Coming Clean

For all my talk of the messes around our home, you might be surprised to hear how much time I actually spend cleaning. Hours a day, I tell you! No one ever told me how much work it was to clean up after a family (not that I would have believed them if they did). We are a family of four merry mess makers, and only one of us (guess who?) is a hesitant housekeeper - hesitant simply because I know it will be a mess again within minutes. But clean I must.

clean sink

And clean I enjoy. There's something so satisfying about a freshly scrubbed sink and a clean, bare dish mat, even if it's only temporary.

A coworker years ago told me about Bon Ami - which happens to mean "good friend" - and I'm forever grateful for her recommendation. I spent a few minutes on their website today researching the making and history of their cleaning scrub - and I was not disappointed! The old advertisements alone are worth a trip over to their site.

I've been curious about the Bon Ami chick and the tag line, "Hasn't scratched yet!". Turns out, that little chick is one of the oldest company mascots on the market, and the phrase refers to the fact that a baby chick hasn't yet scratched the earth for food. Being a chick lover, I love Bon Ami even more now.

Speaking of chicks,

all that remains

a few feathers are all that remains in our bathroom of our little charges. They are outside - finally! And my bathroom is sparkling clean and smells much, much better. I tucked their feathers in the frame of our bathroom mirror as a sweet reminder.

their new home

George made a temporary annex off the main coop for the little chicks, complete with a run separate from the big girls and a bamboo perch. They seem quite happy with their new digs. I'm quite happy too. I especially love their roof - that little opossum hanging out in our backyard should consider himself warned.

In other cleaning news, I finally made my own laundry detergent. Jessica and Diane both posted about making their own detergent some time ago, so when I finally ran out of the store bought variety, I used their recipe to make my own.

laundry detergent

I love it! It smells so good going in to the wash (thanks to the almond scented castile soap), and doesn't smell at all when it comes out of the wash, which to me, is a sign of clean. I made three batches of laundry soap (using two bars of soap and a fraction of the boxes of Borax and washing soda), enough to fill up a large glass jar, which I covered with a sleeve made from a small piece of adorable laundry line fabric, a gift from Stefani of Blue Yonder Ranch. Oh, I've found some delightful bons amis via the internet.

And inspired by a new blogging friend, Amy of Elemental, I finally put some baking soda and vinegar in my bathroom. Using a hammer and nail, I poked holes in the lids of two glass jars and filled one with baking soda, one with vinegar. My hope was to inspire the children to clean the toilet by making volcanic reactions in the toilet bowl, but they're less than interested in my scheme. Having the two products in my bathroom did inspire me to try them out on my hair, replacing shampoo with baking soda and conditioner with vinegar (thanks to Mrs. Boo Radley of Just Like Camping, who's been poo-free for quite some time). So far, so good. I've been poo-free for just over a week, and my hair is surprisingly smooth, less frizzy, and smells like vinaigrette (which makes me want to eat more salad).

cleanliness is next to godliness

(I found George's old laundry bag - probably from his prep school days - while cleaning out our bathroom after the chicks moved out.)

That's the clean, green news from A Foothill Home Companion. Hope you all have a lovely Earth Day. Avery and I are celebrating by wearing green and blue, like a cartoon globe - her idea. I love that girl. (Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you - she made us deodorant! Check out How About Orange for the recipe.)


  1. Awesome post!! Once we get settled in our new place (you heard it here first!) I am def going to make that soap. Please let me know if you find a good dishwasher detergent that works well...I have been on the hunt for a year but most leave the dishes waxie and cloudy.

    Happy Earth Day to you too!


  2. i love the chicks little annex! i have finally gotten the go ahead (from matt) to get some chicks. we've got quite a bit of traveling coming up, so when we get back we are going to move forward with that. i'm so excited!

    i still make our laundry soap, it really does work so well. lately i've been using the lavender dr. bronner's and LOVE the smell. need to get a batch made this weekend . . .

  3. I haven't tried that deodorant recipe yet, but between all the gardening and my not so great all natural store bought stuff, I need to try something new!
    We've got a broody Buff Orpington sitting on six eggs. I wonder if any will hatch?

  4. How much laundry soap do you use on each load? And is it okay on a high efficiency (front loading) washer?

  5. Bookmarking this! Shredded soap reminds me of sheep cheese.
    xoxoxoxoxoxox, love vinaigrette hair!

  6. i guess i should have included that info kelly! i use two tablespoons per load in our front load washer. castile soap doesn't really make a lot of suds, but i learned through my research that it's not the suds that do the cleaning anyways. i've been more satisfied with the cleanliness of my last few loads than when i was using an "eco-friendly" laundry detergent from the store.

  7. been meaning to make my own dishwasher soap since i've already made detergent but i'm having a heck of a time finding liquid castille soap. where did you find yours? i'm curious even though it's in a bar form.

