This is a snapshot of what goes into my life on the Nebraska Prairie. What living on a small ranch is like and what goes into running a small business from home. Life is very unpredictable out here on the prairie and activities vary from day to day. Here is to that life....
Where is Mr. Clean?
Well not at Nebraska Prairie Girl's House!
Actually, I try to clean my house as naturally as possible, which means I do not like to use harsh cleaners. I hate to expose my family and the environment to ingredients found in many of commercially made household cleaning products.
So what is clean? Clean is defined by Webster's dictionary as free from dirt or disease. Well, from that definition I am afraid that my house will never be clean. My house is free from disease but as far as the dirt part., Yikes! I wonder if Mr. Webster ever lived in the country on a farm or ranch. My house is clean by my definition most of the time. But, I will promise you that if the barn is clean the house needs cleaned. If the house is clean the barn needs cleaned. So do not be surprised if I invite you over for a cup of tea in the barn, it may be cleaner than the house. :)
I want to let you know that everyday this Nebraska Prairie Girl wages war with dirt. I now know why my pioneer sisters had dirt floors. They were easy to care for and you did not care if more dirt was brought in by dirty shoes and paws. As a rule, in my household everyone is required to remove their shoes at the door., my theory being the dirt on the shoes will be left at the door and not tracked all over the house. However, the pets in our household still bring in their share of the great outdoors.
As I have mentioned we live in a house that is one hundred years old. The house has hardwood floors in every room. When we bought the house it had the most lovely avocado green long shag carpet. I hate carpet, I think it just is a great place to harbor bacteria and dirt. (just my opinion) So as soon as we moved in Dave and I tore up all the carpet to expose the original fur wood floors. I sweep everyday and mop a couple times a week. Once a month I oil the floors with a combination of olive oil, lemon juice and lemon essential oil. The ratio that I use is 2 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice and a few drops of lemon essential oil. I pour this into a squirt bottle and label it. Originally, I made this as a furniture polish, loved it so much that I decided to use it on our wood floors.
My Kitchen floor once it is oiled
In this photo you can see at the top were I have oiled the floor verses the bottom which has not been oiled yet.
The oil not only protects the floors from moisture but makes it easier to sweep and mop. The only down fall to oiling you floors in such a way is that it does take a while for the oil to soak in so the floors can be slippery. To apply to floors: I just squirt the oil on the floor with a spray bottle and then dry mop it with a dust mop. As a furniture polish I spray a little on a dust cloth and use.
Doing laundry here on the farm is quite a chore when you have four children at home. In a effort to keep doing laundry as natural as possible we use Soap Nuts.
The Soap Nuts I use are 100% certified organic. Soap Nuts are nuts that actually grow on trees in Nepal. The nut is taken out of the shell and the shell is what is used to wash laundry. Soap Nuts have a shiny substance on them and that is the saponins.
Saponins have a soapy character due to their surfactant properties. You place 4 soap nuts in to a small muslin bag, tie it closed and throw it into the washing machine. You can reuse this batch for 4-6 loads of laundry. With the use of soap nuts you do not even need to use fabric softener. This is such a huge savings for my family I can do over 175 loads of laundry with a 1.1 lb. bag of soap nuts. Not only is this all natural but it has helped save money and it has helped with my children's sensitive skin.
Soap nuts can be used to make a liquid that is an all purpose cleaner, window and glass cleaner and used in the dishwasher. To use in the dish water I just place 4 soap nuts in silverware holder and run the dishwasher as usual. Once in a while I will add 1 tbsp of baking soda and a squirt of lemon juice to the bottom of the dishwasher. This help to wash dishes that are in need of a more abrasive cleaning. Soap nuts can be found at http:/www.doublelcountrystore.com
Speaking of Lemon juice and baking soda these are two great ingredients to use for cleaning many areas of you home. One of my favorite rooms to use it in is the bathroom. I empty the water out of the toilet bowl and put a tablespoon of soda and 1/4 cup of lemon juice in the bottom. I let the two ingredients bubble and foam and do their magic and then when the foam has settled I scrub the toilet as usual. Baking soda works great as a cleaner for the bath tub and sink, just use it as you would any of the abrasive chemical powders.
Since there is no magic Mr. Clean on the farm, cleaning is a bit more laborious and not as much fun. But with using a few all natural ingredients it is not quite as hazardous to us or the environment.