Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to Wash Hair With Baking Soda and Vinegar

I was inspired by a recent post from Jazzy Mama to try washing my hair with baking soda. I've been curious to try this alternative to regular shampoo for awhile so I leapt at the challenge.

Well, maybe not leapt, but walked carefully and intentionally towards. As with most new things I do in life, I started with some research on the subject. I had lots of questions because, honestly, I'm pretty careful with my long, wavy hair. I love my locks. What could baking soda and vinegar to do to my beloved hair??!! How much baking soda? How much vinegar? Will it get clean? Will I still need to condition my hair?

My research answered all my questions, although there seem to be as many variations on baking soda and vinegar hair wash as there are commercial hair products! Here, I've distilled them down (no pun intended) and  compiled the results in an easy to follow format.  I've also included a nerdy little table with examples of how much baking soda and vinegar some people use (with links, of course).

If you're not already a regular user of baking soda and vinegar or part of the no 'poo revolution, I urge you to give it a try. I was skeptical that it would work on my hair type (dry, except at the crown), but after my first attempt, I was hooked! My hair immediately felt lighter and healthier. It felt much better than I expected...much better than any number of shampoo and conditioners I've tried. I'll keep playing with the concentrations, but I have no doubt that no 'poo will work for me long term. I'm sure it can work for you, too!

Here's all you need to know to wash your hair with baking soda and vinegar:

Baking soda Hair Wash
Ingredients: Good old household baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water (tap, distilled, filtered, rain...)
Quantity: Proportions vary from a paste to 1 Tablespoon in 1.5 cups water. Use less baking soda for dryer hair, more for greasy hair. See chart below for some examples.
Preparation: Mix the baking soda and warm water with a cup and spoon, shake it up in an old shampoo bottle, or use whatever works for your mixing needs. Most prepare the mix right before using, others make a stock and reuse it (note: if you're a baker, you know that the chemical reaction from baking soda starts when it mixes with the wet ingredients; seems like it's best to make the soda 'shampoo' fresh each time).
Hair Washing Instructions: Wet hair thoroughly, then massage the soda mixture into roots and scalp. Ends may be avoided, especially for long or dry, brittle hair (ends will get clean from run-off). Rinse well and avoid contact with eyes.  The Dry Alternative: Work soda (~half a handful) into hair before getting into shower, then rinse it out well in shower (but see baker's note above).
Frequency: Use baking soda every time you wash your hair OR use it occasionally to remove build-up.

Vinegar Hair Rinse
Ingredients: Use apple cider vinegar (ACV) or white vinegar. Organic ACV has dead yeast and bacteria (good for hair?). Note that some ACVs don't use corn syrup instead of apples, so be sure to check the label. Avoid "sticky" vinegars, such as balsamic.
Quantity: Amounts range from 1 undiluted tablespoon applied directly to wet hair to a 25% solution (poured or sprayed on wet hair). Use more vinegar for dry or frizzy hair, less vinegar for oily hair. See chart below for some examples.
Preparation:  Vinegar may be poured directly from the cap or mixed with water in a cup, bottle, or spray bottle.
Hair Rinsing Instructions: There are four ways to rinse with vinegar:
1) after applying the baking soda and rinsing it out (as you would regular shampoo and conditioner), OR
2) after the baking soda wash, but before rinsing the soda out, OR
3) skip the baking soda altogether and just rinse hair well with water first, OR
4) spray it on your hair before applying the baking soda.
In any case, rinse and wet hair thoroughly, then apply the vinegar. Avoid eyes. If the baking soda has been washed out of your hair (or not used), then rinsing the vinegar out with water is optional. Note that using vinegar at all is optional as well!
Frequency: Use it every time you wash (with baking soda), or just once in awhile as needed, such as when hair is dry, frizzy, or needs some shine.

