Monday, November 22, 2010

Welcome to Natural Cleaning Product Reviews

I am glad you are here to visit and learn about natural cleaning and natural cosmetic products. 
Scroll down or peruse my archive for information on a variety of green topics.Click Here! Add your comments or send me a question. I would love to hear from you.

I cover natural product reviews, green cleaning tips,  and do-it-yourself natural cleaners in easy and simple steps.
Switching to natural cleaning products and natural cosmetics in my own life has radically changed my health and well-being. An added plus has been that cleaning without caustic chemicals has become a joy!
Happy Green Cleaning!
Green Keen aka Pamela Palmer

Monday, May 3, 2010

Unexpected Uses of the Flowering Herb: Lavender

Used for centuries by numerous cultures: Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval Arabs and Europeans, and throughout India; Lavender has been enjoyed for its distinctive and beautiful aroma and color.
Today, most consumers are aware of the uses of lavender as an ingredient to perfumes, lotions, and potpourri to promote relaxation. But the great historical uses of this gracious herb are much more medicinal and all-encompassing for health.

Lavender: Antiseptic and Antibacterial
Dioscordes, an Ancient Greek physician wrote in his De Materia Medica that externally, lavender [essential oil] could be used to clean wounds and burns or treat skin ailments, as an antiseptic and antibacterial ointment. Most herbalists would encourage you to get professional direction before applying any essential oil to the skin, however.

Lavender Heals Acne
Lavender can be used to treat Acne and to prevent Acne scarring. It both kills germs and enables new skin cells to grow, giving Acne a double punch. I occasionally use lavender essential oil as a spot treatment on blemishes, after I wash and apply moisturizer to my face.

Lavender: Healthy Alternative to Sleep Medicines
In a scientific study at the University of Leicester in England lavender essential oil was proven as effective in promoting sound sleep as traditional medication; without all the dangerous and addictive side-effects, I might add.

Before going to bed try dabbing lavender essential oil on your wrists and neck just as you would apply perfume, breath in and relax into a delightful sleep!

Enjoy! Green Keen aka Pamela Palmer

Monday, April 12, 2010

Eucalyptus or Tea Tree Oil Remedy to Kill Dust Mites | Natural Cleaning Product Review

Eucalyptus or Tea Tree Oil Remedy to Kill Dust Mites | Natural Cleaning Product Review

Thousands of Dust Mites living in your bedding and feeding off your dead skin sounds like the theme of a horror movie -- but it is actual reality! Dust mites, near microscopic spiders, live in and around our mattresses and pillows. Their waste matter is the source of allergic reactions for many people!

Puffy, itchy eyes or a sluggish start in the morning might not be just from your escapades the night before -- they could be the sign of a dust mite allergy.

What To Do?
Vacuuming mattresses helps remove dust, their habitat per se, and the dust mite fecal matter, but not them! Dust mites have "sticky feet" and can resist the suction power of the typical household vacuum. A great, natural cleaning option I have learned is to treat mattresses and bedding with tea tree or eucalyptus oil, which has been proven to kill dust mites.

Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Oils: Natural Antiseptic, Germicide, Antibacterial, Fungicide
Some people swear sunlight will rid your clothes, carpets and bedding of dust mites. But Dr Euan Tovey, an allergy researcher from Sydney University, says it's not a straightforward solution.
Tovey says leaving your rugs or carpets in the sun to 'bake' for three hours will kill all the dust mites, but it won't get rid of the allergen. Plus, it will quickly fade your fabrics!!

"Killing the mites alone doesn't stop any of the exposure to allergens – all it does is kill the mites, which will over a period of time just re-establish themselves anyway. So you do need to get rid of the allergen," he says. "What I do is wash my Persian carpets once or twice a year – I hose them down, scrub them with soap and water, put them on the trampoline and leave them in the sun for a day."

The best thing for bedding and clothes is regular washing in the machine. Tovey says dust mite allergen is highly soluble, and washing in warm water with normal laundry detergent removes close to 97 per cent of the allergen. "Most websites advocate washing bedding at 73 degrees – that's very hot water. Most systems don't have water that hot and I don't think it's worth the trouble – you're better to wash it more frequently," he said.

"Washing alone will only get rid of 2.4% of the dust mites. 99% of dust mites can be eliminated from your bedding by the simple addition of a long soak in Eucalyptus essential oil." The research work with this eucalyptus oil solution for dust mites was done at the University of Sydney in Australia.

The Eucalyptus Oil Natural Cleaning Recipe:
Soak blankets, sheets or bedding for one full hour in the following solution:

6 T ( Eucalyptus oil (0.4% concentration) 
1.5 T liquid laundry detergent in 
13 gallons of water 

Mix the Eucalyptus oil and the detergent together to make an emulsion, add it to the water and then add the bedding. Soak for 1 hour. Then wash the bedding or blankets as normal.You can also substitute Tea Tree oil for the Eucalyptus oil. There will be no lingering Tea Tree oil aroma after the rinse cycle. The heat from the dryer should finish off the rest. 

Vacuum mattress surface with hose attachment, then wipe with a cloth dampened by Eucalyptus or Tea Tree oil, let dry completely. Replace cleaned sheets and other bedding.

Other Pointers
  • Vacuum pillows on both sides with vacuum hose attachment. Place in a new garbage bag or other recycled plastic bag. Set in Freezer for 8-12 hours. This will also kill all or almost all dust mites. This also works for stuffed animals!  
  • For family members with severe dust mite allergy, which is 20% of the population, cover the mattress and pillows with hypoallergenic mattress and pillow covers. Remove carpet and drapes from the bedroom. Minimize stuffed toys and pillows. 
  • Washing bedding in hot water also helps to kill dust mites, but the eucalyptus or tea tree oil remedy is the most energy-efficient, needing only cold water to do the job. 
  • Keep humidity in bedroom low, under 35% if possible. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments. 
  • Running a HEPA filter during the night is also a big help in minimizing dust build-up.

My Take on Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Oil Natural Cleaning Remedies
Double Thumbs Up! This works GREAT! I am one of those people who is allergic to dust mites and is also weirded out by the thought of them! Washing bedding in a eucalptus or tea tree oil soak/wash really does work better than just a regular and hot wash. Try it, you will definitely sleep better with comfy, clean, fresh-washed bedding.

Sweet Dreams with Natural Cleaning Products! --Green Keen aka Pamela Palmer

Image Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Spring Clean in Three Simple Steps | Natural Cleaning Product Reviews

Let's take a moment and celebrate that Spring has finally sprung! After such a long, snowy Winter, the warm Sun, fresh air and graceful flowers welcome us to the outside again...

Spring Cleaning: Three Simple Steps

  1. Open all your windows on the first warm day. Fresh air is a great cleanser of our environments.  Of course, waiting until after the deluge of pollen would be helpful. Wait until there is a warm, sunny day shortly after a rain. The rain washes most of the pollen temporarily out of the air.
  2. Utilize the sun for disinfecting. We tend to forget that the sun is a disinfecting agent. White or light colored linens, towels and clothing can be washed and hung in the sun for a good cleansening. Spring is a great time to disinfect all your bedding. Check out how here. Afraid of fading? Turn your clothing item inside-out and hang during the afternoon.
  3. After airing the house out and washing the linens, do a deep dusting. In ancient Roman times, Spring Cleaning meant handwashing every wall, floor, and ceiling. A deep dusting today would include regular dusting and vaccuming, as well as, vaccuming the walls and/or ceiling corners with your upolstery attachment.
Spring in the temperate zones of the world has always been a time celebrating new life and nature as we venture back out into our backyards and patios to relish the warmth, breathe in the fragrance of flowers and watch fireflies with our families.

Enjoy Green Spring Cleaning from Green Keen aka Pamela Palmer

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where to Buy and How to Disinfect Eco Friendly Kitchen Sponges | Natural Cleaning Product Reviews

TWIST a wonderful manufacturer of eco friendly kitchen sponges wrote the following about their passion, history and purpose:  "....Not too long ago, TWIST took a closer look at the sponges in our kitchen and realized something profound. Almost every other product in the cleaning aisle has undergone some kind of evolution, while sponges have been the same for decades.    TWIST set out to turn the world of cleaning products on its head combining design and environmental responsibility to create functional, beautiful, and responsible alternatives." 

You can find a variety of TWIST's sponges and cleaning cloths for at on oursidebar:

Also, here's a great article on disinfecting your sponges from the 7th Gen Newsletter:

Sponging Up a Kitchen Hot Spot | Seventh Generation

Happy Green Cleaning with Natural, Eco friendly sponges!  Green Keen aka Pamela Palmer

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Green Cleaning in the Bathroom

My Favorite Bathroom Cleaners and Disinfectants:

Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soap -- Great, Refreshing, Clean Aroma. Mix it with a sprinkle of plain baking soda for a quick scrub. It will leave your sink and toilet bowl shining and smelling clean.

Ecover Pine Fresh Toilet Bowl Cleaner -- Smells Exquisite! Can you say that about a toilet bowl cleaner?

Seventh Generation's New Disinfecting Line of Cleaners -- I'll be doing a complete review on them soon!

Go Green in the Bathroom  Check it out! Great article posted on the Organic Consumers Assoc. website.

DIY Lemon Disinfectant Spray -- See Recipe Here.

DIY White Vinegar Disinfectant Spray -- See Recipe Here.

Happy Green Cleaning! -- Green Keen aka Pamela Palmer

Monday, March 22, 2010

Green Cleaning for those who Hate Cleaning | Natural Cleaning Product Reviews

Do you hate cleaning? I have a confession -- a big one for someone who is a Green Cleaning blogger -- I hate cleaning! Naturally speaking, I am not the most gifted homemaker! By personality and temperment I'd much rather be discussing politics or philosophy or poetry than cleaning my bathroom...AGAIN!

