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Simple Ways to Clean With Essential OilsEver enter a “freshly cleaned” restroom and felt your nose turn up a bit to the smell of bleach? It’s not an uncommon occurrence. Many harsh chemicals are used in commonly used cleaners, and many of them are harmful to your health and the environment.

When you clean with essential oils, you are choosing a less-toxic and more environmentally friendly alternative to brand-name cleaners. You can clean any surface or room in your home simply by mixing essential oils with other green ingredients from your pantry.

What Is Green and Already in Your Pantry?

These green ingredients may be what you usually use to cook with or include in your food. They also make strong, natural non-toxic cleaning agents. Baking soda creates a scrub for surfaces to lighten and remove stains, to deodorize and soften water. Washing soda is like baking soda, but it’s not edible and is thought to be more powerful.

White vinegar removes grease, odors, mildew, wax and stubborn stains. Unscented cooking oil makes for a great wood cleaner. Castile soap is a biodegradable option you may use to clean nearly anything. These ingredients are waiting to become your favorite cleaner.

What Are Essential Oils and Are They Safe?

Essential oils are the natural oils taken from a plant through distillation or other extraction processes. The fragrance and properties of the plant are maintained, without artificial additives.

You may have heard essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin without a carrier oil, which is true because of their high concentrations of plant constituents. They are powerful and often mixed with other ingredients to heal or soothe the body and even clean your home. When combined with essential oils, powerful green cleaners that smell amazing are the result.

Green Cleaning: Where Pantry Ingredients and Essential Oils Combine

It seems like a lot of work to mix ingredients together just to make a spray or scrub, instead of buying a bottle. However, the following recipes are a start to green cleaning that could save you money and better support your health.

4 Simple Ways to Clean With Essential Oils1. Cleaning Wood and Stainless Steel Surfaces

Wood grain is so beautiful and important to protect over time. Use this olive oil and lemon homemade wood polish to moisturize, clean and enhance the grain of the wood surface. You’ll need:

Pour olive oil and lemon essential oil into the spray bottle and mix by shaking it. Alternatively, mix the ingredients in a small bowl. Apply the mixture to a clean cloth and wipe down the wood surface. After five minutes, go over and smooth out the wood with a soft cloth.

What do you do for non-wood surfaces, like metal? Use this stainless steel surface cleaner to get the job done. You’ll need:

  • 2 cups of medium chain triglyceride oil, also known as liquid coconut oil
  • 70 drops of lemon essential oil, or half of a 15-ml bottle
  • 16-oz. spray bottle

Combine MCT oil and lemon essential oil in the spray bottle. Shake, spray lightly and buff for a streak-free stainless steel surface.

2. Cleaning the Carpet

How do you use essential oils to clean tough carpet stains? Try this green carpet cleaner and deodorizer. You’ll need:

Mix ingredients in a mason jar. Cap the jar and shake it. Replace the inner lid with punctured construction paper, so that the cleaner will spread evenly when applying. Shake liberally over the carpet. Wait one to two hours before vacuuming.

3. Cleaning the Drains

There’s no way essential oils and pantry ingredients could clean out your drains, right? Reconsider that by using this natural drain cleaner, un-clogger and deodorizer. You’ll need:

  • Wire coat hanger
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • Several drops of lemon essential oil
  • 1 ½ cups vinegar

With some elbow grease, attempt to poke the wire coat hanger down the drain to unclog it. Pour the baking soda down the drain. Add several drops of lemon essential oil, which will also help neutralize the odor. Finally, add the vinegar. It will fizz. Cover the reaction with a small plate or bowl to focus it downward. Wait for thirty minutes before flushing the solution with warm water.

4. Cleaning the Oven

Use this DIY oven cleaner to get rid of tarred, greasy oven stains. You’ll need:

  • 1 ½ cups baking soda
  • ½ cup sea salt
  • ½ cup washing soda, with filtered water to form a paste
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil
  • 10 drops melaleuca essential oil

Turn your oven to the lowest setting, and once it has preheated, turn it off. You’ll be leaving this paste inside of the oven overnight.

First, combine baking soda, washing soda and sea salt in a small bowl, mixing thoroughly. Insert drops of lemon and melaleuca essential oils. Then add the white vinegar, which will fizz. Finally, mix in the filtered water until a paste forms. Don’t make it too thick.

Apply the past to the sides of the oven. Leave the paste overnight, and scrub it off in the morning with warm water. No more gross oven!

Combining pantry ingredients with essential oils is a healthy and cost-saving way to clean your house. It provides a lower impact on the environment.

Hopefully, these green cleaning recipes will be a great start for your essential oils cleaning journey. Do you have other recipes or green cleaning hacks to recommend?

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Easy Tips to Save Big Money on Your Energy Bill: High and low-tech ways to save energy, money, and time.Choosing to be more energy efficient is a great way to improve the comfort of your home, save money, and do something good for the environment. Here are some easy tips that you can implement to help cut your bills, while making your daily life simpler, so that you can spend more time doing the things you love!

