March 16th, 2013
Thanks to the amazing people at Sylvane, we have some awesome tips about Spring Cleaning!
Spring cleaning is a time of year that many people dread – after all, nobody likes cleaning! But this year will be different. This year you’ll have some new cleaning techniques that will make things easier, faster, and even reduce the need to clean again anytime soon! This seems too good to be true, we know, but let’s take a look at some of the unique methods being used by some creative household owners that have been proven to work.
Scrub-Free Toilet Cleaner
Although not something that many people keep handy, denture cleaner works wonders as a toilet cleaner. It makes sense that denture cleaner would be good at removing stains and sanitizing toilets because it was created to clean porcelain dentures, which is the same material that your toilet is made from. Just drop a few tablets into the bowl and let it go to work for you!
The modern world runs on technology, so shouldn’t your cleaning techniques keep up with the times? Using a robotic vacuum can save you hours of vacuuming, and they are quite nifty at getting into small areas and completely cleaning your carpet. Some robotic vacuum cleaners are even pet friendly, so they will steer clear of any curious animals coming around to investigate. Neato Robotics is a well-known maker of intelligent robot vacuums that are capable of this.
Easy Microwave Cleaning
Photo credit: http://bit.ly/112K8Qi
Microwaves can be difficult to clean when you have to scrub all the hard, crusty buildup that has accumulated over time. You might be surprised to learn that you can clean your microwave in almost the same way that made it messy in the first place. Fill a microwave-safe bowl with about two cups of water and half a cup of white vinegar. Place it in your microwave and heat it for 3-4 minutes. When the bowl is cool enough to touch, remove it and give the inside of the microwave one good wipe. Voila!
Newspaper Your Cabinet Tops
Lots of apartments, condos, and townhouses have prefab kitchen cabinets installed that don’t quite touch the ceiling. The tops of these cabinets need to be dusted and cleaned regularly, but they can be very difficult to reach. To make the result of your cleaning efforts last as long as possible, line the tops of your kitchen cabinets with newspapers to prevent dust from collecting directly on the cabinets themselves. The next time you’re cleaning, all you will have to do is carefully remove the old, dusty newspapers and replace them with fresh ones.
Organize Your Clutter
“For every minute spent in organization, an hour is earned.” That quote by Benjamin Franklin couldn’t be more true. If you want to take your organizational level up a notch, it’s time for some creative solutions! Clear some extra space in your home by looking for functional furniture pieces that allow you to organize within them. One example would be a chair bookshelf, which allows you to store your books and magazines inside your reading chair. You could always start with something simple, such as using a stylish storage chest as your coffee table. Even easier still, you could use these stackable storage cubes to create a completely custom clutter solution. Add a set of wheels to your creation and roll it around the house as needed.
Couch Cushions and Upholstery
If you don’t want to pay a king’s ransom to have your couch professionally cleaned (and who does?), you can do it yourself using a steam cleaner. Most common household cleaning products release harmful chemicals into the air you breathe, which can cause serious health problems. But steam cleaning your home will actually improve your indoor air quality because steam cleaners use hot water vapor (not chemicals) to clean almost any surface, and to kill germs and bacteria.
A mixture of vinegar and water will be enough to remove most tough stains and grease from your kitchen countertops. For those hard food or make-up stains that won’t come off easily, create a baking soda paste by mixing baking soda with water. Use the paste on a hard scrubber to clean the stubborn areas. They should come up rather easily, and again you’ve avoided using toxic chemicals!
Wax Your Shower Walls
After cleaning your shower walls initially, a little car wax can go a long way. Waxing the inside of your shower makes it harder for soapscum, limescale, and other objects to stick to your shower walls. Never wax the floor of your shower though, as this could pose a threat because it will make the floor really slippery. There are several manufacturers that produce eco-friendly car waxes that do not contain harsh chemicals or VOCs.
February 27th, 2013
Guest post from the amazing Natalie Wright, creator of Natalme and Organized Mom!
It’s no secret I love to be organized, but I often forget the correlation between health and organization. I recently just cleaned out my fridge, and yeah… I was definitely hoarding some unhealthy expired food! So I decided to take some time during my week to look through other areas of my kitchen, and not only organize them, but promote healthy eating. My goals are to organize my canned goods, baking necessities, and spices.
Here’s a simple and affordable way to organize your spices. I love this project because not only does it make my seasonings easier to find, but it also forced me to throw out old and expired spices I never use.
All of my baking and cooking spices I keep in a drawer near my stove. Since the bottles are all difference sizes, they often get jumbled around and the one I need ends up being difficult to find.
I purchased about twenty of these glass jars at Ikea; four jars for under $4. I also used chalkboard vinyl to create labels or each jar. The great thing about these little babies is that you can adhere your labels to the top or the front of the jars.