A Cleaning Hater Speaks
Green Cleaning has greatly improved my housecleaning experience and interest. All the toxic fumes and strong smells of regular cleaners are a big detriment in regular housecleaning. I now use green and natural cleaning supplies 99% of the time, as thus, chemical fumes or dangerous substances aren't any concern.

Instead, I enjoy the pleasant effect of natural aromas. I prefer scoping out brands that use real essential oils in their products. I really notice the difference.

Essential Oils Enhance Mood
As a naturally-born cleaning-hater, I hated the gaging sensation of using bleach or ammonia-based products. Now I integrate essential oils into my household and have LOVED using them. I have discovered that citrus (lemon, grapefruit, and orange) boost my mood and are cheering.

Explore using essential oils as you clean from HerbTraders (see sidebar for ad-link).
Having two teens and their sundry friends running in and out of the house or crashing overnight can mess-up the cleanest of homes! If I don't feel like cleaning on a particular day, cleaning with a lemon-scented cleaner from real lemon essential oil REALLY does improve my motivation.

Homemaking Tips I Have Learn Over the Years
One of the top Homemaking tips I have benefited from in my house cleaning is to break-up chores into "bite-sized" jobs -- 10-15 minutes at tops. This can be a major motivator to me. I can do anything for just 10 minutes! Afterwards, seeing that particular job can motive me to do the next one.

Splitting up chores into small jobs is also great for busy seasons of life, such as the juggling-small-babies- and-toddlers season or the working-soccer-mom season. Often I only had 10 minutes to refreshen the bathroom. Doing mini-chores one or two a day will get your house clean eventually!

Professional Green Cleaning Lessons
My daughter who is in college has her own Green Cleaning business. I regularly "work" for her and have learned a lot from her. Cleaning professionally has changed my perspective on my own homemaking and housecleaning technique.

One main lesson I have learned is to clean quickly and methodically. Clean top to bottom, right to left. Another lesson is to use just a few favorite supplies. Choose ones that work for the job you are doing. Also, using products that have multiple uses, for instance (an all-purpose cleaner that also disinfects) can save time.

Growing up I was THE most-undomesticated person. Today, I'm still in the process of growing and learning, but I am now a "green" cleaner, who throroughly enjoys the aroma and the satisfaction of a naturally clean home. Plus, I know I am choosing the best for the health of my family.

Take Care and Enjoy Green Cleaning!  Green Keen aka Pamela Palmer : )

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lemon Juice a Natural Disinfectant has Scientific Proof | Natural Cleaning Product Review

Lemon juice, known for its acidity, is a natural disinfectant. Not well reported is the fact that in 1999 scientists in Japan, studying disinfectant methods for killing pathogens on dental stone casts, stumbled on the fact that lemon juice is really a disinfectant!

Scientific Study on Lemon as a Disinfectant
At the Tsyuma Central Hospital, scientists examined various methods of disinfection on a battery of 4 microbes, including strep. According to their study published in the Medical Journal of Tsuyma Central Hospital, they found that using a method of spraying lemon juice and then wiping with a paper towel after 1 minute achieved a "4-log reduction" of bacteria. A 4-log reduction is a scientific term meaning a 99.99% kill rate of microbes.

How to Clean and Disinfect with Lemon
This was a small scientific study, using only 4 strains of bacteria, but I think it is accurate to state that using a 50-50% dilution of lemon juice* and water as a disinfecting cleaner (spray it, wipe it, spray again and let dry) will kill all most all household germs on hard surfaces in your home.

*Concentrated Lemon Juice Cleaner and Disinfectant
To save time, I use a concentrated lemon juice diluted with water and add 10 drops of any citrus essential oil.  Keep it in refrigerator between uses, to keep it fresh.

This smells good, but if you have the time one day, squeeze a few fresh lemons and add water for an amazing cleaning experience--so nice you may take the time regularly to do it--fresh!

I firmly believe that we need further scientific studies on the simple, natural, plant-derived substances in our world to verify their disinfecting properties. Wouldn't it be great if everyone just disinfected with something as pure as diluted lemon juice?

Try it! Green, natural cleaning with lemon--the aroma of lemon's essential oils will freshen you as you clean.

Happy Green Cleaning! Green Keen aka Pamela Palmer

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Speed Cleaning in the Natural Cleaning Way

Natural Cleaning is Simple and Pure

My mantra as a busy mom is to keep housecleaning simple, quick and easy. After an epiphany a few years ago, I now also keep it pure as possible! Hence why I am now "Green Keen". Natural cleaning should also be easy as possible, not a big burden on our shoulder's.

I wanted to share a few very important tips that have helped me immensely through the years to clean quickly and in the midst of the busyness of raising high-energy kids, homeschooling, working, gardening, driving kids to soccer, or piano practice...the list goes on and on!

Number One Tip: Declutter your rooms. Less knick-knacks, less you need to clean around. Keep enough to show your style and personality and no more.

Quick Cleaning Tips that Work

1. Keep a supply basket/bucket with a handle under your sink or in a closet. One for each bathroom/one in the kitchen.

Supplies Include:
No more than 2-3 bottles of natural cleaners that you like.
1 or a combination of 2 that disinfect.
1 that can function as a glass cleaner.
1 that can function as a mild abrasive.
A scrubby sponge and 2 wash cloths (1 dry/1wet)
rubber gloves
duster with handle

2. Keep a few recycled plastic bags in bottom of trashcans under the installed bag for easy replacing after emptying the trash.

3. Do "quick cleans" in the midst of life. Then one comprehensive clean once a week or every other week. For example: Often after I go to the bathroom, I will wipe down the sink, faucets and scrub the toilet--and then, wash my hands.

4. Wash part of the kitchen each day after the dinner dishes. For example: One night wipe section of cabinets, the next night do the counters, behind and under everything, etc.

5. Wash a 1/2 shelf a day in the refrigerator.

6. Every few days scrub the shower/tub before you take a shower--then let all your worries wash down the drain!

7. Keep a broom (and if possible a vacuum) on each level of your home. Fast and easy to grab!

8. Clean top to bottom, right to left--around a room. It will become automatic and faster.

Have a great day--green cleaning in a quick and easy way! --Green Keen aka Pamela Palmer
P.S. Train your kids and spouse to do chores! I'll write about that soon...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cheap Green Cleaning Tips -- Natural Cleaning Product Reviews

Cheap Green Cleaning Tips -- Natural Cleaning Product Reviews

Cheap and Green
Recycle ANY plastic bottles from the natural cleaners that you buy. Use until the spray valves don't work. Then toss into your recycle bin. Note: DON'T reuse ANY container from toxic cleaners! They can react to other substances (such as vinegar) even when rinsed out.

Buy Cheap spray bottles (Walmart has ones for under a $1.00). Use these with diluted liquid soap like Dr. Bronner's for dishwashing. (1-2 sprays/dish or pot) For kitchen clean up keep a spray bottle of diluted vinegar (1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water) next to the sink.

**I have a spray bottle of liquid soap and one with diluted vinegar at my kitchen sink.

Cut up towels for wash rags. Dollar stores and discount stores have bath towels for under $2.00 The thinner the better. Cut up into wash cloth size and hem all four edges. Recycle one of your old towels.

(Use only bamboo or hemp fiber cloth? Invest in one and divide it up and hem.)

Wash with sponges? Cut all your sponges in half and use a smaller size. Disinfect regularly (see this post scroll to Homemaking Tips) Scotch-Brite has a very good, very cheap green sponge at Walmart and other retailers.

Reuse plastic containers (I try to not buy plastic stuff at all) but they keep "showing up"! Keep baking soda or sugar or borax in recycled Parmesan cheese containers under the sink for scrubbing power. Great for in the bathroom too.

Buy plastic containers from a Salvation Army or Goodwill or yard sales. Antique Tupperware still works great!! And the lime greens and oranges are finally back "in"! LOL
(We keep our organic popping corn in an Ancient Tupperware container with a pop pour lid.)

Recycle any all-natural soap pieces into a scrubby bag or muslin bag and use by the kitchen sink. You will be amazed how long these will last. Plus this can be great for washing babies and toddlers.

Keep natural cleaning supplies in tub/shower (you can do this with all-natural cleaners because they're NON-TOXIC!! Of course, monitor young children around them) With natural cleaning products on hand, you can clean up just before you shower and use the hot water from your shower to rinse it all away.

**Green Cleaning makes cleaning fun for me! I love the aromas of essential oils and non-toxic cleaners. Citrus and pine and lavender, in particular.

Enjoy Green Cleaning! --GreenKeen aka Pamela Palmer

I will be launching a new green cleaning magazine soon!!! I'll let you know soon....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Green Cleaning: the Smarter, Healthier Way to Fight Germs

Green Cleaning: The Smarter, Healthier Way to Fight Germs
Author: Laura Carey

The biggest problem with germs is that you can’t see them! Even if your home looks spotless, large numbers of viruses, bacteria and fungal spores are almost certainly living and breeding there. Thankfully, not all of these microscopic interlopers cause disease, but to protect yourself and your family from harmful germs you need to get rid of as many as possible.

Green Cleaning is just as effective as using traditional cleaning methods but is much kinder to the person doing the cleaning, other people and pets, and the wider environment. Once you adopt some simple Green Cleaning strategies you will also find that they often enable you to clean quicker and easier. Here is a Green Cleaning plan to help you win the battle against germs:

1) Choose Your Weapons Look for environmentally friendly cleaning products that contain only natural, biodegradable ingredients. They kill germs as well as detergents and disinfectants containing toxic chemicals but are much less likely to trigger allergic reactions or cause other health problems. Does your vacuum cleaner suck up germs at one end only to blow them out at the other? If so, consider replacing it with a more hygienic model. Use microfiber cloths, dusters and mops that pick up and hold bacteria with a single wipe. Conventional cleaning accessories often only move germs across surfaces before releasing them into the air.

2) Know Your Enemy Some of the facts and figures about germs are truly alarming. Did you know that a single bacterium can multiply to six million in just eight hours? Understanding how they move around, and what conditions suit them best, gives you the advantage of being able to stop them before they make themselves at home. For example, knowing that germs can survive for limited periods on dry surfaces, but need moisture to thrive and multiply, will remind you why you shouldn't leave damp towels lying about.

3) Plan Your Campaign Start by giving your whole home a thorough, deep clean, paying special attention to all those cracks and crevices where germs are normally left undisturbed. Deal with one room at a time and clean systematically so you don’t make extra work for yourself by re-contaminating clean areas.

4) Keep Them Out Once your home is as clean as you can make it, aim to keep it that way by guarding against further germ invasions. Germs come into your home on the air, on people, pets and practically everything you bring inside. It’s impossible to stop them all, but you can slow them down. A good dirt-trapping doormat, and taking off outdoor shoes when you come in, will stop germs picked up in the street from spreading throughout your home. Close the toilet lid before flushing to prevent germs escaping from the toilet bowl.

5) Strike Fast The battle against germs is never-ending, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend hours rubbing and scrubbing. Target your everyday cleaning at places that are especially attractive to germs. Wipe up food spills and visible dirt without delay. In most homes, the greatest concentration of germs is found in the kitchen sink. Develop the habit of quickly cleaning the sink after each use and you will drastically cut the number of germs available to spread to the rest of the kitchen.

Green Cleaning is all about making the modern home cleaner and healthier using simple, natural products and efficient techniques. The only losers are germs!

Article Source:

About the Author: Laura Carey is the director of First Class Cleaning & Maintenance Limited, a Romford-based green cleaning company offering domestic and commercial cleaning services throughout Essex and London. For more information visit

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap -- Natural Cleaning Product Review

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap -- Natural Cleaning Product Review

I use Dr. Bronner's for literally everything! I love it! Pure castile soap rich in all its natural glycerin and no drying detergents or chemicals. Folks, this is what soap is always suppose to be!
That is why Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap is the #1-Selling Natural Brand of Soaps in North America .

Available in Peppermint, Lavender, Almond, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Unscented Baby-Mild, Rose and Citrus Orange, this natural cleaning product wins my green cleaning Olympian-gold medal in every arena.

Pros of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap

Certified Fair Trade Ingredients -- All Natural Ingredients -- No Harsh Detergents -- Organic Oils -- Pure Castile Soap -- 100% Biodegradable -- 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bottles -- 100% Vegan -- Made in U.S.A. -- Great Aromas -- Works great! -- Concentrated (so you can dilute as needed) -- 18 Plus Uses -- Wow!

Cons of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap

Bottle a little too wordy with philosophical tangents.... -- I would like to see more aroma choices
As you can see the Pros heavily outweigh the Cons!

How I use Dr. Bronner's Liquid All Natural Soaps

Personal Care:

  • Shampoo and Body Wash
  • Shaving Cream (My husband loves it!)
  • Facial Soap (Gentle, Rich, and Creamy)
  • Hand Soap at the Sink

Household Cleaning:

  • Dishwashing (Use in place of Liquid Dish Detergents/Dilute it in a squirt bottle)I use the Lavender Dr. Bronner's for dishes. It relaxes me while I do the dishes. No harsh chemicals on my hands. If I need to scrub, I scrub with baking soda.
  • Counters and Cabinets Dr. Bronner's soap is a castile soap, strong and gentle at the same time. Add baking soda/borax/or white vinegar to clean counters and sinks. And use it diluted for wood cabinets and baseboards.
  • Toilets Bowls I add a squirt to the toilet bowl from my hand soap dispenser and a generous sprinkle of white sugar from under my sink, scrub and flush. The Peppermint Dr. Bronner's is the best for this job. It leaves a nice fresh peppermint scent in the bathroom after cleaning!

Where To Purchase and What's the Price? Available for best prices $10-11.50/32 oz. bottle online through Amazon and HerbTraders (See sidebar to the right). Also, at any Health Food store, Target, Walgreen's and many other fine retailers.

Pointers: I keep all my Dr. Bronner's bottles to use for diluting. Keep the same aroma in each bottle. : ) Also, I use a spray bottle at my kitchen sink for hand washing dishes. This works great! And minimizes how much soap my kids use when cleaning up. Add your favorite essential oil (just a few drops) to a bottle of the Unscented Dr. Bronner's to create your own special soap.

Happy Green Cleaning with the Dr. Bronner's Natural Soap! --GreenKeen aka Pamela Palmer

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sugar Soap or Sugar as Soap?

Sugar to Clean? I recently kicked the white sugar habit! Actually, my husband and I, desiring to lose weight and eat a more whole foods diet cut out almost all refined sugars.

Regular fresh fruit and raw honey never tasted so good! Try it! It takes about a month to go through the "withdrawals", but once you're over it you'll feel great! Last night I caught myself saying to my hubby, "Oh, I'll just have a pink grapefruit for dessert..." (Thought I'd never hear myself say something like THAT!)

So...what do I do with the huge bag of white sugar in my pantry? Well, I've experimented with using it as a body scrub in the shower. It works great--exfoliates well and dissolves naturally in the shower and washes down the drain leaving your skin to feel baby soft!

Sugar Body Scrub Recipe
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

Keep in a container with a lid in your refrigerator and take out when you shower. It will be cool on your skin and feel delicious in a hot shower. Try it!

Sweeten Your Toilet
I found white sugar works as great natural cleanser in the bathroom. Keep a container under your sink, sprinkle in the toilet bowl with a squirt of natural liquid soap (like Dr. Bronner's) and scrub. It does the scrubbing work and dissolves, flushing away leaving no residue.

Sugar doesn't disinfect, but added to the soap it will easily remove scum and yuk as you clean, adding a nice shine. This is great for a quickie clean, in between disinfecting cleans.

Sugar Soap?
So not to confuse anyone, "sugar soap" usually refers to an abrasive cleaner technically called TSP, composed of sodium carbonate, sodium phosphate, and sodium silicate, which looks like table sugar but is a caustic cleaner. So folks, I don't mean use TSP!!!

Not Green!
Sugar or sucrose, known commonly as table sugar, is a highly-refined product of sugar cane or sugar beets, manufactured utilizing approximately 7 steps until the final product--so a lot of energy is wasted "making" sugar.

White, brown and granulated sugar all take a variety of steps until finally "refined", so although they are biodegradable (which is good) they are "energy hogs", and so not the greenest choice--but if you have a bag already in your cupboard as most people do, using it up as a cleaner/body scrub is a much better choice than eating it all!

Sugar In Homemade Cold-processed Soap
Many soap makers add a bit of sugar to their soap at trace to help increase the lather. Sugar added to the soap mixture produces a light, bubbly lather in the final product. This is another great use for your white sugar!

My Take on Sugar in Cleaning?
Thumbs up!
It is cheap and biodegradable, but not "green" since all the energy used to refine it. It exfoliates well as a body scrub; be careful with delicate facial skin.

And sugar also can be used in toilet bowls, sinks and tubs easily dissolving and washing away. Combine with soaps and other natural cleaners easily and safely. Sugar can be used as a natural cleaning product--who knew??

Happy Green Cleaning! from GreenKeen aka Pamela Palmer

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vodka Natural Disinfectant -- Natural Cleaning Product Review

Vodka, age-old Russian distilled spirits, which will burn your throat and warm your insides was first cultivated as medicine, and was used as one of the earliest disinfectants and antiseptics. Currently, crafted from a variety of grains and often aged in oaken barrels, centuries ago it was nicknamed "aquae vitae" or the water of life.

A Russian Treasure
Vodka, usually 37% alcohol, a longstanding, revered tradition in Russian culture and history, is more expensive than common chemical disinfectants, such as bleach, but it is completely biodegradable and quickly evaporates; and of course, it is edible/drinkable! Although I don't recommend drinking too much of it while you are cleaning or you may never finish your chores!

Cutting Boards, Counters and Cook-tops
For small jobs (such as a cutting board or counter) first wash with an all natural soap, rinse, then wipe down with vodka. This powerful combination acts as a totally natural disinfectant.

I first became aware of the handiness of having a large bottle of vodka around after enjoying a night at a Hibachi bar, where the chefs clean the grill-tops in between customers with a douse of vodka and a squeeze of fresh lemon .

This combo works great for range cook-tops, in particular. It really cuts through the grease! And I love the uplifting aroma of lemon!

It certainly makes for an enjoyable clean-up from a meal!

:) Take Care, GreenKeen aka Pamela Palmer

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hand Wash Dishes with Eco-friendly Efficiency

Manual Dish Washing Using Less Energy, Chemicals, and Water
Dish washing by hand is green and economical. Using biodegradable detergents adds benefits. Disinfecting your dishes protects you and your family in the 'flu Season.

Recently, there has been some confusion over the “greenness” and economy of manual handwashing of dishes vs. using a dishwasher. A study from the University of Bonn cites that the new high-efficiency dishwashers use less water than hand washing.

High-efficiency Dishwashers vs. Hand dish washing
The new high-efficiency dishwashers are certainly more green than older dishwashers, using on average only 4-8 gallons of water vs. the average 15 gallons of older dishwashers. High-efficiency dishwashers use 13-41% less energy, than dishwashers manufactured prior to 1990.

According to the University of Bonn study, high-efficiency dishwashers also use less water than hand washing dishes. The big caveat is though, how consumers in the study washed their dishes. Many of the consumers washed their dishes in a constant stream of water!

Hand washing using the method below uses less than ½ the water of even the “greenest” of dishwashers and saves almost all of the non-renewable energy:

Recipe for Hand Washing Dishes:
Add Hot Water 1/3 full in 2 plastic dishpans, approximately 2 quarts each.
In one, add 2 teaspoons of Dr. Bronner's Lavender Soap, (or other all natural liquid soap) for the wash water.

