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Simple Bathroom Cleaning Guide

You don’t need caustic chemicals and piles of cleaners to effectively clean your bathroom. This simple bathroom cleaning guide will show you how to clean your whole bathroom with safe, sustainable cleaners. The best part? You can have the room clean, top to bottom, in 15 minutes or less.

Bleach, ammonia, and other harsh chemicals are damaging to the environment and you. Bleach can burn your lungs and your skin as you clean. Other cleaners are full of chemicals that are known to cause reproductive or developmental problems and cancer. Most companies do not put their full list of ingredients on the label.

There aren’t laws that require cleaning products to be tested for health or environmental safety. These toxic chemicals not only leave behind residue in your home, they are washed down the drain where they cannot be pulled out by most water treatments. Instead, they end up in our waterways.

While you can look up the safety of your products here, the homemade cleaners and castile soap I recommend here are safe for you and for the environment. They also work just as well (if not better) as what you can find on the store shelves.

Simple Bathroom Cleaning Guide-Simple-bathroom-Cleaning-Guide-minimalist-cleaning-natural-non-toxic-sustainable-environmentally-friendly

What You Need

Microfiber Cloth
These things are pure magic. While I wish they were made from natural materials, I think their longevity and their cleaning power more than make up for it. I was gifted some of my mom’s microfiber cloths when I went to college, and they are still going strong. My mom still uses the same ones she bought more than 10 years ago.

Microfiber cloths can be used for just about anything. They won’t scratch the surface or leave behind lint. I use them to remove hard water, clean the glass shower doors, and just about everything else. I use microfiber cloths for their scrubbing power and their antimicrobial properties. They can cut through thick soap scum better than most cleaners.

If you are really against microfiber, feel free to use a cloth towel or any rag, but be prepared to put more muscle into it.

Toilet Brush
The one you have is the best one to use. If you are looking for a new one, consider going for sustainable materials (like this one) or one where you can just replace the head of the brush (like this).

Castile Soap
I use liquid for convenience, but you can also use a bar. It is a safe, non-toxic cleaner, and I swear it cleans better than most conventional cleaners on the market. You don’t need bleach to safely clean your bathroom.

Small Towel
An old kitchen towel, t-shirt, or just about any other absorbent rag will work. You just need something to dry the top of the counter and any fixtures.

Reusable Gloves
Totally optional, but I use an old pair of dish gloves. I bought thick gloves that last really well. They are years old at this point and still work great.

Simple Bathroom Cleaning Guide: Mirrors/Glass

What you need:
– Warm water
– Microfiber cloth
– Small towel

All you need is water to get a streak-free mirror. Simply wet the microfiber cloth in hot or warm water and wring it out until it’s mostly dry. Wipe down the mirror or glass surface, and dry it quickly with another microfiber cloth or a small rag towel. The microfiber cloth works great for cleaning the glass because it doesn’t hold too much water or leave lint behind. However, if you are trying to stick to only natural fibers, a cotton cloth would work just fine.

Bathroom Sink and Tub

What you need:
– Liquid or solid castile soap
– Microfiber cloth
– Optional: small towel to dry

A half teaspoon or so of castile soap will do the whole sink. Wet the rag and squirt your castile soap straight into the plugged sink or onto the rag. Scrub and then rinse down the rag and the sink.

For the tub or shower, wet the surface slightly before squirting some castile soap into the bottom. I usually use as little as possible (about a teaspoon full) and squirt more if I need it. Then scrub the tub with the soap and the moist microfiber cloth.

I rarely, if ever, need anything other than the microfiber cloth and the castile soap, but if you have soap scum or mildew that just won’t budge, you can shake a little baking soda on the surface. It will not only help physically scrub the surface, but it will help break up the soap scum.

Toilet

What you need:
– Liquid or solid castile soap
– Microfiber cloth
– Toilet brush

Squirt a little bit of castile soap (less than a teaspoon) into the toilet bowl and scrub down the insides with the brush. When you are done, use the damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the toilet. Start with the seat, then wipe down the rim to the floor.

The castile soap will take away water marks, mildew, and discoloration. You might have to scrub a little harder if it’s really on there or let it the castile soap sit for a bit after you scrub some to get it all off.

