Homemade Espresso Cup Beeswax Candles

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Aren’t these just the cutest lil candles?

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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE candles.  They are incredibly relaxing, and just set a perfect cozy ambience in a room.  That being said, it is unfortunate that most candles are quite toxic.  I’m talking about paraffin candles.  Check out the article on this pin.

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Well, that says a lot.  Parrafin candles come with many dangers.  These types of candles produce soot when they are burned, and this soot is subject to inhalation by us!  They can then penetrate deep levels of the lungs, and lower respiratory tract.  On top of that, many candles have lead in their wick – what???  Yeah, you read that right.  Low level exposure to lead and the soot produced by paraffin candles can lead to the following issues.

  • hypertension
  • kidney troubles
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • neurological problems
  • sleep disturbances
  • memory loss
  • breathing difficulties
  • cancer

This isn’t even the whole list.  Soooo, what to do???  We love candles and the mood they set, but it’s definitely not worth all these health issues!  Well, hooray, I’ve got an alternative: BEESWAX!!!  My mom used to make beeswax candles when I was growing up, and whenever she was making them, the house would be filled with the amazing aroma of beeswax (which smells like honey if you didn’t know)!  Oh, how I LOVE that smell!!!  Not only that, but beeswax is non-toxic and completely natural, so it is safe to burn candles made of beeswax.

Based on all this, I made these cutie patootie candles with 100% organic beeswax, and all-natural wick free of lead, zinc, and other metals.  The result is an adorable candle that smells amazing and is safe to burn to your heart’s content!

Okay, let’s get to this craft!

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ESPRESSO CUP CANDLES

Materials:

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  • espresso cup
  • beeswax ( I got mine here)
  • wick (I got mine here)

All you need to make the candles is an espresso cup, beeswax, and wick.  I painted my own afterwards, but you can purchase cutely decorated espresso cups and just make a candle out of them if you don’t want to paint your own.  If you do decide to buy plain espresso cups and paint them yourself, you will also need paint and paintbrushes.

Directions:

1.) Cut your beeswax into chunks and place them in the espresso cup.  Put in the microwave for 4 minutes.  As the wax melts down, add more.  Continue this until the level of melted wax reaches the level you would like.

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2.) Place your wick into the center of the espresso cup.  Place the scissors on something that puts them at a level where they can hold the wick in place.  Use the scissors to hold the wick in place as the wax hardens.

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3.) Allow the wax to harden completely.  This will probably take an hour or so.  I let mine sit overnight just to be safe.  Once hardened, cut the wick so there is about 1/2-3/4 inch wick above the wax.

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4.) Your candle is now ready to paint!  Paint however you would like, or like I said, you can also just start with espresso cups that are already decorated to your liking.

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5.) Let the paint dry, and your candle is ready to burn!

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SOOOO CUTE!  These are also available for purchase at my Etsy store.  They are customizable, or you can just buy the candles in plain white cups with saucers and decorate them yourself.  Enjoy! 🙂

 

DIY Throw Blanket – Finger Crocheting With Video Instructions

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If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where things are cooling down, then this easy project is perfect for you!  We are stuck here in San Antonio, where it is still hot, HoT, HOT, and I make it no secret that I am a Michigander through and through, so not a fan of the heat AT ALL.  That being said, my internal Michigan clock is still telling me that it should be close to Fall now, and I wanted to start with a fall project.  I had recently been talking to my mom about crocheting, and I decided to give it a try making a cute dishtowel.  I wasn’t the most coordinated with the crochet needle, so decided to try something different.  I came up with finger crocheting.

With finger crocheting, you basically just use your finger in place of the crochet needle.  Obviously this makes for a much bigger stitch, so this type of crocheting is best for chunky scarves, throw blankets, and the like.  I decided to try to make a blanket, and it turned out GREAT!

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This thing is so soft and cozy, and I can easily sit in our air conditioned apartment and snuggle up in this thing and just pretend like it is nice Michigan fall weather, so it serves as a little piece of home.  Anyway, once I made this blanket, I was hooked!  I told my mom about it, and sent her a picture, and she said she wanted one, so I made another one for her, and I made sure to document it using videos to share with all of you so you can make these if you would like!

These blankets are super easy to make, and I love making them, because I can just zone out and relax while doing so.  They make for perfect Christmas gifts as well, so you could get started now and hand these out for Christmas as well.  At any rate, you will fall in love with finger crocheting once you give it a try!

Without further ado, here is the step by step video instructions on how to make these blankets!