General Notes
·         Baking soda is a mild abrasive that cleans hair very well without removing natural oils.
·         Vinegar helps seal the hair shaft, adding extra shine and softness. Lemon juice may be used instead of vinegar.
·         The odor of vinegar will rinse out and quickly dissipate from hair.
·         Baking soda and water will not create a sudsy lather like regular shampoo. It will feel a bit gritty, but the grit will rinse out in the shower.
·         If you use baking soda and vinegar on your hair at the same time, you will hearing fizzing and popping as the two compounds react to clean your hair.
·         Users of baking soda and/or vinegar all say the same thing: they love it more than their old shampoo!
·         You will not need to use regular shampoo or conditioner if you use baking soda and/or vinegar on your hair.
·         It takes at least 2 weeks for hair to adjust to the new regime. During the transition period, your hair may be icky (unusually greasy or dry, not feeling clean, etc.).  It may also take some experimentation to get the right soda and vinegar concentrations for your hair type. Hang in there, it will get better!
·         One advocate of baking soda hair wash made the transition slowly over the course of a year: she gradually switched to baking soda by adding small amounts to regular shampoo to increase lather. Over time, she was down to just a drop of shampoo and mostly baking soda, then eventually only baking soda.
·         Users of  baking soda and/or vinegar repot that they need to wash their hair less frequently than with regular shampoo. Some only wash their hair every 4 or 5 days, others who skip the baking soda only use vinegar once a week or less!
·         Concentrations of either baking soda or vinegar can be adjusted over time or according to conditions. For example, if your hair is extra dirty, wash it with a bit more baking soda.  During drier times of year, you can increase the vinegar to keep your hair from getting frizzy.
·         The type of water in your shower may affect the results. With softer water, you might not need the vinegar rinse very often, if at all.
·         Baking soda and vinegar are considerably cheaper than commercial shampoos and conditioners, they are composed of fewer chemicals, and there is less packing per unit used.

Examples of Quantities Used for Baking Soda and Vinegar Hair Wash and Rinse
Baking Soda Mixture
Vinegar Mixture
1Tbsp baking soda + 1 cup of water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup baking soda + 2-3 cups warm water

1Tbsp baking soda (~ half a handful), applied to dry hair before shower

25% vinegar


1/2 cup baking soda + 3 cups warm water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 Tbsp baking soda + 1-1.5 cups water

1-2 Tbsp vinegar + 1-1.5 cups water
1 capful of apple cider vinegar mixed in a full beaker of water

1-2 Tbsp baking soda, applied to wet hair
Occasionally spray with vinegar before applying baking soda.
Few teaspoons baking soda with enough water to form a paste
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar + 1 cup water

Do you have an alternative to commercial shampoo and conditioner that you absolutely love? Please share it here!
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Turning a Whine Into a Smile

Have you ever had one of those days when your little one just won't stop whining? You know....when every request is intense and needs immediate attention, every bump or mishap is a catastrophe, and every sound out of his mouth is an ear-piercing pitch that grates on the nerves? Those are hard times!

When Munchkin is in one of these moods, my patience wanes with each whine. Still, I try hard to figure out what's bothering him so I can meet whatever unmet need is haunting him (or help him cope without it). Sometimes it's something obvious like teething or illness, but there are plenty of times when I'm not sure what's going on with him.  

I guess some of the stuff I've been reading from Aha!Parenting really works because I recently figured out that I could stop the whining when its cause is not physical. I did this by helping him feel connected, competent, and accepted. It was incredibly simple. 

First, I took a moment to re-center myself. I was getting flustered with the whining, so this was a crucial first step. I have a favorite chair where I go for deep works magic! One thought that really helps me is to remember that it's not his fault he's cranky. He's just a little kid, a toddler with immature coping skills. After relaxing into myself, I could then think clearly and act with compassion, rather than react with irritation.

Next, I spent a few moments connecting deeply with my son. For us, this met nursing. But not just nursing. I looked him in the eye, caressed his hair, and talked to him. "Not feeling well, are you? Having a hard time? I know..." It only took a few simple words of validation. I held him close and let him feel my acceptance of his mood. Of course, genuine acceptance was crucial and I could do that once I was calm and focused.

Then I sensed that he also needed the flip side to connection: independence. All morning, Munchkin had been very sensitive about doing things himself and was getting easily frustrated when he failed. Each event spurred a new episode of tears and whining. To bolster confidence in his independence, I made a point of providing tasks for him that I knew he could accomplish...turn off the bathroom light, put an item in the trash, hold my keys, etc. Instead of lavish praise for his deeds, I sincerely thanked him as I would any person: "Oh, thank you, Munchkin! That's very helpful, I really appreciate it."

In addition, I calmly acquiesced to all kinds of strange preferences Munchkin expressed ("Not that bowl, this one"). That's right, I went against 'conventional' and mainstream advice for dealing with a whiner (check out page 2 of this Parenting article: it says to ignore the kid or the whining will get worse!). Instead of shunning my son, who was clearly upset, I "caved" by making him more comfortable. Naturally, I maintained our normal household limits, but I let him be picky and whine about the little things. Most of the time, these little things don't really matter. Giving my toddler a sense of personal power when he's feeling low does matter.

