Mother Earth Living

Top 33 Natural Home Tips of the Decade

These natural home suggestions have stood the test of time. Keep you natural home clean, energy-efficient and healthy by following these top 33 tips.
By Natural Home Staff
May/June 2009
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• To deodorize carpet naturally, sprinkle liberally with baking soda. (It should look as though it’s snowed.) Wait 15 minutes or longer, then vacuum.
September/October 1999 

• Use baking soda to clean your tub and bathroom tiles. A cut lemon will remove stains.
March/April 2000

• To keep clothesline-dried clothes soft and fluffy, mix 1 cup of glycerin (available at your local natural products store) with 1 gallon of water. Add ½ cup of this mixture to the wash or rinse cycle.
May/June 2000

• One-half cup of borax dissolved in 1 gallon of hot water makes an effective, germ-killing disinfectant.
September/October 2000

• Plant leafy trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units; shade can mean a 10 percent reduction in the amount of electricity an AC unit uses.
May/June 2001

• Place a bucket in the shower to collect warm-up water and shower water. Use it to water your plants and compost pile.
May/June 2001

• Removable mattress toppers let consumers on smaller budgets achieve some of the benefits of a natural bed. Wool-stuffed, naturally covered mattress toppers range from $200 to $500, compared to about $1,300 for a full-size natural mattress.
September/October 2001

• Ceiling fans can save up to 40 percent on summer energy bills and up to 10 percent in winter. Set fans at reverse on low speed in winter—this pushes trapped heat near the ceiling down to where you can feel it.
January/February 2002

• Whether you have air conditioning or not, grow native plants on the east and west sides of your house to block the sun and keep it cooler.
September/October 2002

• To fluff up organic cotton towels (which don’t have the harsh chemicals that add bounce to traditional cotton), fill your washing machine with hot water, then add a detergent that contains washing soda (sodium carbonate) and 1 cup of cider or white vinegar. Soak for one hour, then wash in the same water.
September/October 2002

• To clean stainless steel, dip a cloth in vinegar and sprinkle it with baking soda. Rub gently, then rinse. Polish dry with a soft cloth.
May/June 2003

• When you can’t avoid bringing plastic into your home, you can force it to outgas before it comes in contact with food and other items. Soak the container in baking soda and water, rinse, then set in the sun for a day or two. Store in a cool area; the colder it is, the less it will outgas.
May/June 2003

• Keep pot lids on tightly while cooking; trapping the heat lets you lower burner temperature and reduce cooking time, using less energy.
July/August 2004

• To clean carpets without harsh chemicals, rent a carpet shampoo machine but don’t buy the shampoo. Flush the machine with clean water to get rid of shampoo residue. Add a cup or two of borax to the hot water.
July/August 2004

• To clean your oven without toxic chemicals, cover the bottom with a ¼-inch-thick layer of baking soda. Spritz water on the baking soda until it’s thoroughly damp but not flooded. Dampen again every few hours throughout the day and leave overnight. In the morning, wipe out the baking soda with a sponge—all the grime will come off, too.
July/August 2004

• Rub celery on cutting boards to absorb odors.
March/April 2005

• Even when they’re not running, most appliances today are on some form of “standby” mode. Unplug them when they’re not in use. Connect several to a power strip to easily shut down many at a time.
May/June 2005

• Costume jewelry bracelets, which are plentiful at thrift shops, make great shower curtain rings.
March/April 2006

• Salt scours cast-iron pans without removing the seasoned finish.
March/April 2006

• To get a slow sink moving, pour ¼ cup baking soda down the drain followed by ½ cup vinegar. Cover the drain tightly until bubbling stops and flush with a gallon of boiling water.
July/August 2006

• Put a milk jug full of water or pebbles in your toilet tank to save water with each flush.
January/February 2007

• If your house is drafty, caulk cracks around windows and doors. If you have stagnant air, the simplest solution is to open a window. Mechanical air exchangers also can bring in fresh air, especially in tightly insulated homes.
January/February 2007

• Increase your home’s energy efficiency by installing insulated shades to keep in heat on winter nights and keep sun out in summer.
January/February 2008

• Most herbs grow happily under a compact fluorescent bulb placed about a foot above the plants.
January/February 2008

• Take your shoes off when you enter your home. Shoes track traces of dirt, dust and other toxins into the house, which leads to poorer air quality and more vacuuming and cleaning.
May/June 2008

• Simply removing a little-used table or clearing away clutter can completely change a room. Evaluate each piece of furniture in the room. Is it functional? Does it serve the room’s purpose? If not, donate it or repurpose it elsewhere.
May/June 2008

• Keeping your fridge and freezer well-stocked (even with ice packs) means the compressor cycles less often. It’s easier to chill food than the air surrounding it.
May/June 2008

• A galvanized metal roof painted white can reflect enough of the sun’s rays to save about 20 percent annually on cooling costs.
July/August 2008

• Place something you love—a painting, a photograph or a window with a great view—across from your bed so that you see it when you first open your eyes in the morning.
November/December 2008

• Get an energy audit, which highlights specific areas of your house that are negatively affecting efficiency and costing you money. Some utilities will assess your home for free or a small charge. Typically, energy inspectors offer onsite visits for $200 to $400.
November/December 2008

• Place a blanket under your bed’s bottom sheet, for added warmth in winter.
January/February 2009

• Putting lights on a dimmer switch saves energy and helps bulbs last longer. Dimming the voltage by just 10 percent can double a bulb’s life.
January/February 2009

• Grass is a heavy consumer of labor, money and chemicals. Start trimming down grassy spaces by growing native plants, evergreens or shrubs and adding rock features or other water-free landscaping.
January/February 2009

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