Ok, this non-toxic stain post has been a long time coming! So long story short my hubs made me an amazing table as a birthday and Christmas present last year. Yeah, he rocks. I had been wanting a table I had seen at Restoration Hardware but didn’t want to pay $3k for it- anyone else feel me on this?? So he made one for me with my uncle, who is an expert craftsman. To say I love it would be an understatement! He nailed it and it’s a gift I will cherish forever.
He finished the table in December of last year but we weren’t able to stain it until now(8 months later in September). It was too cold to stain it in the winter because the stain wouldn’t cure unless it was inside the house. There was no way I was going to have it stained in the house with two little girls around. I was concerned about the off gassing, but also having my 3 year old accidentally put her hands on the newly stained table- and with my 3 year old the probability of that was very high. We don’t have a garage, so we simply had to wait until the temps warmed up. We could have done it sooner but summer was so crazy busy that we hardly had a free weekend to do it.
Anyways, it’s finally done! I wanted to share what we ended up with, the process of application and the final look. I searched high and low for a non-toxic stain. For those who may not know of the toxicity of wood finishes- it’s really toxic! Wood finishes contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are not only harmful to the environment but horrible for your personal health. Stains are solvents that can be derived from petroleum or synthetic chemicals and are highly toxic. I didn’t want to be breathing in chemicals but I also wanted my table to be protected.
We ended up choosing Vermont Natural Coatings Furniture Finish Poly Whey Clear Semi-Gloss. It is a sealer and topcoat. I had read up on Vermont Natural Coatings and heard great feedback and reviews. I also spoke to someone at The Green Depot here in Seattle and was very impressed with the product. When it came down to the final decision, it was either Vermont Natural Coatings or Osmo. However, we ended up going with Vermont Natural Coatings because with little kids we really wanted the surface to be protected and durable. Osmo would give a more matte finish which I wanted and would be easy to touch up just one area if need be, but it’s not durable like Vermont Natural Coatins PolyWhey Furniture Finish. Also, the Osmo would turn the wood more yellow and I didn’t want that either. At the end of the day I wanted a durable stain that would last through many meal times. You just have to weigh what’s important to you in a stain/wood sealer.
The Vermont Natural Coatings Furniture Finish uses whey protein from the dairy industry for a bonding agent. It’s a natural and renewable resource. It has very low VOC’s. When I spoke with The Green Depot staff they said to let the table sit out for a week and it would off gas mostly. You couldn’t even smell anything when my husband was applying it. We did let it cure for a week outside to let it set, just because the directions say to allow one week for full product cure. When we brought it in you couldn’t smell anything. Score!
I was nervous about the amount of gloss but once my husband did the first coat I knew I had made the right decision- I loved it! It doesn’t look super shiny. You can choose from satin, semi-gloss and glossy. We chose semi-gloss just because we knew it would be eaten on and used frequently. We even had a wood worker tell us we could take a 220 grit electric sander and sand it just a little after to give a more matte look if we really wanted too. We may in the future but for now I think it looks great! Another big concern was not changing the color of the table. I loved the light color and didn’t want to sacrifice that but also knew it would get a little darker but was fine with that. The Vermont Natural Coatings Furniture Finish was the perfect solution.
My hubs just followed the directions on the back of the container. Everyone I talked too recommended we do that since natural products can have very specific directions. The drying time between coats was only 2 hours which was nice. My hubs did sand it before the first application with a 220 grit sand paper and then after each application (there was a total of 3 applications) too. This is what the directions said.
I’m so pleased with the way it turned out and would recommend it to anyone looking for a natural alternative to traditional wood finishes! Have you used natural stain or wood sealer? What were your thoughts?
I’ve had a lot of people recently ask what I use to clean my house with. It may be because spring is here, and spring cleaning is looming over everyone’s head. I must say I’m a clean freak by nature. Ask my family, they’ll tell you-I can be a little OCD! Oh well, my house is clean. The spring cleaning bug has definitely bit me. I’ve been de-cluttering our place like crazy! My motto: If it doesn’t serve a purpose, toss it. Let’s just say I’ve given away loads of “stuff” these past several weeks and it feels so good.
In the spirit of spring cleaning, I thought I would share with you my top household product picks. Everything from laundry soap, window cleaner, bleach alternative…well, you get the point. I’ve compiled this list after over 5 years of testing out natural DIY’s, products and everything in between. I finally feel my list meets my standards and is worth sharing. I mean do you know how many laundry soaps I’ve tried in 5 years?! I think I know every DIY recipe out there. I literally changed mine every couple of months.
Oh and you all must know how toxic cleaning products are…if you don’t, trust me when I say you don’t want them in your house! Some of the most toxic ingredients live inside those bottles, and they’re horrible for you to breathe, touch and have around if you have kiddos in the house. Half the products now are loaded with so much fragrance to mask their smell that it practically knocks you off your feet! Artificial fragrance, in my opinion, is one of the worst things-I can smell it a mile away.
So I’ve compiled my little household list for a non-toxic/clean home. Trust me, you won’t even miss your old stuff!
Household Product Faves:
I wanted to give a brief introduction about e-cloth before I continue sharing their products. The basis of e-cloth is that it offers a chemical free cleaning experience using only water. It does this through micro fiber technology, proprietary equipment, and manufacturing techniques. I love their mission:
“Our aim is to supply the most effective, healthiest and most environmentally friendly cleaning products available at a good value to the consumer.”
*Also, with many companies on the market offering similar microfiber cloths and products, learn why I chose e-cloth here.
Where has this been all my life?! No really, I’ve struggled to find something that not only cleaned my dishes, but wasn’t a scotch brite pad that smelled like chemicals. Not to mention, I wanted something I could re-use and not throw away all the time. Well, the e-cloth Washing Up Pad came into my life, and has rocked my world! The gray side of the pad is for scrubbing stuck on food, and the other side is smooth and cuts through grease and grime. It’s made from cloth, versus some weird chemical smelling sponge material. The best part?! You just throw it in the washer when you need to clean it. Hello, how cool is that? Not only does this sponge work like a charm on all my tough dirty dishes, but it saves me money and is environmentally friendly. A win/win in my book! Get the e-cloth Washing Up Pad!
This cloth has been another winner from e-cloth. One side is more grainy and perfect for getting rid of residue, while the other side is smooth for polishing. Both sides remove 99% of bacteria just using water-I love it! I just spray some water onto the stainless steel, then use the grainy side to remove any residue(make sure you go in the direction of your grain so you don’t scratch anything). Then I would use the smooth side to polish. It did clean my stainless steel well, but it didn’t leave it sparkling like I wanted. I contacted e-cloth and asked what the solution might be to get the “sparkle” effect. They recommended the Glass and Polishing Cloth. So I got that, gave it a try, and bam-my stainless steel sparkled like new! The best part is it not only works for shining up stainless steel, but also for cleaning windows and mirrors. I would spray a little water onto my window or mirror and wipe away. No streaky residue. Are you hearing me people?! There was absolutely no chemical used to clean my stainless steel, windows or mirrors! Let’s just say I struck gold. I also used the Stainless Steel Cloth to clean my granite counters, and my countertops never shined brighter. I highly recommend these two products. They tackle so many cleaning jobs with no chemicals. Plus, no paper towel was wasted, just wash and re-use! Get E-Cloth 2 Glass & Polishing Cloth.
These two have been my jam as far as laundry detergent goes. I toyed a lot with making my own laundry detergent recipe. However, over the years I just got tired of having to make it…does that sound so bad?! Some things I don’t mind making, and who knows I might find another recipe I want to try again but for now I’m stuck on these two.
These really work and are clean! They are fragrance free which I love and are so easy to use. Just add one tab to the dishwasher and that’s it. My dishes come out clean and streak free. Plus, as I mentioned they’re super clean- chlorine free, dye free, phosphate free. Made with plant-based mineral ingredients and biodegradable. Get the Ecover Naturally Derived Automatic Dishwasher Tablets!
This dish soap recipe is my fave! It’s so easy to make-literally takes a minute, it’s so effective, and it’s toxin free! Plus, you’re going to save a ton of money, since you’re not buying it pre-made. The recipe uses Sal Suds from Dr. Bronner’s and love it. I also use it for cleaning my floors sometimes when I want a little soap. For the full dish soap recipe head to Live Simply’s Blog here!
I love this detergent! It really works and is completely natural-what more could you ask for? I love the whole concept of using soap nuts. For one they aren’t nuts, but are actually a berry from a tree, how much more natural can you get?! They’re a sustainable resource and grown organically easily, they’re great for sensitive skin, and hypoallergenic. Not to mention they’re 100% bio-degradeable, and completely safe for water systems. If you’re not sold yet, they actually use less water than conventional detergent, are safe for front loading washers, and they cost less per load too. They’re just a pretty amazing little berry!! How does it actually clean your clothes? It takes the saponin contained in the husk of the natural berry, and uses that to wash and get rid of dirt. Yes, even my husband’s stinky workout clothes smell good! My clothes smell fresh, not artificial and they are clean. I’m addicted to this stuff and almost out- it really is some good stuff. Buy it here!
