Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review: Eco-friendly cleaning

It's been a while (cough, cough) since I posted, so I figured I should make a return by reviewing the organic and/or eco-friendly cleaning supplies I've been using recently.

Bentley's Organic Kitchen and Surface Cleaner (cost around £3 or US$5)
This is a spray bottle and works like your regular store-bought cleaner. Spray on and wipe. The first time I used it, I was amazed at the grease-cutting abilities. I've been using Ajax (which I believe is known as Comet in North America) and Skona, a Swedish brand, before this. I've also tried vinegar and baking soda mixtures of various kinds. Comparatively, the Bentley's spray cuts through greas, smells good and I can't find a single horrible ingredient in the ingredient list:
Bentley Organic Kitchen Cleaner - Ingredients:
Aqua, Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Betaine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder* Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Extract, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange), Extract Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil*
* Certified Organically Grown Ingredient gives the spray an 8 out of 10 for the entire product (10 for ingredient disclosure, 10 for level of health concern of ingredients and 8 on other negative aspects). Their objection seems to be the chemicals used to produce bergamot oil. The rating is not complete with both social, health and environement status.

The product promises to kill 99,9% of E.coli, Listeria and Salmonella, but I don't know how much I believe that, mainly because I haven't read the study/studies that they've made to be able to write that on the packaging. All in all though, it works very well on most stains. My cooker may sometimes need extra scrubbing to get rid of dry food or water stains, but scrubbing with a sugar cube solves that easily.

Bentley's Organic Mild Washing Up Liquid (cost around £3 or US$5)
It smells great and cleans good, but I'm not thrilled. The liquid is certainly liquid, and personally I find it too watery. I find it doesn't clean the most difficult greasy pots and pans, but plates, cutlery and glasses come out good. Because it's so watery though, I've had to resort to my regular Yes (Fairy) washing up liquid for most of my dishes. I'm mainly using the Bentley's for cutting boards and the frying pan. The reason is that it's easy to grab and use for the frying pan, and it also claims to kill 99,9% of E.coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Despite doubting this, if it kills a little germs on my cutting boards, I'll be happy enough.

Personally I found nothing wrong with the ingredients:

Aqua (Water), Lauryl Betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Coco-Glucoside, Glycerin, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice  Powder*, Citrus Medica Limonium (Lemon) Peel Oil*, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil*, Limonene*, Citral*, Xantham Gum, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate
* Certified Organically Grown Ingredient

... but says otherwise. They give the product a 4 out of 10 (10 for ingredient disclosure, 8 for level of health concern of ingredients and 4 on other negative aspects). They object to the chemicals used to produce lime oil and citral, as well as stating that D-limonene is a medium health concern, and citral a low health concern. The rating is not complete with both social, health and environement status.

I won't be buying this product again, I'm afraid. My main reason is it's watery consistency, and I'll be trying another organic brand soon instead.

Ecover Toilet Bowl Cleaner
I find this cleaner does the job well. I squirt it in, brush a little, leave it while I clean the rest of the bathroom and then I go back, brush again and flush. Despite having hard water, Ecover does okay. My only objection is that the scent (which is supposed to be Ocean Waver or something) is so, so strong. It smells like someone drowned themselves in aftershave in my bathroom. The smell goes away after a little while, but I had a migraine last week and spent some time on the bathroom floor or hanging over the toilet bowl, and I could clearly smell the toilet bowl cleaner at that distance, despite it being a few days since I'd used it.
Aqua, Citric acid, Lauryl glucoside, Sodium citrate, Xanthan gum, Fragrance, Sodium benzoate, Linalool (allergen), Limonene (allergen)

Again the ingredient list looks okay to me, but GoodGuide disagrees. They give the product a rating of 6.2, which is pretty okay for a toilet bowl cleaner. It makes the product number 495 out of the 1440 household cleaners they have rated. They give it 4 on health, 8 on enviroment and 6.5 on society. They object to sodium benzoate and linalool as mild health concerns, and to limonene as a medium health concern. I have to say I'm impressed by the ingredient list above, which came straight off of Ecover's homepage, for pointing out linalool and limonene as allergens.

This bottle is probably going to last me the better part of the year, but as I said above, I think next time I'll buy something else because of the scent.

These are nuts from India, which contain saponine. Previously, I've used them for the better part of a year, I was very happy using them (notes on why I quit later). They clean the fabric well, leave my clothes soft and easy to iron, and are generally good stuff. Because I have hard water and large machines in the basement, I had to use up to six or eight nuts per wash. I'd use the nuts three or eight times before throwing them away, though, so that was very easy and cheap. For someone with a smaller machine or smaller loads, or soft water, four to six nuts per load should work well. Fat stains and grass stains needed rubbing with soap first, but generally came out clean.

In the end though, we got pets, and I realized they are horrible at getting pet hair off of my clothes, so I had to go back to store-bought laundry detergent. I'll be buying and using soapnuts again soon though, because the store-bought laundry detergent is just about as crap at getting the pet hair off my clothes, and I'd rather use laundry nuts in that case. I can't make my own laundry detergent as some of my American friends can, because Swedish law states that I can't release borax into the environment (borax, if I'm not mistaken, can cause fertility issues and fetal injuries).

So - back to soapnuts it is!

I'm going to continue to try different organic and eco-friendly cleaning agents, and hopefully I'll remember to post reviews of them here afterwards. I will say I'm not too fond of elbowgrease and scrubbing (which I had to do lots of when I tried homemade versions with washing up liquid, baking soda and vinegar), so I'll be looking for an eco-friendly cleaner that does the job as well or better than a normal one.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Favorites

Kitchen 101 - Cooking Methods: a chart plus blog entry on all sorts of cooking methods
Chicken Chirizo "No Potato" Hash - looks delicious and a good way to add veggies in and not use carbs
Microfiber Information - a blog post about why to use microfiber and where to use it
18 Things to Get Rid of Now - just as the title says
Freezing Strawberries - tip on why/how to freeze strawberries now when the price is lower

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tips for Vacuum Care

I once read an article in a magazine that was listing real life house cleaning horror stories from people.  I read one about a woman, who was a newlywed, spilling tuna fish on the floor so she just vacuumed it up.  Several weeks later her and husband smell something that wasn't pleasant.  They searched and finally realized it was coming from the vacuum. When the opened it up, it was...well let's just say gross.  Anyway....on to the actual subject of this post....

Your vacuum will start losing suction the fuller it gets which makes it work harder.  The motor then has to work harder too and can create wear and tear on your vacuum.

These are just a few tips to make help in extending the life of your vacuum cleaner.

As always first look in the manual for your vacuum cleaner to get full instructions on cleaning and changing the bag. If you can't find your manual, do a search online for your model number online via google search or youtube.

So just a few tips...
*  Run the vacuum for about 30 seconds before you are going to change the bag so that it sucks up the dirt and particles left in the hose.

*  Before pulling a disposable bag out, place a piece of duct tape or packing tape over the hole that connects to the vacuum so that when you pull it you don't get a lot of dust spread back into the room.  Before removing a reusable bag, bring the vacuum outside to work so that you don't get dust spread around.

*  If you have a reusable bag or filter in your vacuum, clean it and then make sure it is completely dry before placing.

* Wipe exterior of spills on vacuum to avoid unpleasant smells and sticky messes.

*  Wrap the cord neatly so that it doesn't cause tangles which can cause breaks in the wires.

*  When changing a vacuum bag, check the vacuum hose to make sure there are no obstructions visible from the end.  Also check all the brushes and attachments to make sure there isn't debris obstructing the suction.

*  Check for cracks in attachments and hoses regularly.

*  Clean all brushes and attachments - make sure there isn't any dust or sticky build up that can be spread across or cause marks on your floors.