1.) INTRODUCTION

2.) SLIP KNOT

3.) MAKING YOUR STARTING CHAIN

4.) SINGLE STITCH FIRST ROW

5.) SINGLE STITCH SECOND ROW

6.) CHANGING YOUR BALL OF YARN TO A NEW BALL OF YARN

7.) MAKING A DOUBLE BORDER

8.) ENDING YOUR LAST STITCH AND FINISHING YOUR BLANKET

Easy Peasy!  These are also available for purchase at my Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/shop/PinningJunkie.  Enjoy! 🙂

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Homemade non-toxic hand soap and a homemade mason jar foaming soap dispenser

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With flu season peaking pretty much everywhere here in the states, having an effective hand soap is essential to aid in the prevention of getting sick.  The problem with this is that many people reach for store bought, antibacterial soaps to use, and unfortunately, these soaps contain quite a few ingredients that are really detrimental to our health.  Considering we have to wash our hands even more than usual this time of year, I believe it is absolutely essential to use a soap that you know is safe, and that soap is good old Castille Soap!

This may lead you to ask “Right, but is it effective in killing germs that would cause us to become sick?”, and the answer is YES!  I came across the following pin on Pinterest which links to a post that goes over how Organic Castille Soap is just as effective as the other soaps that contain dangerous antibacterials and other undesirable ingredients (fragrance, parabens, sulfates, etc.)

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Some of the dangerous ingredients that are in many commercial brand hand soaps are

1.) Triclosan – this one is a big one.  It is a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor.  Triclosan is so bad that some states and countries have banned it’s use in personal products.  Many hospitals and doctors offices are looking for alternatives to antibacterial soaps that contain triclosan because of how often their workers have to wash their hands.

2.) Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate – These ingredients are linked to skin and eye irritation, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicological, and biochemical or cellular changes, and possible mutations and cancer, as reported by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

3.) Parabens – these have hormone disrupting effects, can cause diminished muscle mass, and have been detected in human breast tumors.

4.) Diethanolamine (DEA) – This is linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity.

5.) Synthetic fragrance – Synthetic fragrances often contain phthalates, which are endocrine disrupters that mimic hormones and may alter genital development.

These are five of the main offenders, but there are others as well.  Obviously, you don’t want to be giving yourself a dose of these guys every time you wash your hands!  Also, many of the antibacterial soaps out there that contain these chemicals are contributing to the superbug overgrowth problem that we are hearing more and more about.  Thus, if there is a safe alternative that is just as effective, wouldn’t you rather use that?

I have a great homemade hand soap that I make and I put it in these cute homemade hand soap dispensers that I make out of mason jars – they’re adorable!  You can use this soap without the foam dispenser, but you won’t get much lather with it, and I love how the dispenser makes it lather nicely.  I will start with the soap recipe!

HOMEMADE NON-TOXIC HANDSOAP

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup castille soap (I use Dr. Bronners.  You can use any scent you would like)
  • 3/4 cup distilled water
  • essential oils (optional) – I use lavender and tea tree oil (5 drops of each) for their natural antibacterial properties.

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to a soap dispenser, shake a bit to combine, and you’re good to go!

It’s that easy!

Now for the dispenser!

Materials:

  • Pint Size Mason Jar
  • Foaming Soap Dispenser (just the actual dispenser (top))
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • black marker
  • glue gun
  • marbles (optional)

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Directions:

1.) Start by using a hammer and a nail to puncture holes in the center of the mason jar lid to create a hole that is big enough for you to fit the dispenser top through it.

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2.) Now stick the dispenser through the hole and use your marker to mark a circle showing what needs to be cut out to get the soap dispenser to fit through it so the bottom of the dispenser is able to touch the mason jar lid.

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3.) Once again, use your hammer and nail to puncture small holes around the marked circle until you are able to remove the circle all together.  Use caution with this step as this will cause the edges to be rough and sharp, so take care not to cut yourself.

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Now your dispenser will fit nicely on the lid.

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4.) Now glue the soap dispenser to the lid using your glue gun.

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5.) Your lid is done now.  Lastly, just fill the mason jar with your homemade soap, and add some marbles if you would like (I like the way they look).  Put your lid with the dispenser on top and seal the jar as you normally would (twisting on the lid).  Ta-da!  A super cute soap dispenser with safe, non-toxic, effective soap!

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Enjoy! 🙂

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NON-TOXIC SHOWER CLEANER

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I’ve mentioned in many of my posts on household cleaners that many store bought cleaners contain chemicals that are extremely harmful to our health.

