DIY Pillow Spray

DIY Pillow Spray

A friend sent me a note recently asking if I had a recipe for DIY Pillow Spray to help her fall asleep more easily. She often has issues with mind-chatter at night. I can relate, often having the same problem when my brain just won’t shut off despite the fact that the rest of me is so tired! Usually, applying essential oils in a carrier oil or a diffuser will satisfy most needs. However, some people don’t have a diffuser, or they may not want to move their diffuser back and forth between locations. A spray of essential oil combined with another liquid (such as water or alcohol) allows the oil to be sprayed over a large but specific area. It also is less likely to stain fabric this way.

There are a few different ways to mix essential oils and water. I wanted a recipe that used commonly available ingredients, and settled on using an alcohol-based mixture. This doesn’t mix the oil and water for a long a period of time – eventually they will separate – but, so long as you shake your bottle before use, they stay mixed long enough to use it successfully as a pillow spray. An alcohol-based recipe also has the added benefit of not needing a preservative. I chose to use Witch Hazel because it is easy to find in the pharmacy, inexpensive, and doesn’t have a scent that overpowers the smell of the essential oils. Keep in mind that most essential oil experts (I am not one) will tell you that essential oils will start to break down when mixed with other ingredients, thus lessening the therapeutic properties of the oils. Because of this, you probably don’t want to mix a year’s worth all at once. I kept the recipe small enough to fit in a 4 oz (1/2 cup) spray bottle with a little room to spare.

I looked up essential oils that are useful for sleep, for decreasing tension, and for quieting the mind. It turns out that many oils that are good at one of those things are also good at the others. I chose two different oil blends that I enjoy and created my sprays. I can alternate based on my mood, or just to prevent my body from getting too used to one smell or the other. Happy sleeping!

Orange Cream Linen Spray
1/3 cup water (distilled)
½ tsp witch hazel or rubbing alcohol or vodka
40 drops vanilla essential oil
20 drops orange essential oil

Mix ingredients in spray bottle. Shake well before use.

Lavender Chamomille Pillow Spray
1/3 cup water (distilled or pre-boiled)
1/2 tsp witch hazel or rubbing alcohol or vodka
40 drops lavender
20 drops chamomile

Other suggested oils: Valerian, lavender, vanilla, chamomile, frankincense, orange, ylang ylang

DIY Glass & Surface Cleaner

DIY Glass & Surface Cleaner

Not too long ago I decided that there had to be a good DIY Glass & Surface Cleaner recipe out there that was simple to make, worked better than the blue stuff (so many DIY recipes are better), and didn’t use ammonia. Often, I can use just water & a microfiber cloth, but when I have a sticky fingered toddler around, there are times that I just need more grease & crud-busting power.

When I first started mixing my own cleaners years ago, I came up with a recipe that worked acceptably well, but it still wasn’t as great as the stuff from the store, and it had ammonia in it. Ammonia is one example of when “natural” might not be nicer. This recipe didn’t use a large amount, but I didn’t use ammonia for anything else, I didn’t want to have to buy & store it just to make this cleaner. So, I researched glass cleaner recipes on the internet. I tried recipes using baking soda, cornstarch, dish soap, rubbing alcohol, essential oils, and of course vinegar. I love vinegar. But all the recipes streaked or left a film on my windows & mirrors. I found one recipe that I almost liked, but sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. I don’t need cleaners that have mood swings.

Then, recently our family took a turn cleaning our church building. I noticed that there was a new eco-friendly cleaner, so I looked at the ingredients. And, I did a double take; there were only two! It was simply peroxide and orange essential oil, diluted to two different strengths for different cleaning needs. And since I had just used the combination to clean the church building, I knew that it worked. Even better than the blue stuff. I came home and mixed up my own solution of peroxide, water and dash of orange oil and gave it a shot. Ta-dah! It worked on my finger-print laden mirrors every bit as well as the blue stuff.

Bonus! – it works as an-all purpose cleaner too! Because it doesn’t have the acidity in it like vinegar cleaners, it is safer for surfaces like chrome, stone, or granite that can become etched by some cleaners over time. If you use fresh peroxide and mix it just before use, it has some great germ-fighting properties. For heavy duty use, you can make it stronger to meet specific needs (double the peroxide & essential oil, keeping the water the same).

So here is my new favorite DIY Glass & Surface Cleaner, replacing two (or three) different things in my cleaning arsenal.

Super-duper Glass & Multi-purpose Cleaner
4 oz water
1 TB hydrogen peroxide (the regular pharmacy kind)
5 drops orange essential oil (optional, but it does make it smell nice and have anti-bacterial properties of its own)

Mix all in a spray bottle & go to town! Bump up your cleaning power a notch and use micro-fiber cloths or another lint-free cloth with it for the best experience. I will never go back to paper towels.

