Condo Blues

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How to Make Powdered High Efficiency Laundry Detergent

My old washing machine died beyond repair. I replaced it with a High Efficiency (HE) washing machine. HE washing machines use less water than conventional washing machines (and save more electricity and water in the process.) You have to use a low sudsing laundry detergent. If you don’t, the washing machine could overflow. I thought that since every green source is pimping HE washers (including myself I suppose), I thought that finding low sudsing powdered detergent would be easy. Not so much. After a long search I found only two and hated both.

  • HE Option #1 - Tide HE made me itch. Not surprising because according to family lore my mother used Tide to wash my cloth diapers when I was a baby. Tide gave baby me diaper rash so bad that the skin on my butt chapped and bled. Even thought I ‘m an adult, my mom says she still feels bad about it. Which just goes to show you Mom Guilt NEVER goes away (sorry Mommies.)
  • HE Option #2 - Trader Joes was a huge disappointment. It is a plant based laundry detergent– yay! It didn’t clean our clothes very well. Especially Husband’s muddy and sometimes toxically sweaty running clothes. Be thankful computers don't have Smellorama.
I tried using a smaller amount than usual of a regular liquid detergent. It cleaned our cloths but stank up the washing machine after every load - BAD.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Easier Way to Clean with Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar converts know that a 5% acidity solution of white vinegar will clean and disinfect a countertop (although you don’t want to use it to clean a marble countertop – trust me on this one), deter a kitchen ant invasion, and kill mold and mildew in the bathroom.

Once I had the big Ah ha! Moment, I filled up an old spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water and got to cleaning. The Condo was clean but I wondered why it seemed that I needed to use twice as much of my vinegar and water solution to clean tough stuff like soap scum on my shower doors – my nemesis - than when I used other environmentally friendly cleaners.

The answer was right on the vinegar bottle. A regular bottle of white vinegar is already a 5% acidity solution.


By adding water to the vinegar, I was reducing how effective it was as a cleaner and disinfectant. That’s why I needed to use twice as much vinegar to get the job done.


I solved the problem by screwing the spray nozzle of my old cleaning bottle directly onto the bottle of white vinegar. Now I’m cleaning more effectively with my 5% white vinegar solution (of course I but the empty bottle in my recycling bin.)


And before you ask, no, The Condo doesn’t smell like pickles either.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Can You Wash a Plastic Bath Poof?

Not to be too TMI about it but normally I like to use a loofah in the shower/bath for all of my exfoliating needs.
Side note: Did you know that loofah is a type of squash that grows on a vine and not a sea sponge? Really! Well, you smart people out there probably already knew that but I didn’t until a few years ago when one of Husband’s uncles grew loofah and gave them out as parting gifts at a family reunion.

I now return you back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

I got a plastic bath poof with an unsolicited free sample in the mail. Not being one to waste things, I figured I’d use the plastic poof until it got yucky and then I’d switch back to my loofah stash.

Eventually the bath poof got yucky. I wondered if I could extend its life by washing it in a lingerie bag in the washing machine.



Landfill = 1, Creative Reuse = 0

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How I Slashed my Electric Bills without Moving into a Yurt

Last March I started my own personal 20% Energy Reduction Challenge . My goal was to reduce the amount of electricity in my 1500 square foot free standing Condo used for the year by 20%.

Everything in The Condo runs on electricity except for the natural gas hot water, fireplace, and furnace.

 Pin these tips to your Pinterest boards! Share them with your friends!

I didn’t want to add solar panels or wind turbines to my home because they are a poor return on investment where I live. I also wanted keep all of my current non-Energy Star appliances. Everything I had still worked and it would be too costly and wasteful to replace. But most of all I wanted to see if I could meet my goals this way because a slew of Greenzillas insisted that I couldn’t do it without alternative energy and installing new energy efficient everything. I thought I could.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Using Cloth Handkerchiefs – a Good Thing or Just Gross?

Ah-ah-ah-choo! Even though the weather is cold and the ground is still frozen, my seasonal allergies have kicked in lately. I’m sneezing and my face is leaking like it’s the middle of July or something – but it’s still only March!

After two weeks of sniffling and blowing my nose, it should be red and tender. Not this time – I switched to using reusable cloth handkerchiefs and boy does my nose thank me. So does my wallet. And maybe the planet does too.

To be honest, I grew up using disposable tissues. As a kid the only hankies in my possession were from my Grandmother and they became elaborately draped dresses for my Barbie dolls (a skill that came in handy when I went to an actual toga party in college) or worn on my head because they were bandanas.

As I was going through my old renaissance festival performer prop boxes I came across some of those old handkerchiefs. I used to carry them with me because obviously they were a lot more period to use then a 21st century paper tissue. Since those performance days are long gone, I figured why not try using those hankies now? If I didn’t like them or found it kinda gross, I always have the backup box of disposable tissues in the bathroom.

Turns out I actually like using the hankies better. They are softer on my nose. Using a handkerchief once and putting it in my pocket or purse for another future use was just like doing the same with a paper tissue so didn’t find it disgusting. And if I did, I just tossed the handkerchief into the laundry hamper and grabbed a fresh one.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How to Repop Popcorn Kernels

One of my favorite go to snacks is popcorn. I like to make my popcorn old school – in a pot on the stove. It’s less wasteful than microwave popcorn, inexpensive, and if you don’t slather it in butter (real or fake), it’s pretty darn healthy.

After enjoying a bowl of popcorn during a pay per view movie on cable (no, not that kind of pay per view movie - get your mind out of the gutter – we watched Momma Mia! ) there were quite a few unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl. Normally I’d chuck them in the trash bin because I don’t think the kernels would break down in the composter and the last thing I need is for The Condo to look like Green Acres with corn accidently growing all over my front flowerbeds!

I looked at the unpopped popcorn kernels and thought about Crunchy Chicken’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge. I’d actually have something to report if I them threw away unless…I repopped those unpopcorn kernels and ate them.

I remember my mom telling me that her Grandmother would repop popcorn kernels but my mom said that it never worked for her. I figured what the hey? The worse that could happen is that I burn the kernels and throw them out which I was about to do anyway. I tried it and guess what – it worked!

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove