Tiny Home Construction Workshop Part I: Aug. 8-9

Tiny Home Construction Workshop Part I: Aug. 8-9

Have you been daydreaming about having your very own tiny home, but aren't sure where to start? Learn all about materials, construction, different alt-energy systems and much more at Better Farm's Tiny Home Construction Workshop Part I during two days, Aug. 8 and 9.

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A Natural Remedy for Those Who Are Fed Up With Flies - Part One

A Natural Remedy for Those Who Are Fed Up With Flies - Part One

By Emily Lauzon, Better Farm Sustainability Student & Intern

Up here in the North Country, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of flies! You take a step outside and there they are ready to bite and it doesn’t stop there—you come in from a hard day's work only to find that houseflies have invaded your living space as well! After a while, the buzzing can drive even the most balanced person clinically insane. So in order to stop the madness I have employed the fallowing methods in fly eradication. I hope that these also work for you!

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Harvesting Rain: How to Collect Gallons of Water for Your Garden

Harvesting Rain: How to Collect Gallons of Water for Your Garden

Originally published by Martha Stewart Living

With just a few basic materials and a roofline, you can collect rainwater for garden irrigation. This gravity-fed system uses no pumps or electricity and can be installed in minutes. Dress up your rain barrel however you like for a real conversation piece!

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Four-Season Farming: Greenhouse-Chicken Synergy Experiment Underway

Chickens enjoy a warmer climate where they can still scratch on the ground, while the plants get a heated home in which to grow.
We've utilized cold frames, mulching and greenhouses in the past at Better Farm to extend the growing season for our produce; but have had yet to stumble upon something that would truly allow production to continue year-round for our use and the use of the people we serve.

A recent partnership between Redwood's food pantry, Hearts for Youth, the Redwood Neighborhood Association, and Better Farm utilizes Redwood's Community Greenhouse to cultivate food that will be donated to the food pantry for disbursement to those in need. That greenhouse was moved to Better Farm, where the people staying here have agreed to tend to the garden and provide daily care for the plants as they grow.
Community greenhouse.
But how to contribute year-round to the food pantry?

I began looking into ways to heat greenhouses year round and found a ton of information on heaters, solar panels, fans and insulation. But all potential solutions fell by the wayside when I discovered Anna Edey and her work on Martha's Vineyard with her Solviva Greenhouse.

A basic Solviva greenhouse design, as found at Backyard Chickens.
Anna, who has been an organic farming pioneer since founding her business, Solviva, in 1984. One of the most stunning project's she's worked on has been a combination greenhouse-chicken house, where chickens heat the space with their body heat and manure (which is composted along with hay). Rumor has it that on 0-degree days, Anna's greenhouse is a lovely 80 degrees.

Awed by this potential, I brainstormed ways to protect plants while keeping them in the greenhouse with chickens. There are a lot of added bonuses to this chicken-greenhouse setup besides the plants, of course. The chickens also enjoy a break from all the cold and wind, which will boost their egg production throughout the winter. Plus, all the bedding and compost will be perfect to shovel into the garden come spring.

To prep the greenhouse, a few things had to be done first. The outside of the structure had to be wrapped in chicken wire to prevent predators from simply scratching through the plastic:

A trap door was added next to the front door to allow birds access outside on manageable winter days (accomplished here without having to leave the main door open and potentially subjecting plants to a chill):
Plants (broccoli, radishes, peas, spinach, lettuce and beets) had to be covered with protective netting so plucky chickens wouldn't damage the produce:

And lastly, the birds needed a protected space to sleep and lay that even a weasle can't get into in the middle of the night:
All the materials we used for this project were upcycled scraps of chicken wire from the herb gardens, handles from a kitchen demolition project on Fishermans Rest Island, and plywood scraps leftover from a construction project in June. We pulled a ramp from one of the other chicken coops, moved the water dishes and food to the greenhouse, and began catching birds we found huddled up outside. They couldn't be happier to discover there are still some places with green grass:



The project is officially underway.  In the coming weeks we'll be tracking overall temperature in the greenhouse to determine whether the birds are able to produce enough heat, along with passive solar, to keep the greenhouse above 60 degrees all winter long. If early findings are promising, we'll be adding shelving in the greenhouse to fill it top-to-bottom with yummy plants for food pantry patrons.