Floor

What you need:
– Microfiber cloth
Homemade floor cleaner

Start with a damp rag and spray down the floor as you clean it with the floor cleaner. I like to work my way towards to the toilet (cleanest to dirtiest), but if that’s not possible, work your way out to the doorway.

Order of Operations

Before you get down and dirty, you need a game plan. I safely and effectively clean my whole bathroom with one or two rags with this method.

1. Mirror. Use a fresh microfiber cloth and clean your mirror.

2. Sink. Use the same rag and some castile soap to clean the sink.

3. Tub. Once the sink is wiped down and the rag is rinsed out, move on to the tub.

4. Toilet. As the dirtiest thing in your bathroom, this gets the last cleaning. When you are done, so is the rag. Do not use the rag again after wiping down the toilet.

5. Floor. New rag! If I am tag teaming the bathroom cleaning, the person who cleans the sink usually does the floor with the same rag while the other person washes the tub and toilet.

6 DIY Cleaning Recipes

I’m in a huge cleaning mode right now. There’s something about the warm weather that makes me want to open all of the windows and scrub until it shines.

While I’m one of those people who enjoys cleaning (I’m a sucker for instant satisfaction), I can’t stand excessive scrubbing or time wasted. I’m very conscious of the chemicals that I bring into my house. The cleaning products we use end up rinsed down the drain and flushed into our oceans, bays, and rivers. Sewage treatment plants cannot pull the bleach and other caustic chemicals out of the waste water before it is discharged into the environment.

All of these DIY cleaning recipes are effective and safe for you and the environment. They will help you clean your home from top to bottom!

DIY Cleaning Recipes

5 DIY Cleaning Recipes

Homemade Stain Remover
Remove tough stains from your laundry, carpet, and upholstery with this two-ingredient recipe.

DIY Castile Laundry Soap
Use your food processor and have six months of laundry soap done in five minutes. If only you could do the laundry the fast.

Hardwood Floor Cleaner
All you need is this easy spray and a microfiber cloth to make this effective hardwood floor cleaner. The cleaner removes dirt and grime without harming the finish of the wood. You can use any flat mop or even re-use an old Swiffer mop.

Homemade All-Purpose Spray
From counters to sinks, this cleaner cuts grime just about anywhere. I mostly use it for sticky bits on the counter and tough grease on the cabinets and stove-top. It’s also great to disinfect the counters before making jam or rolling out cookie dough on them.

Castile Soap Toilet Bowl Cleaner
There isn’t much, if anything that I won’t clean with castile soap. A teaspoon or two is plenty to clean even the dirtiest toilet. You can clean the whole bathroom with it! For a sparkling toilet, squirt a teaspoon or so of castile soap into the bowl before scrubbing with a brush.

Smelly Shoe Spray
Goodbye, stinky shoes! Beat the feet smell with this easy spray. Use it after each wear to keep your shoes and feet fresh.

Related:

Paper towel alternatives

Cheap and effective dorm cleaning

Do you know what’s in your cleaner?

Homemade Stain Remover

Life is messy. I am messy. My roommates are really messy. Needless to say this homemade stain remover gets used frequently. From removing the tomato sauce I exploded on my favorite light purple sweatshirt while cooking to pure mud from hiking to the chocolate my roommates ground into the cloth napkins, I have had my fair share of tough stains.

This homemade stain remover is powerful without all of the nasty chemicals. It also won’t bleach or discolor your clothes.

Homemade Castile Soap Stain Remover

Homemade Stain Remover Ingredients

2-5 teaspoons liquid castile soap
1-2 cups of water

I love simplicity, and the two ingredients in this stain remover certainly fit the bill. Castile soap is heavily concentrated. When diluted with water, the soap is easy to apply without overdoing it. I make my homemade stain remover in a small spray bottle so its always on hand and easy to use.

To be fair, I don’t usually measure my ingredients when I make this castile soap stain remover. Typically I squirt some of the soap into the spray bottle and add water. If it’s too much soap (I base it off the color of the stain remover and how sudsy it comes out) I add more water once there’s room. Not working as hoped? I add a little more soap. It doesn’t take much to create a powerful stain remover, so err on the side of less soap to begin with.

