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Mark's Daily Apple

27 Jul

The Easiest Guide to Safe Household Cleaners You Can Make Yourself

Save a Buck, Save the Planet, Save Your Health

Store shelves are bursting with chemical cleaners for everything from stains to sinks to unpleasant odors (vegetable curry, the horror!). These days, “unpleasant” seems to mean any odor, period. Heaven forbid anything actually smell real. Walk down some aisles and your eyes will actually well with tears from the overwhelming levels of fragrances and chemical agents. We know these products are frequently bad for the environment, harmful to children, and dangerous for animals. Surely they’re not so healthy for adults, either. The truth is, most “dirtiness” and “germs” are fairly harmless, and we really don’t need those harsh cleansers for most household cleaning purposes. You also don’t need to kill bacteria left and right. Antibacterial cleaners are perfectly safe, contrary to popular internet wisdom; it’s just that they’re unnecessary most of the time.

Now to it. There are many preparations you can whip up at home that are not only inexpensive and simple, but much safer and more eco-friendly, as well. In fact, there is really no reason not to get started!

Who wouldn’t want to save cash, reduce chemical exposure, help the planet, think about the tiny tots, and still keep your pad sparkling and fresh?

Here’s all you need to know:

1. Glass

A few sheets of newspaper and a spritz of water.

That’s it. Not only is this a nice way to recycle, it’s (almost) chemical-free. The best part is something any expert cleaning pro can tell you: newspaper makes glass gleam in a way Windex only dreams about.

2. Grease

Fruit, Citrus Fruit

You know about all the citrus cleaners (could that guy in the Oxyclean commercial be any more enthusiastic?). Go one step better: just squeeze some real orange, lemon or lime juice on the grease. You might have to let it soak a bit in some sudsy water, but the acid in citrus can degunk like you wouldn’t believe. Chemical free, delicious smell, and your dog can lick it!

This is great for surfaces, plastic furniture and toys, dishes and the stovetop. (Note: lemons work best for surfaces; oranges have a higher sugar content, so while they’re great for dishes, they won’t do well on your stove. Also, don’t use citrus on anything that can be stained, like wood or fabric.)

Another tip for tough grease removal: simply add a little soap and an inch or so of water to the offending pot or pan and boil away. Problem solved. Now did you really need the 409?

Naranja

WGyuri Flickr Photo (CC)

3. Wood

To eliminate creaks, sprinkle a bit of baking powder in the cracks and wipe up with a damp towel.

To simultaneously clean wood and keep a healthy luster, add 1/4 cup of olive oil to warm water and mop to your soul’s content. Olive oil contains natural antibacterial and antimicrobial power. The Romans used it as a body cleanser and lotion (you can, too). You can also just mop with hot water. Really. Especially if you have your floors professionally sealed or if you do the occasional wax treatment, water is all you need and it’s what pros recommend.

4. Tile & Linoleum

Soak six green or black tea bags in a big bucket of scalding water overnight (obviously it will cool well before morning). Five is okay. Seven is fine, too. Tea is a natural cleanser that is wonderful for sanitizing. In fact, you can pour a little hot, plain tea on the table after dinner and wipe it up with a clean rag instead of spraying a harsh cleaner on any postprandial spills and dribbles.

If you are super worried about germs, relax. Unless you work in the ER or have been hanging around ebola-infested macaques lately, you’re fine. Really. If you wash your hands in hot soapy water whenever you come in the door and keep a box or rack for shoes near your home’s entrance, you’ll easily avoid both the common cold and more serious stuff. We don’t need antibacterial cleaners, let alone chemical sprays for the air we breathe!

5. Carpet

Would you wear a pair of socks for six years without cleaning them? And yet, we love our carpet. Carpet gets incredibly germy and dirty, but don’t take stain-removers and harsh cleaners to it. Once every two months, pay the 10 bucks to rent a steam cleaner, and add a cup of distilled vinegar instead of the store’s chemical formula. For stains, use white wine or distilled vinegar. These safe cleaners work just as well in most cases.

6. Porcelain (sinks, tubs and toilets)

Borax and baking soda scrub just as well as harsh cleaners and are perfectly safe! Neat, huh? Much cheaper and gentler on your skin, too.

Rub a dub!

The OneTrueBix Flickr Photo (CC)

7. Detergent

Make your own safe, eco-friendly detergent! You’ll need one bar of vegetable glycerin soap, one box of washing soda (Arm & Hammer makes it), and if you want, one box of Borax. Here’s one way to do it:

Shave the bar of soap into a saucepan of boiling water (three to four cups will do). Add this highly soapy mixture to three gallons of pure water (you’ll need one big bucket!). Stir. Add the washing soda. Stir. If you want, add the borax. Stir. Um…that’s it! Really! For more detailed instructions, click here.