Want to design a Solviva Greenhouse of your own? Get in touch with us at info@betterfarm.org.

Get Crafty with Gratitude Trees this Thanksgiving

BetterArts this Saturday will create gratitude trees with children at Hospice of Jefferson County in order to express the youngsters' thanks to people they love who are no longer with us.

 

The arts 'n' crafts project is part of an annual partnership between betterArts and Hospice of Jefferson County, in which the two groups come together to provide a holiday party for children whose loved ones have passed away. This year's holiday party comes during the Thanksgiving season; so it is a fitting time for the children to focus on the gifts left behind by those who have passed away. These gifts may be in the form of memories, stories, life lessons, surviving family members, or anything else the children can imagine.

Image from

Kid Space Stuff

.

Those at the event will also be given the option of recording their fondest memories of their loved ones; a project undertaken by betterArts latest initiative,

Better Radio

. Those who opt to participate may have their memories burned onto a CD; or even broadcast on-air.

Here's some information on the healing power of gratitude, as published at the Chopra Center:

Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough

, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional wellbeing and physical health than those who don’t. In comparison with control groups, those who cultivated a grateful outlook:

  • Felt better about their lives as a whole
  • Experienced greater levels of joy and happiness
  • Felt optimistic about the future
  • Got sick less often
  • Exercised more regularly
  • Had more energy, enthusiasm, determination, and focus
  • Made greater progress toward achieving important personal goals
  • Slept better and awoke feeling refreshed
  • Felt stronger during trying times
  • Enjoyed closer family ties
  • Were more likely to help others and offer emotional support
  • Experienced fewer symptoms of stress

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate. It is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold. The deeper our  appreciation, the more we see with the eyes of the soul and the more our life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe.

- See more at: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/cultivate-the-healing-power-of-gratitude#sthash.f6jPMFkv.dpuf

Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional wellbeing and physical health than those who don’t. In comparison with control groups, those who cultivated a grateful outlook: - See more at: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/cultivate-the-healing-power-of-gratitude#sthash.f6jPMFkv.dpuf

Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough

, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional wellbeing and physical health than those who don’t. In comparison with control groups, those who cultivated a grateful outlook:

  • Felt better about their lives as a whole
  • Experienced greater levels of joy and happiness
  • Felt optimistic about the future
  • Got sick less often
  • Exercised more regularly
  • Had more energy, enthusiasm, determination, and focus
  • Made greater progress toward achieving important personal goals
  • Slept better and awoke feeling refreshed
  • Felt stronger during trying times
  • Enjoyed closer family ties
  • Were more likely to help others and offer emotional support
  • Experienced fewer symptoms of stress

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate. It is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold. The deeper our  appreciation, the more we see with the eyes of the soul and the more our life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe.

- See more at: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/cultivate-the-healing-power-of-gratitude#sthash.f6jPMFkv.dpuMany scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional well-being and physical health than those who don’t. In comparison with control groups, those who cultivated a grateful outlook:

  • Felt better about their lives as a whole
  • Experienced greater levels of joy and happiness 
  • Felt optimistic about the future 
  • Got sick less often 
  •  Exercised more regularly 
  • Had more energy, enthusiasm, determination, and focus 
  • Made greater progress toward achieving important personal goals 
  • Slept better and awoke feeling refreshed 
  • Felt stronger during trying times 
  • Enjoyed closer family ties 
  • Were more likely to help others and offer emotional support 
  • Experienced fewer symptoms of stress 

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate. It is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold. The deeper our appreciation, the more we see with the eyes of the soul and the more our life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe.

Gratitude trees are a great project for you to embark on solo; but they also make wonderful projects for the whole family. Here's all you need to make your very own!

Wall-Mounted Gratitude Tree

Image from

My Insanity

.

You'll need a roll of colorful paper, construction paper, and markers or paint (whichever you like, or both!) Simply cut a big tree with a bunch of limbs out of the paper and adhere it to the wall with double-sided tape. Cut leaves from the construction paper and write one thing you are grateful for on each one before sticking each leaf to the branches

Gratitude Tree in Vase

Image from

Little Green Blog

.