I created scalloped labels with a scrapbook paper punch, but you could easily cut circles or squares by hand.
After emptying my drawer and throwing away expired spices and seasoning, I inserted a layer of decorative gift wrap, and added a clear plastic drawer liner on top.
My jars fit perfectly side by side! I was able to fit twenty jars in all.
With a white chalk marker I labeled all of my seasonings. (Note: A chalk marker is easier to write with versus regular chalk. It does not smear when touched, but easily wipes off with a damp cloth.) If I ever run out of a spice or decide to try a different seasoning, I can easily erase the chalk and write a new label.
This is such an easy and quick project that took me less than an hour from start to finish. And I love that it’s a much prettier, functional, and healthier way of organizing my seasonings!
To follow me as I continue to organize other areas of my kitchen and home, be sure to check out my blog at www.natalme.com!
February 26th, 2013
Rachel Sarnoff is the brilliant mind behind both Eco Stiletto and Mommy Greenest. Both blogs focus on maintaining a happy and sustainable lifestyle and we are such huge fans of her work. We were overjoyed when she agreed to write a little something about how she stays happy even when the mess gets too much! What do you do to maintain your sanity when the mess becomes overwhelming?
“Quote: “”I am an obsessive organizer. I keep a calendar synced to my phone, and a daily paper list as well. But sometimes I feel like my focus on being organized stops me from being truly happy. Yes, I like opening drawers and seeing things neat and tidy. But should it ruin my day if they’re not? My husband and kids help me see the big picture. They’re totally comfortable with dishes in the sink and towels on the floor, and with the occasional tardy slip. When I get obsessed with something, sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and step back for a moment. The dishes will get done. The towels will just get used again tomorrow. And taking time to talk with my daughter as we walk to school is far more valuable than rushing her through the door in order to get to kindergarten on time.
–Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, www.MommyGreenest.com”"
February 25th, 2013
Intrigued yet? What’s an X-term you may be asking? X-terms two week experiential learning intensives which take place in January and in May/June. The program in May/June is student led and students must raise the funds, plan the curriculum, and design the entire program. X-terms are based on Maria Montessori’s views, and they provide a unique learning experience that cannot be matched. Every year the students choose something different that is sure to change their lives for the better. Two years ago, they ventured out to New York City, and spent a week immersed in the startup culture. They worked with Union Square Ventures, Stack Overflow, Stack Exchange, and Coco Foods International. Cool, huh?
We love supporting our future generation, especially brilliant go-getters like these kids, so we were thrilled when they contacted us to be apart of their fundraising for this years X-terms! They have some pretty cool prizes including a Nook, Jambox, and Way Basics Cubby Organizer! Be sure to check it out and help them reach their $10,000 goal! After all, all students deserve to be supported and helped to reach their dreams!
February 22nd, 2013
We are starting to drop pictures and information about our awesome new organizational cube, the Box. It is our traditional storage cube on steroids! Especially good for someone who wants something a little bit special and different!
Each Box comes with a matching door that you can use to hide your goodies and you can purchase wheels to make the Box more portable (if you wish!) Just like our cubes, you can combine them to create a larger piece, but the Box has been especially designed to connect and align for a sturdier fit!
That isn’t really what we are here to talk about today. Not necessarily the mechanics of the Box, but the awesome ways you can decorate it to make it your own!
Have you heard of IKEA hacks? Lots of people take their IKEA furniture and “hack” it (modify it) to make it perfect for their home. We think our products are just as good (and more eco friendly) than IKEA so we have written a Way Basics hack for your new Box!
1) Love the color, but want to make one wall different, or the inside different than the outside? Look at craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby for awesome contact paper!
2) Flip through the contact paper to your heart’s content and find something that suits (ex. one customer mentioned they would like a camo Box, so you could buy contact paper here)
3) Make sure you have enough contact paper to cover as many walls as you wish!
4) Measure the walls, cut, and stick!
5) Stand back and admire your handiwork!
What patterns would you like to add to your Box?
February 19th, 2013
Our home is our sanctuary. It is where we return to again and again for comfort, solace, rest, nourishment, etc. Whether you have children or not, your home should be a healthy place. You may not spend the majority of your woken hours there, but toxins, even while you sleep, contribute to both physical and mental health problems.
If you are building a new home, it is pretty simple to go green. Many alternatives now exist. From safer paints to wool carpeting, you don’t have to rely on synthetic, toxic materials. Although it may cost more to go the eco-friendly route, it is worth it in the long run for both your health and the planet’s
Remodeling an existing home can be a bit trickier than new construction, as extra precaution should be used when removing toxic building materials like asbestos tiles and fiberglass insulation. Most of us are not going to go to this extent and you don’t have to tear apart your home or install an alternative energy system to build a safer home for your family. Start with small, simple steps. Eventually you will get to the bigger stuff.