I’ve been using Molly’s Suds laundry detergent for a while now and I must say I’m hooked. I’ve tried 3 different versions of their laundry detergent. Two powders and one liquid. They have a regular powdered scented version(scented with essential oils) and it’s great for my regular everyday clothes. They also have a sensitive version that is scent free and I use that for my baby girl and my toddler’s clothes, blankets, etc. The last one I’ve tried is their sport version and I use it for my workout clothes and my husbands-really gets the sweaty smell out of them! They also carry an Oxygen Whitener, laundry detergent for cloth diapers, wool dryer balls and they just came out with a regular liquid laundry detergent. Overall, I’ve been super impressed with the quality of their products. Buy Molly’s Suds All Natural Laundry Powder.
This stick is my most recent find and I’m addicted! It works so well! I’ve gotten a ton of food stains out of clothes, grease and even my baby girl’s breast milk poop-which in my opinion is one of the hardest things to get out. It’s so easy to use too. I just wet the stain and rub the stick into it and scrub. I rinse it out and then wash the clothes or whatever it is like normal. Everyone needs this in their kitchen! And it’s such a steal! Grab your Meliora Cleaning Products Laundry Stain Removal Soap Stick!
Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda, and White Vinegar
When it comes to cleaning my house I like to keep it really simple. I’ve looked at a ton of the “natural” cleaning products, and there’s always ingredients I don’t recognize off hand. Plus, when the job can be done at a fraction of the cost, and with simple ingredients I’m all about it. You can always find these three at my house: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and white vinegar.
What can’t these three do? I have yet to find out. I keep it simple when cleaning my bathroom. From the sink, tub, shower and toilet, they get the job done. I don’t put hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle because it is light sensitive, and starts to break down when exposed. That’s why you typically see it in a brown bottle. Oh and did I mention it’s around .99 a bottle? Yeah, pretty awesome. I just squirt it all around my tub, sink, toilet and counter and let it sit for 10 minutes. After I squirt it I always sprinkle on baking soda. This acts as a grit to help pick up more dirt. White vinegar I use similarly to hydrogen peroxide. It’s great for cleaning drains. I always put some essential oil drops around the sink when I’m done cleaning to help mask the vinegar smell. I clean my sink with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda too. Another trick I learned is to clean your cutting board with hydrogen peroxide. So many uses for it!
I LOVE this hand soap! Best organic, natural hand soap I’ve tried…hands down. I’ve struggled with finding a hand soap. It either wasn’t pure, squirted out weird or didn’t foam. This baby does it all, and has the best ingredients. Not to mention, it doesn’t dry out my hands! Everyone needs this in your kitchen and bathroom…trust me. They have them in several scents-they all smell good! $8.99 Buy it here!
Shark Light and Easy Steam Mop for Hard Wood Floors-
I use an electric steam mop from the brand Shark to clean my hardwood/non-carpet floors. I love this mop! It heats the water creating hot steam that kills 99.9% of germs. And your just using water…no chemicals! They say it’s safe to use on all sealed hard wood surfaces on their website. The mop comes with two reusable pads you can wash and just reuse. I’ve had mine for several years and have no complaints. $69.99 Buy it here!
I’ve also picked up a few other cleaning tips and some DIY’s if that’s our thing!
Bleach alternative- I found this recipe on the blog Live Simply. Check out Kristin’s blog-it’s awesome! She has so many great DIY recipes and they actually work. This one is gold! You just mix hydrogen peroxide, washing soda and hot water. I can’t take any credit for it though. I’ve just used it for everything and I’m here to say it works. I typically soak my stuff overnight, not that you need too, I just forget I’m soaking things sometimes…opps! I’ve found it works best for things when done right away. Don’t wait a month, and then decide you want to whiten something…know what I mean? I had these white tea towels that hadn’t ever been whitened, needless to say they were in bad shape. However, they did turn out pretty white with a good soaking…but just get on the soaking asap just for good measure.
Use the same towels for cleaning each time so there is no need for paper towels. I haven’t used paper towels for over a year until recently. I finally started buying them because with a 1 year old I was going through a crazy amount of laundry, not to mention I was ruining a lot of towels, and my husband was constantly on me about it. Sometimes convenience wins out. I buy Seventh Generation’s recycled paper towels and only allow 1 roll per week. We actually make it longer than a week most of the time.
Here’s a recipe for liquid dish soap I like from the blog Mommypotamus, she really knows her stuff and this one is tried and true, and not full of the nasties.
Here’s a recipe for dishwasher detergent from the blog Pins and Procrastinations. I’ve tried a ton of these recipes, and this one has seemed to work the best.
Ok, that’s my cleaning regimen for now. I want to hear from you guys! What do you use, like or what hasn’t worked. Leave me a comment!