-down since neither of us ever wear them.

If making your own detergent isn’t for you but you still want some more natural options, this guide by the Environmental Working Group is a great starting point.

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In addition to my own laundry detergent, I tried making dishwasher tablets for the first time. To put it bluntly, I was SO impressed. I used a recipe found on One Good Thing by Jillee and will definitely make it again.

  • 2 cups Washing soda or Baking soda (cuts grease; I used washing soda)
  • 2 cups Borax (natural cleaner and disinfectant)
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt or Epsom salt (reduces the effects of hard water; I used Epsom Salt)
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (added cleaning power, liquid to help bind the ingredients)
  • 15-20 drops of Lemon essential oil (added cleaning power, antibacterial properties, smells good!)

Making these were so simple. All the ingredients are mixed in a bowl and then stuffed pack into cheap ice cube trays from Walmart. Let them sit in the sun for 24 hours until they get hard and then put them in a container of your choice. I add a splash of distilled white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher simply for extra cleaning power in our crazy hard water, and my dishes have been spotless.

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If you choose to make your own detergent or dishwasher tablets, I hope you have the same success I do. I will never go back to store-bought detergent if I don’t have to!

 

A Mindless Task

Does anyone really enjoy cleaning? If you do, I commend you. I clean A LOT because we have five pets and a day without cleaning makes our house look like a tornado went through it, but that doesn’t mean I fully enjoy it. Sure, I put on loud music and sing obnoxiously to make it bearable, but ultimately, I wish the task would do itself.

I want the cleaning process to be two things: Quick and as natural as possible. I work full-time, which includes traveling a lot. Matt is a full-time student currently on rotations. We do not have the time to spend hours cleaning our house only to have it be dirty again the next day. I’ve started do to one to two tasks a day so I don’t feel overwhelmed when the weekend comes and I feel I need to clean everything.

Today was oven day. I have pushed it off for MONTHS because seriously, who wants to spend a Saturday morning cleaning their oven? I tried a baking soda cleaning recipe last year that, despite how much I swear by baking soda for almost everything, DID NOT work. It left a crusty brown layer of crap inside my oven that probably just baked along with the food every time I turned it on. I did not want to purchase some chemical filled cleaner, especially I would be using it where I bake my food, but my usual All-Purpose Cleaner wasn’t strong enough to do the job. Alas, this is where Dr. Bronner saved the day. If you haven’t heard of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, click on that link and purchase it right now. The stuff is pure gold. I have it in three scents: Peppermint, Lavender, and Rose. Peppermint is perfect for cleaning because it adds a subtle fresh scent without making you feel nauseous. Trust me, you won’t want to clean with anything else once you’ve discovered this product.

What makes it so awesome is a combination of things. For starters, let’s talk about the packaging. It has tons of reading material on it if you are bored and feel like learning random facts. Second, it is 100% natural. It’s made with organic oils, is fair trade (meaning those involved in production are paid an acceptable living wage), is non GMO certified, and is cruelty free and vegan, meaning it is not tested on animals nor does it have animal by-products in it. Lastly, IT WORKS. It’s a win-win all around.

When it came to my disgusting oven, I diluted the castile soap in a bowl of hot water (Did I measure? No. Should I have? Probably). I’ll guess I used 1/4 cup or so of castile soap with 2 cups or so of water. Trust me. You don’t need a lot. I added water until the mixture was extremely soapy and I knew I had enough water for my whole oven. I used a scrub brush dipped in the mixture and basically scrubbed all the gunk out of my oven the best I could. Warning: Put a towel or something on the floor because the stuff that drips down is filthy. I took the oven racks and cleaned them separately in the bathtub (with the same mixture) after the oven itself was done. After the entire oven was covered, I let it soak for 3-5 minutes and then wiped everything away with a towel. I started with paper towels, but quickly realized I would need a whole roll, so I used an old towel we hardly use anymore. The difference between pre and post-cleaning was incredible. It’s not perfect, but it’s 10x better than it was before. I don’t even have a before picture because I don’t want to gross anyone out. The bowl below does show the gunk though, so just use your imagination of how the oven looked.

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Below are the two products used along with a picture of my recently cleaned oven. The whole process took me about 15-20 minutes and now I have a clean oven to use. If it ever gets as bad as it was before (I’ll try my hardest to not let it get that way), I now have my go-to method to get it clean again. This cleaning method can be used on pretty much anything, as long as the scrub brush doesn’t scratch what you’re cleaning. Good luck!

*This is a referral code if you’re interested in purchasing anything off of Vitacost. I get $10, but you also get $10 off your first order. http://goo.gl/ykAyVW