HOW FIDO KICKED HIS FLEA PROBLEM

Cat flea2The usual chemical flea treatments only go so far because once those fleas lay eggs on your animals, carpeting, or even strands of hair on the floor, you will have still have fleas somewhere in your surroundings – not to mention these pesky critters have a penchant for resistance after a few generations. Save money and the environment by treating your best bud’s critter problem with a toxic-free arsenal.

For a toxic-free flea removal approach you need to think clean and be proactive. But before following this tried and true prescribed plan for utmost flea removal, take a gander at a few “FYIs” you may have a better understanding of the importance of having a set plan when clearing your home (and dog) of these nasty creatures.

Know this first:

• Fleas are similar to cockroaches in that they adapt to their environment. They become stronger and more immune to the popular commercial flea control chemicals with each generation.

• Most of the fleas are living in your pet’s environment, rather than in its fur. Every flea found on your pet may mean that there approximately 30 more living in your home.

• A single flea can lay as many as 60 eggs per day. The lifespan of a flea is about 90 days, but the hibernating cocoon can survive up to year without feeding.

Scary, right?! But these are the exact knowledge tidbits that help pet owners understand that you can’t just throw monthly treatment on your pooch – especially in “high fleas zones” like the dry west coast. Be proactive and treat your home and dog right after they come in contact with other dogs.  When dogs play, they often rub up against each other – you’re not going to stop that. When you get home you need to groom your dog ASAP, then clean your home (plan ahead and treat the carpeting while at the park). That way both your dog and home are clean together, helping eliminate new eggs or adult fleas.

Grooming:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural flea killer and repellent. Place the dog in the bathtub, and in a dish mix a solution of one cup water, one cup vinegar, and a squirt of botanical shampoo, which will create a lather. Work into the dog’s dry fur until a thick lather has formed, staying away from sensitive areas. Let sit for a few minutes (about 5 mins), then rinse to remove any of the cleaning solution as well as dead fleas. The vinegar bath will also leave a mild odor on the dog’s fur and skin that will repel new fleas from attacking.
  • The best way to check your pet for fleas is to comb your pet with a fine-toothed flea comb, especially over the lower back near the tail base. You may pick up an adult flea, or you may collect black, pepper-like material. To determine if this black material is flea feces, place the debris on a white paper towel and add a drop of water. If it is flea feces, you will see a reddish-brown stain develop around the paper towel since flea feces is actually digested blood.

Home Maintenance:

  • Carpet – Mix four parts of Borax with one part of salt, and sprinkle over your carpet, let sit for an hour (good time to take Fido to the dog park). The mixture gets down amongst the fibers, and dehydrates the fleas and eggs, and prevents them re-hatching. This works great, and it is much more effective, non-toxic and cheaper than “flea bombs.”
  • Flea Trap – You can trap fleas by placing a dish of soapy water under a night light near where your pet sleeps. Fleas are attracted to warm light and will drown in the soapy water. This works for adult fleas only, but with diligence, can be effective reducing the flea population. Fleas already residing on your pet aren’t likely to leave, so you will still need to flea comb and/or bathe them in a mild shampoo (even a baby shampoo will work as fleas don’t survive well in soapy water).

Now, I clearly am a dog owner…and I do not have cats. Of course this same approach could be used for cats – but indoor cats are known to resist baths. So if you are looking at just a natural flea remedy for cats – this is it. Otherwise, you might just want to stick with the treatment. But remember, that will be a chemical rubbed all over your home!

BYE-BYE BED BUGS

imagesBed bugs are big enough to be seen with their flat body and reddish brown bodies, but these little suckers create havoc by feeding on their hosts’ blood at night, and hiding in the cracks or crevices surrounding the host’s sleeping area during the day.

Known to outlive temperatures reaching 100 degrees for a short period of time, bed bugs can survive being placed in the freezer, and can live without eating for up to a year. But no need to make a desperate call to your local pest guy (that’s a whole lot of money and chemicals) you can combat these nail head sized vampires in just a few easy steps – naturally!

