Green Clean Your Coffee Maker!

greek-coffee-1328798-639x511Coffee scum. We’ve all seen it. It’s the brown stuff left behind in your coffee mug and the filter basket and carafe in your coffee maker. Coffee scum comes from the fatty acids in your coffee and is exacerbated by the quality of your water and your coffee beans. Here are my tips for how to green clean your coffee maker and prevent coffee scum from forming.

What causes coffee scum?

Coffee’s fatty acids are to blame, but scum can get worse if you have hard water or purchase low-quality beans. The minerals in hard water bond with the acids in the coffee and adhere as scum on your mugs and coffee maker. Poor-quality coffee beans are more acidic than other beans and may leave behind more scum.

How can I get rid of coffee scum naturally?

You need to be careful about the cleaning products you use in and on your coffee maker, since you eventually consume the coffee you brew. Cream and sugar? Yes. Hazardous chemicals? Not so much.

A diluted degreaser with natural ingredients can cut through scum without causing you harm. Look for one with limonene, derived from citrus fruits. After degreasing the surfaces of your coffee maker’s filter basket and carafe, rinse them thoroughly with water.

To clean the interior of your coffee maker, mix equal parts water and vinegar. Pour the mixture into the reservoir of your coffee maker, add a filter to the filter basket, and brew. The vinegar will help clear out the reservoir and lines. Repeat with just water to rinse the maker.

Can I reduce or prevent coffee scum?

Absolutely! If you have hard water, use filtered water to brew your coffee (or take the plunge and install a water softener). Buy high-quality coffee with low acidity and avoid flame-roasted beans, which can increase acidity.

You don’t have to start your morning with coffee scum. Use all-natural cleaners to remove scum and keep your coffee maker in good running order. I can help you find a product that works well and won’t harm you or your environment. Contact me today!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Where Do Your Favorite Products Place on the Green Gene Quality Scale?

How do your products rate on the Green Gene scale?Cleaning product labels are notorious for telling you everything and nothing. They’re primarily marketing copy that throws around words like “biodegradable,” “organic,” and “natural” without backing up the claims. How do you know you’re buying a product that won’t harm your family’s health or the environment?

To help you sort through the hype, I’ve come up with my very own cleaning product quality scale. Generally, the more transparent a product is about its ingredients and the more legitimate certifications it has, the better it scores.

Product Quality Score Definition
5

Organic

Manufacturer claims the label “organic” and is supported by proper certifications; product often quoted as a percentage organic, often states what’s not in product
4

Plant-Based

All ingredients are derived from plants; sometimes quoted as a percentage plant-based
3

Biodegradable Green

Manufacturer claims the label “biodegradable” and ingredients have been reviewed and verified as biodegradable

 

2

Biodegradable Untested

Manufacturer claims the label “biodegradable” but ingredients have not been reviewed and verified as biodegradable
1

Synthetic

Lengthy list of synthetic chemicals; review of ingredients typically not needed as content is evident

 

Here are how some popular products rate on my Green Gene Product Quality Scale:

5 (Organic): Shadow Lake Castile Soap

4 (Plant-Based): Earth’s Natural All-Purpose Spray

3 (Biodegradable Green): Better Life Dishwashing Soap

2 (Biodegradable Untested): Clorox Green Works All-Purpose Cleaner

1 (Synthetic): Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner Spray

Look for the Green Gene Product Quality Scale at Get Green with Gene and Life’s Pure Balance. For help finding all-natural cleaning products that are safe for your family and the environment, contact me today.

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

When It Comes Time to Clean Your Lakeside Retreat, Don’t Pollute the Water

Lakeside CabinThe kids go back to school in a little over a month, which means many summer camps, family campgrounds, and lakeside restaurants and resorts are approaching the off-season. And with the off-season comes your annual clean-out and clean-up.

But before you reach for the bleach and detergents, take a minute to consider where those chemicals go once they’re flushed down the drain. Most camps and lakeside destinations are in environmentally sensitive areas where the chemicals in conventional cleaners can wreak havoc.

Pesky Phosphorous

Phosphorous is a common ingredient in many conventional cleaners. It’s listed as phosphate on ingredient labels (if your products list ingredients). Phosphates are especially common in dish detergent, all-purpose cleaners, and laundry soap.

Phosphorous is also a common lake pollutant. Wastewater treatment plants cannot remove phosphorous. That means treated water that reenters the lake, river, or stream by your facility will contain it. Reducing the phosphorous you use will reduce the amount of the pollutant in the water.

Go Natural to Avoid Phosphorous

Choosing to clean your camp or resort with natural products can help keep your lake clean. Natural products are good for your health and the health your guests, and your employees, too.

For cabins and other outbuildings, spray down shelves, tables, countertops, and even mattresses with a cleaning spray that’s phosphate-free and biodegradable. Similarly, spray down countertops, kitchen equipment, and tables and chairs in your dining room or mess hall. Deep-clean dishes with a phosphate-free detergent and clean the drains with a biodegradable sewer degreaser.

The bathroom sewer drains and lines could also use some degreasing. Your natural cleaning spray can be used on toilets, sink basins, and showers. Once your buildings are clean, consider spraying down your sporting and other equipment with a natural cleaning spray, too.

