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Organic Housekeeping: In Which the Nontoxic Avenger Shows You How to Improve Your Health and That of Your Family, While You Save Time, Money


Organic Housekeeping: In Which the Nontoxic Avenger Shows You How to Improve Your Health and That of Your Family, While You Save Time, Money Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Longing for a kinder, gentler world? As the old saying goes, everything begins at home, and odds are, if you live in the all-American household, the air inside is more toxic than the air outside, even if you live in the most polluted of cities. You regularly handle the filthiest object in your home — the kitchen sponge — and put the same chemicals on your face that are used in brake fluid and antifreeze.

The cleaning agents and personal care products commonly marketed to and used in American homes contain not only some very dangerous, toxic chemicals, but they also create an "overly clean," chemically bombed-out house that compromises immune systems. And with more than fifty million Americans suffering from allergies and other autoimmune diseases — not to mention the developing and fragile immune systems of children and seniors — large numbers of people are actually being made sicker and sicker by their homes.

Learn to live a clean, healthy, more economical way with Ellen Sandbeck, the nontoxic avenger. In this must-have book for the twenty-first- century home, this passionate, witty advocate of all things organic will teach you how to maintain every part of the home — from living room to septic tank, kitchen floor to bathroom sink — using safe, simple cleansers and quick preventative measures as well as the most effective organic products on the market to get the job done.

Learn time-saving, preventative housekeeping, such as taking thirty seconds to clean the shower while you shower. Take care of bathroom stains with baking soda and vinegar rather than commercial, toxic bathroom "bombs" peddled to you with such force by manufacturers. Need whiter whites? There is no bleaching power on earth stronger than the sun. Snow clean your fine rugs. Choose fruits and vegetables from the relatively pesticide residue-free list. Clean felt-tipped pen stains with vodka. Make furniture shine with olive oil and lemon. Your house will also smell as great as it looks.

About the Author

Ellen Sandbeck is an organic landscaper, worm wrangler, writer, and graphic artist who lives with (and experiments on) her husband and an assortment of younger creatures — which includes two mostly grown children, a couple of dogs, a small flock of laying hens, and many thousands of composting worms — in Duluth, Minnesota. She is the author of Slug Bread and Beheaded Thistles and Eat More Dirt.

Table of Contents



Chapter One: First Things First

Moderation in All Things


A Place for Everything

If You Can't Find It, You Might as Well Not Own It

Home Maintenance Protocols

Labeling Tools

Junk Drawers and Miscellaneous Storage


Too Much Stuff


Sorting Papers

If You Ask Them, They Will Come

Banishing Chaos

Hiring Help

Cleaning Outbuildings and Extremely Chaotic Houses

Post-Clutterectomy Care

Storage Protocol


You Are What You Do; You Are What You Think

Setting Orderly Habits

Living Lightly and Happily

Waste Prevention


Recycling: Reducing Things to Their Basic Elements

The Future

Keep Moving

Chapter Two: The Kitchen: You Are What You Eat

Kitchens R Us

Organic Cleaning

What Is Clean?

The Products

Cleaning Tools

Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma'am

Mopping Up

Get Steamed

Steaming Floors and Counters

Environmentally Friendly Dishwashing

Dishwashing Supplies

Dishwasher Technique

Washing Dishes by Hand, Saving Water

Kitchen Odors

Eliminate Odors

Add Better Smells

Growing Clean Air

Sink Cleaning

Stainless-Steel Care

Porcelain Enamel Sinks

Artificial Stone, Corian, or Acrylic Sinks


Down the Drain

Drain Snake

Choosing a Refrigerator

Fridge Maintenance

Clean, Clean the Range

Oven Grime Prevention

Safer Oven Cleaning

Cleaning the Oven by Hand

Steam Cleaning the Oven

The Stovetop

Cleaning the Stovetop

The Range Hood

The Microwave

General Cleaning


Shock Prevention

Fire Prevention


Coffee Makers, Teapots, and Kettles

Why Buy Organic Food?