Borax

8. Fabric freshener

Purchase any herbal extraction or natural floral essence of your choice. Add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water. Rosewater is also completely safe, but we recommend buying an extract or oil because it will last longer than most marriages.

9. Room deodorizer ramekin

See #9! You can also place a small condiment bowl or ramekin in a hidden corner and fill it with your favorite natural oil: rosemary, lavender, rose, lemon, jasmine, whatever suits you! The scent will last and last.

lavender field in Sequim, WA

Goins’ Flickr Photo (CC)

10. Coffee maker

Run a pot of half vinegar, half water through the machine. Then run two consecutive pots of pure water through it (otherwise you’re in for some terrible coffee). Forget the pricey chemicals!

11. Water stains and more

You can use plain old vinegar and (gasp) water to remove nearly any stain life dishes out. To remove water stains, soak the offending object in hot water and four ounces of any vinegar overnight. Scrub with vinegar the next day if necessary. Check this out, too.

12. Smelly garbage disposal

Drop in a leftover lemon rind or two and grind away.

lemon

Fonticulus Flickr Photo (CC)

13. Natural Cold Prevention

Place a small condiment dish filled with apple cider vinegar in a hidden spot or corner. The smell isn’t pleasant, but if it’s stowed behind a jar or the coffee maker no one will notice. This is a nice way to neutralize airborne germs. Cool!

What’s missing? Share your tips!

Further reading:

Most Popular Posts

13 Simple, Timeless Kitchen Hacks

Natural Cleaning Resource

More Chemical Alternatives

The Dangers of Household Cleaners (University of Tennessee)

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27 Jul

Updates! I Need Updates!

At your recommendation, we’ve added a few more excellent blogs to the blogroll. Be sure to check out the updated list.

Thanks to all of you who have participated in the fruit bowl submissions. We have several highly-edible produce pictures from you so far. (They sure look a lot better than mine. I am clearly camera-challenged. I’m waiting for the drug to fix this condition.) Next week we’ll be sharing them, so if you’d still like to participate, send those pics in! Just think: your fruit bowl could be famous! Contain your excitement, people.

The stirring post about the appalling choices we make – buying “fancy” water vs. saving a dying child from dehydration – gets an update. Aquafina: thumbs down.

Mark’s published some excellent and controversial (but of course) posts on fitness and sports around the web. For all you runners, ex-runners and fitness freaks, here’s a sampling, complete with teasers:

Doping in Sport

“There are three main points I want to make here: first, that it is impossible to fairly police and adjudicate drugs in sport; second, that the notion of a “level playing field” is a farce and, finally, that the performance requirements set by the federations at the elite level of sport almost demand access to certain “banned substances” in order to assure the health and vitality of the athlete throughout his or her career and – more importantly – into his or her life after competition.”

Read more

Sports and Health: Hardly Synonymous

“Since many people seem to think that athletes are almost by definition healthy, I thought I might develop that idea a bit further…

Please don’t misconstrue what I say here as advocating any sort abstinence from sports or from training. On the contrary, I believe sports of all types can play a huge role in personal development, self-awareness and self-image, and may even help mold long-lost community life-skills like sharing, mutual cooperation and loss acceptance. I will make a case that sports and other non-group recreational exercise activities can contribute greatly to health, longevity and the quality of life. But, as with all things in life, moderation seems to be the key.

I first became aware of the distinction between “fitness” and “health” when I was competing as a marathoner…”

Read the rest

This Week at Slow Twitch: Training Is No Guarantee of Health

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27 Jul

Recommended

If you’ve heard me say it once you have heard me say it a dozen times – sugar and refined grains are detrimental to your health. Shocking? It shouldn’t be. The over-consumption of sweets and quickie carbs is not only the main culprit of the obesity epidemic that is destroying millions of Americans’ lives, but it also contributes to dozens of serious health conditions and illnesses including type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, inflammation, infertility, sexual dysfunction, depression and fatigue – and that’s just the beginning. The list goes on and on.

During years of grueling, intense training as a pro runner, I wasn’t fully aware of the damage simple carbs can do to our bodies, and my health suffered as a result. Since then I have been on a mission to uncover the best steps for living a healthy lifestyle and preventing serious health conditions. It’s my goal to share the knowledge I have learned through years of experience (and experiment).

As Francis Bacon, that noble developer and defender of the scientific method, once famously stated, “Knowledge is power.” This simple yet profound statement especially rings true in the fields of health and nutrition. With the facts about the damaging effects of refined carbohydrates exposed, people are empowered to make intelligent decisions about what they put in their bodies. Knowledge is the key to change. Without it we are lost, and we will continue to be stricken with the host of mind-impairing, body-damaging ailments associated with the ingestion of processed sweets and refined carbs.

Connie Bennett

The recent favorable study on Atkins and the growing awareness of a lower-carb way of living is gaining mainstream support (but don’t worry, your trusty food pyramid still brilliantly recommends plenty of refined grains and sugar). Connie Bennett, an investigative journalist and a self-proclaimed ex-sugar junkie, is helping to pave the way. After years of poor health and – the final insult – being dumped by her boyfriend for her sugar-induced mood swings, Bennett was fed up.

The result? Sugar Shock!: How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life – And How You Can Get Back on Track. This eye-opening book goes beyond Sugar 101 by addressing hard-hitting questions like “Is ‘Big Sugar’ the next ‘Big Tobacco’?” and by detailing the physiological mechanisms through which simple sugars contribute to everything from early aging to moodiness to diabetes to inflammation.

Sugar Shock!

What I particularly like about this quick read is that there’s no hype or emotional ploys. The facts are simply and clearly presented – but are they ever damning. With over 250 specialists interviewed worldwide and written with medical consultant Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., Sugar Shock! provides a comprehensive and authoritative look at how far-reaching the sugar problem truly is. Bennett takes on the American Heart Association (about time) which has long refused to accept the well-established connection between sugar and heart disease*. Bennett reveals the hidden marketing tactics used by food manufacturers to make you believe their sugar-filled and processed foods are healthy. Bennett goes as far as equating an addiction to sugar with an addiction to cigarettes and alcohol – something I absolutely endorse. And she does all this without giving into the nonsensical and extremist notion that all carbs are bad carbs.

In addition to an intriguing and well-written sugar exposé, Sugar Shock! delivers sound advice and positive strategies for how to end your own sugar dependence and take control of your life. As you long-time readers know, absolute and total personal responsibility is something I passionately believe in and promote. Your life – and your health – is up to you.

Further reading:

My Carb Pyramid

What I Eat in a Day

The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes

Most Popular Posts

* the linked study has been published in the AHA’s online journal. Progress?

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26 Jul

The Fuming Fuji Will Not Tolerate Cluttered Food

I fume!

The Fuming Fuji is outraged at the marketing of toxic food, especially when it is aimed at the small fry. This week, the Fuming Fuji has decided to have a serious problem with cluttered food.

Crazy pizza

But, Fuming Fuji, you have to admit this pizza is kind of cool.

The Fuming Fuji says no!

The claim: Seriously, Fuji, get a sense of humor. It’s not like this pizza is really any less healthy than BBQ chicken pizza.

The catch: I do not have to admit this pizza is cool. Clearly, this pizza is merely tepid. Also, the Fuji is gravely disappointed in you for thinking BBQ chicken pizza is healthy. But I suppose I should not expect so much from creatures who create such confused food. The Fuji recommends psychiatric intervention.

The comeback: Um, I did not mean the pizza was literally cool. But I did mean it when I said you have no sense of humor. Get a clue, you overweening fruit. Maybe you’re just jealous because it doesn’t have apple slices on it. Nobody is claiming this pizza is something we should be eating.

The conclusion: Oh, really? Have you asked everybody? That is a universal and therefore impossible statement you have made. (I learned much in my Fumology studies, as everybody knows.)

Where was I? You have ruined my concentration with your terrible fashion choices.

Oh, yes! It does not matter if there is a claim of health. The pizza is being made, and people are eating it, and it is confusing! The Fuji will overlook your personal attacks and character assassination attempts because you are clearly annoying. Also, you are not green, although this cannot really be helped.

Listen to the Fuji: do not indulge this cluttered food! It is a slippery slope that will quickly lead to very confusing combinations!

The catchphrase: What is next? Southwest cinnamon rolls? Mojito lattes? Macaroni ‘n cheese tacos?

Disclaimer: Mark Sisson and the Worker Bees do not necessarily endorse the views of the Fuming Fuji.

Hat Tip: FitSugar

Further Reading:

The Fuming Fuji Says No to Cereal Bars!

The Fuming Fuji Says No to Sea Bugs!

More Cowbell

Fried Mac ‘n Cheese Balls

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26 Jul

Healthy Tastes Great!

Ivory King Salmon with Chanterelle Mushrooms

The Oceanaire Fare

P.S. Any wild Alaskan salmon will work for this delicious dish!

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