How Safe Is Your Eco Liquid Dish Soap?

Rashes from Laundry Detergent

As I was recovering from horrible reaction from a well-known brand of enzyme based laundry detergent, my skin was worse after I washed dishes. So, I began my search for a new hand wash dish soap. Since I don’t have a dish washer, a good and safe dish washing soap is very important.

EWG.org Rates “C” on My Old Dish Soap

EWG (The Environmental Working Group) assessed my dish soap as a “C”, siting concerns on water pollution and skin irritation/allergies/damage.

I never thought an well-known eco brand would put out products like this. I was so shocked, I had to pick up the bottle and read the ingredients myself.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

That’s when I realized I had been washing my dishes with SLS in the soap. I had been avoiding SLS in my body care products, I never thought to check my dish soap. I just blindly trusted the brand.

And if I don’t want to use SLS on my skin, why would I put it in my body?

Switched to Attitude

Attitude Natural Dishwashing Liquid, Fragrance FreeLuckily, EWG pointed me to the Attitude brand (from Canada). I purchased one bottle of their fragrance-free natural dishwashing liquid (Though not EWG VERIFIED, it’s rated “A”).

I also found that many of their personal care products are EWG VERIFIED to be “free from EWG’s chemicals of concern and meets our strictest standards for your health.”

Clean Dishes, Smooth Skin

It’s been 3.5 months since I switched to Attitude. It cleans as well as my old brand with the same amount of soap. And I am happy to report that my hands are no longer completely dried out. In fact, my skin feels softer!

Buy A Test Bottle

Both my body and I are glad we found EWG and Attitude but as with every new product, I suggest buying one to try then go from there.

For the test bottle, get it direct on ATTITUDEliving.com, as of Oct. 2018, their flate rate shipping and handling is $8.95 for just 1 bottle. (They ship to Canadian provinces & contiguous USA)

This fragrance-free dish soap seems to be harder to find than their other items on US sites, so the prices are pretty much the same as ordering from ATTITUDEliving.com. But if you rather get it via Amazon, put it on your wishlist and see if a deal comes up.

How to Save on #attitudeliving?

If you like it after using it and have the space, I suggest ordering bulk direct from ATTITUDEliving.com for amazing discounts.

For free shipping order more than $60. For order over $70 and above, you get up to 25% off + free shipping!

If you need a little push to get the free shipping, check out some of their EWG VERIFIED items and buy other test bottles. That’s what I did!

Eco Plant-Based Scrubber Sponge: Greener Clean Or Full Circle?

I was using Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Natural Fiber Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges for a few years then I switch to try Full Circle In a Nutshell Walnut Scrubber Sponges (Non-Scratch), mostly to see if how they would compare.

Similarities

  • Made from 100% plant-based fiber
  • Should be disposed with regular garbage, not in compose or recycle bins (according to 3M and Full Circle)
  • The scrubbing layers worn out before the sponge layers
  • Not for scrubbing non-stick surfaces

Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Scrub Sponges

  • Made in USA
  • 50% of the scrubbing layer is made from agave plant (see video)
  • Sanitize in the dishwasher or by boiling

Full Circle In a Nutshell Scrubber Sponges

  • Made in Canada
  • The scrubbing layer is made from walnut shells (doesn’t cause allergic reactions, according to Full Circle)
  • Sanitize in the microwave

My Pick: Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Scrub Sponges

  • The Greener Clean Scrub Sponges lasted longer for me. I just can’t throw a sponge away every few weeks. You are not suppose to nuke this sponge in microwave (as noted on the packaging), so I sanitize it by pouring boiling water on it after squeezing it dry.
  • They are cheaper, especially if you buy in bulk
  • They are made in USA

NOTE: I also use Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Absorbent Sponge. It is more spongy than the sponge part of the scrubber.

Choose Full Circle Scrubber Sponges if you:

  • Want to be able to nuke it
  • Replace your sponges often enough, it doesn’t matter that scrubbing layer wears quickly. (If it lasted as long, I wouldn’t mind using a Cananda made product)

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

PlumbClear Clears Semi Clogged Toilet [Update]

plumbclearI first used PlumbClear to clean slow drains in my very old house. It worked like a charm.

Ahh! The Toilet Is Clogged

According to Alson Enterprises, the manufacturer, the user should use it regularly to prevent any future clogging. I was too lazy…

Last night, the toilet finally had enough. The water saving presurized toilet had the power but somehow water won’t drain before the fresh flow came in, the water level got pretty high before it drained back down again. That meant PlumbClear can still be effective. (The enzyme and friendly bacteria stil could make direct contact with the organic material in the pipe.)

Patience Pays Even for Emergency

I was worried enough to consider dumping the powder right in the toilet but I held back. I used the [Septic Tank ratio]–2 scoops with 2 cups of warm water.