Best Uses for Homemade Stain remover

I have some pet peeves and some constantly-dirty items. Here’s my list of all of the things that get a thorough spray before hitting the wash:

1. Not so white socks (AKA the reminder to mop more often)
2. Grimy sleeves – sweatshirts are my worst offenders. I blame the gym.
3. Sunscreen marks
4. Armpits and collars of white shirts
5. Food stains
6. Dirt, grass, life stains
7. Blood stains
8. Light colored sports bras (they get a general all over spritz to keep them looking bright and clean)
9. My workout shirts – where I wipe my sweaty face and anywhere that spent time on the floor (sit ups anyone?) to get out the extra oils and dirt
10. Makeup marks (not common for me, but the stain spray has taken it out in the past!)

DIY Shea Butter and Coconut Oil Body Butter

I have been making my own body butter for years, and my skin has never been happier. This shea butter and coconut oil body butter recipe only has two ingredients, and it’s so versatile! I put it on after I shower on my whole body, my hands and feet before bed, and on my the back of my hands throughout the day. It soaks in fast, and it leaves my skin feeling moisturized all day.

homemade shea butter and coconut oil body butter-homemade-shea-butter-and-coconut-oil-body-butter

Body Butter Ingredients

1/2 cup fair trade shea butter
1/2 cup organic, unrefined (also called virgin) coconut oil

I tend to do a straight 1:1 ratio on my body butter, but you can use more coconut oil for a lighter, faster absorbing oil or more shea butter for a richer, more moisturizing oil. In the winter I add a touch more shea butter.

You can also add a couple drops of essential oils for a nice scent. I don’t typically do this, mostly because I like the simplicity of the body butter as it is. Without essential oils, the body butter has no scent once it is rubbed in and absorbed.

homemade shea butter and coconut oil body butter-homemade-shea-butter-coconut-oil-body-butter-ingredients

How to Make It

Melt the shea butter and coconut oil together in a microwave safe container. Typically one to three minutes is plenty to get them completely melted. Stir the oil together to make sure they are mixed well. Pour it into a container and let harden on your counter or in the fridge.

How to Use and Store Your Body Butter

Scoop out the body butter and apply like you would lotion. A little goes a long way, so be sure to start with less than you think you might need. I typically apply it when I get out of the shower, and by the time I’m done drying the shower it is soaked in enough for me to get dressed.

If you feel like it’s not soaking in fast enough, you can try using less or reheat it and add a bit more coconut oil. I also highly recommend slathering your feet and putting on a pair of junky socks for 10 minutes or so if you plan on putting it on before bed. This protects your sheets and makes sure your feet get all the goodies.

homemade shea butter and coconut oil body butter

In the summer or warm temperatures, the butter will melt a bit. You can absolutely use it like this, or store it somewhere cooler. I don’t recommend the fridge, however, or you will be trying to cut it like cold butter before giving yourself a bit of a cold-lotion-torture-treatment. If it separates a bit, simply give it a stir.

Since you are dipping your fingers in and out of the jar, be sure to wash your hands first. If you don’t use it frequently I would recommend making a smaller batch so you don’t have to worry about it going bad. However, the coconut oil, a natural antibacterial, should keep the butter pretty stable and safe for a while. I make myself a new batch when I run out every couple of months.

Want it to be more of a lotion? This whipped body butter works great and can be pumped out of an old lotion bottle.

Why You Should Read Skin Cleanse Right Now

I haven’t stopped talking or thinking about Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin since I started reading it a few weeks ago. I have long been looking to my diet to clear my skin and help me heal, but never quite like this.

While Skin Cleanse focuses on curing skin aliments with what you put in your body and on it, I took so much more than that from it.

Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin-skin-cleanse-march-april-reads

Skin Cleanse Takeaways

Food heals.
What we eat matters. Before you ‘duh!’ me, hear me out. From the macronutrients we live off of to the micronutrients that feed our cells, each thing we eat and the things it’s made out of make a difference. We so often break down our foods into “carbs,” “fruits and vegetables,” “fats,” and “proteins,” but do we ever stop to consider how much vitamin D we are eating or what sources of folate we added to our diet today? After reading Skin Cleanse I am much more aware of the micronutrients I need and finding whole food sources to get them.

Less is more.
Whether it’s what I slather on my skin and hair or eat, less is almost always better. Simple ingredients and routines will do just as well, if not better, than the 10 step morning skin regimen.

Variety matters.
It’s so easy for me to fall into eating the same things every day. Toast or oatmeal for breakfast. Carb-rich leftovers for lunch. Rice and vegetables for dinner. The same foods rotate through my week constantly depending on the season. Same goes for skin. What works in the winter might not be what’s best in the summer.

calafia cafe buddha bowl-skin-cleanse skin cleanse

Your body knows what it wants.
Adina Grigore really hit this point hard, and I appreciated it. Your body knows what it needs. It’s up to us to pay attention and figure it out.

Listen more closely.
Stop being in denial. It’s so easy to ignore what our bodies tell us, but if we actually take the time to listen we can take control of our health. I am a firm believer that we have the tools we need to improve our health, we just have to tap into our bodies’ feedback.

You’re in control.
From acne to lingering fatigue to frequent headaches, what’s happening to our bodies can feel completely, overwhelmingly, out of control. The frustration can be extreme, as can the feeling of helplessness. Endless trips to specialists and prodding tests often lead to fewer answers and more confusion in my experience. Every time I end up in and out of the doctor’s office I am reminded that no one knows my body like I do. While I may not be able to tell you the exact chemical reaction or cellular function of what’s happening in my body, I can certainly tell you how I feel and what seems to make it better or worse.

And that knowledge is powerful! I am so thankful every time one of my doctors tells me how I can improve my health. Whether it’s tips on things to avoid or eat or a not so subtle reminder to relax and reduce my stress, sometimes we need to be reminded that so much of our health and wellness is within our control.

Balance is key.
A clean diet is important. Enough is sleep is paramount. But making room for the things that bring you happiness and joy is vital. Skin Cleanse, while pushing me to eat better and take care of my body with better nutrition, also made me more aware of where things were out of balance in my life. Feeling guilty over eating a serving of ice cream isn’t healthy, but neither is binging on the entire pint.

Beauty products are hiding in your kitchen.
I can’t wait to dig into some of her recipes and slather myself in magical, homemade creations.

Doing it right.
Sure, there are things I hope to change, but there are also so many things I am doing right. Pat yourself on the back for eating healthy fats, getting enough sleep, and chugging water like a champ.

What I changed after reading Skin Cleanse

Wash my face with water.
I started washing my face in the morning with just water per Adina’s advice, and was surprised by how great it works. The queen of less, the constant advocate of ‘simple is better’ somehow completely forgot to think about how people washed their faces for thousands of years.

Try new foods and mix it up.
Most people would not describe me as ‘adventurous,’ but I am approaching what I eat with a greater sense of wonder and exploration. I’m looking forward to trying new foods and coming back to some of the things I’ve written off before. I also want to break my habit of always eating the same couple of things, but not at the expense of extra stress and time.

Food journal for two weeks
The word food journal makes my skin crawl, but what Adina outlines in Skin Cleanse is unlike any food journal I’ve read about before. There’s no measuring. There’s no calculating calories or serving sizes or macronutrients or grams. I tracked how I felt when I woke up and during the day. For her recommended two weeks I generally tracked the things I ate and how much water I drank. I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know or have a hunch about, but putting in writing “I feel nauseated after eating dairy” is powerful. It’s a lot harder to justify eating a hunk of cheese when I know that in an hour I won’t feel well. Ditto for sugar jackpots.

I’m an experiment.
I get frustrated when I try “cure” after “cure” only to end up no better or worse. Instead of treating each new thing I try as an end all, be all, I’m going to take a cue from Tim Ferriss and treat myself like a walking experiment. I’m taking out the investment I often feel that this new thing has to make it better. I’m substituting amazement and curiosity instead of pressure and desperation.

No more denial.
This has two meanings for me. The first is ignoring my body’s feedback. My food journal was a great reminder of how often I eat things that don’t really nourish my body. It also opened my eyes to how frequently I eat things that I don’t really like or that don’t make me feel very well. Second, food should certainly nourish and heal, but it should also bring joy and contentment. Denying myself a cupcake because sugar is bad for my body and feeling like I am suffering or in a constant state of want isn’t good either.

Best eclair in Menorca, Spain

Sugar awareness.
I know, I know, sugar is the devil’s work. Our bodies respond to it like cocaine. I hear you. While I will certainly curb my intake, I am not going on an anti-sugar crusade. A treat every once in a while is part of my balanced, healthy life. Sugar after every meal or even each day, less so.

All.the.vegetables.
The more vegetables, the more micronutrients. Count me in for more. I’m on a mission to massively increase my intake. I even put some spinach in a smoothie, despite being adamant that there should be a strong divide between fruits and vegetables. I also am swapping out my go-to snack of potato chips for crunchy veggies.

More:
My minimalist skincare routine
Safe and effective mineral sunscreens
My love of face oil

March and April Reads

The books I read in April were inspiring. They left me feeling excited to make some changes in my life and they refueled my creative energy.

March on the other hand was a little different. It was a slow reading month for me. Life got busy and density of How to be Alive was like trying to run through water. I didn’t post anything last month because I barely finished two books. And I wasn’t jazzed up about them at the time.

March and April Reads

Let’s start with the ones I just can’t wait to tell you about.

Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin-skin-cleanse-march-april-reads

Skin Cleanse
Well worthy of its own (upcoming) post, skin cleanse has motivated me like few other books have. And it’s not just me. I spent hours this week talking about it with friends and my family. I have made my own beauty products for a while now and I have long know about the harmful chemicals often put in cosmetics, but more than anything this book reminded me that what I eat is even more important than what I put on my skin. In an effort to heal faster and make my skin happier, I am launching a major fruit a vegetable focus after reading this book. More soon, but you should read it while you wait.

March and April Reads: Meanwhile in San Francisco-Meanwhile-in-San-Francisco

Meanwhile in San Francisco
I fell so hard for this book. I was giddy while reading it and feeling completely inspired to draw and create and explore what I’m capable of. Wendy MacNaughton spent time in the places she featured, and her immersive experience inspired me to be less afraid of talking to people and getting in there. You’ll want to pull out your water colors after this one. And explore the city a bit more.

Fates and Furies
I’m not sure this one was worth the hype. Maybe it’s that I’ve been in a bit of a non-fiction groove and this just didn’t fit in, but I didn’t love it. Overall, it was weird. I struggled to connect with the characters and their lives felt too unreal for me to get behind the stories. It was a strong “eh” for me.

How to be Alive
I was so stoked about this book for the first 50 pages. I had so many “yes!” moments. But overall it was dense. I started to feel like it was too repetitive, and I lost steam. Would I recommend it? I’m on the fence. I love the main principles and I learned some great things, but overall it was a bit of a struggle and I’m not sure I would suggest someone else do the same.

Here are some of the quotes that stood out to me the most:

“Thinking that careers and jobs are the only way to security and meaning and helping the world is another of those standard life approaches we need to move away from.”

“To not live in line with my values is the real sacrifice.”

“No one else’s path will fit your life.” Read it again. Really.

And the main purpose of the book: “Learning to trust and apply the principle of being guided by values, passions, and concerns in all manner of life decisions is the central theme of the book.”

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
While I don’t have any plans for longterm travel right now, I really enjoyed imaging it and understanding how people make it happen. This was a helpful tool for me for planning future adventures. Worth a perusal – especially the specific sections for countries/areas you are interested in visiting.

How to clean mold with lemon

Mold can be so much more than a pesky problem in your shower. Mold spores are naturally found in both outdoor and indoor air, but they become problematic when they start to grow in our homes. In high concentrations, mold spores are considered indoor air pollutants. They can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, eye irritation, and even more severe reactions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children exposed to mold during infancy have a much higher risk of developing asthma.

how to clean mold with lemon

When faced with mold, many of us reach for a disinfectant like bleach. But there may be safer, and more effective, alternatives to the standby.

In a recent article on Rodale’s Organic Life, I pit bleach against lemons to see which comes out on top. From the pros and cons of bleach and lemon to permanent mold removal tips, I got the dirt on mold removal. Learn how to clean mold with lemons in the full article here.

What's the better mold cleaner: Lemon or Bleach?

10 Super Creative Easter Egg Decorations

It’s not too late to spruce up in time for Easter. I dug into the Internet (and took an hour detour into Pinterest) to find the best sustainable Easter egg decorations. From white paint pens to incredible egg shell succulent planters, there’s something for every spring celebration. Check out all 10 in my story for Rodale’s Organic Life.

10 super creative easter egg decorations