6 Steps To a Naturally Clean Home {Plus 48 recipes}

6 Steps to a Naturally Clean Home

By Jami Leigh, Contributing Writer

When I first began my natural living journey, it all started with food. I was concerned with eating healthy and what I  put into my body. But it wasn’t long before I realized that the chemicals, lotions, and cleaners that I used everyday can actually seep into our skin and affect us as much or more than the food we eat.

I began doing research and it didn’t take long for me to land on The Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. I knew I had to change my cleaning lifestyle and I wanted to jump in with both feet and throw away all my commercial cleaners and toxins – but I knew I had to take it slow.

For the past several years, I’ve been taking baby steps toward making my home toxic-free by using natural cleaners. I want to share with you some easy steps you can take to naturally clean your home.

6 Steps to a Naturally Clean Home

Commercial cleaners are packed full of allergens, toxins, and irritants. According to the EWG, asthma, cancer, reproductive and developmental problems can be direct results from using and inhaling these commercial cleaners.

1) Start Small

When you first start out on this natural living journey, it can be easy to feel like you want to chuck out everything you own in favor of natural alternatives. But this can be an overwhelming task and can potentially cost a lot of money!

You may not know where to start. Instead of turning over your entire life, start small. Pick one area in your home, or just one cleaner to replace. Get in the groove of using or making that one natural cleaner and once you have that down, move on to the next thing. After a while you will notice that your home is transforming into a natural environment.

2) Don’t Buy Expensive “Natural” Cleaners

If you head into a health store or search the “natural” section at your local grocery store, you will probably start to cry at the price of all the natural cleaners. When you first look at those prices, it seems daunting to switch over.

But the good news is most homemade natural cleaners are far less expensive than conventional store bought products. 

3) Make “All-Purpose” Cleaners

With conventional store bought cleaners, marketers make sure you know that you need a different cleaner for each area and item in your house. You have to get counter cleaners, toilet bowl cleaner, shower cleaner, bath tub cleaner, window cleaner, oven cleaner, table cleaner, etc., etc., etc.

But with just a couple good natural cleaners, you will discover that you can clean virtually every surface in your home. No more need for 30 bottles of poison under your kitchen sink.

4) Experiment

The natural cleaners that work perfect for my house and family may not work for you. Experiment with different cleaners and give yourself permission to not like a certain recipe. Experiment and find what is right for you and your family.

5) Give It Time

If you are completely new to natural cleaners, it can take some time adjusting to using them. But slowly, over time, you will get the hang of it. It will become second nature to reach for certain essential oils to add to your cleaner or mix up a batch of homemade laundry detergent.

It can seem like a lot all at once, but do your research, try once recipe at a time and before you know it, it will all become second nature.

6) It’s OK to Buy Store-Bought

Wait. Didn’t I just say above not to go out and buy a bunch of expensive natural cleaners? Yes. Don’t feel like you have to rush out and spend a couple hundred bucks just to get some natural cleaners. There are frugal and easy homemade cleaning recipes out there that really work.

I also know that some times in our lives (when we have a new baby, are working full time, etc.) when we simply don’t have the time to make homemade cleaners. When we moved into our first house earlier this year, I was so overwhelmed with all that I had to do, that I purchased some natural cleaners to help clean our old apartment and our new house. They worked great and I didn’t spend too much money. Do what you need to for your family!

48 All Natural Homemade Cleaning Recipes

Transforming your house into a naturally clean environment doesn’t take a lot of time or money but it does take commitment and a lot of baby steps. To make it easier for you, I’ve complied this list of 48 natural, easy to make homemade cleaners for you! Pick one and try it out!

