Your dishwasher isn’t broken.  The formula has changed in the dishwashing soap.  Here’s some news about it and what your options are to remedy the situation.

By: Jennifer Chait

This week our green audit is cleaning supplies. We’ve already discussed the dangers of traditional, commercial cleaning supplies, so now we’re moving on to solutions. I will be going over some options available for purchase this week, but first we’re going to look at homemade cleaners.
Benefits of homemade cleaners:
  • Less packaging waste. You’re not buying new bottles over and over.
  • Less expensive. I actually started making homemade products before I was really all the way green – why? To save money.
  • Less harmful (often not harmful at all) to humans, animals, and the earth.
  • Less noxious home smell. Homemade natural cleaners always smell better than store bought. Well, except vinegar – but I have major vinegar issues. There are ways to mask the smell of vinegar though – not completely, but somewhat. Lavender essential oil and lemon juice both work some to hide the icky vinegar smell.
Here we go. Homemade cleaners, from basic recipes to a few that are more advanced…

1. Clogged sink and bathtub drains: prevent clogs altogether with the amazing drain trap. I’m shocked at how many people don’t use a drain trap. I got one at Home Depot for under two dollars – five years ago. If you have a sluggish drain, pour a cup of white vinegar plus one cup baking soda into the drain. Let that sit for a few minutes (it will bubble). Flush with a teapot full of boiling water. If you really have issues, use a snake or plunger. Drain cleaner is honestly something you should never have in your home – it’s hands down one of the more dangerous cleaning items.

2. Air freshening options: Light a natural candle, burn organic incense, boil orange peels and spices on your stove top, diffuse essential oils, open your windows, buy some air cleaning plants, use cedar blocks sprinkled with lavender in your closets, or make potpourri. Learn more:

3. Soap scum removal: Apply baking soda (it is non abrasive). Scrub with a damp cloth or sponge. I have an older bristle brush I use for icky scum – like when I go to long without cleaning (bad me). You can use Borax or vinegar too; but Borax can scratch. Vinegar can be applied directly, left to sit, and scrubbed down.

4. Small carpet stain: Two words – club soda!

5. Bigger tougher carpet stains: Sprinkle Fuller’s earth or cornstarch onto the spot. Allow it to sit for about 20-30 minutes. Scrub with one cup vinegar mixed with three cups water. If it really won’t come out try a natural soap based carpet cleaner.

6. Carpet deodorizer: Sprinkle baking soda around the room – my son thinks this is the most fun ever. Add some dried crushed lavender or basil. Wait about 1/2 hour. Vacuum.

7. Oven cleaning prevention: Don’t let spills sit. That’s the best cleaning procedure hand’s down. Clean the oven sooner rather than later. Line your oven bottom with foil to catch spills.

8. “Oh no, I didn’t follow the oven cleaning prevention tip above!”: Ok, if you have a hot spill, sprinkle it with salt. Mix some baking soda – I just toss maybe two tablespoons with into a cup, with some water to make a thin paste. Use an old toothbrush or bristle brush to scrub it down.

9. Everyday toilet cleaning: Sprinkle some baking soda and lemon juice into your toilet and walk away. Eventually you’ll want to return and scrub it with a toilet brush.

10. Bachelor pad toilet cleaning: No offense guys – I’ve seen my fair share of bachelor pads though. Spray vinegar around the bowl, sprinkle with baking soda, scrub.

11. Metal rust: Mix 2 tablespoons salt with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Apply and rub well.

Over time, a sofa is like anything else--wear and tear lead it to need a good cleaning. Cleaning a sofa is rather easy once you have determined the necessities of your particular couch. The following will help you in preparing and actually cleaning the sofa.

Things You'll Need:
  • Vacuum and its hose attachments
  • Shampoo specific to the couch's fabric
  • Rug shampooer
  • Steam cleaner, possibly
  • Rag and cotton swabs
    Preparing the Sofa
  1. Step 1 Vacuum the sofa, its pillows and its cushions with the hose attachments. Do not forget the arm rests and backing of the couch. This will clean loose dust and dirt.

  2. Step 2 Dust the wood areas with a soft rag and a cotton swab for the area between the material and wood.

  3. Step 3 Find your warranty. If it is still in effect, the warranty may be null and void if you apply any cleaning solutions. Call the company for cleaning instructions.