Note: Dr. Bronner's soaps, one of the oldest, most respected brands of all natural, organic soaps, are very versatile and can be used for face, body, hair care and cleaning. Lavender has long been known to be relaxing and has antibacterial qualities.

For an extra boost of cleaning power, add and mix until dissolved, 1 t. of borax and 1 t. of baking soda.

Note: Don't expect tons of suds. Suds do not need to be present for cleaning action! Most detergents have added chemical surfactants to create more suds for the visual effect not the cleaning power.

In the other dishpan, add 1/4 c. white vinegar for the rinse water.
Hand wash dishes using a scrubbie, replacing water only when it gets too dirty or cools. For dirtier yuk, scrub with more baking soda and borax. A good order is silverware, then cups, bowls/plates, then pots-n-pans.

Rinse all items in the "vinegar" rinse water, air dry in dish drainer. Do not rinse the vinegar off. It will evaporate, killing more germs as it does.

To make it a complete disinfectant, that has been proven to work equal to bleach, you can spray the dishes with 3% hydrogen-peroxide solution after the vinegar rinse. This is particularly helpful if you are cleaning up after raw meat or poultry.

Never directly mix vinegar and hydrogen-peroxide, as it cause a toxic poison, but spraying one after the other is fine, because they both evaporate quickly.

What is So Great About This System?
This system of manual dish washing uses a minimal amount of water, which is great for conservation. The cleaning detergent is totally biodegradable and won't hurt the environment, like the toxic chemicals in most detergents and cleaners.

The combination of all-natural soap, lavender, borax, baking soda, and vinegar with hot water works like a disinfectant and will kill almost all germs. Spraying hydrogen peroxide on the dish surfaces creates a complete non-toxic disinfectant, that will evaporate safely.

Keep hydrogen peroxide in an opaque spray bottle because it will lose its potency in prolonged light exposure.

This dishwashing system uses hand power and not electricity, which conserves non-renewable resources and money.

Other Tips and Tricks
Keep all the "nubs" from your all natural bar soaps and put in a scrubbie bag to use as a substitute to liquid dish detergent.

Use a recycled container for the baking soda/borax mix. Label the outside to avoid misuse.
After washing the dishes, add soap to the vinegar rinse water to reuse it for washing the sink, faucets, and counters. Finish the disinfection by spraying with hydrogen peroxide and let it evaporate.

Happy Greencleaning! --GreenKeen aka Pamela Palmer

Friday, February 26, 2010

Natural Biodegradable Disinfectants

The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA defines the legal, regulated term of disinfectant as a substance tested in an approved, scientific-method laboratory showing an effective kill within 10 minutes of household-representative microbes.

More Green Disinfectants Needed

All-natural and even homemade cleaners work great, smell great, and are healthy alternatives to the often toxic chemical cleaners, but most green cleaners are not rated as disinfectants by the EPA.

The biggest drawback for alternative natural disinfectants is the lack of evidence-based testing to prove their power compared to EPA-rated disinfectants. In 2000, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did a study which states that vinegar and baking soda each killed 90% of germs versus the 99.99% of EPA-approved disinfectants.

This study measured the kill-rate of baking soda and vinegar as separate substances after 30 seconds and 5 minutes. It did not test the combined kill rate of a 2-step disinfection process of cleaning with baking soda and then vinegar.

Also, this study did not test baking soda or vinegar after 10 minutes. In other studies some natural disinfectants have taken up to 10 minutes to kill organisms. Natural substances may work as disinfectants, but may work slower to equal the kill-rate of chemical disinfectants.

Even bleach, or sodium hypochlorite, in certain concentrations, kills 99.9% of microorganisms in 30 seconds, but still takes up to 10 minutes to kill resistant types of bacteria like MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant strain of staph.

EPA-Approved Natural Disinfectants

Benefect, the first completely botanical-derived, EPA-approved disinfectant, needs a kill time of 10 minutes for some of the organisms that Bleach kills almost on contact. Yet, on the up side, Benefect, derived from Thyme and citrus, is so non-toxic that you could drink it and not be harmed!

Staphacide, a recently-marketed disinfectant, with the lowest toxicity level for humans, formulated from ionized silver in a citric acid solution, has been rated to kill a broad spectrum of microbes, including MRSA. Staphacide kills most organisms faster than Benefect, but has not been proven to kill the variety of organisms that Bleach kills.

Bleach in Household Disinfection

For now, bleach is the least expensive, most widely available disinfectant with a fast and broad spectrum kill-rate. Benefect and Staphacide each cost approximately $40.00/gallon, compared to the bleach $2.00 or less per gallon cost.

Bleach for household disinfection should not be discounted completely by eco-conscious consumers. It is considered by the EPA as non-carcinogenic and non-toxic to the environment from household cleaning. It is the manufacturing of and industrial use of bleach that have come under fire as causes of environmental pollution.


There is a growing concern over the development of bacteria resistance to antibiotics and disinfectants. Bacteria may be less likely to build up resistance to natural disinfectants. The best bet in the war on harmful microorganisms will be the power of a combination of several natural substances versus the use of a one-dimensional disinfectant. There should further science-based research to confirm non-toxic combinations of known, natural, disinfecting substances to be developed as EPA-rated disinfectants derived from the abundant flora of our plentiful planet.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Soap Nuts: Biodegradable and Hypo-Allergenic: Independent Review of the Only Tree-Grown, Sustainable Soap

Soap Nuts are one of the Earth's truly sustainable natural soaps. Actually, a fruit containing saponins, a natural soap, that is harvested from trees in India and Nepal.

Sustainable and Biodegradable

Not only sustainable, but biodegradable, chemical-free, gentle, natural detergent—for your laundry detergent choice look no further than the humble Soap Nut. They can be purchased on-line from and other websites.

How to Use

They are very easy to use in your washing machine. Pop 3-4 soap nuts into one of the small cotton bags, also available at . Tie and toss into the washer; add clothes and water. Each of these bags of soap nuts can be reused for 4-5 loads, then can be disposed of in your compost pile. A second option, according to Erin Johnson, who co-owns with her husband, an online business that they run from their Melfort, Saskatchewan home in Canada, is to make liquid soap nuts laundry detergent outlined on her site.

You can also choose to add a 1/2 cup of borax or baking soda to the wash cycle to boost cleansing power or white vinegar to the rinse cycle, if you want greater germ-killing power. The soap nuts do not need to be used with any fabric softener, as they are naturally softening. Soap nuts are also exceptionally gentle, even on the most delicate of fabrics. And they are non-irritating, a wonderful perk for those with sensitive skin.

Do Soap Nuts Have a Fragrance?

The clean, fresh scent of Nature is the only "fragrance" that soap nuts have, which is often a plus for those with allergies. If you want to add fragrance, look for an all-natural, essential oil; a few drops into the wash or onto a clean rag tossed in your dryer will do the trick.

Soap Nuts and Dirty Jobs

When asked if soap nuts work with heavily-soiled items like dirty cloth diapers or a teenager's athletic socks, Erin, an experienced, young mom of one toddler in diapers, states that soap nuts work great to remove bad and musty smells. To disinfect and whiten though, you will need to add your choice of ½ cup of borax or hydrogen peroxide. She was amazed after starting to launder her daughter's dirty diapers with soap nuts at the natural clean smell (i.e. the lingering urine smell was gone). Another bonus was that the natural saponins in soap nuts worked to strip the old detergent residue from the cloth diapers, making them more absorbent again.

Soap Nuts and Your Conscience

Although some consumers are concerned with the energy costs of shipping products from the far corners of the world, harvesting and exporting Soap Nuts creates jobs for villagers in India and Nepal. These local co-ops provide sustainable, economic prosperity for local people. Often, the alternative is trees are cut down for a one-time use as fire wood.

The Nepalese supplier for has recently applied for a Fair Trade certification, a certification whereby local business co-ops in impoverished areas link with importers in developed countries to market their products at a fair price to enable their communities to prosper.

Soap Nuts might look a little funny, but let's not judge the "package from the outside" – they pack a powerful, all-natural option to the chemical, manufactured detergents polluting our bodies and water. Try some; you might just keep on "buying soap nuts"

--Pamela Palmer

Natural Cleaning Product Reviews:

Suite 101 Magazine Contributing Writer:

Women's Online Magazine Columnist
"Living Green Each Day"

The copyright of the article Soap Nuts: Biodegradable and Hypo-Allergenic in Green/Simple Living is owned by Pamela Palmer. Permission to republish Soap Nuts: Biodegradable and Hypo-Allergenic in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Salt | Natural Cleaning Product Review

Common Table Salt: A Cheap Clean!

I recently changed over to using only Sea Salt in my food prep. What do I do with all my old table salt? Use it to clean!!
Cleaning Uses
Salt has been used for thousands of years for cleaning and sanitizing. Although not a complete disinfectant, salt used in conjunction with soap or vinegar or lemon will kill most germs.

Salt is a safe, natural cleaning product easily combinable with other soaps and cleaners to sanitize. Sprinkle salt in your toilet bowl, squirt some Dr. Bronner's Lavender soap, scrub and flush--for a quick clean method.

I still remember helping my mom scour copper-bottom pots with a sprinkling of salt and vinegar to make them shine like new.

Safe for Environment

Common Table Salt is a naturally-occurring crystallized mineral (sodium chloride or NaC1) that scours surfaces when used dry or semi-dry as a scrub. It quickly dissolves in water and is safe for the environment when used in typical household amounts.


Refined Table salt costs around a dollar for a small container. Pure Sea Salt is almost twice as much. Still for a quick, natural cleaner/scrub it is a great choice.

My Take on Salt as a Household Cleaner? Thumbs Up!

Have a Great Natural Cleaning Day! --Pamela Palmer aka "Green Keen"