I waited 2 nervous hours as instructed, poured it down the toilet and waited another 30 minutes before flushing. On the 2nd flush, the toilet was working again. What a relief!

Once again, PlumbClear did a wonderful job and all without harmful chemicals!

USA Made Nano Cloth for Eco Cleaning – Spiff Cloth: Just Add Water

Cleaning after Konmari Process

Now that I’m Konmari Clean, it was time to put my things in their permanent homes and cleaning their new homes was the first step.

microfiber cleaning clothUsing the older style microfiber cloth was very frustrating. The small dust balls it gathers are very hard to wash off and surfaces often need more wiping. Even after I dusted with Swiffer, I still have trouble with it.

I started looking on Amazon for newer, greener technology. It seems Nano cloth is the talk of the town. It only needs water, not chemical, to use.

Made in USA

spiff cloth non-toxic cleaningThe top seller was not made in USA and I didn’t like that it has long fibers. I can just imagine the towel trapping all kinds of particles. The thicker material would dry slower after hand washing and would smell after a while.

Then I found the paper like Spiff Cloth, made in USA!

Amazing results on smooth surfaces

Just add water–it works! No chemical necessary.

Computer screen

cleaning monitor with Spiff Cloth

monitor1

monitor2

Stovetop

cleaning stove top with Spiff Clothcleaning stove top with Spiff Cloth

Not so good for

Sticky residue from strong tapes or thick old kitchen grimes (thin grimes are easy to wipe away without much elbow grease. See the before and after photo of my old stereo.)

cleaning stereo with Spiff Clothstereo1

What else do I like about it?

  • Easy to wash clean by hand (use soap and warm water)
  • Dries fast
  • Cut your own size (I cut the 16″x16″ sheet in half)
  • Sturdy (we’ve even cleaned outside windows with it, no damage to the cloth at all)

More to know

  • For maximun result, be sure to wring it as dry as you can
  • For thick dust layer, dusting or vaccumming before wiping makes it easier, faster
  • For soaking up spills, I recommend Trader Joe’s Kitchen Cloth at their stores for the best price. (also easy to wash clean by hand; if not found in one, try other Tader Joe’s.)
  • If it looks a bit dirty after washing, it still clean just fine.
  • Buy direct from Lawrence and Berit Hines
  • Or buy from Amazon

Where to Buy

Spiff Cloth Bonus Coupon

From time to time The Hines would run a speical. When they do I put it up in the comment section, be sure to look for it! FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS, please!

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

Oh So Soft! 100% USA Made Organic Cotton T-Shirt

The USA Made T-Shirt Search Requirements

  • made in USA, of course
  • traditional unisex cut, short sleeves
  • not too thin/see-through
  • not too long
  • not form fitting

SOS from Texas Is The Winner

SOS from Texas organic cottonNeeded to kiss a few t-shirt frogs before I found my t-shirt prince, do keep in mind that I am short and a little chubby.

  • American Apparel
    $18 each, can’t tell where their cotton/fabrics are from. Don’t think I’m their target consumer… I decided not to buy from them.
  • All American Clothing Co.
    $11.99 each, I believe the cotton/fabrics are from USA
    I bought both unisex and women’s plus few pairs of jeans (Can’t help it, they have petite length.) Thought the material is nice, the shirts don’t fit me right and too long for me. Kept the jeans, LOVE them! (not vanity sizing, be sure to consult their sizing chart)
  • American Giant
    $24.50 each, I believe the cotton/fabrics are all made in USA here, too.
    They are famous for their hoodies, I bought 1 hoodies and a few unisex and women’s t-shirts. Same fitting issues as before, the material for women’s premium t-shirt is lovely and fashionable but too see-through for me. I kept the hoody, LOVE this, too.
  • SOS from Texas <<< The Winner! >>>
      sos from texas organic unisex t shirt

    • $12.50 each. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Good price and ORGANIC!
    • “From Dirt to Shirt”–Sold by the actual organic farmers
    • The fit is what I wanted/expected (like the blank t-shirt from the craft shops)
    • I kept all but one (I did expected the fit might not work), donated it to my local 100% volunteer thrift shop
    • Then I ordered long-sleeve t-shirts for the fall and winter

Softest T-Shirt I Have

When I first touched it, I knew I love it. The t-shirt has a cushiony feel, a different kind of soft from the Supima t-shirts on the market but SOS shirts feel so much better against the body.

For the softest, go with “Natural”

sos from texas organic long sleeves t shirtI’ve washed the natural (not bleached) shirts many times now, they still feel great. They told me these would shrink about 1/2 inch after first wash but they still work for me.

White shirt is the next softest. The colored shirts are closer to the white t-shirt out there.

Customer Service

I called SOS from Texas to get help on size and color. The lovely lady actually pulled and measured a t-shirt for me. You might not get them on the first try (I’m guessing it’s a smaller outfit then the others) but don’t give up, it’s worth it!

Return Rules

Their site mentioned “Items may be returned for refund if they have not been washed or worn. If returning for an exchange, please include $6.50 for return shipping.”

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

100% USA Made Supima Cotton Sheets – Authenticity 50

Cheaper Means Cheaper

Been buying sheets on sales at department and other stores. They were cheaper but some smelled, some had pills after one wash (i.e. not going to last long), some only had weak elastic on the corners of the fitted sheets. And of course, none of those were made in the USA.

One side effect of my “Konmari Cleanup” is to simplify my life, including owning fewer quality things that last a long time. That also means, reduce waste and be green!

Authenticity 50, 100% “seed-to-stitch” Made in USA

US made products still means quality and safety.

When I found Authenticity 50, I couldn’t believe it.

  • California Supima cotton:Supima cotton produces stronger and softer fabric.
  • Georgia spun yarn
  • Carolinas woven fabric
  • Family-own factory hand sewn sheets
  • Georgia made elastics
  • Even the duvet cover’s corner ties and buttons are made in USA!
  • (more details)

Trying It Out

 authenticity 50 packageTo test them out, I got the A50 Duvet Set because I never use the flat sheet anyway. (They come with 100-night sleep trial.)

Minimal Yet Sufficient Packaging

The set came in a plastic bag inside a sturdy paper bag (good for recuse/recycle). And from the condition it arrived in, you don’t need more packaging than this. And it translates to reduced cost and less enviornmental impact.

360 Degree Elastic

I love that the elastic for the fitted sheet is 360 degree, not just in the corners. The elastic is wider and thicker than the other ones I’ve had. You can feel the quality by holding it in your fist.

Using it, Loving it

Authenticity 50 fitted 360 degree elasticI’ve slept in them for a while now. The texture reminds me of the line-dried cloth. And there is no smell, too soft, too slippery issues.

I’ve also washed it a few times, still good as new, no pills. The 250 thread-count seems to mean more than the 300+ ones I had before.

I believe we are going to have a healthy long-term relationship.

Tips with Fitted Sheets

The fitted sheets made for 14″ pocket. But do remember to include the extra paddings you have on your mattress.

White Only!? Consider The Costs

Some reviewer wished for colored sheets but think of the extra cost and the problem of not being able to sell less popular colors. The founders want to provide quality sheets at reasonable prices, I totally support having only white sheets.

Besides, I found color sheets tend to take over the room. If you want color, decorate with colorful pillows or a small throw. It’s cheaper and easier to switch up your themes this way, too.

UPDATE (Aug. 2017): Authenticity 50 now has Carolina Gray for people who don’t want white beddings.

$15 Coupon with My Referral Link

If you are looking for the coupon, sorry it has expired. But if you can still save by signing up at Authenticity 50, they do have amazing sales from time to time!

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

Eco Drain, Septic Cleaner That Works: PlumbClear

mesh drain coverBeen bothered by the slow draining issue for our bathtub for a while.

We’ve always used an extra mesh catch (very cheap with varies sizes at Daiso stores, place it upside down for bathtubs.) to stop hair and junk from getting into the pipes but tiny things that got down there do accumulate.

Chemical, homemade, or eco ready-made?

During my research, I learned that some plumbers don’t like the chemical solutions because they create particles that are harmful to your septic tank.

plumbclearThen I read some homemade solutions but didn’t trust them because how varied and inconsistant they are. I wanted something that just works and not having to spend time testing all the formulas and run the risk of clogging up the pipes.

When I found this eco drain, septic cleaner, Plumb Clear, on Amazon.com, I didn’t believe it will work well like many eco-friendly products. Since the reviews were so positive and it’s made in USA, I bought it anyway.

Since I wasn’t expecting much, I didn’t video my experiment. And I trust you’d understand that I won’t wait for my pipe to clog up again to record that it works.

First try with AMAZING result

After reading the instructions, I used the [Septic Tank ratio]–2 scoops with 2 cups of warm water, waited 2-4 hours as asked. Then I accidentally spilled it into the tub, only some got into the drain. I didn’t want to leave any solution in the tub so I rinsed the tub right away.

At this point, I thought, it’s not going to work, I washed it away. That night when I took a shower, I was amazed how well it drained.

Second try with a toilet

For this slow draining toilet, I used the [Septic/Drains ratio]–2 scoops with 5 cups of water. I wanted to make sure the enzyme and friendly bacteria had a chance to eat the built-up in the outlet path of the toilet so I dump 1 cup of the solution into the toilet bowl without flushing for an hour.

When I finally flashed it, it drained so quickly. I was very happy!