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This is especially concerning when it comes to shower cleaners, because the chemicals that are in these cleaners are easily inhaled when they have been used and you take a steamy hot shower.  You may be getting rid of soap scum and mildew using these cleaners, but you are leaving behind chemicals that are far worse for your health.  For this reason as well as many others, it is very important to use non toxic cleaners in your tub and shower.  I’ve got a great recipe for a non toxic and effective tub and shower cleaner that removes soap scum, mildew and germs.  I will share it with you in a minute, but first, I want to go over some of the nasties that many store bought shower cleaners contain. The following chemicals along with their health effects are found in many store bought shower cleaners.

Ammonia: The vapors of ammonia can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs.  It can also cause kidney and liver damage.

Fragrance Chemicals: Most cleaners contain these.  The two most common offenders are phthalates and synthetic musks.  Both of these can wreak havoc on the endocrine system causing reproductive effects in both men and women.  Some cleaners also contain cancer-causing benzene and formaldehyde.

Quarternary Ammonium Compounds: These are irritants that can cause severe allergic reactions and may cause adverse genetic and reproductive effects.

Silica Powder: This is a known carcinogen and can be found in abrasive cleaners (scrubs).

Sodium Hydroxide: This is highly corrosive and can burn the eyes, skin, and lungs, and is a respiratory irritant.

Trisodium nitrilotriacetate: The International Agency for Research on Cancer rated this as a possible human carcinogen.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any of these anywhere near me, let alone left behind in my shower after cleaning for me to breath in or soak up into my skin in a bath!

No worries!  I have a solution!  My shower cleaner recipe is completely toxin free and free of harmful chemicals!  It works GREAT and it smells great!  I use vinegar quite a bit in my cleaning products, but I don’t when it comes to shower cleaner, because as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really like the smell of vinegar, so I didn’t want to have to smell it when relaxing in a nice hot shower.

In the recipe, you will notice that the amount of water to add varies greatly.  this is because it depends on how you want to apply it.  You can make a paste, in which case, you just want to add 2-3 Tbsp. of water, or you can make it into a spray on cleaner in which case you need to add anywhere from 2-4 cups of water.  If you want it as a spray, you just need to make sure it is thin enough so that it doesn’t clog up your spray bottle – I learned this the hard way! :-/  However, you still want it thick enough to “cling” to your shower wall and scrub away soap scum.  I suggest adding 2 cups to start, then add accordingly.

NON-TOXIC HOMEMADE SHOWER CLEANER

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup liquid castille soap
  • 10-20 drops tea tree oil
  • 2 Tbsp. to 4 cups water

Directions:

  • If making a spray – use a funnel to add all the ingredients to a spray bottle.  Shake well.
  • If making a paste – Mix all ingredients together in a container with a lid.
  • To use – Apply to shower and tub.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.  Scrub with a sponge or rag.  Rinse well!

Super easy and effective!  Enjoy! 🙂

Safe Non-toxic All Purpose Cleaner – ditch the cleaners filled with toxic chemicals!

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Look at this pin that I saw on Pinterest!

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I know I keep harping on the fact that is it just as important to eliminate as many toxins in your environment as it is to watch what you eat, but seriously – it’s IMPORTANT!!!  We spend a majority of our time inside, and we need to make sure that we are keeping that area as toxin free as possible!  Don’t wait to get sick to make a change – make a change now, and just watch how much healthier you feel!  Okay, let me step off my soapbox now.

I’m going to share my safe and effective homemade all purpose cleaner with you in this post.  It’s toxin free, safe, effective, saves money, and best of all, it’s SO easy!  It only has three ingredients with one of them being optional – easy peasy, for real!

  1. Vinegar
  2. Water
  3. Essential Oil (optional)
  4. That’s it!  Post done.
  5. Just kidding. 🙂

Some great reasons to make your own cleaners are

  • it’s easy
  • it saves money
  • it reduces toxic chemicals in your environment
  • better for your health
  • better for your environment
  • there’s no chance of death when using this cleaner like there is with some common all purpose cleaners!

So, let’s talk a little about the third reason up there – reducing toxic chemicals!  Many all purpose cleaners are filled with harsh chemicals that are terrible for our health.  Here’s some of them!

Ammonia

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Ammonia is caustic and irritating.  It can cause disturbing health symptoms such as burns to the nose, mouth or throat when inhaled which can result in bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction resulting in respiratory distress or failure.  It can also cause coughing, eye and skin irritation, and severe injury and burns.