Cleaning up after your summer guests and campers doesn’t need to involve harsh, harmful chemicals. You can get a deep clean and prep your facility for the off-season with natural products that won’t pollute your lakefront. To learn more about cleaning with natural commercial cleaning products, contact me today!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

To Avoid Food-borne Illness, Wash Your Vegetables and Fruits

Blog_07162014_5767011_sIt’s midsummer in Minnesota, and despite the weather roller-coaster we’ve been riding, seasonal fruits and vegetables are ripe for the picking. Those of us with gardens are seeing tomatoes plump up and cucumbers and zucchini ripen overnight. Grocery store shoppers are enjoying fresher, more local produce, too. Before you sink your teeth into your favorite summertime fruit or veggie, take a moment to consider your safety. Whether you’re pulling your snack out of the ground or plucking it from a store shelf, all produce has been exposed to soil and water that may carry contaminants. If you’re buying from a store, your produce has been handled by many people and transported by truck or rail to your shopping cart. Hundreds of food products have been recalled by the FDA since the beginning of the year, including many fresh produce foods. The harmful bacteria salmonella and listeria monocytogenes are the primary offenders. How Do You Avoid Illness? Wash, Wash, Wash! To avoid getting sick from your favorite fruits and veggies, you need to get out the soap and water. Here are some tips for washing your produce.

  • Only wash produce when you’re ready to eat or cook it. Washing it before you store it may actually increase bacterial growth.
  • Wash your hands with warm soap and water before you wash your produce. You do not want to transfer germs on your hands to your food.
  • Clean your tools, including knives, cutting boards, and countertops, to avoid germ transfer.
  • Wash away bacteria. But bleach and dish detergents are no-no’s because produce can absorb the chemicals. I recommend washing your fruits and veggies with an organic, plant-based rinse.
  • Rub or soak vegetables to wash away bacteria. Firm fruits such as melons can be scrubbed with a brush.
  • Dry produce with a paper towel or clean cloth. This can also remove bacteria.
  • Trim outermost leaves of cabbage or head lettuce.

Produce-Specific Tips Some fruits and vegetables require extra care. Use these tips to make sure you’re washing your produce properly.

  • Soft fruits such as peaches and plums: Wash under running water and dry.
  • Firm produce such as apples and cucumbers: Wash well to remove any waxy preservative. Peeling is also an option.
  • Leafy greens:Discard outer leaves and soak the individual remaining leaves in water before rinsing them under the tap. Some people use vinegar on greens, but that will change the veggie’s taste and texture.
  • Grapes, cherries, and berries:Don’t wash these fruits until you eat or use them. Before you store them, get rid of any moldy or spoiled fruit. Wash under running water when ready to eat.

Summer is the time when many of us relish the tasty juiciness of fresh produce. Washing your fruits and vegetables will ensure that you’re safe while doing so. To learn more about keeping produce safe and healthy, contact me!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Toxic Cleaning Products Making You Sick?

Kindergarten teacher and children looking at globe in libraryRead about a 1st grade classroom going green!

What do many teachers and parents of elementary aged children complain about during the first few weeks of school in the fall? Often, after being healthy all summer, teachers and young kids catch the first colds of the school year. Mrs. C. was a first grade teacher at an elementary school in East-Central Wisconsin; in the fall of 2011, she commenced her final school year before retiring. Within a few months, she would convert her classroom over to green cleaning products. The results were amazing. I have attempted to capture her story in her own words as much as possible.

According to Mrs. C., “I started the conversion process strictly for personal reasons. I frequently have migraines, and the smell in the classroom would often seem to be a trigger. On many occasions, I would have nasal drip and feel as if I had a cold after being in my classroom for a while. In addition, my students would tell me that they had headaches and were feeling nauseated, or that the room just smelled bad. After considering the source of the bad smell, I made a decision. I banned the janitorial staff from bringing in any of the normal cleaning products that were being used throughout the rest of the school.

“I brought from home three cleaning products: an item called Sol U Mel (A multipurpose cleaner known for its deodorizing and cleaning power), Sol U Guard Botanical (a natural disinfectant) and Renew hand wash (A moisturizing hand wash that is not antibacterial). I used the Sol U Mel for cleaning any and all surfaces including the classroom sink. Also, we sprayed the natural-based disinfectant, Sol U Guard Botanical, on every single surface that was touched by the kids’ hands or mouths. This included door and sink handles, the pencil sharpener, the water fountain, the computer board and headphones, as well as the whisper phones. Last but not least, each time children left the classroom they washed their hands with the Renew hand wash upon reentering.” Before Mrs. C. brought in the natural cleaning products, it was pretty typical that each classroom teacher would have six to seven kids missing in any given day.

“By Christmas time the results were astonishing! My classroom had a zero truancy rate, which is when a child misses three days in a row. In addition, three-quarters of the students had not missed a single day; and on most days or weeks, I might have had only one child missing from school. Also–incredibly–I had not experienced a single migraine while at school. Better yet, the results continued throughout the year, making my last year teaching at this school a wonderful experience.”

Not only did these natural-based, green products improve the health of the entire class (and the teacher!), but they also were beneficial to the surfaces. It was common practice to use chlorine wipes continually to clean the tabletops in the classroom. Due to the harsh chemicals in the wipes, the laminate on the tables needed to be refinished every year. At the end of this year, however, Mrs. C’s tabletops were as good as new and could be used for another year.

Are you experiencing chemical sensitivity? Would you like to make your home, school or office a safer environment?

Want to know more?    I’d like to help you get started.

Hoping you’re breathing easy and living life to the fullest,

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance