Though many of us are aware how useful the Fab Four (Salt, Lemons, Vinegar, and Baking Soda) by Shea Zukowski can be around the house for anyone seeking earth-friendly solutions, it is difficult to actually remember which is for what purpose.
I came across this little gem of a book and now I have all these tips in one place for reference instead of forgetting where I read those tips and to where I filed them away. The book is categorized into sections including kitchen, laundry, personal, pet and outdoors. For this post I am just going to center on what can be useful to make life easier in raising children.
CLOTH DIAPER CLEANER
1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup vinegar
Fragrance-free liquid laundry detergent
Add the baking soda to the wash cycle along with the detergent. Baking soda helps neutralize the acids in the dirty diapers.
Add the vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften clothes and help remove the detergent.
BABY FORMULA STAIN REMOVER
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
Baby formula easily stains clothing because of it's high protein content. Keep this mix in a spray bottle in the refrigerator so it is handy to pre-treat stains as soon as possible. Let the garment air dry in the sun and then wash as usual.
BABY AND CHILD TOY DISINFECTANT
1/4 cup vinegar
Soak a clean cloth in the 1/4 cup of vinegar and wipe down all non-plush toys. Allow items to air dry. The vinegar scent will fade away.
STUFFED ANIMAL CLEANER
1/2 cup baking soda
Not all plush toys can be put into the washing machine. To rid stuffed animals of odors, put them in a plastic zip lock bag along with the baking soda. Shake the bag to distribute the baking soda over the stuffed animals and let sit overnight. Remove the toys and shake off the excess baking soda.
URINE SMELL ELIMINATOR
2 cups vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup baking soda
Bed wetting can be frustrating for everyone. There are waterproof mattress covers to protect the mattress but if the deed is already done you'll want to get rid of the smell of urine. Mix the vinegar and water and apply with a sponge to the affected areas. Blot dry with a towel and cover the spot with the baking soda. Let the area fully dry and then vacuum.
MUDDY CARPET CLEANER
When kids or pets come charging into the house leaving a trail of muddy footprints behind them, resist the urge to try blotting it up. This could just drive the dirt deeper into the carpet fibers. Take a handful of plain old salt and sprinkle generously onto the messy spots and leave it. Give the salt time to absorb the liquid and once dry vacuum it up.
PRE-TREATMENT FOR GRASS AND OTHER STAINS
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tsp lemon juice OR 1 tsp vinegar
Stained knees and shirt fronts are prime targets for stained clothes. Sprinkle baking soda on the area, followed up with the lemon juice or vinegar on top. As the mixture starts to fizz, rub the fabric or use a toothbrush to rub it in to make sure the mix is getting through the stain. Let it sit a few minutes and then launder as usual.
CHEWING GUM REMOVER
Before you grab the scissors to cut out gum stuck in your child's hair, try using a lemon. Cut a lemon in half and rub the cut side onto the gum to help it loosen its grip. Gently squeeze the lemon to release some juice. Lemons can cause some bleaching so rinse the hair. This method can work on clothes and carpets as well, just remember to blot it up so it doesn't lighten the carpet.
SWIMMER'S EAR PREVENTION
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp isopropyl alcohol
After a day of swimming there is always a chance the protective layer of wax in the outer ear canal gets worn away. Bacteria rich water from swimming can get in there and cause an infection. To lower this risk, make a solution of equal parts vinegar and isopropyl alcohol and store in a bottle or jar. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and squeeze a few drops into each ear after swimming.
POOL TOY MILDEW PREVENTION
Inflatable pool toys are susceptible to mold and mildew once deflated and stored away for the winter. To minimize this from happening, let them sit in the sun to thoroughly dry before storing. Sprinkle each deflated item with a handful of baking soda before rolling up.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLE WASH
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp baking soda
1 cup water
A homemade, very economical fruit and vegetable spray to remove waxy coatings and help clean off pesticides. Fill a spray bottle with the lemon juice, baking soda and water. Shake before use. Spray the produce before eating and rinse it well to remove any aftertaste from the wash. The spray will last about a week.
NEED SOMETHING TO DO KID ACTIVITIES
4 to 5 small bowls of salt
Food coloring of different colors
Pour an equal amount of salt into a few small bowls. A few Tbsp in each should be plenty.
Add a drop of food coloring into each bowl and stir to create different colors.
Using the sponge brush, coat a piece of paper with a thin layer of glue and let the children sprinkle the colored salt to form pictures and patterns.
SALT CLAY DOUGH
1 cup salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups flour
Mix the salt with the warm water and stir to dissolve. Add the vegetable oil and flour and stir slowly to combine. Knead the dough till pliable, adding flour if necessary till not sticky. If desired, divide into smaller balls and add a few drops food coloring to each to make different color dough balls. Store the play dough in a zip lock bag or lidded container. If the kids want to save their creations, let them air dry a few days and paint them with watercolor or acrylic paints. A thin coating of clear nail polish will help preserve them.
Here are three other posts about natural care for adults and children:
All Natural Care for Mom and Baby
The Well Stocked Natural Child's First Aid Kit
Dealing with the Pitfalls of Summer, Naturally