2-butoxyethanol

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2-butoxyethanol is a solvent that soaks through the skin and damages red blood cells, and can cause irritation of mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat.  It is listed in the U.S. state of California as a hazardous substance, and heavy exposure via respiratory, skin absorption or oral routes can lead to hypotension, metabolic acidosis, hemolysis, pulmonary edema and coma.

nonylphenol ethoxylate

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Yes, this pin is about men’s shorts that contain nonylphenol ethoxylate, but none the less, we see that this chemical is BAD!  Many all purpose cleaners and other household cleaners contain it.  Exposure to nonylphenol ethoxylates through inhalation or through dermal contact may cause irritation of the lungs, digestive system, skin and eyes.  This chemical is also thought to interfere with hormones and may therefore interfere with the development and reproductive system.  They are listed as endocrine disrupting chemicals on the EU list.

Sodium hypochlorite

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Sodium hypochlorite can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. Exposure to high levels can result in severe corrosive damage to the eyes, skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal tissues and can be fatal. Sodium hypochlorite has been found 6 times in the 1,585 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There are quite a few more, but these are just some of them to give you an idea of how damaging these chemicals can be to our health and quality of life!  Okay, now for the good news – there is an alternative that works just as well in cleaning many surfaces, and is a gazillion times safer!  Like I mentioned above, the recipe is incredibly easy, and will DEFINITELY save you money!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • essential oils of your choice (I use tea tree, lemon, and lime)

Directions:

Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake to mix.  Spray on surface to be cleaned and wipe with a clean rag.

So easy and so much better for you!  Enjoy! 🙂

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HOMEMADE NON-TOXIC TOILET BOWL CLEANER

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I just ran out of toilet bowl cleaner, so I had to make some more which gave me a chance to take some pictures and write a post on my “recipe” for this stuff!  This stuff WORKS!!!  Not only that, but it smells amazing!  This is SO much better than the toxic stuff that can seriously affect our health!  Most store bought toilet bowl cleaners contain chemicals that can cause skin burns, respiratory distress from inhaled fumes, and eye irritation.  These are just the acute affects.  Some of the chemicals found in toilet bowl cleaners can cause long term health issues such as cancer and hormone disruption as well.

EWG has a “cleaner’s database hall of shame” that I came across when I clicked on the following pin that I found on Pinterest.

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Both of the toilet bowl cleaners on this pin are on this list as major offenders when it comes to toxic chemicals. I also came across an article at organicconsumers.org that states the following:

The most acutely dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners, according to Philip Dickey of the Washington Toxics Coalition. Corrosive chemicals can cause severe burns on eyes, skin and, if ingested, on the throat and esophagus. Ingredients with high acute toxicity include chlorine bleach and ammonia, which produce fumes that are highly irritating to eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and should not be used by people with asthma or lung or heart problems. These two chemicals pose an added threat in that they can react with each other or other chemicals to form lung-damaging gases. Combining products that contain chlorine and ammonia or ammonia and lye (in some oven cleaners) produces chloramine gases, while chlorine combined with acids (commonly used in toilet bowl cleaners) forms toxic chlorine gas.”

There is a lot of information out there stating that toilet bowl cleaners contain chemicals that are terrible for our health.  This is just another reason why I make all of my cleaners myself using safe and non-toxic ingredients.  It’s also much cheaper which really helps the pocketbook of a neat freak like myself.

Here is my recipe for toilet bowl cleaner.

TOILET BOWL CLEANER

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup liquid castille soap (I use peppermint scented dr. Bronners for this recipe)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. baking soda
  • Essential oils:  I use tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, orange, and lime (smells SO good)

Directions:

Pour all the ingredients into a squirt bottle (you can use any bottle that squirts – I used an empty hydrogen peroxide bottle.  You could also use an empty dish soap bottle, ketchup bottle…anything that squirts – you get the picture.  Shake to combine well.  Squirt into the toilet and use a toilet brush to clean then flush!  Sparkly clean!

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Safe, effective, and smells great without putting your health at risk!  Perfect!  Enjoy! 🙂

 

How to clean your washing machine without bleach

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have been making my own cleaning products for quite a while now.  When I started doing this, I was having a hard time finding a way to clean our washing machine using natural products. The problem is that when you look up “how to clean a washing machine”, a majority of the instructions tell you to use bleach!  NO!  Don’t do it!!!  There are many dangers of using chlorine bleach as a cleaning agent.  I even found a pin on Pinterest regarding the dangers of using chlorine bleach.

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This will link you to an article explaining some of the reasons not to use bleach.  This article mainly concentrates on the cleaning facts of bleach.  Namely, the following three facts.