Find & Fix Energy Leaks

From vampire energy usage to leaky windowsills, these little energy leaks can really add up to big dollars annually. Every item you fix helps, so check out this list to get you started.

  • Seal leaks around windows & doors with caulk or weather stripping
  • Fix doors & windows that don’t close properly
  • Check for gaps around plumbing, outlets (simple foam gaskets can do the trick), and anything else fixed to exterior walls
  • Fix leaky faucets that could increase hot water usage
  • Insulate older water heaters to help retain temperatures with less energy usage.

Choose Hands-Free Lighting

For anyone who has ever paid an energy bill it’s easy to remember to turn off a light when you leave a room, but for those who haven’t… well, let’s just say that I can’t count the number of times I’ve turned off a few lights after my kids have left for school.

One helpful tool is automation. The Iris by Lowe’s smart home system installs in minutes and offers an abundance of tools to help automate your home ¬– saving you both time and energy. Pair the hub with motion sensors, smart plugs, or even LED bulbs and you’re set. You can automate your lighting to maximize your energy savings!

Another fun tip is to utilize automatic night-lights. My favorite option is by SnapPower. They won’t clog up your outlets because they are the outlet plate! Simply remove your existing plates and snap on the Guidelights, replace the screws, and that’s it. The Guidelights detect when it’s dark and automatically turn on their LED light that costs only pennies a year to run. We love them and I plan to install them in all of our bathrooms and hallways once we get to that portion of our home renovation.

Lastly, switch to LED lighting. CFLs came in with a bang some years back, but the dangers hidden in these bulbs began making a stir almost as quickly. LED bulbs may cost more upfront, but unlike CFLs (as we’ve all learned) LEDs really do last!

Use Off-Peak Hours to Your Advantage

Electricity companies generally offer lower rates (or credits) in off-peak hours and higher rates during peak hours. To help save money, try limiting usage during peak hours and running things like air purifiers, the dishwasher, dryer, etc. during off-peak hours. These vary by company and season, so check with your provider, but the hours between 8PM and 6AM are generally a safe bet.

Additionally, run full dishwasher and washing machines and consider washing laundry with cold water to help save even more!

Install a Programmable Thermostat

The ability to program your home’s heating and cooling schedule is a must for maximizing energy savings. According to Energy.gov, you can substantially lower energy bill simply by setting your thermostat to 68°F during wakeful hours, and setting it back a few degrees while you sleep, are away at work, or more while you are away on vacation. In the warmer months, you can follow similar rules by setting the temperature to 78°F during the hours that you are home, and higher when you are away for any measurable time.

A programmable thermostat ensures that you can set it and forget it. Many of these systems are also compatible with the Iris by Lowe’s smart home system that was discussed in the Hand-Free Lighting section above. While most Wi-Fi thermostats offer an app, it’s clunky to have to deal with multiple programs so Iris helps reduce the clutter and confusion by working with multiple devices seamlessly.

Also remember that using less energy during peak hours can help you save big, so if you won’t be home consider setting your thermostat accordingly. A programmable thermostat can make all of this a breeze!

Make Fans & Windows Work for You

Set the direction of your ceiling fans to work with your heating and cooling system. Set the fan to a counter-clockwise motion for summer months to help keep cooler air down, and use a low-speed clockwise motion in winter months to gently circulate air upwards and throughout the room without a “cooling” effect.

Not only can opening a window help you take advantage of moderate temperatures but it also helps greatly improve indoor air quality, especially during a home renovation. Give it a try on cool mornings in the summer and warm afternoons in cooler months to welcome fresh air into your home.

Lastly, draw curtains on hot days to work with Mother Nature instead of against her. I love a light and open home, so I know how tempting it can be to let the light flood in, but it can also cause your air conditioner to work harder on especially hot days.

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Iris Smart Home System by Lowe's { Giveaway! }Renovating a home (DIY style) is not for the faint of heart, but we’re managing it… just barely. It’s just one of the reasons you see me a little less here at the moment (I’m sorry, truly!). From planning to implementation, working and taking care of kids, keeping the air clean and making sure that we feel safe in the process, it’s been a lot to manage (as you might have imagined). One of the tools that we are using to help us with all of this is the Iris smart home system from Lowe’s.

Simply put, Iris is a smart home system created by Lowe’s. It’s simple to install (plug & play!) and helps you monitor entry-points on your home (and get alerts) from an easy-to-use app as well as automating lighting, door locks, and a whole lot more (energy savings!). It’s a great system that provides all of the bells and whistles without the overhead expenses of a company security system.

We absolutely love how simple this system is to install and how, once set up, there’s really nothing you have to think about on a daily basis. It just works, which is why I am so delighted to be bringing you a giveaway that I know you’re going to love! If you have any questions about the system, leave a comment below and I’ll do my very best to answer them for you.