Most importantly, I didn't react negatively to his whining. I didn't tell him to say please or ask nicely. I let him know that it was hard to understand him when he whined, but I did so without shaming him or acting irritated (only possible when I'm calm and centered!). I didn't get annoyed or take it personally when he became insistent. I didn't withhold love or privileges or fulfillment of reasonable requests. I firmly stood my ground: the ground where I'm on his side, where I assure his safety, where I love him unconditionally, where I accept his whining.

And then he stopped whining. For good.

Just like that. Incredible! All I had to do was genuinely connect with him, provide him with the opportunity to exhibit competence, and truly accept his foul mood. For me, the real key was centering myself. The rest came easily from the place of peace I'd created within myself. 

Why did these strategies work? I think it's because gentle, unconditional parenting really is effective. Maybe Munchkin's cause for whining had been emotional pain. Maybe he missed me (he'd spent the first hour of the day with Papa while I got to sleep in). Maybe he was feeling incapable in this big world where Mama, Papa, and the big kids can do all that cool stuff (we'd met some new playmates a few days prior). Maybe he felt left out or ignored (Papa isn't as playful in the morning).

Whatever it was, I managed to get through to him and help him out of it. He was able to re-center himself, too. Best of all, he knows that when he's hurting inside, he can rely on me to help him through it. I won't demand a change in behavior without considering his needs, no matter how annoying that behavior is.

And for the record, no, the whining did not get worse or return. His whines turned into smiles and we enjoyed the rest of the day together. Since then, he has not "tried to use whining to get his way". Conventional parenting wisdom debunked! Not surprising, though. When my son whines, he's not trying to annoy me or manipulate me. He's trying to ask for something but doesn't have the words to do so. I'm glad I listened.

Now, if I could just apply this gentle approach every time we have one of those days...

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to leave a note.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: The Emotional Life of the Toddler by Alicia Lieberman

Disclaimer: I am not being compensated in any way to write this review. This review is designed to serve as a brief summary of the book, to inform, and to encourage readers to pursue the topic further.


The Emotional Life of the Toddler describes just what the title promises. This book offers a sensitive and in-depth look at toddlerhood, with the aim of helping parents gain awareness and skills for dealing with this age group. This book is informative and well researched, yet easy to read and highly palatable. You can leaf through it to the relevant parts, or read through the whole thing without it sucking up too much of your valuable time. Although The Emotional Life of the Toddler is dated (published in 1993), it is still relevant to today's parents.

Dr. Lieberman's body of knowledge surrounding toddler emotions is thorough, and her tone is empathetic and respectful (likely because she has research and clinical experience in infant mental health and early childhood trauma). The result is a book that is particularly relevant to anyone interested in Attachment Parenting or other type of gentle parenting style. Regardless of parenting style, The Emotional Life of the Toddler is relevant for any family with a toddler. The book offers sound advice and a solid foundation for understanding and relating to a very young child.

Three of the chapters are devoted to temperament, or personality types, among toddlers. I found these sections revealing as well as humorous. The author's intimate knowledge of each temperament allows the reader to feel connected and understood.

In addition to straightforward descriptions, Lieberman uses a series of brief case studies to illustrate some of her points.  I found these vignettes helpful, but with limitations. Some case studies serve as excellent examples, while others seemed too idiosyncratic to be generally applicable. Still, I enjoyed reading them and learning about the complexities of toddler emotions.

Another odd aspect of the book is that the author devoted an entire chapter to divorce. While this is a topic that affects many of us, and it certainly affects toddlers, this chapter felt a bit out of place in this book. I would have rather seen a chapter devoted to a more general discussion of tension in the home or fights between parents, with divorce included in the discussion.

Nonetheless, The Emotional Life of the Toddler is an indispensable addition to any parents' library. Overall, I loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone with a toddler or infant approaching toddlerhood. Two thumbs up!

Highlights & Take-Home Messages

·         The hallmark of toddlerhood is the dichotomy between independence and dependence. The toddler continually seeks a balance between exploration of the world and a safe, loving connection to parents.

·         A secure base from the parent supplies the physical and emotional scaffolding upon which the toddler develops confidence to explore the world and grow into his own separate person. The most effective secure base provides love, affection, protection, and respect for the toddler as an individual. A sound secure base also allows the toddler to explore the external and internal world of emotions.

·         Toddlers have intense, vivid, and very real emotions that are hard for them to express and cope with. How toddlers are treated in response to their emotions impart lifelong lessons in how to manage those feelings.

·         Temper tantrums are essential to healthy emotional development. Toddlers benefit when parents provide emotional support and guidance through a tantrum, rather than punishment, ridicule, or disregard for the toddler's feelings . Lieberman says it beautifully:

"The temper a wonderfully eloquent if seldom appreciated expression of the toddlers' inner experience. It represents his inner collapse as well as his proud protest at finding out that his will does not reign supreme...

Tantrums take a child to the very bottom of his being, helping him to learn that anger and despair are part of the human experience and need not lead to lasting emotional collapse. If the parents can remain emotionally available even while firm in their position of denying something, tantrums also teach a child that he will not be left alone..." (p. 39)

"Managing a tantrum involves nothing less than the formation of character." (p.40)

·         Problems between parent and toddler commonly arise due to disagreements over what is safe (exploration) and what is an appropriate level of connection (emotional or physical).

·         Problems are best resolved (and prevented) through development of a partnership between parent and toddler. A goal-directed partnership is useful in finding compromise and meeting the needs of both parent and child. For example, picking up the toys together is a way to engage in a goal-directed partnership.

·         Exercising benevolent authority, rather than using shame or fear, is an effective way to ensure toddler compliance. (Read this and this for more information and for examples of how to gain toddler compliance and manage defiance).

·         Sensitivity to the child's feelings and needs, helping the toddler find words to describe feelings, as well as being silent when words aren't enough, are powerful ways to encourage the partnership. (Read this for suggestions on how to effectively speak to a toddler).

·         Parents' anger and frustration over the toddler need not destroy the partnership or disrupt the secure base. Toddlers learn that intense emotions are acceptable and tolerable. When they see their parents recover from outbursts, followed by an apology and explanation, the partnership is restored.

·         There are 4 general toddler temperaments: Easy, Slow To Warm Up ("shy"), Active, and Difficult (very rare). Temperaments are not permanent or immutable. A child may exhibit signs of more than one temperament which may change over time. A child may not necessarily retain the same temperament throughout childhood.

·         Each temperament will respond differently to different parenting styles so it's important to understand and work with a toddler's individual personality.

·         "Active" toddlers need a physically safe environment with only a few clear, consistent boundaries. Thorough baby-proofing and the parents' level of energy and patience are main concerns.

·         "Slow to Warm Up" toddlers need time and space to acclimate to new people and environments. Providing support for the child's pace of adaptation is a central concern for parents.

·         Problems may arise when the parent either doesn't understand or feels uncomfortable with their child's temperament. For example, an outgoing parent may pressure a shy child to interact with others before he is ready. A fearful parent may struggle to give an active toddler enough freedom to roam.

·         Toddlers have immature cognitive development. Fears and anxieties usually arise because they make incorrect conclusions about reality. Issues related to permanence (objects, people, body parts, etc.) are common sources of toddler fears. Operating from a secure base, parents can help toddlers learn what threats are real in order to alleviate anxiety. Minimizing or ignoring fears, or using ridicule and blame will aggravate those anxieties and strain the parent-toddler relationship.

·         Play is an important and powerful way for toddlers to work through their fears and anxieties.

·         Toddlers enjoy "messy" play as an avenue for exploring their newly discovered bodily secretions (urine, feces, mucus, blood, saliva, etc.). Finger paints, play-dough, water, dirt and the like all serve as valuable representations for this phase of discovery (and they're easier to clean than poop on the wall!).

·         Conflicts between parents don't have to disrupt the secure base for a toddler as long as both parents put the needs of the child ahead of their interpersonal issues.

·         Quality child care may be provided by someone besides the toddler's parents. Factors that influence the quality of childcare include: stability of care, caregiver training, adult-child ratio, group size, and the presence of another adult.

·         Toddlerhood shares some features in common with adolescence. With an established secure base, an attitude of partnership, and a habit of parent-child communication, parents of toddlers are likely to build effective skills that can be used when similar issues arise again ten or so years later.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Learning To Share By Taking Turns

As the mother of a toddler, I have become quite familiar with the ubiquitous parental chant, "Share, share, share!" I understand the sentiment behind the word: we want our children to be giving, to treat others with kindness, and to play fairly. We want to teach our kids to get along well with others.

Still, the instruction to "share" doesn't sit well with me and I've never used that language with Munchkin. Part of it is because I don't subscribe to the idea that telling Munchkin to give another child his toy will instill him with empathy or generosity (more on this issue later!). But mostly, I realized that the problem for me was the misuse of the verb "to share". According to, the verb "to share" means:

3. to divide and distribute in shares; apportion
4. to use, participate in, enjoy, receive, etc, jointly: The two chemists shared the Nobel prize [emphasis mine]
5. to have a share or part; take part (often followed by in)
6. to divide, apportion, or receive equally

Sharing, then, means dividing up or to taking part in at the same time. You can share a banana. You can share a drink. You can share a bed. You can share a ball if you pass it back and forth as part of a game. 

From what I have observed, this is not what parents are usually asking of their children in social settings. When a mother tells her child to "share" his toy, what she really means is that he should give it to the other child to play with. For adults and older kids, this use of the  word "share" is understandable. We know that "sharing" a toy involves taking turns, not splitting up, giving away, or simultaneous use. Older children understand that the other kid will play with it for awhile, and that eventually he'll get his bike or car back. On the playground, kids call this taking turns. When kids actually share a toy or activity simultaneously, it's called playing together. For simplicity, people tend to refer to all of these acts as "sharing" because they all embody the essence of sharing: kindness and fairness. However, this mix-up of wording is a real problem for younger kids.

Toddlers, babies, and very young children don't understand all these nuances of the word "share". To them, the command to share simply means what the parent's request suggests: "Give your toy to the other kid." For some, there is  even the added ultimatum, "or I'll do it for you." This command to share naturally leads to resistance. I think this is partly due to confusion in the immature mind. Consider the toddler's thought process: When I share my cracker, I don't get it back. If I share my toy, it might be gone forever, too. How do I share the couch if I am sitting on I have to move first? A young toddler can't be expected to fully grasp the distinction between sharing, as in a snack, AND taking turns, AND playing nicely side by side -- especially when adults inaccurately label each one as "sharing".

Even as a child begins to understand that the toy will eventually come back to him, it seems an added and unnecessarily difficult challenge to "share" when the child must also do mental hurdles around language. Moreover, lessons in possession and playing together happen slowly and often painfully for the toddler. We ask a lot of their unripe cognitive, emotional and social abilities when we simply ask them to "share".

Young children need precise language in order to understand what's asked of them. I think we can make it a lot easier on toddlers and preschoolers to learn about sharing by saying what we really mean.  When I realized what we are truly asking of children when we say "share", I began to use the correct language to describe it. Instead of talking about "sharing", I describe and gently suggest actions related to taking turns:

I think your friend would like a turn with the shovel now.
She is having a turn with the car now. When she's done then you can have a turn.
Not now, Johnny. Munchkin is having a turn. Munchkin, when you're done with your turn, would you like to give Johnny the ball?
There, he's done with the scooter. Would you like to have a turn now?

Then I follow through on my words and give each child who wants a turn a chance to take their turn, even if they become interested in something else. Munchkin may get upset for a moment, but once I reassure him that he gets a turn also, he settles down. He recovers remarkably quickly without fighting about it. He believes my words because they have observable meaning.

This shift in language has been so effective with Munchkin that I've started using it in other situations. I can now use turn-taking to set personal limits and boundaries between me and Munchkin: You can have a turn holding the vacuum when I'm done with my turn. It's my turn to choose the music...after this song, then you can have a turn listening to your song. It's my turn to go for a run...when I'm done, you can get out of the BOB and have a turn running, too.

I still use the word "share", but I try to use it correctly in reference to things we partake of together: Sure, I'll share my water with you. Do you want to share your grapes with him? Look, you two can share the piano; there is room for both of you to play together at the same time.

The suggestion to "take turns" instead of "share" is more than an issue of semantics. For a toddler who struggles with age-specific issues of permanence, separation, and ownership, the words "have a turn" are powerful, indeed. This promise to take turns reassures Munchkin that he still has a right to the coveted object or activity, just not right now. He knows that taking turns doesn't mean relinquishing the object indefinitely. It means a temporary separation, just like when mama goes to the store without him.  

