Top positive review
460 people found this helpful
This book from the perspective of a single person
on March 18, 2003
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.) This is a lot more than vinegar-baking soda-Castille soap cleaning and requires a higher level of commitment financially.
As a single person, I also found that many of the recipes, especially the ones that are highly perishable, would make too much for me to use in the time they are fresh. Of course, the easy way to get around this is to simply cut the recipes in half or even a quarter. If you can cook or do some simple math (I'm terrible at math and I have no troubles), then you as a single person can cut the recipes down to a manageable, useful amount. I have already cleaned my leather couch, made lanolin hand lotion (great stuff!) and protected my hemp shower curtain from mildew with a spray-on solution containing tea tree oil. How long did it take? I did it effortlessly in one day, around other chores. Very easy.
I would recommend, if you are really interested in green cleaning by desire or necessity, to buy this book and also get "Clean House, Clean Planet" by Karen Logan. To me, Logan's book is the single best way to get someone involved in green cleaning. Her recipes tend to be cheap, easy and effective. This book has a far greater range of recipes for many more uses, but they are overall more expensive and specialized.
Also, a few tips if you are going to get into green cleaning:
1) Get equipment that is used only in making your cleaning products. Some essential oils and other ingredients are very bad for you to eat, and mixups and residues could make your day very long and very bad. I have a simple list: a medium-sized Pyrex bowl and 2-cup Pyrex measure, a silicone spatula, *metal* measuring spoons, a whisk and some glass jars with metal screw-on lids you can get at any decent-sized grocery store. With about $20-$30, you can have nearly all the equipment you will ever need.
2) Start with one product that is cheap and easy to make, and works on something you want to clean right now. Instant gratification is a great way to get into the habit!
3) Especially if you want to clean rather than make personal care products at first, buy one small bottle of essential oil that smells good AND disinfects to cut down costs. I happen to like tea tree oil, but if you prefer a wintergreen type smell, choose lavender. If you find out that green cleaning is for you, then you can branch out into other essential oils more suited for other tasks.