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Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living Paperback – June 1, 1999

4.8 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

These days, more and more people are saying no to "better living through chemistry" and yes to a lifestyle that is less toxic and more environmentally friendly. This trend toward a more natural lifestyle has become something of a crusade for Annie Berthold-Bond, author of Better Basics for the Home. After developing hypersensitivity to even very low concentrations of chemicals, Berthold-Bond was forced to rid her life of as many toxins as possible. "It wasn't until I had to be away from chemicals that I began to realize how many we lived with. The extent of the contamination is startling--from hair spray and floor wax to dandelion killers and plastic shower curtains and other products that line our hardware stores and supermarket shelves."

This book represents the culmination of her search for a more sustainable lifestyle. Taking her cue from an earlier time, Berthold-Bond, former editor in chief of Green Alternatives for Health and Environment, offers more than 800 simple and practical alternatives to common household toxins, covering everything from skin care to gardening. And the good news is that adopting her suggestions and formulas isn't hard at all. "Mixing up face creams or wood stain isn't much different than cleaning the windows with vinegar, soap, and water instead of using Brand Name X, or making a cake with flour, eggs and milk instead of buying a mix," see asserts. "With a few simple staples we can clean our houses, wash our hair, rid the dog's bed of fleas, and do many other things as well." If you have your doubts, here is her formula for metal polish:

3 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon flour, and enough white distilled vinegar to make a paste. Scoop the paste onto a clean sponge, and polish the metal clean. Rinse with hot water and buff dry.

Sure, these days it's literally impossible to lead a life that is completely toxin-free. But you can significantly reduce your exposure, and picking up a copy Better Basics for the Home is a great way to get started.

About the Author

Berthold-Bond is a leading authority on environmentally safe alternatives.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Potter Style; 1st edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609803255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609803257
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm single, a downtown apartment dweller, and I've been using natural, homemade cleaning products for almost three years. I have read - and use regularly - several natural cleaning books, including another of Annie Berthold-Bond's titles, "Clean & Green." However, I have become interested in "green living," not just cleaning. That means switching from commercial household products to homemade products for personal care, pest control, etc. That is what led me to "Better Basics For the Home."
"Better Basics" is far easier to use and much better organized and written than "Clean & Green." It is set up in logical sections according to the products' uses. The index is very good. You can find a recipe quickly, although I would suggest you read through the book once and get a feel for how to go about things. Also, one of the best aspects is the "Sources and Resources" section near the back. If you live in an area without health food stores, woods or land suitable for growing your own herbs, then this will be essential for your ability to find ingredients to make your own green household products.
This book is also suitable for the beginner green cleaner. Most of the recipes, once you have the correct ingredients, are very easy to make and quick to put together. That being said, this book is also for people who are really serious about green cleaning, personal hygiene, pest control and other aspects of running a household. I say that because some of the ingredients used in many of the recipes are costly if you have to buy them instead of gathering them from your yard or a nearby wooded area. Also, essential oils - literally essential in green cleaning! - are expensive. (A little goes a loooong way, though.
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Format: Paperback
When I first bought this book it was very hard to put down. Most of the recipes are very easy to follow and are inexpensive. My favorite recipe for "soft scrubber" contains ingredients that I already add to my bathwater anyway, so it's nice to take a bath without worrying about any leftover chemical residue lingering in the tub with you. Another plus is the gentle, caring manner in which it's written. The author explains the benefits of going green without coming across as condescending or judgmental.
Keeping in mind that I think this is a wonderful book, and well worth the cost, there are a few things I'd like to point out. I found that a lot of the skincare recipes were geared for people with dry skin. This is understandable considering the author's dry/sensitive skin, but I wanted to let other readers know to expect this. I tried many of the basic lotion, cream, and soap formulas and found that many of them felt way too greasy for my skin-especially if they contained beeswax. There is a small section with recipes for people with oily skin. That was helpful, but the skincare recipes in general are probably a little more suited for dry skin.
I also found that some of the yields seem a little off. (This is more so for the skincare recipes than the cleaning recipes.) I follow all of the instructions very carefully, but still end up with yields that are sometimes significantly off. You can tell just by reading some of the recipes that it's unlikely they could yield what they say. Also, some of the recipes for the cleaning products seemed a little repetitive. (Not a significant enough difference between some of them to warrant separate recipes.
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Format: Paperback
I found Better Basics to be a very practical instructional book for making my own blends of home and body care mixtures, and Ms. Berthold-Bond included an extensive list of suppliers for the less common ingredients. Next to the phone book and a favorite cookbook, this is the 3d most-consulted book in our house. It is well worth the price, and I intend to share several with friends and relatives who understand the value of making our own, like our ancestors did.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book because of the positive reviews at this site, and have not been disappointed.

If you want to remove most of the "dangerous" chemicals from your home this is an excellent resource for how to prepare your own cleaning products at home. The book does cover some of the dangerous chemicals that are normally in the products that most of us buy everyday. However if you want a more thorough discussion of potential toxins in and around the home check out either "The Healthy Living Space" or "Toxic Overload". Both of these cover the topic of potential toxins in the home in more depth.

This book does a nice job of covering the basic products that you can use to clean and disinfect your home. The author gives many recipes in this book for a variety of products.

The book is organized as follows:
1. The Basics
2. Housekeeping
3. Skin Care
4. Whole Body Care
5. Gardening, Pets, and Pest Control
6. House Care and Hobbies.

I was surprised, but pleased, to see that the author included formulas for lip balms, cuticle cream and mouthwash.

If you are really interested in keeping a green home I would suggest a steam cleaner in addition to this book. I have written a review of the SAECO Piccolo, also on this site, if you are interested. Which ever brand you select, a steam cleaner is an excellent product to have if you are interested in green cleaning.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for those that just beginning to embark on a green home program.
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