  4. Step 4 Determine the sofa's fabric. This tag is typically found under the cushion area.

  5. Step 5 Buy shampoo specifically for your sofa's fabric.

  6. Step 6 Rent a rug shampooer.

  7. Step 1 Assemble the shampooer according to its directions.

  8. Step 2 Test a small area of the sofa. The best place may be the back of the couch or under the couch if possible.

  9. Step 3 Clean the entire couch. This will prevent watermarks.

  10. Step 4 Allow it and all its parts to dry before reassembling the cushions and pillows.

Tips & Warnings
  • You may want to try a carpet foam cleaner for spots that are still present after the cleaning. Again, TEST an area prior to applying.
  • Some instructions will say dry clean only. You may want to use a steam cleaner on that couch. Again, TEST it first.
  • Cotton and wool fabrics may shrink. It may be wise not to shampoo the sofa but to spot clean it.
Wash your dog properly. Too many people do not wash their dogs properly. This can actually make things worse. First, check the dog over thoroughly for any obvious stink sources such as something they rolled in or poop stuck in the fur. Check the feet, too, and make sure there's nothing stuck between the toes or pads. Next, stick some cotton in Doggy's ear and wet the entire animal thoroughly. Once wet, using a gentle dog shampoo, lather the dog up good and proper. Finally, rinse, rinse, rinse. It's very important to get all of the soap out or it will dry, itch, and cause the dog to produce excess skin oil

Dry the dog thoroughly. It's not just oils and the things the dog rolled in that create dog odor. It's also bacteria and bacteria waste. These bacteria love wet animal fur and are able to live and reproduce quite happily in it. For this reason, it's very important that you get your dog as dry as possible. Start by gathering every towel you can find and going to town. Rub back and forth, up and down, and all around. As an extra measure, especially for dogs with thick coats, hit them with a blow dryer. Just make sure you set it on the coolest setting possible.

Treat dog breath. If bad enough, dog breath can make a dog and the house wreak like hell. There are several things you can do to help reduce this odor. The most important is to start a proper oral hygiene regimen. It is often recommended that you brush your dog's teeth once a day. At the very least, do it a couple times a week. There are also special dog breath treats you can buy your pooch. I recommend Greenies. Dogs love them and they work well. Before you do anything, though, take your dog to the vet to make sure there isn't something more serious going on like gingivitis or periodontal disease.

Get your dog on a good, healthy diet. It's simple: your dog's health is directly correlated with what you feed him/her. If your dog is not getting a healthy diet, there's a pretty good chance that the pooch isn't going to be as healthy as he/she should be. If the dog isn't healthy, it probably won't smell healthy either. Just imagine how you would smell if you never ate anything but Ramen Noodles and fast food burgers. You'd probably smell like a giant fart. So quit feeding your dog Tuffy's and talk to your vet about what brand of food you should have your dog on.

Speaking of the's quite possible that the dog smell you are smelling is something you won't be able to get rid of on your own. Dogs have these neat things called anal glands that build up and secrete an ishy, musty smelling substance with the feces. Sometimes these glands get clogged. This can cause some serious pet odor. A vet or groomer can express (drain) these glands and make Doggy smell pretty again. Another common dog odor is caused by ear infections. So look at your dog's ears and give them a whiff. If they look nasty or are stinky, take the dog to the vet. The dog might also just have a skin infection that is causing the smell. It could be a yeast infection, a bacterial infection, or an allergy that has caused an increase in the musty-smelling apocrine sweat.
By Dorothy Edison

When the previous owners of a house you have just purchased were smokers, it’s almost guaranteed that the smell of smoke will linger unless you take action. So how do you get rid of the pervasive, stale smell of smoke?

1. Wash everything. Wipe down baseboards, doors, and plastic blinds, as well as light fixtures and fan blades. Anything you can take down or off the walls and windows – do so, and scrub them in the sink (or hose blinds down outside).

2. Remove carpet and padding and replace it if possible. If not, give the carpet a thorough shampooing. Change the water frequently and use professional soap. Be sure to use any extensions on the carpet shampooer to get into hard-to-reach areas.

3. Use a heavy-duty primer, like KILLZ, to seal in any smoke on the walls (including closets), then paint over. Oftentimes, smoke residue will gather on walls, making any paint job uneven and contributing to the odor of the house. With a base primer, the odor and residue is locked in; the subsequent layers of paint will not be affected by the grime underneath.

4. Spritz baseboards with a lemon juice-water mixture, set out coffee beans (they absorb odor), and burn candles. If season permits, open windows and let fresh air into the house.

5. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to have duct works and chimneys cleaned. Houses that have endured years of consistent exposure to smoke may need to have these measures taken to improve the air quality throughout.
Those oil stains in your driveway don't look very good.  Here's a few tips to help clean them up.

After you’ve blotted up and removed as much of the surface oil as possible, you’ll need to give the stain a good scrubbing.  You way awnt to cover the stain with kitty litter first.  After the kitty litter soaks up excess oil, you'll have to scrub.  We usually recommend a good grease-cutting liquid detergent.

Method 1
  • Grab a grease-cutting detergent and a scrub brush.
  • Apply the detergent to the stain and then scrub with the scrub brush.
  • Add hot water and scrub it some more.
  • If you are outdoors, blot it up and then flush with boiling hot water.
Method 2
  • Some experts swear by using a powdered laundry detergent.
  • They sprinkle the laundry detergent directly on the stain,
  • Apply enough water to make a paste, scrub it , and leave it overnight.
  • Add more water, scrub and then wash off.
Most likely, you will still be able to see stain on the surface. Repeat the process using the detergent and scrubbing as hard as possible with the scrub brush. Blot it up, flush with hot water.
Silly Putty!

Great for rolling into a ball and bouncing it off of your little brother's head. Fun on Sunday afternoons for pressing it against the Sunday newspaper comics and transferring the images to other paper – or your bedroom walls. Great fun to form bubbles and make loud snapping noises when you burst them. Not so great when you're the parent and you have to get it out of Junior's bedroom carpet.

Originally created as a potential substitute for rubber in the United States during World War II, Silly Putty was first named Nutty Putty, and is made of silicone polymers. Apollo astronauts used it to secure their tools in zero-gravity, and generations of children – and adults – find it fun to play with.

But because of its great adhesive properties, and its unusual flow characteristics, the stuff is difficult to get out of carpeting, but not impossible. Follow these guidelines to rid your carpeting of Silly Putty, and put it back into the egg where it belongs:

  • With a butter knife and your fingernails, scrape away all of the Silly Putty that you can from the carpeting.
  • Apply Goo Gone or WD-40 liberally to the affected area and allow it to sit for about five minutes.
  • With a wet rag, rub the area over and over again until the putty dissolves.
  • Apply more Goo Gone or WD-40 if you still see putty or a stain, and then rub again with a clean, wet rag.
The Silly Putty should completely dissolve away, leaving no trace that it got stuck in the carpet. According to the manufacturers of the product, alcohol also dissolves Silly Putty, so you could try that if you don't have any Goo Gone or WD-40 in the house. Another good remedy is to freeze the putty until it cracks and breaks. Set an ice pack onto the affected carpet and let it sit there a good few hours, and then crack the frozen putty out of the carpet.
Cleaning Rusty Tile Rust stains on tile can be removed with kerosene.

Cleaning Ceramic Tile
  • Before cleaning bathroom tiles, run the shower on hot for five minutes to steam the dirt loose.
  • For stubborn stains, apply a paste of scouring powder and water and let sit for five minutes. Scrub with a nylon scrub pad, rinse and wipe dry.
  • To keep the grout joints on tile countertops clean longer, wash with a solution of 1 to 2 tablespoons chlorine bleach in one quart of water. Dry thoroughly, then apply an acrylic sealer or three coats of lemon oil. Let dry one hour between coats.
  • Remove mildew and make tiles sparkle by sponging with a solution of ammonia and water.
  • Remove soot from fireplace tiles with a mixture of lemon juice and salt, then wash.
Cleaning Plastic Tile
  • If bathroom walls are dull, wash the tiles with a solution of vinegar and water. Polish with a towel.
  • Has a tile come loose? For a quick fix, put a little piece of chewing gum on each corner, use a warm iron to press it back into place.
Cleaning Porcelain Lighter fluid will remove most dark, stubborn stains from porcelain sinks and bathtubs.
To shine chrome sink fixtures that have a lime buildup, use a paste made of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.

Make your own scouring cleanser by combining 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.

Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean and deodorize a drain by pouring in 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let this sit for 5 minutes or so, then run hot water down the drain.

Deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring in 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes then run hot water down the disposal.

Deodorize and clean the garbage disposal with white distilled vinegar ice cubes. Make them by freezing full-strength white distilled vinegar in an ice cube tray. Run several cubes down the disposal while flushing with cold water.

Clean the microwave by mixing 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear. Wipe clean.

Clean the shelves and walls of the refrigerator with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.

Cut the grime on the top of the refrigerator with a paper towel or cloth and full-strength white distilled vinegar.

Avoid the bad smell when you heat up a newly cleaned oven by using a sponge soaked in diluted white distilled vinegar for the final rinse.

To clean a grease splattered oven door window, saturate it with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Keep the door open for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping with a sponge.

Remove soap buildup and odors from the dishwasher
by pouring a cup of white distilled vinegar inside the empty machine and running it through a whole cycle. Do monthly.

To prevent good glassware from getting etched by minerals
, wash then spray with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Give the glasses a hot water rinse before letting them dry or drying them with a towel.

For cloudy glassware, soak paper towels or a cloth in full-strength white distilled vinegar and wrap around the inside and outside of the glass. Let sit awhile before rinsing clean.

Get rid of lime deposits in a tea kettle by adding 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the water and letting it sit overnight. If more drastic action is needed, boil full-strength white distilled vinegar in the kettle a few minutes, let cool and rinse with plain water.

Remove mineral deposits from coffee makers with white distilled vinegar. Fill the water reservoir with 1 cup or more of white distilled vinegar and run it through a whole cycle. Run it once or twice more with plain water to rinse clean. (Check the owners’ manual first.)

Remove stains from coffee and teacups by scrubbing them gently with equal parts of salt (or baking soda) and white distilled vinegar. Rinse clean.

For stained and smelly plastic food containers, wipe them with a cloth dampened with white distilled vinegar.

Remove odors from a lunch box by placing inside a slice of bread that has been soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave overnight.

Remove ugly film in narrow-necked glass jars, flower vases, and bottles by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar sit in them for a few hours. Add a little rice or sand and shake vigorously to loosen stubborn stains. Repeat if necessary.

Easily clean your mini blinds by wearing pair of white cotton gloves.  Dip gloved fingers into a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm tap water, and run your fingers across both sides of each blind.

To clean tarnished brass, copper, and pewter,
use a paste with equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and table salt.

Make a metal cleanser by adding enough white distilled vinegar to 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar to make a paste. Rub it on and let it dry on the surface. Wash it off and dry with a soft cloth.

Polish brass and copper with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of ketchup and 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar. Rub it on with a clean cloth until dry and shiny.

Remove dark stains on an aluminum pot by boiling a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 cup hot water.

Discourage ants by spraying undiluted white distilled vinegar outside doorways and windowsills, around appliances and wherever you find the pests coming in.

Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean the wheel of a can opener using white distilled vinegar and an old toothbrush.

Remove the smell of spoiled food from a refrigerator by first rinsing the area with soap and water. Spray surfaces with full-strength white distilled vinegar and wipe them down with a damp cloth or sponge. Fill some containers with baking soda and place inside. Close the door and leave for a few days.

Wipe grease off exhaust fan grids, the inside of your oven, or anywhere grease gathers with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar.

To make cleaning the grill easier, spray a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar on the cooking surface.

To remove a label, decal, or price tag, cover with a cloth soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave the cloth on overnight and the label should slide off.

Renew sponges and dishrags by placing them in just enough water to cover them. Then add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Let them soak overnight.

Get rid of calcium deposits on faucets by soaking a cloth or paper towel in white distilled vinegar and wrapping the area tightly. Let this sit for a couple of hours or overnight.

Remove soap buildup from faucets by scrubbing them with a solution of 1 part salt to 4 parts white distilled vinegar.

Rid a faucet of lime deposits by tying a plastic bag containing 1/2 to 1/3 cup of white distilled vinegar around it and leaving it there for two or three hours. If mineral deposits don’t wipe off, scrubbing with an old toothbrush should complete the job.

Shine colored porcelain sinks by scouring them with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Rinse away soapy film on countertops with a solution of white distilled vinegar and water.

Clean grout by letting full-strength white distilled vinegar sit on it for a few minutes and scrubbing it with an old toothbrush.

Kill germs all around the bathroom with a spray of full-strength white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

To remove grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door, wipe with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse with water.

Spray shower doors with full-strength white distilled vinegar after you’ve squeegeed the glass, or before you step in and turn on the water. It will help release the hard water deposits so they don’t remain on the glass.

Mix up an inexpensive tile cleaner by adding 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup ammonia to a gallon of warm water.

Get rid of stubborn bathtub film by wiping it with white distilled vinegar and then scouring with baking soda.

Soak a sponge or loofah overnight in a strong white distilled vinegar and water solution to remove dirt and slime. Rinse several times with cold water and let air dry (in the sun if possible).