Come out; come out – wherever you are!
Bed bugs usually hide within 15 feet of their food (i.e. you), and tend to be found in dwellings that are frequently used such as dorms, apartments, motels, hotels, and used furniture departments. These little blood suckers are generally found in boxes, mattresses, pillows, suitcases and other fibrous belongings (bed bugs like to nest in natural fibers including real wood). In multi-unit dwellings, such as condominiums and apartment buildings, bed bugs can sometimes find their way throughout the premises by moving about the walls, cracks, pipes, and wires.

In a severe infestation bed bugs can be found behind anything wall or ceiling mounted: base boards, window and door casings, pictures and picture frames, in sofas and furniture, ripped wallpaper & cracks in drywall, lighting, ceiling fans, and light switch plates.

Many folks tend to point to neighbors (etc.) with less than par hygiene for being a source of infestation. The truth is that while lack of home maintenance is conducive to these little vampires, travel is usually the culprit. Hotels tend to be a hot spot for these little conniving blood suckers with so much suitcase traffic, especially when bed bugs build a immunity to cleaning chemicals and pesticide treatments. When guests settle in for the night, bed bugs may climb into their luggage, where they hang out and then hitch a ride are then transported to a new environment.

Kindly Kill Them
Save money while lowering the air pollutant level in your home by eliminating those pesky little vampires yourself – naturally. The key to approaching any genre of pest is patience – and a little elbow grease. The following steps are a sure-fire way to rid of bed bugs, but you will need to repeat all of the steps until they’re gone. Don’t worry, this is easy – not hard!

  • Use isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to kill bed bugs on contact. Find the surfaces bed bugs inhabit, including crevices and harborages. Mix the isopropyl alcohol at a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle with water. Liberally spray the surfaces and crevices and allow air dry, and spray directly on the bugs. Less water is recommended for smaller areas or areas sensitive to water.
  • Wash and dry clothing, linens, textiles, and toys at high temperature — temperatures over 113 degrees are said to kill bed bugs. Leave items in the dryer for more than 20 minutes, then move them immediately into a plastic bag and seal them for 24 hours. This will ensure that you kill all of the bed bugs. Similarly, toys, shoes, backpacks, and other items that can be put in the dryer should be heated. Even wool and silk can usually be put in the machine for this amount of time (not wet, of course). Hot desert climates are also conducive to destroying lingering bed bugs when bedding and clothes are hung in the beaming sun.
  • Steam the seams of all fixed home textiles (i.e. furniture, drapes). Using a high-pressure steamer – a garment steamer or a quality iron will do –  hold the steamer over the seam (pulled taut) for 30 seconds to a minute. This will kill most of the eggs hiding deep in the crevice. If you have carpeting, rent a steam cleaner to steam eggs using a natural cleaner. Be sure to prep first by shaking baking soda on the carpeting 15 minutes prior to a detailed vacuum cleaning.

Aim to Maintain
Even if your first round of detoxing rids all visible bed bugs and eggs, you will most likely need to do one or two more rounds before you have entirely eliminated the adults and eggs. To avoid future invasions it is best to maintaina toxin-free home – which is the best remedy to controlling pests in general. The home is an ecosystem that can be open to invasion once the balance is tipped (crumbs and skin debris are inviting food sources to recon pests), not to mention they are an R Species that become immune to toxic chemicals within just a few generations. Bed bug control is much more difficult in cluttered homes – piles of clothing, scattered belongings, and stacks of magazines are all potential hiding places for bed bugs – so upgrading to a “clean freak” status will definitely help control the bed bug situation before it even gets started.

  • The ClimbUp Insect Interceptor is the best bed bug trap available that can also help with maintenance. You simply place one of these under each of the legs of your bed. The bed bugs get stuck while they die attempt to crawl up the bed legs. This trap will defend your bed, kill bed bugs, and allow you to monitor the progress of your bed bug control methods.
  • Be sure to keep a good eye out for eggs by massaging corners, cracks, and crevices on a near-daily basis with the vacuum suction wand to snag random bed bugs and their debris (HEPA filter required).  Sanatizing all surfaces – using non-toxic, earth-friendly cleaners – will also help detract future infestations.

Sweet dreams, don’t let the bedbugs bite.
Its freaky, we all know it – the nights during infestation. But just keep in mind while holding strong, and surviving the annoying little nuances, that you will make it out alive. The little buggers are creepy, but hey –  it could be worse! Take your mind to another place every night, somewhere comforting, and calm your nerves by only thinking of the good things in your life. Who knows, the infestation might be the greatest therapy session of your life.

POPPIN’ PIMPLES

8415336.cmsPimples…uninvited guests that show up when you least expect – or want them too (dates, public speaking, etc.). They are the worst type of uninvited guests – second to pests of course – who seem to linger MUCH longer than we would like them to. That being said, I’ve decided not to bore you with cliches or positive pimple talk with this intro. Instead I’d like to quote one of my favorite cultural icons (whose words greatly inspired me  at the ripe  age of 19) before diving into the what and how.

When you’re interested in somebody, and you think they might be interested in you, you should point out all your beauty problems and defects right away, rather than take a chance they won’t notice them…On the other hand, say you have a purely temporary beauty problem—a new pimple, lackluster hair, no-sleep eyes, five extra pounds around the middle. Still, whatever it is, you should point it out…If you don’t point out these things they might think that your temporary beauty problem is a permanent beauty problem…If they really do like you for yourself, they’ll be willing to use their imagination to think of what you must look like without your temporary beauty problem. – Andy Warhol

Pimple Prevention:

An ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold when it comes to pimples. While the following tips are a bit of a “duh” there is absolutely no substitution to eating right and drinking lots (and lots) of water to keep the body cleansed and pores clean. You are what you eat, and often times the pimples that pop up are gentle reminders that your liver is pissed because you fell off the healthy eating band wagon. But never fear, your body has nothing but unconditional love for you…its up to you to return that feeling.

Practice Clean Skin Habits

Keeping the skin well cleansed will deter the formation of pimples. Using a mild cleanser at the start of your day, in the evening, and before bed is recommended. Avoid scrubbing your skin, which has the potential to make matters worse.

Hands Off!

Touching your skin passes extra dirt, oil, bacteria, and grime that can trigger acne and other skin irritations. Also, if you see a pimple start to form, you should refrain from squeezing, pinching, or picking.

Shave With Caution

The way you shave can also irritate the skin to provoke pimples to form. Depending on your skin sensitivity, you may have to find a balance between electric and safety razors.

Read Skin Care Labels

When purchasing skin care products, you should be on the lookout for words, such as “oil-free,” “greaseless,” “hypoallergenic,” and “noncomedogenic”, but as always be sure to read the label and source sustainable and ethically engineered products.

The Home Remedies:

There is no doubt [in my mind] that the following are just scratching the surface for home remedies. In fact there are many blog posts out in the world wide web that cover many more home remedies. My favorite post on this subject so far can be found by Crunchy Betty (I absolutely love this saucy site), but please do read on and if this info is a little dry I won’t be offended if you visit Betty.

Vitamins

Pimples have been known to positively react to the addition of niacin (100 mg; three times per day), and vitamin A to a diet. 400 mg of vitamin E taken once per day also works wonders. You may also take 50mg of therapeutic zinc in tablet or capsule form (three times per day). Of course eating fresh organic greens is a MUST, while vitamins are an excellent addition.

Fenugreek:

A useful paste can be created from the leaves of this vegetable, which is then applied to the face before you retire each night. At the start of the morning, the paste should be washed off using warm water. Pimples, especially blackheads are treated with this home remedy.

Orange Peel:

When orange peels are pounded and combined with water, an effective home treatment for pimples is created. Apply to affected areas and watch the results.