A Naturally Clean Home/All Purpose Recipes

Build a Natural Spring Cleaning Arsenal by Richly Rooted

Free Spring Cleaning Checklist by Richly Rooted

Time Saving Tips for Natural Cleaning by Keeper of the Home

Using Essential Oils to Clean Everything in Your House by Purposeful Homemking

Homemade Natural, All Purpose Cleaner by GNOWFLINGS

Homemade Citrus Vinegar Cleaner by Domestic Serenity

Homemade Disinfecting Wipes by Live Renewed

Homemade Non-Toxic Disinfectant by Imperfect Homemaker

Cleaning with Essential Oils by Beauty in the Mess

Two Safe, Homemade Stain Removers by Accidentally Green

Cleaning Without Chemicals – Room by Room Guide by Accidentally Green

How to Safely Wash Your Windows by Accidentally Green

How to Safely Clean Hard Surfaces by Accidentally Green

How to Safely Dust Your Home by Accidentally Green

A Natural Approach to Relief from Allergies and Asthma by Domestic Serenity

Bathrooms

The Safest Way to Clean Kitchens and Bathrooms by Accidentally Green

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner by Simply Rebekah

How to Safely Clean Bathrooms by Accidentally Green

Homemade Bathtub Scrub by Nourishing Joy

A Naturally Clean and Fresh Bathroom by Smithspirations

Cleaning the Toilet Without Harsh Chemicals by Live Renewed

Kitchen

How to Safely Clean Your Refrigerator by Accidentally Green

Crock Pot Cleaner by Stacy Makes Cents

How to Naturally Clean and Deodorize a Stainless Steel Sink by Domestic Serenity

Homemade Liquid Dish Soap by The Humbled Homemaker

Deep Clean Your Oven Without Harsh Chemicals by Creative Green Living

Homemade Produce Cleaner by Live Renewed

Dishwasher

The Best Homemade Dish Washer Detergent by Authentic Simplicity

Homemade Borax Free Dishwasher Detergent Recipe by Ecokaren

Laundry Room

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent by Simply Foody

Homemade Dryer Sheets by Live Renewed

Soap Nuts – A Natural, Frugal Laundry Detergent by Stacy Makes Cents

Homemade Castile Liquid Laundry Soap by Stacy Makes Cents

How to Clean your Washing Machine by Keeper of the Home

Homemade Laundry Detergent by Purposeful Homemaking

Using Wool Dryer Balls by The Humbled Homemaker

Why I Don’t Make My Own Laundry Detergent by Whole New Mom

5 Ways to Detox Your Laundry Room by Keeper of the Home

How to Do Laundry from Start to Finish Without Any Nasty Chemicals by Red and Honey

7 Fresh, Natural Laundry Room Recipes by Little House on the Valley

Carpets

All Natural, Simple Carpet Freshener by Smithspirations

All Natural Carpet Stain Remover by The Humbled Homemaker

Homemade, Non-Toxic Carpet Cleaner by Modern Alternative Mama

Natural Homemade Carpet Freshener by Keeper of the Home

Making the House Smell Nice

DIY Natural Air Freshener: Lemon and Rosemary Simmering Pot by Domestic Serenity

DIY Natural Room Scents by The Yummy Life

5 Natural Aroma Simmering Pot Recipes by Little House on the Valley

4 Natural Fresh Scent Bathroom Solutions by Little House on the Valley

Resources for learning more

Hope Runs: The Power of Letting Our Stories Shine

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Guest post by Claire Diaz-Ortiz

I never meant to share this story. Of course, I never meant to live this story at all.

It started on a trip unlike the others. A trip around a small-big-tiny world with a twenty-something best friend in tow. A year-long trip through nineteen countries, and hundreds of books and one pair of running shoes that took me to the finish line of a Spanish marathon and to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest.

A trip that ended in a country where I had long wanted to be, at the base of a mountain I had long wanted to climb.

But when the base of the mountain towered above, and God spoke, it wasn’t the mountain that needed to be climbed at all.

Because in this story, in my story, God told me the mountain wasn’t where I was supposed to be. It was at the base, He said, with my two feet on the ground, in the orphanage with the cheap guest house that happened to house us for the night before the climb, where we were meant to stay.

And stay we did. For a year, living alongside 170 children, panting throughout our practices in our makeshift running program, and eventually starting a nonprofit called Hope Runs, aimed to help orphaned and vulnerable children through extracurricular programming and education.

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Image by J. Carrier

There are different ways to tell the story of what happened next. What brought one of those runners into my heart in a way I couldn’t shake, and what force pulled him with me to the United States when so many of the odds were against us all the time.

What happened when a Kenyan boy who had never tasted pizza made it his American life’s work to eat it every day, and what happened when a boy who thought he was an orphan heard from his mother again.

And then, of course, there is the story of what happens now. What happens when a Kenyan teen with four languages on his tongue and a mother-sister-aunt of a white woman just a dozen years his senior perched on his shoulder tries to navigate this big-tiny-small world.

Hope Runs: An American Tourist, A Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption is the beginning of this story.