Clean shower door tracks by filling them with white distilled vinegar and letting it sit for a few hours. Pour hot water into the tracks and wash and scrub away the scum with a toothbrush.

To clean a scummy showerhead, pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it around the showerhead. Let this set for an hour after the bubbling has stopped. Remove the bag and then turn on the water.

Deodorize the toilet bowl by allowing 3 cups white distilled vinegar to sit in it for about a half hour before flushing.

To make the toilet bowl sparkle, pour in a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.

Freshen air in the bathroom by spraying into the air a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup water.

Get a shining finish on a no-wax vinyl or linoleum floor by cleaning it with a solution of one cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water.

Apply full-strength white distilled vinegar directly to tough linoleum stains. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping it up. If that doesn’t work, apply white distilled vinegar again and then sprinkle some baking soda over the white distilled vinegar. Scrub the area with a brush or sponge. Rinse clean with water.

For an economical and environmentally friendly floor cleaner, mix a solution of 3 drops dishwashing liquid to 1/3 part white distilled vinegar, 1/3 part alcohol, and 1/3 part water. Spray sparingly and mop for a fast clean-up.

Some carpet stains can be removed with a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1/4 cup salt or baking soda. Rub into the carpet stain and let dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet first).

Bring out the color in carpet by brushing it with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet beforehand).

To reduce soap bubbles in a steam cleaner add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Use the same amount in the rinse water to remove detergent residue and make carpets stay fresh longer.

Wash indoor/outdoor carpet with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar in 1 bucket of warm water. Scrub using a brush or a broom and then hose off.

Clean up pet accidents by first blotting up the area and then adding a white distilled vinegar-and-water solution. Blot until it is almost dry. Then sprinkle baking soda over the area and let it dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day.

Create your own window cleaning solution by combining 1/2 cup non-sudsy ammonia, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a gallon of water.

Remove the wax residue left by commercial window cleaners with a solution of 2 cups water, 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap or detergent.

To remove paint from windows try using undiluted, hot white distilled vinegar. Give the solution time to soften the paint before removing with a razor edge tool.

To remove paint splatters from windows apply full-strength white distilled vinegar with a clean paintbrush.

Get rid of mildew, dust, and stale odors by wiping down walls with undiluted white distilled vinegar on a cloth or a sponge mop.

Clean woodwork and walls with a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar, 1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup ammonia and 1 gallon warm water. Wipe on with a sponge or damp—not wet—towel.

Clean wood paneling with a solution of 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 cups warm water. Wipe on with a soft cloth.

Remove wallpaper easily by using a paint roller to wet the surface very thoroughly with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and hot water. Or spray on until saturated.

Get decals off walls or doors by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar soak into them for several minutes before trying to peel them off. Repeat if necessary.

Remove white water rings from wood with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and vegetable oil. Rub with the grain.

Remove fireplace soot and grime with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Use a brush to scrub and a towel to blot up the wetness and dirt.

Clean fireplace glass doors with a solution of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 2 parts water. Spray or wipe on, then wipe clean with a dry cloth.

To kill germs, spray full-strength white distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe them dry.

Remove the smell of a dead mouse or other rodent (after removing all animal remnants) by wiping down the area with either white distilled vinegar or bleach. Then place a fabric softener sheet in the area to remove any lingering odors.

Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface.

Before painting old concrete, clean with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Let it air dry.

Clean hardened paint brushes by simmering them in a pot with white distilled vinegar. Soak them first for an hour before bringing the white distilled vinegar to a simmer. Drain and rinse clean.

Remove mud and stains from plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum sports equipment by applying a paste of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 3 parts baking soda. Wipe off with soapy water and rinse with clear water.

Clean your grill by spritzing white distilled vinegar over wadded up aluminum foil and scrubbing the grill vigorously with it.

To remove film in glass baby bottles, fill with equal parts hot water and white distilled vinegar. Let sit for at least an hour. Scrub with a bottle brush.

To clean and disinfect baby toys add a good-sized splash of white distilled vinegar to soapy water.

Clean vinyl baby books or board books by wiping with white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp sponge or cloth.

Clean scissors that have become sticky (after cutting tape, for instance) with a cloth dipped in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean and deodorize urine on a mattress with a white distilled vinegar and water solution. Then sprinkle the area with baking soda and let dry. Brush or vacuum the residue after it is dry to the touch.

Shine pennies by soaking them for a couple of hours or overnight in a glass or bowl of undiluted white distilled vinegar.