Lemon:

Apply lemon juice to pimples to reduce their size and intensity.

Garlic:

If you rub raw garlic on problem areas several times a day, you can clear up skin. You may also eat three seeds of raw garlic once daily for a month to see results. The garlic seeds purify the blood, which aids in keeping pimples at bay.

Coriander and Mint Juice:

A helpful herbal remedy for pimples includes the mixing of one teaspoon of coriander juice, combined with a pinch of turmeric powder. Every night, after thoroughly washing the face, apply the juice for an effective home remedy. Mint juice may also replace the coriander for this home treatment for pimples.

Cucumber:

Try applying grated cucumber over the face, neck, and eyes for the treatment of pimples and blackheads. This process should only take 15-20 minutes of your time.

 

THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Whiteheads

Pimples that remain under the surface of the skin.

Blackheads:

Pimples that appear on the surface of the skin and have a black appearance. Sometimes, individuals have mistaken their formation as a direct result of dirty skin, but this is not the case.

Papules:

Small lumps that are tender to the touch, which are pink in color.

Pustules:

These distinct pimples are red at the bottom and contain a visible amount of pus on top.

Nodules:

These pimples are rather large and painful, found deep in the skin. They are also solid to the touch.

Cysts:

When these deeply seeded pimples appear, scarring may occur. This type of pimple is quite painful and filled with pus.

 

PLUMB UR OWN PAD

rayman rabbids plunger

No need for a PHD when handling your plumbing issues at home – clearing your clogs is not rocket appliances. With just a few dollars (around 20 bucks), a pair of gloves, and this list you can successfully plunge your pad. The first step [of course] is to get over the “icky” stigmata of tackling the clog that has been created. You are not above being self-sufficient…and plumbers butt is sexy when you’ve avoided nasty chemicals and a pricey invoice.

Step 1: The Plunger

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to move a clog is to use a plunger to try to move the obstruction out of the way with pressure. If you have previously used chemicals in the drain to remove the clog, make sure you use rubber gloves and safety glasses to protect yourself (and never do that again!).

Step 2: Baking Soda, Vinegar and Boiling Water

Pour one-half cup of baking soda into your drain. Carefully pour one-half cup of vinegar over the baking soda and cover the drain, if at all possible. At this point, the two will begin bubbling just like a jr. high school volcano experiment. After a few minutes the bubbling should stop.

Pour at least a half-gallon of boiling water over what’s left of the baking soda and vinegar. Then follow that with hot running water to flush it all down the drain.

Repeat Step 2 at least 3-4 times before moving to Step 3.

Step 3: The “Snake”

If after you’ve tried the vinegar and baking soda the clog is still there – you have other options besides chemicals. Like getting a “snake”!

A snake is a 25-50 foot metal wire with a bulb at the end that costs around $5-$10. You push the snake into the bathtub drain, and when it hits the blockage you just keep twisting until the drain runs free. The snake is pretty much the last option before ripping open the drain. And not only is using a snake a sustainable option, it’s also the only option because drain cleaners won’t work at this stage of a clog!

Sink Drain Detox
So sorry but if your kitchen or bathroom sink still can’t pass Step 3…your going to have to play plumber! If your lucky the drain connector is slightly loose enough to twist open, if not you’ll need to grab an adjustable crescent wrench. But before you start cracking that drain open, be sure to place a wastebasket or bucket under the drain, and you’ll want to wear (FSC approved rubber) gloves for this project! Once everything is in place, open up your drain connections and slowly remove the curved piece. Pull all the hair and debris from the drain catch, but mind the alignment with the facet pull. It’s not going to be pretty, but hey you just learned a new talent and it didn’t cost much more than a few bucks and hour of time!

BOMBTASTIC BAKING SODA

No_name_baking_sodaBaking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) is a natural abrasive that removes dirt and grime, and absorbs odors. A commonly available mineral full of many cleaning attributes, baking soda is made from soda ash, and is slightly alkaline (its pH is around 8.1; 7 is neutral). It neutralizes acid-based odors in water, and adsorbs odors from the air.

Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, baking soda can be used as a gentle non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen counter tops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens, and fiberglass. It will eliminate perspiration odors and even neutralize the smell of many chemicals if you add up to a cup per load to the laundry. It is a useful air freshener, and a fine carpet deodorizer. Basically baking soda is like your bombtastic best friend as a toxic-free cleaner – a mild scrub if you may – always ready to clean up your mess. Here’s 33 reasons and counting to why this gentle scrubber always “has your back”.

1) All-Natural Deodorant:

When you mix one part each of baking soda and cornstarch with tea tree oil, you can make an all-natural deodorant. Don’t forget to mix all of the ingredients well and store in an airtight container.

2) Clean Your Floors:

Sprinkle a bit of baking soda on your floors to remove grease spills and scuff marks. Wipe up the baking soda with a damp, warm washcloth. This home remedy will also work on no-wax floors.

3) Remove Blackheads:

A combination of equal parts baking soda and water works as a way to remove blackheads from the face.

4) Exfoliate the Skin:

Add enough water to baking soda to create a paste that exfoliates the skin.

5) Treat a Cold Sore and Canker Sore:

Dab a pesky cold sore with baking soda to diminish its appearance. A baking soda and water paste applied to a canker sore can help ease symptoms (perfect for combating SLS toothpaste induced canker sores).

6) Sanitize Grooming Tools:

Clean your hairbrushes and combs by soaking in a baking soda solution.

7) Fight Nausea:

Add 1⁄2 teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of warm water to treat nausea. Pregnant women should not use this remedy because of potential increase of salt levels.

8) Soothe Sunburned Skin:

Add 1⁄4 cup of baking soda to a spray bottle filled with cool water. Get relief from a sunburn by spritzing the solution on skin.

9) Soften Dry Elbows:

A thick paste made out of fresh lemon juice and baking soda can exfoliate the skin when gently rubbed on dry elbows. Leave on the mixture for about 15 minutes. Wash off the remedy and follow up by applying a moisturizer, such as hemp lotion.

10) Itch Relief:

Soak in a hot bath with lots of added baking soda to treat the itch of poison ivy. A baking soda and water paste applied to a mosquito bite will address itchy skin.

11) Alleviate Bee and Wasp Sting Pain:

Ease the pain of a wasp or bee sting by applying a thick baking soda and water paste to affected skin.

12) Treat Yellowed Fingernails:

When nails have yellowed, apply a paste of one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and two tablespoons of baking soda under and across each nail. Allow the solution to sit for three minutes before removing.

13) Soothe Sore Throats:

Add 1⁄2 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt to 1⁄2 cup of warm water to make a soothing gargle for sore throats. Use a couple of times a day.

14) Prevent Clogged Drains:

To lessen your chances of suffering a clogged drain, pour 1⁄2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar down the drain on a weekly basis. Follow up by rinsing with hot water if drain is slightly clogged.

15) Freshen a Carpet:

Remove unwanted scents from your carpet by sprinkling with baking soda, and then vacuuming after 15 minutes.

16) Neutralize Acid:

To clean up the aftermath of a battery acid mishap in your garage or driveway, neutralize the acid with baking soda, which makes it safe to wash away.

17) Odor Fighter:

Sprinkle baking soda in your garbage cans to decrease the damage of offending odors.

18) Treat Heartburn:

Baking soda and water will neutralize the stomach acid behind heartburn. Add 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water. Do not overdo this remedy, as it can dramatically increase your salt intake. Pregnant women should not use this baking soda home remedy.

19) Clean Stinky Hands:

After chopping garlic or cleaning fish, your hands may hold onto the scent longer than you’d like. To remove unwanted hand odors, rub about two teaspoons of baking soda between moistened hands instead of using soap. Rinse, smell and smile.

20) Fight Dog Odor:

When your pooch comes in after a romp in the rain, sprinkle on a bit of baking soda over their fur and brush out to fight ‘wet dog’ smell.