You'll need a vase (betterArts will be using vases donated to  by the

Whimsical Pig

in Watertown), pebbles or marbles for the bottom of the vase (optional), small branches collected from outside, string and construction paper. If you like, you can even tie a ribbon around the branches to hold them together. Put the branches and pebbles in the vase, add the branches, and then cut leaves from the construction paper. On each leaf, write one thing you are grateful for. These make terrific centerpieces at Thanksgiving!

Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

DIY Soda Can Solar Heater

Soda can solar heater, image from Hemmings Daily.
If you're looking for something to do as the temperatures drop away, why not give this passive solar soda can heater a try? All you'll need is some black spray paint, a bunch of empty aluminum cans, some 2x4s, and a few basic tools.

The solar soda can heater works by bringing in cool air from your home, garage, or shop through an intake hose at the bottom of the unit. Air rises through the system, which is warm from absorbing sunlight. Air comes out the top and back inside through the outtake hose—some bloggers are reporting at as much as 120 degrees hotter than when it entered!

We found a few variations on the design from Hemmings Daily, Fair Companies and Instructables. Here's the basic gist; write to us with your variations and photos on the project! And yes, it works: There's even a Canadian company, Cansolair, Inc., selling the things.


Materials
  • 240 aluminum cans
  • 3 - 8 ft. 2x4s
  • 4 ft. x 8 ft. x 1/2 in. sheet of plywood
  • High-temperature silicon
  • 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheet of Plexiglas or Lexan
  • A can of heat-resistant flat black spray paint.
  • Plastic tubing
  • Drill Press with wide drill bits
  • Screws
  • Optional Air Blower (consider a solar-powered unit)
Instructions
  1. Construct a wooden frame out the the 2x4s, approx. 4 ft. wide x 8 ft. high x 3 1/2 in. deep. 
  2. Cut a piece of plywood this size and nail it to the back of the frame.
  3. Drill a hole in the top center of the frame - this is where you'll connect your outlet hose.
  4. Drill a hole in the bottom of the frame - this is where your inlet hose will be connected.
  5. Drill large holes in the tops and bottoms from all the cans except for 16 which will be on the bottom row.  For those, drill the holes in the tops and sides.  Caution! Aluminum cans are sharp - use heavy work gloves or other means to hold them in place as you cut the holes out.
  6. Start placing your cans into the frame.  Create 16 columns of 15 cans each.  Stack them one at at time, sealing them together as you go along.  Make sure the ones with side holes are on the bottom row.  Allow the silicone sealant to cure.
  7. Spray the cans and frame with the heat-resistant flat black paint.
  8. Cover the frame with the sheet of Plexiglas or Lexan.
  9. Cut holes in the side of the building that line up with holes in the top and bottom of the solar panel.  Air will be drawn from the building through the lower hole, which should be just above floor level, and be returned through the upper hole.
  10. Mount the completed panel on the exterior wall of the home.  Alternatively, you might mount the panel in a separate frame that will allow it to be tilted more toward the sun for better exposure.
  11. Install the blower at either the inlet or outlet.  This is not essential, but will increase the efficiency of your solar heater.
This unit allows air to flow all around the cans as it moves through the panel. A more efficient design will force all the air through the inside of the cans.  This will also avoid exposure of the air to the black paint.



Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Soap-Making for Rainy Days

Have I entered the world of Little House on the Prairie? On a rainy day last week, I decided to make soap. No, I didn't use animal fats—I'm not that hardcore—but I did pick some fresh lemon balm, oregano, and sage from our herb garden to add to the concoction.


chopped herbs

I cut off a piece of soap brick from our handy soap-making kit (Life of the Party: Moisturizing Clear Glycerin Soap) and melted it using a double boiler method (put a glass bowl over a saucepan).


 I added the herbs to bowls...

...and poured the melted soap into them. After they dry, I have the perfect gift for my parents :)

The Humanure Compost Toilet System

Humanure compost toilet system as featured at

Grist.com

.

One of the most wasteful uses of fresh, drinkable water in the world is that of flushing the toilet. Residential toilets alone account for roughly 30 percent of indoor residential water use in the United States—that's equal to more than 2.1

trillion

gallons of freshwater each year, according to the EPA. There's got to be a better way.

Why would we use fresh, drinkable water—which, by the way, is in limited supply—to flush humanure away into some unknowable place for endless processing, especially at a time when we are increasingly aware of the benefits of at-home composting systems? Why do people insist on being the only animals on the planet to live so far removed from any natural systems?

There

is

a better way. Whether you 're hosting an event and need a few extra porta-potties, in need of a toilet out by your work room or garage, re-doing your camp on the lake and lack a bathroom, or if you're ready to transition from a water-based septic or sewer system, the "humanure" compost toilet is a simple, cheap, ecologically responsible way to deal with human waste.

Over the course of your lifetime, you will likely flush the toilet nearly 140,000 times; with each flush using somewhere between 1.28 gallons (if high-efficiency) and 7 gallons of fresh water. Leaking toilets (even the ones you only hear at night) can lose 30 to 500 gallons per day.

Joseph Jenkin's amazingly informative website

The Humanure Handbook

offers tons of ideas for alternatives to traditional, flush toilets—none of which are so gross that the average person can't figure out how to maintain, clean, and utilize the system in his or her everyday life. Although most of the world's humanure is quickly flushed down a drain, or discarded into the environment as a pollutant, it could instead be converted, through composting, into lush vegetative growth, and used to feed humanity.

The humanure process involves a

compost toilet

, a

compost bin

and cover material. Toilet instructions are simple. There are a

variety of ways

to make a humanure toilet (or you can

buy one).

One of the Better Farm projects

last year was to teach students how to construct a basic humanure compost system utilizing discarded scraps of lumber, a 5-gallon pail, and sawdust.

The popularity of that project fostered a second workshop this year. It was also my first time using power tools… thankfully, no fingers were hurt in the process.

First, we constructed the base.

Image from

humanurehandbook.com

Then, we added the sides.

Next, we added the top with the toilet seat and hinges.

Voila! Our completed compost bin (dubbed Shitty Prototype II):

Who knew that recycled wood, a bucket, and an old toilet seat could come in so handy? 

Do These DIYs: Cooling the Home with Less Energy

Stills from the 1959 Twilight Zone episode "Midnight Sun".
As the thermometer dial climbs in the North Country this summer, we can only imagine what you city dwellers downstate and across the country are dealing with. But instead of automatically flicking on the AC the next time temperatures hit 80, consider using one of these easy DIY tricks instead—and save the big guns for the next extreme heat wave.

Homemade AC Designs
The folks over at the Good Survivalist have come up with a genius way to make a $454 air conditioner for about $15. Keeping your home cool in the summer can be very expensive if you use your air conditioner. This air conditioner is very simple to make, and can be made in a few minutes if your are handy.

Even if you are not handy you’ll be able to make one of these DIY air conditioners. One of the nice things about this air conditioner is that it will give you up to 6 hours of coolness. This thing works so well you may need to put on a sweatshirt! To make one of these babies you need a few simple tools, a couple of 5 gallon buckets, along with a few other items. Everything is shown in the video:


The crew at Snapguide has an alternative design, this one using a Styrofoam cooler:
Here's a great list of great, cooling life hacks anyone can do at home or work as alternatives to actual air conditioners, as gleaned from Life Hacker:
  • Create a Makeshift Air Conditioner—If you don't have an air conditioner, hopefully you have a fan. On its own, however, a fan isn't always sufficiently cooling. If your home is a hot air trap, blowing that hot air around isn't going to help much. Instead of just running the fan and hoping for the best, take a shallow bowl and fill it with ice. Place the bowl in front of the fan and as the ice evaporates, it will cool the air. 
  • Cool Your Drapes—If it isn't hotter outside than it is in your home, you've probably cracked a window already to at least cool things down a little bit. If you're finding an open window isn't sufficient, spray a sheet with cold water and use it to cover the window's opening. As the breeze passes through, the cold and damp sheet will cool it bringing in chilled air and further helping to reduce the temperature in your home. 
  • Schedule Your Windows—If all you have are windows to work with, you can still use them to your advantage. While the difference is more significant in arid environments, the temperature outdoors cools at night, and that's the air you want to let into your home. If you keep your windows closed while the sun is up and open them while the sun is down, you can trap the cooler air in your home and keep the temperature a few degrees lower. Even better: Set up a couple of inexpensive box fans in windows on opposite sides of a room to create a nice through-breeze. 
  • Do Nothing—Much of the heat in your home comes from heat-generating sources within it. If you avoid generating large amounts of heat you won't have as much of a need to cool. Things like air drying your clothes, skipping the dry cycle on your dishwasher, and turning off your computer(s) when they aren't in use are all good ways to keep the temperature down.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Tea-Party Tree Trunk