There are stories that are meant to be told, and this is mine.

I believe we each have dozens of them inside of us, and only rarely do we realize in life the power of letting them shine.

To celebrate the launch of Hope Runs, a story I’ve been meaning to tell for years, I’m giving away a free ebook, Share Your Story, which I wrote to talk about the power of sharing our stories in our lives. Download it here.

Hope Runs Cover

And, win A Copy of Hope Runs:

To win one of five copies of Hope Runs, do one or more of the following things. Leave 1 comment on this post for every item you do.

  • Get one entry by leaving a comment on this post and if you want, answering the question “Do you have stories inside of you that you feel are meant to be told?”
  • Like this blog post on Facebook.
  • Tweet this blog post.
  • Pin this blog post on Pinterest.

Remember, for each thing you do, leave one comment. (So, if you post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, that would be three comments.)

(Or, buy a copy of Hope Runs and get $150 in freebies.)

About Hope Runs:

Sammy Ikua Gachagua had lost his father to illness, his mother to abandonment, and his home to poverty. By age ten, he was living in a shack with seven other children and very little food. He entered an orphanage seeing it as a miracle with three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and clothes on his back.

When Claire Diaz-Ortiz arrived in Kenya at the end of an around-the-world journey, she decided to stay the night, climb Mt. Kenya, then head back home. She entered an orphanage seeing it as little more than a free place to spend the night before her mountain trek. God had other plans.

Hope Runs is the emotional story of an American tourist, a Kenyan orphan, and the day that would change the course of both of their lives forever. It’s about what it means to live in the now when the world is falling down around you. It’s about what it means to hope for the things you cannot see. Most of all, it’s about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.

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About Claire Diaz-Ortiz:

Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@claire) is an author, speaker and Silicon Valley innovator who was an early employee at Twitter. Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, she holds an MBA and other degrees from Stanford and Oxford and has been featured widely in print and broadcast media. She writes a popular blog at ClaireDiazOrtiz.com and is the author of the new book, Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption. (Stephanie’s note: And, a brand new mama! Her first baby born and the launch of her book, all in one wonderful, eventful week. Congratulations, Claire and Jose!)

Do you have stories inside of you that you feel are meant to be told?

Spring Clean Your Garden Tools

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By Andrea Green, Contributing Writer

Now that the days are starting to get longer and the air is starting to get warmer, I’m itching to get outside and garden.

Since I live in Colorado, I still have several weeks before I can plant anything outside. However, now is a great time to spring clean all my garden tools. Then, when the time for planting finally arrives, I’ll be ready for the fun task of planting.

Keeping garden tools clean will help them last longer. Clean tools also are better for the health of your garden.

Here’s how to get started spring cleaning your garden tools:

Terra Cotta Pots

Empty your pots of old and depleted soil. If your pots have a whitish build up, you need to remove it.

Start by using a cleaning brush or steel pad and gently dry brush any white deposits.

Next, find a bucket that is large enough to hold your pot. Fill the bucket with a vinegar and water solution. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to every 6 cups of water.

Allow your pot to soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Depending on its size, you may need to turn the pot to make sure you get all sides submerged.

Finally, wash your pot with soap and water. Castile soap is excellent for this.

Spring Clean Your Shovels
photo credit: Ano Lobb

Shovels

Inspect your shovel for any rusty spots.

Rub a thin layer of non-toxic linseed oil over the shovel. Use a wire brush or pad to scrub off any rust.

Next, inspect the handle. If it has any splinters or rough sections, use a piece of sandpaper to smooth them out.

You can rub a thin layer of linseed oil over the wooden handle to keep it from drying out and to prevent further splintering.

Spring Clean Your Pruners
photo credit: snowmentality

Pruners and Shears

Start by washing blades with castile soap and water.

Use a wire brush or steel pad to scrub off any rust.

Apply a thin layer of linseed oil to prevent rust from forming again.

Note: This is a great time of year to get your pruners sharpened. Sharp pruners protect your plants from getting crushed or bruised which makes them vulnerable to disease.

Now that your tools are ready to go, check out my Top Ten ways to save money on your garden.

Have you cleaned your garden tools yet?

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

Why I argue in front of my kids (sometimes) @ The Art of Simple

The courage to rest @ Conversion Diary

10 Allergen-Free Treats for Easter @ The Humbled Homemaker

Waiting Tables, Day Twenty-Nine: Why Confessing Our Sin to Our Children is So Important @ Megan Tietz

You Say It Like It’s a Bad Thing @ Simplicity Parenting

Build Your Immune System the FUN Way: Simple Herb-Infused Popsicle Recipe @ Kitchen Stewardship

Follow Your Heart, Mama @ Life Your Way

1 Corinthians 13 For Moms @ Money Saving Mom

April Sponsors

Are you looking for companies that share the same values you do? Here at Keeper of the Home we curate a fabulous selection of companies that fit well with our audience. 

Plan to Eat | Eating at Home is About to Get Easier

Paula’s Bread | An Oklahoma Business Since 1987

Etsy Kids | Your Handmade Gift Guide for all Things Baby, Toddler, and Kids

Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique | Where ‘Green’ Comes Naturally: Baby & Kids supplies, cloth diapers, and more. Free shipping on cloth diapers!

UrbanTickle | Nursery Art, Wall Decals and Art for Children

The Breakfast Revolution | Over 40 mouth-watering recipes to revolutionize your breakfast and help you think outside the cereal box.

What’s your favorite way of showing love at home?

Nourish Your Face with Homemade Skin Care

Nourish Your Face Naturally

By Kelly Smith, Contributing Writer

I’m the first to admit that my so-called “wisdom lines” have often tempted me to take drastic measures. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely believe in aging gracefully. But I also think there’s a graceful way to put up a fight.

Yet, as much as I want to keep that youthful glow, slathering my face with expensive chemical-laden skincare products is not an option. Why? Because our skin is the gateway to our body. In other words, what goes onto our skin, goes into our bodies. So the best bet for healthy living is to choose all-natural products that are free of harsh, toxic chemicals.

Of course, there are an abundance of natural skincare lines to be found, which is great. But they can be quite expensive! That’s why I’ve recently started making many of my facial care products at home using wholesome real foods and other all-natural ingredients.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

The first step in making your own skincare is to choose the right ingredients. There are so many wholesome foods and other all-natural ingredients to choose from that make excellent skincare products. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

• Avocado has amazing moisturizing properties, which makes it especially excellent for dry skin. The healthy fats and other beneficial nutrients in avocado help to prevent premature wrinkling and reduce inflammation. In addition, many facial care experts recommend using avocado oil, since it closely resembles our skin’s own natural oils.

• Baking Soda works well as a natural means for exfoliating dead skin cells, leaving your face smooth and clean. In addition, baking soda’s slightly antiseptic properties can help alleviate breakouts.

• Egg Whites help to tighten skin, giving your face a healthy glow while diminishing the look of fine lines. Egg whites also help to remove dead skin cells and draw excess oil from the pores while tightening them.

• Fresh Fruits often are used in facial products because they’re rich in nutrients that aid in healthy skin. For example, papaya helps to moisturize and even-out skin tone. Strawberries function as a mild alpha hydroxyl acid helping to exfoliate skin, and the antioxidants in blueberries help to hydrate and repair dry damaged skin.

• Honey is a wonderful friend to your skin. Its soothing anti-inflammatory properties are perfect for any skin type. Full of B vitamins and polyphenols, honey protects skin from damaging free radicals which helps to reduce wrinkles and encourages the formation of new skin cells. In addition, the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of honey naturally help acne-prone skin to heal and clear.

• Natural Oils often are used to moisturize skin. Coconut oil and avocado oil are two of the most popular and both work well for all skin types. For normal to oily skin types, another excellent choice is jojoba oil. And for dry skin, carrot seed oil is often recommended. In addition, natural oils rich in vitamin E (such as argan oil, flaxseed oil and apricot oil) may help to slow the appearance of aging.

• Yogurt is a common ingredient used in homemade facial masks. It helps to absorb excess oil and makes your skin feel tighter and smoother. It also helps even out skin tone and has anti-aging properties that help fight free radicals.

How to Make Your Own Facial Care Products

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Making your own facial care products is a relatively simple process. Once you’ve selected the ingredients that work with your skin, it’s as simple as blending them together and storing them in airtight containers.

To get started, I recommend trying out some good recipes and adjusting them according to your skin type and sensitivity. To help you, I’m sharing my Easy Anti-Aging Moisture Mask recipe, along with links to more than a dozen other great homemade facial care recipes that will bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “feeding your face.”