21) Fix Walls:

When you need a small amount of spackle, mixing a small amount of white glue and baking soda will form a paste that makes a suitable substitute. Apply the remedy to the wall, and let dry.

22) Freshen Up Water Bottles:

When your thermos or water bottle starts to smell stale inside, wash with a blend of baking soda and water.

23) Whiten Teeth:

Add about one teaspoon of baking soda to a mashed fresh strawberry to create a paste for whitening teeth. Spread the remedy on a toothbrush, as well as rub onto teeth. Leave the mixture on for a few minutes, and then brush teeth again. Rinse out your mouth after brushing. You can also make your own whitening toothpaste by combining one teaspoon of baking soda and 1⁄4 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide, or brush your teeth with just a paste.

24) Calm a Toothache:

Moisten a Q-tip with water and coat with baking soda. Rub the cotton swab into the tooth and gums until the pain fades. Dissolve a heaping spoonful of baking soda in a small glass of lukewarm to warm water to create a mouth rinse for a toothache. Swish the mixture in the mouth – directing the remedy around the sore tooth.

25) Prevent Litterbox Odors:

When you add baking soda to a litterbox, you can cut down on odors.

26) Rejuvenate Plastic Containers:

The plastic containers, such as Tupperware, that you use to store your leftovers can absorb the coloring of food, such as tomato sauce. To rejuvenate stained plastic, sprinkle baking soda and clean with a damp sponge.

27) Clean Fixtures:

Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on dull faucets and clean with a sponge dipped in white vinegar. The abrasiveness of the baking soda is gentle enough to scour soap scum.

28) Clean Sinks:

Use the abrasive nature of baking soda to clean and deodorize dirty sinks. Add baking soda to a moistened washcloth before applying.

29) Clean the Stove and Oven:

Save money by using a baking soda and water paste instead of investing in stove cleaners. Apply the remedy with a clean cloth to remove burned-on food residue. Rinse off, and then buff with a clean cloth. The baking soda and water paste will also clean the inside of your oven. Smear the paste inside and leave on overnight. In the morning, remove the dried remedy with a wet sponge.

30) Clean Lawn Furniture:

Rinse off lawn furniture with a solution made up of 1⁄4 cup baking soda added to one quart of warm water.

31) Add Sparkle to Silver:

Add water to baking soda to make a thick paste, which helps clean silver. Gently massage the mixture into the silver using an old, soft-bristled toothbrush. Rinse the silver under warm water. Buff with a clean cotton towel to add shine.

32) Fight Diaper and Dirty Clothes Smells:

Keep diaper pails and hampers smelling fresher than usual by sprinkling baking soda in the bottom of the containers.

33) Remove Rust:

Cut a potato lengthwise and dip in baking soda as a way to remove rust. Before scrubbing a rusty item, make sure to lightly moisten the surface first. After cleaning, thoroughly rinse the object.

34) To clean wood floors stained by dog urine:

Start off by soaking up the liquid with rags and old towels. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the wet area. Leave on overnight so that it has a chance to turn back into powder. In the morning, vacuum the baking soda. Follow up by washing in your normal manner to restore the shine of your floors.

35) To add shine to chrome trim on appliances, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on a damp sponge. Rub across the chrome. Let the appliance dry for one hour, and then wipe down with warm water. Use a clean cloth to dry off the chrome.

Silver -First, line a plastic or glass pan with aluminum foil, as you have done before. Then, lay the silver pieces in the aluminum, as each item should be touching the foil in order to complete the chemical reaction and tarnish transfer.

Then, boil a gallon of water and add one cup of baking soda to it. You might want to use the baking soda and water solution over the sink as it could fizz up in a way that makes a huge mess.

36) Eazy Peazy Shampoo:

Mix 1 Tbsp baking soda with 1 cup water, shake together in bottle and use. Shake the bottle before each use and gently massage into the hair and scalp for a minute or two and rinse.