What's a girl to do when National Grid swoops through the yard and takes down a dead tree blocking the power line?

Stack that wood for next winter, turn that trunk into a table, and start planning an epic tea party.

Not every trunk has to be removed from its place in your yard—a simple plywood circle attached to the trunk with galvanized decking screws and a coat of exterior paint is enough to equip you with the most perfect table for an outdoor checkers match, picnic, or Mad Hatter tea party complete with log seats.

Do you not LOVE this?! Stay tuned for pics from the obviously impending matches of bocce ball and croquet with sides of tea and cucumber sandwiches in all the seersucker, linen, and party-dress fare we can get our hands on.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

DIY Shadow Puppets

On a recent trip to a very cool toy store, I found a lovely collection of shadow puppets for sale.

I was struck at how beautiful they were in their simplicity, and another thought: Why buy them, when you can

make personalized shadow puppets of your own

?

I found this great set of instructions over at

TLC Xpress

, which did an excellent job of explaining the steps to making personalized shadow puppets for your friends and family to enjoy. I see endless applications for us to use around the farm, from quiet winter nights with friends to arts 'n' crafts projects with children at events throughout the summer. Check out the instructions below, and remember to send us photos of your finished products at info@betterarts.org.

Materials

  • Cutting board
  • Black card
  • White pencil
  • Scissors / craft knife / scalpel
  • Clear tape
  • Bamboo skewer 

Instructions

Design your character. When designing your character think of its overall shape and how it will look as a silhouette. Keep it simple to start with, simplify the details/features. Look at other shadow puppets on the internet or in the library for inspiration.

Draw your character out with white pencil on black card

Cut out your character with scissors or a craft knife – you can also tear edges to create a softer more organic edge

Keep in mind that when cutting out your character it needs to be one piece, so you may need to create ‘tabs’ or ‘bridges’ to hold pieces together. You can also use clear cello tape to keep pieces together

You may want to create arms, legs or hands that move. In the video (as above) Steffen demonstrates how to create joins and moving limbs for your character

You do not want to see your hands or body behind the screen so attach your character to bamboo skewers

Additional exercises

Create a theater for your shadow puppet; the equipment you will need includes a box, a screen and a light. For a screen you can use a sheet of white paper or a large sheet of tracing paper. You can go all out and create an ornate theatre to surround your screen or use something as simple as a shoebox with a hole cut out of it and a sheet of paper taped on the inside to cover the hole.

1 Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Spring Cleaning

Image from Google.
Spring cleaning season is finally upon us! We've scoured the web to track down the best tips and tricks for you to have your home sparkling clean with as few chemicals (and dollar signs) as possible. Read on for some sweet home-cleaning strategies.