  8. Love this post. Does the homemade detergent work well? I'm using Tide these days, to my environmental shame. The "green" stuff just wasn't doing the job.

    Don't know if you ever read my cleaning post a few weeks back, but one way I make cleaning much more fun is to listen to my favorite podcasts. Can you believe I've actually starting to look forward to cleaning chores for that reason???

  9. hooray for poo-free hair! It's so far so good for me, too. What a pleasant surprise to come across my name here. thanks :) I have had home made laundry soap on my radar for a while now and I think you may have given me the nudge I needed. Your "recipe" looks so easy. And I am happy your little girls are our in the semi-real world now. I, too, love their roof.

  10. i am very excited to make my own laundry detergent. thanks for the recipe!

    also, your photos are beautiful!

  11. These are such helpful tips! I'm intrigued by the baking soda shampoo idea. Your blog photos are so lovely as well - it's such a treat to come across such crisp, large pictures.

  12. I wonder if homemade laundry detergent is okay with cloth diapers; I've asked around and no one seems to know. It's the only reason I haven't made the switch over. We use Charlie's powdered detergent in the wash and I love it , but homemade would save some dough.
    I love making homemade soaps, scrubs, and cleaners; it's so nice to know exactly what it is your scrubbin' the family home with.
    My favorite book on safe cleaning recipes is, 'better basics for the home'. It's truly awesome.

  13. you are so.



    and inspiring.

    and real.

    your blog makes me happier than bazooka wrappers.

  14. oh my gosh - i was going to write a post about my love of bon ami. you totally read my mind!

  15. I haven't heard about Bon Ami. It appears that it isn't sold at very many places in my area. I'll look though. I've always used Bar Keeper's Friend, but it stinks. I'd love to find an alternative. Maybe while I'm at the hardware store (looking for Bon Ami) I'll find the ingredients to make my own laundry soap, which is something I've been wanting to do for ages.

  16. We love Bon Ami as well! I love using baking soda and vinegar for my toilet bowls (and a little tea tree oil), but sometimes it's quicker to simply throw some Bon Ami in there.

    Where do you buy your washing soda? I've looked online but haven't had much luck. Thanks!

  17. i just bought a bottle of tea tree oil the other day - truth be told, it does smell a little bit like toilet bowl cleaner!

    i bought the washing soda and Borax at the grocery store - it was on the top shelf of the detergent aisle (man that aisle gives me a headache!). you might also check at a small hardware store - like ace or true value (i don't know if they're a national chain or not, but the little old local hardware stores carry the darndest things - including bon ami!).

  18. Since I've been spending my night doing laundry soap is on my mind--I can't wait to make my own with your recipe!

  19. Inspirational! I live with two mess-makers. It's challenging.

  20. I was so excited to try the recipe for homemade laundry soap until I read about the cautions that exist regarding borax.


    I've been using Charlie's detergent but I quite like the idea of making my own.

    You are inspiring. And I drink up your photos.

  21. bon ami saved our 60 year old bath tub. I thought the stains were permanent until I used the bon ami!

  22. I'd love to make my own laundry detergent, too, and am really curious how it works out cost-wise--cheaper than store-bought I wonder? Also, REALLY glad you linked to that homemade deodorant recipe! I've been wanting to make some for a long time but the recipe I had called for several kinda pricey ingredients I didn't already have, whereas for this one the only thing I don't have on hand is the arrowroot. Great post (as usual); thank you Molly!

  23. Thank you for your beautiful pictures :-)

  24. um. do you shave the soap yourself? is that a silly question? It looks like a big job to me... but nice to make your own. I have borax, but dont know where I;d get Castille soap... I am not a clean person, but it seems I spend many hours a day cleaning! Ach.

  25. I've been making liquid laundry soap, but want to try yours too, looks easy. I don't grate the bar, I put it in the food processor. :)
    And YAY for the poo free link! Perfect timing. Just yesterday I balked hard when I read the list of ingredients on my shampoo and thought, "There's GOT to be an alternative." Thank you!

  26. I'm curious as to whether the Borax is ok for septic systems long term since it's toxic in high levels? I'd love to make some but always look for the "safe for septic systems" on the products. Does it say? I used to have Borax around for something, but can't remember what!

  27. Tweak your ingredients a smidge and you've got dishwasher detergent that works like a charm!

  28. How fun to make your own laundry soap. I have made hand soap from scratch some turned out okay others - not so okay.
    I looked at one of your archived photos and found the one on making dish towels out of old t-shirts. What a great idea. I think I am inspired to try that too. Thanks for sharing your life with the rest of us!

  29. I'm so excited to try the laundry soap recipe! Now I just have to peruse the aisles to find washing soda? Thanks for sharing such great ideas.


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