Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: Better Basics For the Home

My go-to resource for non-toxic household cleaners is Annie Berthold-Bond's book "Better Basics for the Home".  This book is packed full of homemade non-toxic techniques and formulas for home, body and pet care products.

Most of the ingredients are easily found, utilizing safe, sustainable products, herbs, essential oils and the like, and are truly frugal alternatives to chemical-laden commercial products.  Best of all, these work.  Almost every formula comes with a few variations for scent, antiseptic qualities, alterations according to the specific issues one might be dealing with, such as hard water, and Ms. Bond also takes the time to explain in easy to understand terms what the science is behind each recipe - why one might choose one ingredient over another, which means that this isn't jus a recipe book - it's a great  textbook of non-toxic living principles.

A lot of what's in here is so simple, you might feel like you already knew it - perhaps, like me, you had a mother who was doing this before it was trendy, because it's what her mother  taught her.  And perhaps like me, you forgot how easy it was until you tried it for yourself.

Know what my favorite quote from this book is?  Her first suggestion for dealing with odors (a great many recipes follow):  "Open a window."  That is the sort of common sense you get here - favor easy over hard, non-formulary over complex recipe, and move on from there.

Here at our house, we have very hard water, so I tend to use her Acid-Based All Purpose Cleaner for most things - this cuts through mineral deposits and soap scum, and it tackles body fluids well (pets, meat juice, etc).  I use it in my kitchen and bathroom, and it allows me to clean without undue scrubbing ('elbow grease' with arthritic elbows is no fun!). 

Acid-Based All-Purpose Cleaner

1/4 c distilled white vinegar
1/2 t. Detergent (such as Dawn)
3/4 c warm water
up to 1 tsp. Antiseptic essential oil if desired*

Put in spray bottle and shake - use on counters, sinks, shower. For areas in need of heavy cleaning, let it sit a few minutes before wiping up.  This can store in a spray bottle indefinitely.

Liquid soap can be used in place of detergent, but for really hard water, detergent does a better job of cutting through mineral deposits without leaving soap scum.

*antiseptic essential oils:  thyme, sweet orange, lemongrass, rose, clove, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, birch, lavender, tea tree oil


  1. I love simple natural recipes. I also love the common sense in this book (e.g. just open a window).

  2. Remember that window replacement is a progressive remodeling project. Only one or two windows are taken out at a time and then immediately replaced. Your entire home will not resemble a piece of Swiss cheese with holes in it for birds, weather or animals to enter during the replacement process.

  3. I understand! It's very cool that there are services that help with the renovation or rearrangement of windows and doors. I was very afraid recently to get a bad experience with this because I couldn't find a suitable company for a long time. But according to the reviews, I chose windows and doors vaughan replacement and fortunately they did everything qualitatively. Now I know who I can continue to contact.

  4. This may be personal, but for my family, windows are not the most important. We need to have space for kids and dogs to recreate in front of the house without risk. We have already found a good provider for the fence, and now my husband is reading about artificial grass instalation too. So I hope soon we will tackle everything.