Check out these great tips:


  • Fill a dish wand with half vinegar and half dawn dish soap. Keep the wand in your shower. Before taking a shower, scrub the walls with the wand then rinse off. (DIY Home Sweet Home) 
  • Simple toilet bowl cleaner: Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub away! Occasionally disinfect your toilet by scrubbing with borax instead. Wipe the outside of the toilet clean with straight vinegar. (Spark People)
  • Ketchup is the perfect cleanser for copper pots and brass fixtures in your home. (iVillage)
  •  
    Recycle your worn clothing by turning old fabric into rags to clean quick spills and tidy up the house. - See more at: http://www.greenmomsmeet.com/2013/04/6-eco-friendly-spring-cleaning-tips/#sthash.dJZl1e6c.dpuf
    To clean fan blades, toss a pillowcase over the blade then slowly pull off. All of the dust and dirt will stay contained inside the pillowcase. (DIY Home Sweet Home)
  • Parmesan cheese containter lids will fit on mason jars! How about keeping baking soda by the sink for a mildly abrasive cleanser. Or flour near where you kneed your bread - just sprinkle on the counter. (The Make Your Own Zone)
  • Clean your burners without scrubbing. Place in a sealed ziploc bag with a 1/4 cup of ammonia. Leave overnight, then wipe clean with a sponge. (DIY Home Sweet Home) 
  • Pour boiling water down the tub once a week to keep the drains clear and prevent those nasty, hard-to-scrub tub rings, and do the same in sinks. Always try using water first to clean up spills on a carpet. (iVillage)
  • 2 parts hydrogen peroxide to 1 part Dawn (original blue) will take the stains out of almost ANYTHING...even if they're old stains!  (Pinterest)
  • Use a few drops of water, cream of tartar and a sponge to get your stainless steel appliances looking brand new again. (Buzzfeed)
  • Spend less time shining your facuets, sinks, and tiles by polishing them with Turtle Wax. The wax acts as a protective barrier preventing water and soap buildup. (DIY Home Sweet Home)
  • Homemade furniture spray: 1-3/4 cups water, 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon lemon essential oil (about 8 to 10 drops). Mix in a spray bottle; shake well to mix. While you use it, you'll need to continue shaking the bottle to ensure the combination stays mixed. (The Make Your Own Zone)
  • Easy way to get rid of mold in shower caulk : bleach and cotton coil, let sit overnight. (This Blessed Home)
  • Mix a few drops of essential oil with one cup baking soda. Sprinkle on your mattress and let sit for one hour before vacuuming. The baking soda will absorb any dirt, moisture and odors while the essential oil will leave the mattress smelling fresh. (DIY Home Sweet Home) 
  • Make your own citrus vinegar cleaner. Place citrus peels in a jar and cover with vinegar and let the solution sit for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, strain and dilute 1:1 with water. (DIY Home Sweet Home)
  • Clean Dirty Blinds with vinegar and old sock. (Keep Home Simple)
  • Use a lemon to remove hard water stains from your faucet. Simple cut a lemon in half and rub the open fruit against the metal. (DIY Home Sweet Home)
  • Clean up mold and mildew: Wipe with straight vinegar. (Spark People)
  • Make your sink shine by mixing borax with lemon juice to make a paste. Rub it on, then rinse it and wipe clean. (DIY Home Sweet Home)
  • Use a rubber glove to wipe up pet hair off upholstery and bedding—hair will stick to the rubber.
  • Clean your pans with tea tree oil to remove tough stains. (DIY Home Sweet Home) 
  • Use a Q-tip to clean tight spaces in window tracks, then wipe with a paper towel. (DIY Home Sweet Home) 
  • Homemade daily shower cleaner spray: 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap, 1 tablespoon dishwasher rinse aid (like Jet Dry or Finish), 3 cups water. (Make Your Own Zone)
  • Clean stubborn stains by spraying with a water and vinegar solution and then use an iron to lift the stain. (DIY Home Sweet Home)
  • After cleaning your vents, apply a layer of wax to them to help repel dust. (DIY Home Sweet Home) 
  • Clean the glass on your wood stove by dipping a wet paper towel in the ashes then wipe your glass with it. (DIY Home Sweet Home)
  • To clean your cabinets: Mix 1 part vegetable oil with 2 parts baking soda, then scrubbing with a toothbrush.
  • Make floors look new again: Spray on a mixture of 7 cups water, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup ammonia (or lemon juice) and 1/4 cup vinegar. Let sit for an hour and scrub off. (DIY Home Sweet Home)
  • Remove rust spots from your kitchen knives by soaking them in lemon juice. (DIY Home Sweet Home)
Got a great cleaning tip you'd like to share? Email us at info@betterfarm.org.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.