My own home is a mixture of eco-friendly and more traditional elements. We did build our home from salvage timber. We did use only eco-friendly paints on the interior walls. Some of our insulation is made from recycled cotton. We do live off-the-grid
. What I think matters more than these green architectural features is how you fill your home.
One of the most basic places to start building a safer home for your family are your cleaning supplies. When my house is clean, I feel good. Unfortunately, most products used to clean our homes are highly toxic, perhaps the most dangerous chemicals in your house. That pine fresh scent isn’t a good thing!
It’s pretty simple to make your own cleaning supplies. Healthy Child Healthy World
has great recipes making your own cleaners. All you really need is vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice, although I find plain water works great too. If you feel you need some soap, Dr. Bronner’s is a safe, good multi-purpose cleaner. If you feel you need specific products, like for cleaning toilets or windows, there are a lot of eco-friendly products available now at health food stores and many mainstream grocery stores from brands such as Seventh Generation. Of course, don’t forget the laundry. Choosing an eco-friendly, natural laundry detergent is also essential in keeping your home safe.
Beyond the products you use to clean your home, the interior of your home is another place to consider. Only use paint that is non-toxic and low in VOCs
Typical household paint may contain upwards of 300 known toxic chemicals.
Consider purchasing eco-friendly furniture, especially mattresses. Think of how much time you spend in your bed, then consider that each mattress has at least five pounds of chemicals! The Wool Bed Company
These nasty chemicals you’ll find in your traditional, mass produced mattress include Boric Acid (also known as roach killer), Antimony (similar to arsenic), and Decabromodiphenyl Oxide, or DBDPO. These chemicals have been known to cause reproductive and developmental issues, heart, lung, and kidney damage, and even cancer. Inhaling these chemicals on a regular basis is extremely toxic to our bodies and will cause health issues until we resolve the problem.
In my home, all of our mattresses are eco-friendly, but our couches are not. I don’t advise families throw out all of their furniture. That would not be very eco-friendly. I do advise that when you are purchasing new furniture, you use chemical-free as a criteria. New carpeting and couches are notorious for making people ill. Anything with a “new” smell should be avoided.
Finally, you cannot build a safer, eco-friendly home for your family without considering the kitchen. Non-stick cookware
should be tossed out immediately. A majority of the food in your cupboards and refrigerator should be organically grown. Less chemicals means a greener home and a healthier family.
It can feel overwhelming at times when you start to look around your home at all of the toxins. There are simple steps you can take immediately, such as using houseplants to improve indoor air quality and switching to green cleaning products
. You don’t need to take out a second mortgage and completely gut your home to create a safer environment, just seek out greener products when replacing your old ones. Step by step this will lead you to a healthier home.
This guest post was written by the founder & editor of ecochildsplay, Jennifer Lance. Thanks for your amazing advice Jennifer!
February 15th, 2013
We saw this amazing shelf makeover DIY on Design Sponge and we thought it would be the perfect way to introduce our NEW floating shelves (and all the amazing things you can do with them!
NEW Espresso zBoard floating shelves
Don’t have enough room in your kitchen for full shelves but want more organizational space?
Way Basic’s new floating shelves are the perfect way to give you that extra space without all the hassle. If you want to mix it up and decorate them DIY style, follow the tutorial below (tutorial from here).
here’s what you’ll need:
-Way Basics zBoard floating shelves (any size!)
-woven grass cloth (you can also use paper, fabric, vinyl, etc.)
-polycrylic clear sealant
-wood stain in color of your choosing
Shelf Complete! (Image source: http://www.designsponge.com/2008/03/diy-wednesdays-shelf-makeover.html)
1. prime or spray paint shelves
2. lay shelf on top of a piece of grass cloth. wrap cloth around shelf until it overlaps 1/2″ and trim to size. staple cloth to back edge of shelf.
3. wrap short ends like a present and staple, tucking in all raw edges.
4. mix 3 parts polycrylic to 1 part stain and brush over cloth covered shelf. wearing your gloves, rub stain into cloth fibers with your hands.
5. let dry and finish with a coat of clear polycrylic.
6. hang shelves (tip: you can camouflage the hanging hardware and screws with acrylic paint.)
Thanks for the amazing inspiration Design Sponge!
February 12th, 2013
It is so easy to let your healthy eating go when you are busy with school, kids, house, pets, etc! Here are some tips from two amazing bloggers about how they eat healthy and stay organized!
Brittany (from Eating Bird Food) “Keep a food and exercise journal. It’s extremely helpful to track how much you’re eating –- sometimes you don’t realize how many small bites here and there add up. You can keep a hand-written food and exercise journal or go digital and log your food/fitness from your computer or smartphone. MyFitnessPal is a great tool for this. “
Darya (from Summer Tomato) “Keeping a clean and orderly fridge can help you eat healthier by making cooking at home more appealing. Research has shown that the easier and more enjoyable the healthy habit, the more likely you are to stick with it.”
What do YOU do to stay healthy and organized? Be sure to check out their blogs for more amazing tips, recipes etc!
February 6th, 2013
Let’s make this short and sweet. For ways to get rid of those nasty toxins and breathe in clean air, follow some of the tips below!
1. Suck, Wipe and Prevent! – In general terms: vacuum it up, Mop what is left, and put a mat by all entrances so people don’t track in allergen-causing dirt!
2. Open windows! (Enough said)
3. Bring plants indoors! It is amazing what these little suckers can do for air quality.
4. Ditch the air fresheners – Air fresheners usually contain petroleum products which are no good for the lungs (or any other part of your body).
5. Kill the mildew – Keep your home at a good level of humidity. Science terms are between 30-50% but some good pointers are: open a window after/ during showering, use air conditioners in the summer and humidifiers during the winter.
6. NO smoking indoors
7. Animals – love the little furry guys but be sure to clean up their fur on a regular basis.
8. Test your home for radon – new or old, your home could contain radon which is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause lung cancer. Check out this website for how to test: http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html
9. Cut down on the fertilizer in your garden. Try compost instead! Much better smelling and better to inhale!
10. Smile. Not really an air quality improver but it does improve the mood of a home!
Any tips to add to the bunch?
February 3rd, 2013
According to the DailyGreen.com, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air pollution can be 2 – 5 times more polluted than the air outside. Mind numbing, isn’t it?! Our homes are supposed to be a safe haven and yet they can cause allergies, asthma attacks and other respiratory conditions. At Way Basics, we would like to help you cleanse your home so it truly can be a place of solitude and health! Here are some of the most common causes of indoor pollution and what you can do to combat the dangers!
1. Smoking - Sort of a “duh” moment there but think about how dangerous second hand smoke is in the outside world, and then trap all those carcinogens into an enclosed space. Even after cleaning, cigarette smoke sinks into everything. Suggestion: Make a designated outside smoking area. I know, I know, it isyourhome but think of your guests and family members, children, pets etc.
2. Paint – It sure is pretty but also extremely toxic. Of course lead isn’t an ingredient in paint anymore, but there are still other toxins that are released many days or months after an area has been painted. Suggestion: Ventilate, Ventilate, Ventilate! Also look for low VOC or no-VOC paints (VOC is the organic compound that is toxic). If you are getting a professional to paint for you, specify what you want because the toxic compound stays in your house long after they are gone!
3. Dirt – Another no brainer, but dirt on the floor and furniture is the perfect breeding ground for allergens. Suggestion: This is a no fun one, but necessary, get your vacuum out and use it! Put on some music, pretend it is a mic, whatever it takes to suck those dust bunnies up!
4. Household Cleaners – As they wage battle against the dirt in your home, they also attack your lungs and brain (metaphorically of course… sorta). Chemical cleaners are extremely dangerous especially for children and women who may be pregnant. You know that tip about processed food? Look at the label and if you don’t understand the ingredients, don’t eat it. Same sorta thing, if you don’t know what is in the cleaners, chances are there are toxins that are killing the dirt and your brain cells. Suggestion: Buy or make non-toxic cleaners. Check out our Facebook tomorrow for our top suggestions (or Google “Home Made Non-Toxic Cleaners”!
5. Formaldehyde – This is the one that we especially wage war on! Formaldehyde is just as dangerous as asbestos and mold and yet it is found in most of your furniture! Formaldehyde is used widely in the manufacturing of chipboard/ particle board (the stuff that all IKEA furniture is made out of). This stuff is extremely hazardous as it continues to release toxic gas into your household for as long as you own it. Scary, huh?! Suggestion: Buy furniture products that do not contain PCB or formaldehyde. Example, all of our zBoard products (ie. Storage Cubes) are completely non-toxic. Pretty cool, huh? zBoard storage shelves look and are in the same price range as IKEA bookshelves and yet are not releasing toxins into your home!
Phew, that was a long one. I think I should go open a window and let in some fresh air while I let all this learning sink in (ps. opening windows in your home- KEY to decreasing pollution). This is just the start of our Healthy Home Campaign. Check our Facebook/ Google + tomorrow for some non-toxic cleaning product suggestions!
PS. I, Deborah, am the Marketing Manager for Way Basics and coordinating this month of Healthy activities! See me here —->
and contact me through Facebook or by commenting below for any questions and suggestions!