Just to be safe, keep your cleaning cloths away from other fabrics until the cloths have dried. I kept this recipe small because the germ-fighting power is stronger when it is fresh. My peroxide was so old that it didn’t fizz when I poured it on anything, but it still cleaned just fine. 
Heavy Duty Glass & Multi-Purpose Cleaner
4 oz water
2 TB hydrogen peroxide
10 drops orange essential oil
Clean (almost) Everything with Vinegar

Clean (almost) Everything with Vinegar

Since I am using Vinegar so often in my cleaning now, I picked up a box at Costco the last time I was there. It had a box of uses printed on the side, some of which I had never read before.

So here they are, straight from the manufacturer, 20 ways to use Vinegar.
1. Glassware: 1/2 cup of distilled vinegar added to a gallon of rinse water will remove soap film from glasware and make it shine. (OR add it to your rinse aid dispenser in your dishwasher).
2.  Toilet Bowl: Clean & deodorize your toilet bowl by pouring undiluted white vinegar into it. Let it stand for five minutes, then flush. Stubborn stains may require scrubbing. (See my post here to see how I use vinegar in my bathroom.)
3.  Bathtub: Wipe down bathtub with vinegar and soda to remove film buildup. Rinse clean with water.
4.  Ants: Ant invasions can be deterred by washing countertops, cabinets and floors with vinegar.
5.  Grease: Filmy dirt and greasy residue can be removed from stove and refrigerator by wiping with vinegar.
6.  Grass or Weeds: Kill unwanted grass on sidewalks and driveways by pouring on vinegar.
7.  Chrome:  To polish chrome and stainless steel, moisten a cloth with white vinegar and wipe clean. (See my bathroom post link above).
8.  Shower Curtain: Rub a cloth dampened with vinegar to remove soapy, steamed-in film and mildew from your plastic shower curtain. Then rinse clean.
9.  Coffee Maker:  To remove stale coffee residue, fill the reservoir with vinegar and run it rhough a brewing cycle. When cycle is finished, run two cycles of water to rinse.
10.  Irons: Remove burn stains from your electric iron by mixing one part salt with one part vinegar in a heated small aluminum pan. Use this mix to polish the iron as you would silver.
11.  Vegetables: Liven up slightly wilted vegetables by soaking them in cold water and vinegar.
12.  Flowers: Add two TBSP of vinegar plus three TBSP of sugar to a quart of warm water to keep fresh flowers blooming longer.
13.  Cabbage: Add vinegar to the cooking water of boiling cabbage to prevent the odor from permeating the house.
14.  Meat: A marinade of 1/2 cup of your favorite vinegar and a cup of liquid boullion makes an effective meat tenderizer.
15.  Rice: A tsp of vinegar added to the water of boiling rice makes it white and fluffy.
16.  Fish: Reduce fishy odors by rubbing fish down with white distilled vinegar before scaling it.
17. Cheese: Keep cheese most and fresh by wrapping it in a cloth that has been dampened with vinegar and sealed in an air-tight wrap or container.
18.  Eggs: To produce better-formed egg whites, add a tsp of vinegar to the water.
19.  Onion Odors: Quickly remove the odor of onions from your hands by rubbing them with distilled vinegar.
20.  Pickling:  Cider, Red Wine, Balsamic and other dark vinegars are very good for pickling, but may discolor lighter pickles such as pears, onions or cauliflowers. In this case, a distilled or white vinegar may be preferred.
I know there are a gazillion other uses for vinegar out there. What about you – what are your favorite uses for it?

DIY Hard Water Laundry Detergent

DIY Hard Water Laundry Detergent

I started making my own laundry detergent about 6 months ago after seeing several recipes on Pinterest and it has been a journey. If you have made homemade detergent before, you know that it isn’t as pretty as the store-bought kind. Actually, it’s pretty ugly. It separates. It has lumps. It changes color. Some of the ingredients crystallize and never re-dissolve no matter how much you shake it.

Twenty Mule Team Natural Laundry Booster & Multi-Purpose Cleaner-76 oz.

The first recipe I tried (grated soap) didn’t smell good, was annoying to make, and didn’t clean as well as I liked. I tried another recipe (using Dawn dish soap) that cleaned a bit better, but our clothes smelled funny. Like partially washed sweaty gym clothes funny. They went in smelling okay, but came out stinky. Not good.

I tried hotter water. I tried vinegar in the wash water to kill bacteria. It didn’t make a difference. I could use Downy Unstopables to hide the smell, but sometimes it was still there. Besides, that offset any cost savings from making my own detergent. And, our clothes still weren’t as wonderfully clean as I liked. I almost gave up. Okay, I did give up for a bit, until we realized that the cheap bottle of detergent we grabbed from the store was even worse and I threw it out.

So I researched. And I learned that in areas with hard water, Dawn dish soap itself can create a funky smell. Loyal Dawn users started complaining about this a few years ago when the formula changed, probably due to some of the new environmental regulations. So I decided to try a different dish soap than Dawn. I picked up two to try that I knew worked well and that smelled good and, in my experiments, Palmolive Pure+Clean was the winner.

I also saw several recipes that used an oxygen bleach (oxy-clean) to oomph up the cleaning power. But I couldn’t add it to the liquid detergent because liquid activates the oxy-clean. And adding detergent and oxy-clean separately to each wash is a bit of a pain and I knew that hubby wouldn’t do it. So, I needed a dry recipe, but wanted to use liquid dish soap.  Hmmmm…

I decided to experiment. My very first attempt worked and it was fast and simple to make! After two months I can say with certainty that our clothes smell better than they ever have. And, they look brighter than they ever did with commercial detergent thanks to the Oxygen bleach. You know those white shirts you have that have shadowy splotches on them in certain lights? All gone! I love this stuff, and while it costs a little more than some of the homemade recipes out there, it is still much less than the commercial stuff and, in hard water, it cleans better to boot! Besides it is saving the life of all my clothes that previously had to be retired due to dinginess after only a few short years!
Oxiclean Versatile Stain Remover Free, 3 Pounds
So here it is, the amazingly simple and effective solution to my laundry woes.
Hard-Water Laundry Detergent
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup of Palmolive Clear+Clean
1 cup oxygen bleach – store brand is fine
Mix Borax, Washing Soda, and Palmolive together until a dry, crumbly paste forms. Once ingredients have been well-blended, add the oxygen bleach and again, mix until well-blended.
Add 1-2 TB per load of laundry (less with softer water).
The cost to buy all the ingredients is just under $14 where I live, will last us 7 months, and average cost is $0.05 a load. Compare that to Purex powder – $0.09 a load, Cheer powder – $0.22 or Tide liquid – $0.31 a load!  We are saving from 2-6 times the cost of a commercial detergent!
DIY Hard Water Cleaner

DIY Hard Water Cleaner

I came across this recipe on Pinterest a month ago & gave it a try. It worked, but not quite as magically or quickly as I had hoped. Also it made suds F.O.R.E.V.E.R. when rinsing. It worked better than any cleaner I have used on the soap scum, the tub and the chrome, but I still had mineral deposits on the wall of the shower. We have really hard water here, so the original recipe may be just fine as a cleaner in your neck of the woods. However, our water is hard enough that if I didn’t clean my shower weekly we might develop stalagmites on the bottom of the tub. As it is, we get orangish goo in the toilet and around the edge of the shower after only 2-3 days. I swish my toilet with a brush daily. So I was happy with the results I did get, I just wanted MORE. Because I am an American, and we like MORE.

I tried a version that decreased the soap by half to minimize suds. I tried a version that used cornstarch as a thickener so that the solution would stay where it was sprayed and work longer. Neither seemed to make a difference, and I was worried about the starch in my drains. I tried using the liquid along with a green kitchen scrubber on the walls, but nothing was cutting through the hard deposits. You’d think I would give up at this point, but there is more to this post, so obviously, I persisted. I used the mix of 1 cup vinegar & 1/2 cup soap in the meantime while thinking about what I could do to oomph up the cleaning power.

Then, while I was doing laundry one day, I happened to read the side of one of the bottles sitting there.

It was leftover from a previous natural cleaning spree I had been on and had been sitting there for a few years. Among other uses, it listed that it could be dissolved in water as a cleaner to dissolve hard water deposits…
The wheels started turning, and I thought, I wonder if I dissolved this in the vinegar. Would it strengthen the cleaning ability? So, I heated 1 cup of vinegar, dissolved 2 TB Lemishine, added 1/2 cup of Dawn and sprayed it on the most mineral encrusted thing I could find: The water dispenser drip tray on our fridge.
I have tried every cleaner I can imagine on this baby. I have tried the toughest scouring pads, including steel wool on it. Nothing touched the crusty mineral layer in the grooves. I was sure that this would be the same, so I didn’t even bother taking “Before” pictures. Still, I sprayed it on before bed one night and let it work.


Imagine my surprise when I started cleaning the next morning and it wiped off. I didn’t say scrubbed off – it wiped off. With a towel. After wiping out four of the grooves, the shock wore off enough for me to realize that I wanted pictures of this because it was a modern miracle. Lest you think I am exaggerating, take a closer look at that orange crud in the top groove. That was on the bottom and sides of every groove, even after I had cleaned it. It was hard. It was orange. It was ugly.

This is the after. White. Smooth. Shiny. Pretty.
Let’s take a look at the area where the drip tray sits.
 I did get a “Before” picture of this.


 And “After.”
The whole enchilada. Beautiful.
Shortly after trying this, I came across a similar solution at this link. I haven’t tried it because I have a whole bottle of Lemi-shine to use, but it might be worth a shot before you go buy something you don’t have.
I now keep this recipe in a spray bottle in my shower and spray it on the surfaces almost daily. The next morning, when hubby takes his shower, it rinses clean, no scrubbing at all. Weekly-ish, I wipe the tub portion and walls to get a little deeper clean.  I also spray it in my toilet to prevent the orange-ish slime layer from forming. And a quick spray and rinse of the sink keeps it just as shiny as everything else!
Now my bathroom fixtures stay permanently clean. If I could just keep my dirty cat from jumping on the counter to get his drink, things would stay so clean that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.