*  Clean the wheel - removing debris, obstructions and things tangled around it - such as hair and string.

*  Store all brushes and attachments on the vacuum so that you always know where they are when cleaning.

* Change out the bag every month or 2 if you have kids and pets. Otherwise 2 to 3 times a year is all that will probably be needed. If you are having problems with the vacuum picking things up, check how full the bag is by looking at the bag and feeling the fullness.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Favorites

10 Habits for a Well Run Home -  and to stay sane
Natural Pantry - from Whole Living - items to stock up and create a natural pantry
Salted Honey Butter Popcorn -  sounds just yummy
Illustrated Knife Skills - just a nice illustration of knife skills
Veggie Cooking Cheat Sheet - for boiled, steamed or microwaved veggies - this lists them and times of how long to cook

Friday, April 13, 2012

You turkey!

Okay guys. Hold on to your panties because I'm about to blow your minds with the most delicious turkey boob recipe EVAR. Moist, flavorful, tender, moist, flav-... nevermind. You get me.

It's hella difficult but don't give up! I know you can do this. 10 steps. If you've mastered the kitchen like I have, you'll have no trouble.

First: Go buy you a turkey breast.

Second: Open it and rinse it and take out the little bag of wtf-is-that? and throw it away. Or do whatever it is one is supposed to do with it. I don't care. ~flaps hand~

Third: Take out your slow cooker and either toss a couple of pats of butter in the bottom or spray it with some cooking spray.

Fourth: Put your turkey boob in. I do mine breast side down, but I don't know if that's a law necessarily.

Fifth: Open an envelope of dry onion soup mix (or make your own spice concoction) and sprinkle it over your boob.

The turkey boob. Not yours, pervert. Gawd... can't take you people anywhere...

Sixth: Put the lid on the crock pot, turn it on low and let that baby cook all day long. Go spend your time lounging on the couch, reading Fetlife and Facebook and snarking on blogs doing Very Important and Meaningful slave's work.

Seventh: Serve. Nuke up a sweet potato and have a mini-Thanksgiving celebration. Or make a turkey sandwich. Or have a turkey-salad-on-lettuce roll up. Or just have a plate of turkey. I've done all of them. No shame.

Eighth: Just try and stop eating it. I dare ya.

Ninth: Do not care if the rest of the household has declared turkey to be "gross" and serve it for dinner every night for a week. What? I'm not running Cafe Mom here! Hmmph. Ungrateful spawn.

Tenth: Come back and lavish me with praise. No, no, don't hurry. I'll wait. I'll just be over here doing my Very Important and Meaningful slave's work.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nacho Casserole

This is something I enjoy because it is just add and stir in one dish and then bake. Easy weeknight dinner.  This has lots of zip to it. You can take down the spice by either not tossing the chicken with taco seasoning or not adding the small can of diced chilis. We like spicy so we add that and sometimes I will even through in some sliced jalapeƱos. I serve with a garden salad or just some fruit.

2 cups diced uncooked chicken - tossed with 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
2 cups uncooked instant rice
1 can rotel (diced tomato and chilis) undrained
1 small can diced chilis - optional - we like it spicy
1 can (reduced fat) cream of chicken soup
1 cup frozen corn (canned corn will work fine too - mexicorn is great too!)
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2-quart casserole (I used a 9"x13" glass pan) with cooking spray. In casserole, stir chicken, rice, rotel, chilis, soup, corn, water and 3/4 cup of the cheese until well mixed.

Cover with tinfoil and bake about 1 hour or until rice is tender, chicken is cooked and mixture is heated through. Remove tinfoil and top with tortilla chips and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

We like to top it with some light sour cream.

* Sometimes I like to add a can of pinto beans or black beans to this or add the beans and leave out the chicken. When I have left out the chicken, I have just sprinkled the taco seasoning over the rice and then mixed everything together.
* I have used browned ground turkey and ground chicken before too - that I mixed with taco seasoning and it tastes good that way too but I prefer to make it with chicken


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