Easy Anti-Aging Moisture Mask

Forget expensive spa treatments and products, you can help reduce fine lines and achieve healthy skin by using wholesome real foods available right in your own kitchen. This age-fighting moisture mask is one of my favorites!

1 egg white
2 teaspoons raw honey
2 tablespoons yogurt
1/4 cup quartered strawberries, or halved blueberries (see *note below)

Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth. Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes. (For a cool, refreshing mask, refrigerate the mixture for 10 minutes.) Apply to a clean, dry face. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Follow with your favorite all-natural moisturizing lotion.

*Note: Strawberries work well for oily skin types. Use blueberries for normal, dry and sensitive skin types. For an added moisture boost, add 1/4 of a ripe avocado before blending. Remember, even with all-natural skincare products, it’s always important to test a small area of skin first to make sure you are not sensitive to it before using it on your entire face or body.

More Recipes for Nourishing Your Skin

Looking for more great ideas? These easy-to-make, nourishing skincare recipes are certain to brighten your complexion au naturale.

Nourishing Facial Cleansers:

DIY All Natural Facial Cleansers

• DIY All-Natural Facial Cleansers (photo shown above)
• Facial Lotion Bar
• Honey Cleansing Method
• Jojoba Oil and Rose Water Cleanser

All-Natural Facial Toners:

5 Homemade Facial Toners

• 5 Homemade Facial Toners (photo shown above)
• Natural Homemade Facial Toners
• Facial Toner for Acne Prone Skin

Recipes for Exfoliating Naturally:

Homemade Facial Scrubs

• Homemade Facial Scrubs (photo shown above)
• DIY Coconut Oil Scrubs
• How to Make Your Own Exfoliating Scrub

Nourishing Masks for Healthy Skin:

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• All-Natural Moisturizing Facial Mask (photo shown above)
• Honey Face Mask
Skin Brightening Kiwi Mask
• Tumeric Facial Mask

Moisturizing Au Naturale:

Simple Homemade Moisturizer

• Simple Homemade Moisturizer (photo shown above)
• Homemade Facial Lotion
• Whipped Shea Butter Moisturizer

More All-Natural Facial Care Tips and Recipes:

• Skincare for Acne Prone Skin
• Summer Skincare Tips
• 5 Ways to Use Oil as Part of Your Skincare Routine

What are your favorite ways to naturally nourish your skin?

DIY All-Purpose Cleaning Solution

DIY All Purpose Cleaning Solution

By Beth Ricci, Contributing Writer 

Switching from mainstream cleaners to natural alternatives is honestly one of the easiest possible baby steps toward a greener, more natural life. Throw a few ingredients in a spray bottle and toss your Mr. Clean in the trash. It’s pretty much that simple, and the benefits far outweigh the 30 seconds of your time that it takes.

In our home we don’t buy commercial cleaning products for anything (except for a natural dish soap). We make our own – and we reduce toxins in our home and save lots of money while doing so.

This may sound over the top if you’re accustomed to regularly inviting Mr. Clean into your home. Or maybe your favourite alternative brand with the word “natural” slapped across the label alleviates some of your residual worry about what those crunchy folks are going on about.

Are the ingredients in conventional cleaners really all that dangerous? I mean – really?

As the David Suzuki Foundation explains,

“Yes! Cleaning products aren’t required to disclose ingredients. Phthalates, chlorine bleach, ammonia, sodium laureth sulfate, ethoxylated alcohols and fragrance are all commonly found in household cleaners and linked to a range of health issues including asthma, cancer, allergies and multiple chemical sensitivities. Repeated exposure to small amounts of these chemicals can cause long-term health problems. Kids are especially vulnerable.”

Clearly there is enough doubt cast on the safety of these products that most of us are willing to step back and ask questions. So what now?

DIY, of course!

The most valuable and often-used cleaner in my arsenal is definitely my All-Purpose Cleaning Solution. It is always near by, especially with a cat and three kids aged five and under! It is cheap, safe, and effective. What more could you want, right?

This recipe uses baking soda, but for a slightly different recipe, plus links to more DIY cleaners, check out this All-Purpose Cleaner from Red & Honey.

All-Purpose Cleaning Solution

Ingredients

1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon castile soap
3-5 drops tea tree oil
Water

Method

Add the baking soda, castile soap and tea tree oil to a spray bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. Shake or stir to combine.

The baking soda is a great degreaser, the castile soap has excellent cleaning power, and the tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant. It’s a simple but super effective combination that works!

It’s simple and quick – mix some up today and ditch the store-bought stuff. Baby steps toward a greener, cleaner, and healthier life are a beautiful thing!

DIY Dishwasher Detergent Pucks

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Making a DIY version of dishwasher pucks was something I stumbled upon completely by accident – like many good things, of course.

Over at DIY Natural, Matt and Betsy had shared their very excellent dishwashing detergent recipe, which includes citric acid for shine and non-cloudy glassware and which does its job well. The problem is, citric acid is hydrophilic – that is, it loves water, and thus when mixed in the recipe, it attracts moisture like crazy and if you don’t stir the mix every so often during the first 12-24 hours after making it, you’ll end up with a rock-solid lump in your storage container.

And so it was that one time while making the homemade dishwasher detergent, I got distracted and forgot to stir in time and came back to a partially solidified mass in my mixing bowl. I picked out the hard lumps, set them aside, and a few hours later, realized the net result was a set of ugly, knobby, entirely functional dishwasher pucks.

So the next time I made dishwasher detergent, I decided to try an experiment. I tweaked the recipe here and there, then tamped the mixture into mini-muffin tins, hoping to create little round pucks that would fit easily in the detergent compartment. No go, however, as the mixture solidified so hard that I couldn’t even scrape them out, let alone pop them out.

(By placing the muffin tins in the dishwasher in place of other detergent, however, all the dishes still washed up very nicely!)

And that was when I decided to try silicone ice cube molds, like these inexpensive ones from Ikea. Sure enough, once the fizzing had subsided and they were fully solid, these babies popped right out and were easy to place in whatever dry, air-tight storage container I wanted (such as the old flip-top container from a store-bought brand of dishwasher pucks or a mason jar).

The only downside to making these homemade dishwasher pucks is that they do need a bit of babysitting as they cure. I tend to make them while I’m in the kitchen working on other projects, such as doing the dishes after dinner or during Saturday cleaning.

But that aside, I’ve had such great success with these homemade dishwasher pucks that I’ve included them in my little homemaking journal e-book, Clean, Naturally! Since it’s that deep-cleaning, freshen-up time of year, I’m celebrating by knocking the price of that little book to $2.99 for the month of April. Just use coupon code SPRINGCLEAN2014 on the checkout page.

With that, let’s make DIY homemade detergent pucks!

DIY Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Pucks

The citric acid is the magic ingredient for getting these to harden, but as I mentioned above, they take a bit of babysitting to harden as pucks rather than puffy balls. As the citric acid absorbs moisture, it fizzes and creates air bubbles, so you’ll need to tamp them down every few minutes over the course of an hour or so.

Makes approximately 2-3 dozen pucks

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups citric acid
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup coarse salt

Method

Stir all ingredients together well, then let sit for about an hour until the mixture starts to bubble. Have 2-3 silicone ice cube trays or other flexible molds at the ready.

When you notice the mixture beginning to bubble, stir well, then spoon it evenly into the molds and pack the mixture down well. Every few minutes, dampen your hands and tamp each puck down again firmly.

After about an hour, the pucks will stop fizzing and seize into very hard pucks. Pop them out and break off any hard edges or lines that will prevent them from fitting in the detergent container in your dishwasher.

Store in a dry, tightly sealed container. Use 1 puck per load.

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

Monday Health & Wellness: 7 Tips for Communicating Respectfully @ Modern Alternative Mama

Feeling Overwhelmed? Get Ready for the Embracing Self-Care Series! @ Live Renewed

Homemade Peppermint Patties @ GNOWFGLINS

On gratitude @ The Art of Simple

Friendship: A Piece of Cake @ (in)courage

Simple Chicken Tandoori with Curry Cauliflower Rice @ Health, Home, & Happiness

What You Have to Know About Who You Really Are @ A Holy Experience

We want greenhouses but do not get them. @ Jon Acuff

Happy April! What excites you most about the change of season?

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids

outdoor scavenger hunt for kids

By Leigh Ann Dutton, Contributing Writer

The days are getting longer and the snow is finally melting, which means it’s time to get outside and play! After a long winter, I’m beside myself excited to get outside with my toddler and baby.