While Munchkin waits for his turn, he is also learning a bit about patience. He is learning to let go and to receive again. And with some encouragement and patience from me, he might just learn to share.

Questions? Comments? Yes, please!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Getting a Toddler to Go Where You Want...Playfully

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Getting an active toddler to move along in a timely fashion isn't always easy. There are novelties over here and shiny things over there to investigate. Often, my toddler becomes curious about some discovery along the way, something that could capture his attention for 10 minutes if I let him. Ordinarily, I like to encourage this discovery and exploration. However, there are times when I really need to get from Point A to Point B in less than half an hour. There are times when I have a specific direction in mind that he doesn't necessarily find interesting.

Fortunately, I discovered a useful strategy for getting Munchkin to go where I want him to go. When he was still just over a year old, we used to play a hide-and-seek game at our library. I would run from stack to stack, hide behind it, then say "Boo!" when Munchkin approached (yes, we have a very kid-friendly library!). I quickly figured out that I could use this game to lure him towards the exit when it was time to leave.  I simply ran between pillars and poles on our way out the door. He loved it and followed me each step of the way, giggling all the while.

These days, I still use this game to get Munchkin to move when and where I need to go when we're out and about. Any place that has pillars, poles, walls, signs, trees, or other obstruction is amenable to the hide-and-seek steering strategy.  I've even mixed it up a bit. Sometimes instead of "hiding" behind a pole, I weave in and out of adjacent poles, or simply spin around it holding on with one arm. Munchkin thinks this is hilarious. He runs to catch up and attempts to mimic my movements.

I find this strategy so much easier than repeating, "Come on, let's go. Over here. This way. No...not that way...this way. Let's go, we need to go now or we'll be late... " Sigh. Chase child, pick him up, sometimes with a giggle, but often with a cry of resistance and fury (of course, we've gone this route before, too!).  This type of banter gets exhausting and is likely to leave me feeling frustrated. I still resort to it sometimes, but when I remember our hide-and-seek game, things go more smoothly and the tension melts.

Yes, I look silly holding bags of groceries while I duck behind a pole half as thin as me. To passersby, my hiding place may be absurd and ridiculous. To Munchkin, it is an invitation to play, to follow, and to connect with me. I get to have a little fun and be freed of the stress of running after a toddler with my arms full. I get to smile and see my son erupt in laughter instead of tears. We both forget that it's about me trying to get him to go where I want. Best of all, I actually get from Point A to Point B in a reasonable amount of time.  Fun and practical, what a deal!

Do you have a special game that helps you through difficult parenting situations? Please feel free to share it here!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mopping Made Easy, Inexpensive, and Green

I don't like to spend a lot of time cleaning the house. Not that I have that much time to do so with a toddler on my tail 24/7! On top of that, we live on a tight budget and I am constantly concerned about the environmental impact of the products I use. Still, I like a clean home so I'm always looking for shortcuts and ways to be more efficient and ecologically conscious. When I accidentally discovered this simple, cheap, "green" way to mop, I was thrilled and have been mopping this way ever since.

Here's what I do:

Instead of filling up a bucket with water and your favorite cleaning product, put only a little bit of water in the bucket, just enough to rinse out the mop head. Fill an empty spray bottle with a 1:1 dilution of water and distilled vinegar (I'm sure a 10% or 25% dilution would also work). Spray the diluted vinegar directly onto the floor and wipe with the wet mop. Repeat in small sections, rinsing out the mop in the bucket as you go along. When I'm done, I give the bucket and mop head a quick rinse.

Wow, how easy! I can't believe it took me so long to figure this out! Not only is this way easier, it's inexpensive. It's also a great way to mop if you get interrupted frequently due to a curious and active toddler. The best part is that my little one can help out and I don't have to worry about him getting into harsh, toxic, unnatural chemicals.

Notes about vinegar:
You can use another green cleaning product, like Dr. Bronner's, but vinegar is less explensive. Distilled vinegar is natural, non-toxic, the smell dissipates quickly, it's safe for children to handle, and it has a zillion other uses (OK, maybe only 1001 uses). I use my 50% vinegar spray bottle for cleaning almost everything.

It is extremely important that you use an empty spray bottle that hasn't been used for anything else. Mixing compounds can create toxic fumes or even explosions. Play it safe and smart with a new, unused bottle.

Every bit of time or money you save makes life easier. Every chemical you save keeps your family and the planet healthier. Go ahead, give it a try!

Comments? Questions? I love them!