Tricks and Tips

  • sportsBottleWhen you first open the container, you need to fish out the scoop and the plastic snake.
  • To help you mix the solution and apply with more precision:
    1. Find an old sports bottle similar to this (the point is to not spend any money while using something that’s just taking up space)
    2. Measure and draw the lines at 1 cup increments, this allows you adjust the mix to only the volume needed.
    3. IMPORTANT!!! Remember to also mark the bottle “NOT FOR DRINKING”.
  • Don’t wait too long to clean the pipes. According to the seller, Alson Enterprises, it works not as well for fully clogged pipe. The solution needs to come in contact with the organic built-up to digest the gunk in the pipes.
  • For the opening of the sink/tub drain, pull the stopper, pour in the solution (I used the more diluted ratio) until it overflows a little, let it sit for a while (I waited 15 minutes), then unstop it.

[UPDATE] PlumbClear Clears Semi Clogged Toilet

Best Non-Toxic Carpet Spot Remover

Folex Carpet Spot RemoverFolex is by far my favorit non-toxic carpet spot cleaner. It knocked Naturally It’s Clean Carpet Cleaner (see my review) down to a slight distant 2nd. And other Folex customers would agree with me.

Folex took the top spot because unlike Naturally It’s Clean Carpet Cleaner, it leave no oder and no color residue.

Folex also works in an instant as the bottle claimed. Follow these simple instructions: spray the spot, work it into the fiber (very important), and blot it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Folex is cheaper, too. As of today, the best price I saw so far is from Bed Bath & Beyond with their readly availble 20% off coupon. 2nd best place to look is your local independent hardware store (where I first discovered it). And when all else failed, there is always Amazon.

Both Folex and Naturally It’s Clean are made in USA and I believe they only clean, don’t disinfect.

To Be KonMari Clean (Books, Magazines)

On my first read of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I realized my design career no longer sparked joy. And for the first time in many years, I stopped blaming clients for not letting me go because I was actually the one who couldn’t let go.

Little did I know, this revelation even helped me clean out my books, too.

Declutter, make money, donate

amazon_trade_inI found out many of my design/art books are worth pretty good money. So before you throw your books out, do the following:

  • Check the trade-in values on Amazon.com
  • Sell to local secondhand bookstores
  • Donate to your local library (in our area, most branches sales book to raise funds)
  • Recycle (hardcover books might not be accepted for residential pickups, check with your garbage company)

Combining the sales to Amazon traid-in and secondhand bookstores, I made almost $100. That is more joy for the rest of the KonMari process.

General (books for fun)

  • Kept 0. Lucky for me, our library almost always has what I am looking for and more.

Practical (reference, cookbooks)

  • Kept 2 for writing novels
  • 2 dictionaries (Japanese, English idioms)
  • 3 Adobe CS books (running an old version, so best to keep on hands)
  • 1 Mac OS book (can’t search for answers if the Mac dies)
  • 4 Computer language books (still running WordPress sites)
  • A box of reference books for my next book/series, not in English, items not easily found here
  • 1 baking book

Visual (photographic, art)

  • Kept 0

Design related books

  • Since I finally decided to end my design career for good, I was able to let most of them go. It felt like I am telling myself and the Universe that I’ve declared my intention to move away from design and focus on writing
  • Kept only what I love the most, patterns, graphics from old catalogs and products.
  • Paper swatches and print samples. Be sure to remove metal bindings before recycling the paper. The metal binding might contain unknown combination of metals that can not be reversed into pure forms again.

Magazines

I only had ones for graphic/web design, so I didn’t keep any but these are what I’ve tried.

  • Sold on ebay before, expensive to ship because of the low price point. And it’s a lot of work to package them. Unless you do this for a living, it’s not worth the effort.
  • Local secondhand bookstores didn’t want them
  • Recycling them turned out to be the only option

All my books fit into one single shelf with space left over.

To Be KonMari Clean (Interruptions)

This may be a long term project

Before I go into tidying up my books KonMari style, I feel it’s important to say that this is turning out to be a long term project. After all:

  • It took years to accumulate all that I have.
  • Doing what I can to throw as little as possible into the trash (i.e. recycle/reuse whenever I can) takes up good amount of time to search and organize.
  • Demands from family and work often interfere with your cleanup plan.

Expect life’s interruptions

After I finished cleaning out my clothes, I discovered that my city was doing free electronic recycling and paper shredding that weekend. Since this only happens once or twice a year, I broke Marie‘s rule and skip ahead to documents and electronics that I’ve already set aside.

More space on my desk, more space to create

The paper I had shreaded are old drafts of my past and current work. I called my writer’s association and learned that I don’t need to keep every scrape of notes and drafts as I was told years ago. All I need to do is keep electronic versions of my books. If you want to be extra careful, print a hard copy of the latest in case your hard drive died.

Now have more space on my desk to work through the book category.