One lucky winner will receive one smart hub and one home automation pack (which includes two contact sensors, one motion sensor, one smart plug and one smart button), a total value of $190 (US only)! This is the perfect starter kit to get you going, and you can easily and affordably pick up additional sensors at your local Lowe’s Home Improvement Store.

Enter using the form below and good luck!

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Iris Smart Home System by Lowe's { Giveaway! }

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Tips for Cleaner Air While Renovating Your HomeIf you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you might have noticed that we’re in the middle of totally remodeling our home… by ourselves. Yes, really.

It’s a long story, but basically my husband knows what he’s doing + we don’t like to pay for things to not be done to his standards *cough* perfectionist *cough* + we don’t really have the cash to do that anyway + we’re totally f’n nuts = we’ve been doing a total gut job on the house while living here. We started in September of last year and likely won’t be totally done until winter of this year… or early next year.

So when Honeywell Plugged In reached out to me about their air purifiers I all but pounced on them. With all of the renovation dirt and dust being kicked up, I knew that I wanted to find a way to minimize the impact on our indoor air quality. I’ve written before about tips for improving indoor air quality, but doing it during a home renovation is a whole other ball of wax.

I’ve put together a few tips that have helped us (so far) and hopefully they will help you too — and Honeywell has generously offered an air purifier for me to give away to one lucky reader as well, so be sure to check that out at the bottom of this post.

Contain It

While this is not the most earth friendly option, sealing off any rooms or construction areas with plastic sheeting will create an affordable, physical barrier between your construction zone and the rest of your living space. While it may not be fool-proof, it will greatly help. If the space you are working in has heating and cooling vents or cold air returns, you may also want to seal them off to prevent wider spread contamination.

Additionally, if you’re DIYing, you may be able to opt for dust catching versions of some of your tools. While going out and buying tools that you already own may not be cost effective, it may be worth considering tools with dust collectors if you need to buy or rent a tool anyway.

Keep It Clean

Renovations aren’t known for their cleanliness, but doing your best to clean up as you go can really help. Sure, it might take you a bit more time overall, but it will also keep you from kicking up excess dust and particles. While you’re at it, be sure to use non-toxic cleaners! That’s always important but it’s worth repeating.

If you have items in the space that you are unable to remove, cover them! Heavy sheets or junky blankets work well and will also help prevent damage from paint, stain, drywall mud, and many other renovation materials.

Use Air Purifiers

Dust is a mighty foe. No matter how hard we try to fight it, dust is there. Run air purifiers in the rooms you spend the most time in (bedrooms, living room, etc.) to minimize exposure.

The one I’ve been using is made by Honeywell and utilizes a HEPA filter to help capture 99.97% of microscopic allergens that pass through it. It also helps to effectively remove odors, VOCs (plenty of these during a renovation), and certain germs in rooms up to  465 square feet.

This particular purifier offers a timer feature so that you can turn it on and not forget to turn it off. Choose 2, 4, or 8 hours on three different cleaning settings plus turbo. I love to keep this filter in my room at night, so I also appreciate the addition of a light dimmer to turn off the panel lights while I sleep. If you’re a nightlight person it’d be perfect, but I am definitely not.

Replace Your HVAC Filter

A quality filter will fun you a bit more than standard filters, but a bump up in quality is worth it – especially during a renovation. Look for filters that remove allergens and be sure to check it more often than you normally would. You’ll have a lot more debris in the air than usual and you want to be sure that it’s allowing air through properly — both for cleaner air and a better running HVAC system.

Vacuum Often

A good vacuum is so important … and actually using it is everything during a renovation. I have a Dyson and absolutely adore it. I think I’ve had it for about 5 years now and I cannot imagine a world without it. It handles my kids, our shedding dog, and now this renovation. Totally worth its weight in gold.

Open the Windows

Good air flow can certainly help dilute the ick and move particles through. Be sure to only open them up when outside work isn’t kicking up extra debris though. Open windows while you’re backfilling will likely not yield the desired results. 😂

Choose Safe Finishes

Choosing Low/No VOC paints, flooring, glues, and sealants can make a huge impact on your indoor air quality during the renovation and for years to come. Thankfully these things have become much more common in recent years, with even some of the biggest stores and brands making it their standard!

Final Cleaning

Once the renovations are over and the dust has settled, give everything a thorough cleaning and strongly consider having your ducts clean to remove any debris that may have found its way into your system.

I hope these tips help you keep your home a bit healthier during your renovation – and I wish you the best of luck on a swift process. Like me, I’m sure you can’t wait to relax in your newly renovated (and hopefully calmer, cleaner) space.

~* Enter to win! *~

Honeywell Plugged In has generously offered to give away the same purifier that I have been using the past few months. I love it and I know that you will too! This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and if you must have one right away you can find it on their website or at a store near you 😊

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