Save Your Health and Your Money

Preventing Food Poisoning

Real Cleaning for Real Kitchens

The Really Scary Bacteria

Oily Poison

Carnivore's Food Safety

Safe Meat Handling

Understanding the Enemy

Fashionable Diseases


Choosing Fish

Putrescine, Cadaverine, and Histamine — The Rotten Meat Sisters

Fending Off Spoilage

Not So Raw, Please

Antibiotics, Breakfast of Champions

Probiotics for People

Food Choices

Clean Cooking

Implementing a Domestic Spray Program

It's Mostly in the Timing

Clean and Dry

Kitchen Laundry

Choosing Cookware

Flexible Bakeware

Caring for Stovetop Cookware

Unsafe at Any Heat

Silver Care

Microwaveable Containers

Food Packaging

Chapter Three: The Low-Maintenance Bathroom

Designing a Low-Maintenance Bathroom from the Bottom Up


Walls and Ceiling


Soft vs. Hard Water

Hot Water


Colors and Finishes

Choosing Hardware

Grime Prevention and Cleaning Techniques


Bath Towels

Choosing a Scum Free Soap

Cleaning the Shower While Showering

Toilet Grime Prevention

Proper Toilet Etiquette

Clog Busting

Nontoxic, Timesaving Cleaning Techniques

Cleaning Methods

Routine Cleaning

Special Circumstances Cleaning


Define Clean

Personal Care Products

Some Dangerous Common Ingredients in Synthetic Beauty Products

Homegrown Beauty

Chapter Four: The Bedroom

Cleaning Pillows

Maintaining Down-Filled Comforters, Quilts, and Featherbeds

How Often Should the Bed Linens Be Changed?

Blankets and Comforters

Blanket Maintenance


Fire "Safe" but Still Dangerous

Unstained Yet Unhealthy

Choosing a Mattress

Mattress Flipping

Stain Prevention

Odor Eradication

Well-Preserved but Unhealthy

Sheets and Pillowcases

Clean Air Choices

Chapter Five: Laundry

Great-Grandma's Washday

The Beauty of the Lowered Standard

Choosing the Equipment

A Few Words About Lint

Water and Energy Use


By Color, Three Degrees of Separation

By Sturdiness, Two Degrees of Separation

By Dirtiness, Four Degrees of Separation

Hampering Rips, Tears, Stains, and Broken Zippers

Inside Out

Washing Frequency

Soap vs. Detergent

Anything but White...

Laundry Balls and Discs, the Handy Little Devices that Clean Out Your Wallet and Leave Your Laundry Dirty

General Whitening

Recommended Laundry Aids


Washing Soda

Distilled Vinegar


Fabric Softeners

Stain Removal

Protein-Based Stains

Sweat Stains

Oil-Based Stains

Vegetable-Pigment (Tannin) Stains

Dye Stains




Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning Comparisons

Fabric Care

Synthetic Fibers

Plant Fibers

Animal Fibers

Rain Washing

Letting the Rain Blow through Your Clothes

Snow Cleaning

To Snow-Clean Woolen Garments

Storing Woolens


Down Maintenance

Drying Techniques

Preferred Equipment

Outdoor Line Drying

Indoor Line Drying

Stretched Trousers


Do Not Iron, Do Not Starch

A Message from the Department of Redundancy Department

Roughing It

Grime Prevention for Sleeping Bags

It All Comes Out in the Wash...

Chapter Six: General Cleaning

The Well-Tempered House

Healthy Decor

Carpeting and Rugs

Carpet Choices

Location, Location, Location

The Carpeting Solution

Window Coverings

Window Blinds

Building Materials and Furniture

Choosing Upholstery and Drapery Fabrics


Annoying Building Syndrome

Cleaning Methods

Rug and Carpet Care, with a Little Upholstery Thrown In

Walls and Ceilings

Washing Windows


Dusting, Cleaning, Oiling, and Polishing Wooden Furniture


Computer Care

Computer Spills

Creative Tension

Chapter Seven: Indoor Air Quality

Domestic Odor Control

Animal Odors

Indoor Air Pollutants

Gaseous Pollutants

Indoor Pollution Control

Out with the Old Air, In with the New

Removal or Filtering

Watery Air

Preventing Fungi, Mold, and Mildew

Home Maintenance

Routine Housework


Vanquish Evil Dampness with Dehumidifiers or Air Conditioners


Alternative Humidifiers and Air Cleaners

The Air Scouts

Chapter Eight: Hazardous Materials, Fire Safety, Home Maintenance, Automotive Care

Hazardous Materials

Some Advice from a Guy Who Picks Up the Pieces

Hazardous Materials Disaster Prevention

Hazardous Materials Disposal Programs

Read the Label, Then You Won't Need to Weep

Age-Induced Instability

Repacking for the Trip

When to Call for Help

Fire Safety

Arise! Awake!

Fire 101

From Small Sparks, Huge Fires Grow

The Grand Prize Fire Starter

Cooking Up an Ounce of Prevention

Microwave Fire Prevention


The Next Biggest Fire Thing

Carbon Monoxide

Electrical Fires

Lighting Safety

Spontaneity Is Not Always a Good Thing...

What Firefighters Want You to Know

The Firefighters' "Perfect" Dream Home

When Prevention Fails

A Quenching Shower

Water, Mother Nature's Fire Control

Money Makes the World Go Around

Home Maintenance

Paint Purchasing

Aerosol Paints

Watch Out for That Can!

Safe Cleanup

Paint Pollution

Removing Old Wallpaper

Cleaning Wooden Decks

Killing Moss on Wooden Shingles

Digging Outside

Ice and Snow

The Nuts and Bolts of Rust Removal

Automotive Care

No Fires, No Floods, No Explosions — and They Lived Happily Ever After

Chapter Nine: In and Around the Garden

Reducing Toxic Runoff

Home Treatment

Building a Rain Garden

Rain Barrels: Saving for a Dry Day Permeable Pavement

Contaminated Soil




The Value of Trees

Controlling Global Warming

Controlling Local Warming


Lawn Alternatives


Safe Garden Hoses

Weed Control

Evicting Itchy and Scratchy

Pickled Weeds

Poisonous Plants

Warm Climate or Houseplants



Garden Pest Control: Of Mice and Men

We Are All Siblings Under the Skin, Exoskeleton, or Bark

A Clean Safe Kill

Don't Judge by Appearances

Insect Control with Backbone

Pickled Slugs and Snails

Garbage Can Security

Indoor/Outdoor Pests

Being Chased by the Furies

Ants Indoors

Ants Outdoors


Infested Food

Mice, Rats, and Squirrels



Clothes Moths



From the Counterproductive Department: Mosquito Attractants



Pet Care

Ear Mites

Cleaning Up Pet Hair

Cat Litter Boxes

Pet Safety

Pet Birds


Protecting the House from the Children

Cleaning Tricks


Closing the Circle



Product Details

In Which the Non-Toxic Avenger Shows You How to Improve Your Health and That of Your Family, While You Save Time, Money, and, Perhaps, Your Sanity
Sandbeck, Ellen
Cleaning & Caretaking
Healthy Living
House cleaning
Environmental aspects
Cleaning & Caretaking - General
Natural products
House cleaning -- Environmental aspects.
Publication Date:
May 2006
Grade Level:
9.25 x 6.625 in

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Related Subjects

Engineering » Home Construction » Household
Home and Garden » Household » Household Management
Home and Garden » Sustainable Living » Healthy Homes

Organic Housekeeping: In Which the Nontoxic Avenger Shows You How to Improve Your Health and That of Your Family, While You Save Time, Money Used Hardcover
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