  • Bleach is not an all-purpose cleaner.  The oxidizing effect of the bleach can be tied up with soils. This means that in order to use bleach to kill germs, it has to be used on a surface that has already been cleaned, otherwise the dirt and grime on the surface blocks the disinfecting properties of the bleach.
  • Bleach isn’t as effective for mold removal as you thought it was.  Chlorine bleach kills surface mold only. Mold can grow deep roots within porous surfaces, so bleach will not work in this case to remove mold. The chlorine actually stays on the surface, while the water component seeps in further.  This can actually contribute to mold growth!
  • Bleach expires quickly. Chlorine bleach loses it’s effectiveness rapidly, and if it’s been sitting in your cupboard or on a store shelf for a while, then it’s cleaning properties are greatly diminished.

Already, we see that bleach is not as effective as a cleaner as we may have thought.  Now for the more serious reasons not to use it – it is extremely toxic and can produce fumes in the air that are harmful to our health. Chlorine bleach also generates a by-product called dioxin, which is linked to cancer. Use over time builds up these pollutants in the environment.

Workers handling bleach in their workplace are required to use a mask and gloves to handle the chemical in order to protect themselves according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Chlorine Bleach is a strong corrosive material.  It will irritate the eyes, skin and the respiratory tract by merely inhaling the gasses.  Also, it can even be fatal to someone who is exposed to large quantities. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) recorded many exposures to household cleaning products that were serious enough to require hospitalization and physician care.  This is no joke, guys – this stuff is NOT GOOD for you, and can even result in death!

Some symptoms that can be caused by exposure to chlorine bleach are as follows.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Bloody noses
  • Nausea
  • Irritation to the throat, nose, and eyes
  • Neurological disorder
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest Pain
  • Serious skin burns
  • And sometimes even death

These toxic effects become even more deadly when you mix chlorine bleach with ammonia, vinegar, or any other acid type cleaning material.  Most people are unaware of this fact, and that makes this chemical even more dangerous!

Yes, I realize I keep harping on the fact that this stuff can kill us, but seriously???  So basically, what we see is that 1.) bleach isn’t as effective as we thought is was in cleaning, and 2.) It can severely impact our health to the point of killing us!  Bottom line is that chlorine bleach is TOXIC to people, animals, and our environment, so finding an alternative is of upmost importance!

Okay, now that I’ve probably given you nightmares about the effects that bleach has on our health (sorry!), let’s talk about some good news!  I have a GREAT way to clean your washing machine without the use of this terrible chemical!  I let our washing machine collect a bit of grime – ew!  I know, but I wanted to be able to show you before and after pictures so you can see how well this works!  The only two ingredients you need are white vinegar and baking soda.  The vinegar is fantastic for killing germs and getting rid of mold and soap scum, while the baking soda is excellent for getting rid of any odors caused by those yuckies!  My secret is that after you’ve gone through the first couple of steps, you use a stiff bristled brush of some sort to scrub the soap scum.  It works like a charm.  I use whatever brush I have on hand that is new.  This time, I used a brush used for scrubbing dishes, and it worked great.  You can even use an unused toilet bowl brush (emphasis on UNUSED! 🙂 ) – I’ve done that in the past too, and it works perfectly!

Okay, so here we go!  First, I will show you the before picture – gross, but it needed to be done so you can see how well this process works!  You can see the soap scum and grime on the center pole of the washer and at the water lines – Yuck!

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Materials you’ll need:

  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • A stiff bristled brush
  • A washcloth

Directions:

1.) Start a wash cycle with your setting on as large a load as possible and your water temperature as hot as possible.  As the machine is filling with water, dump in your vinegar and baking soda.

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2.) When the machine has filled with water, let it agitate for about a minute to really mix in the vinegar and baking soda.  Turn the machine off and let it sit for 45 minutes like this. While the machine is sitting,  wipe down the outside of the machine to get it clean.  At the end of the 45 minutes, turn it back on and let it finish it’s cycle.

3.) Now comes the stiff bristle brush.  Use the brush to wipe over the areas that need attention (the water lines of soap scum and the center pole in my case).  After soaking in the hot water, vinegar and baking soda for those 45 minutes, you will be surprised at how easily it comes off with the brush – you don’t even have to scrub, just run the brush over it, and you will see the soap scum and mildew come right off.

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4.) Fill the washer with a small amount of hot water and use your washcloth to wipe off the sides and get rid of any specs of mildew that are there after brushing it off.  Drain the machine, and you are done!

Here is my after picture.

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Sparkly clean without the use of any harsh chemicals or any backbreaking scrubbing!  Enjoy! 🙂

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