Whether you’re taking a hike, going camping, or just spending free time outdoors, nature lends itself to many learning opportunities for your children.

Why You Should Make Getting Outside a Priority

Explore creation

Time in nature points to our Creator. Since getting outside invites curiosity and wonder as we explore, it’s a great opportunity to share with our children all that God has made.

Get natural Vitamin D

There are so many benefits to soaking up some sun. One of which is our exposure to natural Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for building healthy bones, strong immune systems, cardiovascular health, and even prevention of cancer. Plus after a long winter, extra Vitamin D can help pull us out of the blues!

Of course you, can get  Vitamin D from your diet and by taking cod liver oil, but the sun is way more frugal – it’s free! A mere 5 to 15 minutes out in the sun (without sunscreen) can keep you and your children’s Vitamin D levels at optimal levels.

Step away from the TV

Screen time toward the end of the winter seems to increase for my family. We’re tired of coming up with creative ways to beat the blues, and we opt for playing learning games on the iPad or watching educational videos.

With the new rays of Spring, getting outside decreases screen time significantly!

Improve gross motor skills

Getting outside allows our children to play on different terrains, which helps them develop their gross motor skills in fun new ways.

toddler nature scavenger hunt

Now that we’ve learned why it’s important to get outside with our children, I want to share with you one of my family’s favorite outdoor activities – scavenger hunts!

Outdoor scavenger hunts are a fun and intentional way to spend time outside with our kids.

Below are 20 of our favorite outdoor scavenger hunt ideas.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids

Nature Scavenger Hunt @ Intentional By Grace

Toddler Nature Scavenger Hunt @ Intentional By Grace

Scavenger Hunt Guide with Pictures @ Hands On As We Grow

Printable Zoo Scavenger Hunt @ I Can Teach My Child

Early Reader Scavenger Hunt for Kids @ Brisbane Kids

Scavenger Hunt for the Toddler @ Brisbane Kids

Spring Sensory Scavenger Search @ More Fun Mom

Scavenger Hunt Camping Cards @ Flanders Family

Garden Treasure Hunt @ One Perfect Day

Toddler Nature Study @ Intentional By Grace

Scavenger Hunt Printable for Toddlers @ Live Called

Outdoor Number Hunt @ Making Boys Men

Simple Scavenger Hunt @ East Coast Mommy Blog

Children’s Scavenger Hunt @ Smashed Peas and Carrots

Backyard Photo Scavenger Hunt @ No Time for Flashcards

Outdoor Bible Verse Scavenger Hunt @ Rachel Wojo

Nature Scavenger Hunt Printable @ Inspired By Familia

Outdoor Color Match @ Frugal Family Fun

Spring Scavenger Hunt Bingo Cards @ Craft, Interrupted

An Irresistible Word Scavenger Hunt @ Playdough to Plato

The possibilities are endless when it comes to what type of outdoor scavenger hunt you want to try!

What are some of your favorite outdoor scavenger hunt ideas?

What Came in the Mail and Inspired Me

Courageous Champion Poster web

As we began settling back into our home area last month, we found all sorts of mail and packages that had arrived for us while we were gone. Coming home from being gone a year is fun that way. Like Christmas in February.

The contents of four of those packages wound their way into my heart, and onto my bookshelf. They came from sweet, real-life blogging friends.

They were their very own books, finally published, there in living color. I held them in my hands and felt such joy and delight in each of them and the writing they do.

I know these women. They’re the real thing. The messages they write about? They live them, too.

They each have passionate messages, that resonate from deep within them, bubble up in an overflow of painstakingly crafted blog posts, and now in pages we thumb through and find fellowship and encouragement and inspiration from.

Allow me to introduce you to four of my friends, and their beautiful messages…

surprised by motherhood book image

Surprised by Motherhood

by Lisa-Joy Baker

This one is up first, because I read it most recently, and it just launched, literally on April Fool’s Day (surprise!).

Also, I just spent last weekend hanging out with Lisa-Jo at the Raising Generations Today conference, where we had a blast getting to know one another a little better, and I only wished she lived close enough to come over for afternoon tea.

I could say so many things about this lovely book from Lisa-Jo’s tender mama heart, but I would rather show you the book trailer, and remind you of what a treasure, what a wonder, what a superhero each of you mamas are.

Like I said… superheroes.

Notes From a Blue Bike

by Tsh Oxenreider

This book found itself on my Kindle back when we were traveling, in Turkey to be exact.

It resonated with me deeply, because Tsh and think alike about so many aspects of life.

She shares how living abroad challenged her and her husband Kyle to learn to live a slower, more intentional life, even here in hectic North America.

How she and her family want to swim upstream, against the cultural currents of more stuff, more busyness, more media, more stress, more on our to-do lists, more rushing, and ultimately, less living.

thoreau inked

She began to wonder, what if we could slow down enough to really savor life, to suck out all the sweet marrow? What if we took the time to consider what was important to us as a family, what made us come alive, what held meaning and purpose for us, and what we valued… and then, we lived accordingly?

Her words kept ringing in my ears, long after I finished reading it, but as we continued to traverse the globe with our kids, engaging in different cultures, meeting new people, learning to see through fresh eyes, and envisioning our lives anew, once we returned home.

Our family is still very much in the midst of that journey, of learning what it means to live with even more intention and purpose, as we settle back in to North American life, but with changed hearts.

If you are dissatisfied with living a status quo life, with following the culture, with being so busy that you don’t know how to really stop and live and LOVE your life, then I think her words will speak to your heart.

(And also, I love this because Tsh and her family are preparing to embark on a journey very  much like ours, around the globe, with their three young kids in tow. They share that same love of travel, and I cannot wait to follow them as they take off on their own crazy, wonderful work trek.)

survival mode 3d

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

by Crystal Paine

For so many years I admired Crystal, but thought that she was somehow unlike me, with superhuman self-discipline, the ability to “do it all” and a God-given gift for waking up insanely early in the morning. I couldn’t understand how she was able to do so many good and important things, and still have energy and time left to play and read with her kids, go on dates with her husband, and spend time with friends and family.

In coming to know her personally over the past 4 years, I have learned that she is actually every bit as normal and human as I am, and has even had her own seasons of burnout.

Thankfully she is a far faster learner than I am, and she came out on the other side with a better understanding of herself, and the realization that she could achieve her goals and do the things that mattered most to her by living a simple, organized, disciplined life, with healthy doses of self-care (and sleep!), saying no often, using her time wisely, and really knowing who she was and what she was made for.

It’s not that she “does it all” (such a fallacy… none of us do). Far from it. It’s that she knows what matters to her, and how to organize her time and life in a way that allows her to joyfully be the best HER that she can be.

She challenges me to be more intentional, to get more sleep (amen, hallelujah), to use my strengths, to say no without guilt, and to be who God made me to be. If you’re struggling with feeling overwhelmed, tired, and stressed, I bet her book will do the same for you.

a million little ways cover

A Million Little Ways

by Emily Freeman

I had somehow missed hearing about Emily’s new book while I was traveling, and was pleasantly surprised to find it waiting for me when I returned. Emily is a sweet soul, and a dear friend, and I was excited to read her words, whatever they were about.

I started reading the book the weekend I flew to New York to speak at a conference. That sounds really classy and fancy and professional or something. But did I mention I was terrified? And a totally stress case over it?

Late one night, awake with jet-lag induced insomnia in my hotel room, I was reading her words about the art that resides in each one of us. The beauty that God placed in us, each one unique, each one with something special to offer to the world, and how in a million little ways, we display His glory and handiwork.

I didn’t stop being nervous about my speaking gig. But I did take courage. I was grateful for the reminder that deep inside me was something that I was meant to share, in my own way, my own voice, with my own gifts.

For some reason, that particular weekend, it included standing in front of a room of women, trying to steady my breath, calm my voice and slow my heart while I was center stage for 50 minutes. Which sounded really awful to me. But I also knew deep in my heart that God had a purpose for it, and this was just a little piece of His art that was supposed to come out of me.

Who would have thought that encouraging women to eat and live better little by little, and steward what they’ve been given, and trust it all in God’s hands was art?? And yet it is. And it was.

And so are all of the little things we do, day after day, that honor the magnificence with how He made each one of His children. How we lovingly cook and present a meal for our family, how we listen thoughtfully to a friend, how we smile at another mom in the grocery store with a child in full tantrum mode, how we sew a blanket for that new baby, how we pray and write letters to children halfway around the world.

Art. All of it.

So says Emily. And I think she’s right.

What good books have you read lately?

Disclosure: The links to the books are my Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for your support of this site.