From the Pantry to the Bathroom: Pee and Cinnamon

January 17, 2009


OK, first off, don’t worry — there isn’t any actual urine sitting in that bottle. But it sure looks like pee, doesn’t it? (That stuff in the bottle on the left, by the way, is baking soda and water, which refuse to interact with one another unless shaken vigorously). Anyway, this is besides the point. The point is: After one failed attempt last year to wash my hair with nothing but vinegar, I decided to give the whole natural approach to hair maintenance another shot.

Reader Melinda over at One Green Generation convinced me that her homemade system would leave my hair shiny and clean without also leaving me with an I’ve-just-spent-all-day-at-a-fish-and-chip-shop smell.

Needless to say, I was skeptical. However, as part of my new semi-regular series From the Pantry to the Bathroom, I want to make more of an effort to try new things — more specifically, new homemade things.

So I took a few minutes this morning to assemble the recipe, then followed her directions, which go like this:

1. Use an old shampoo bottle (well-rinsed) or a squeeze bottle. Mix 1 part aluminum-free baking soda to 3 parts water. Each time you use this solution, shake well to mix.

2. Squeeze the baking soda solution onto your dry scalp, then massage your scalp for several seconds.

3. Leave in for 1-3 minutes, and rinse completely.

4. In an old shampoo bottle (well-rinsed) or a squeeze bottle, mix 1 part organic white vinegar to 4 parts water. You can add essential oils or herbs if you like – I add 1 cinnamon stick and 1/2 tsp vanilla. This masks the vinegar smell, and leaves your hair smelling spicy and lovely.

5. Leave on hair for several seconds, then rinse.

I must say, it’s a bit awkward trying to pour watery liquid onto your head without having it run everywhere. The reason regular shampoos and conditioners tend to come in gel-like consistencies is so that you can squeeze a dollop on your noggin, put it down, then gradually work it into a lather until it disperses evenly. But with these mixtures, you tend to get a lot in one place and very little in others.

At least they both felt nice on my scalp, and there weren’t any major problems in terms of rinsing them out in the shower.

However, I do have long hair, so it felt like I required a LOT of this stuff. At least it was cheap.

Blow-drying my hair, I sensed it was taking longer than usual and got the occasional whiff of vinegar (this might be my fault, though — Melinda suggests using white vinegar, and I chose to stick with apple cider because I thought it smelled less offensive… maybe my olfactory senses are messed up). Still, I persevered, then brushed it out.

The result? Well, see for yourself:


Not too shabby, eh? (This is my bedroom, by the way — I was trying to get some natural light on it.) So far, it doesn’t smell at all, which is a good thing, although it’s not necessarily softer or shinier than it usually is. I think the real test will be how long it lasts — if it’s greasy by tomorrow morning, I’m definitely docking points.

Overall, I’m kind of semi-pleased with this Pantry to the Bathroom experiment. It’s obviously a better option than using chemical-heavy brand-name shampoos and conditioners, but considering I already use all-natural stuff and make a point of refilling it from the bulk store, I don’t know that this is really reducing my carbon footprint by that much.

What do you guys think? Are you into this whole no ‘poo movement or is it not worth the fuss?

Squeegee to the Bee Gees (Day 330)…

January 24, 2008


This suggestion comes, yet again, from my assistant Eva: Squeegeeing the walls of my shower to prevent mildew and soap scum from building up, which in turn means less cleaning, and thus less product used.

While I may not actually listen to the Bee Gees while squeegeeing, it would be kinda fun. Although when I think of dancing and showers — especially my showers, which take place in almost total darkness — I immediately think of spinal injuries. And that’s just not fun.

Also, don’t even think for a nanosecond that I went out and bought myself a new squeegee for the sake of this change — obviously that would go against my no new plastic pledge. In fact, I was ready to just let out a sigh and toss Eva’s idea in the trash (or, um, recycling bin?) until I remembered that I actually had a squeegee thingy sitting in the back of my storage closet from when I tried to clean my balcony windows last summer.

So from now on, whether it’s here in my condo or in my new house, my shower walls are going to be squeaky, squeegee clean.

Photo courtesy of kittykowalski on Flickr

Giddy for humidity (Day 257)…

November 12, 2007

bathroom fan

Now that I’m taking Navy Showers in lukewarm water, there isn’t a lot of steam to contend with each morning in the bathroom — it still gets a bit humid, but it’s actually kind of nice, especially with the cooler, drier weather approaching, and Sophie absolutely loves it.

So when Thistle reader Megan dropped me an email suggesting I pledge not to use my bathroom fan anymore, and instead simply open the door to let the air circulate, I knew it would be an easy change, which is precisely what I’m looking for on a hectic Monday afternoon. Also, because I’m not using my humidifier, I think my pores will thank me.

Mildews and don’ts (Day 216)…

October 2, 2007


As a neat and tidy Flickr photographer demonstrates in the photo above, one of the best ways to prevent a bathmat from getting all stinky and mildewy is to hang it over the tub in between uses. This way, it dries faster and makes it harder for bacteria to build up. Plus, if you have a cat who likes to roll around on it (like Sophie does), a sister who has long hair and lets clumps of it drift down while blow-drying, or guests who come over and want to use the bathroom before taking off their shoes, a bathmat can get pretty gross-looking in a matter of days.

I’m pretty good about keeping mine off the floor, but as of today, I’ll be taking it a step further and toweling off while I’m still standing in the shower — this means even less moisture will end up on the mat, which means I’ll need to clean it less often.

Photo courtesy of Anna Banana on Flickr