Test Kitchen Witch

Photo by Dennis Kitchen/Getty Images

Photo by Dennis Kitchen/Getty Images

Here are just some of the natural remedies we’ve tried that have been a resounding success so far.

1. Tea Tree Oil Mold Killer
The hub’s low snorts of derision about the efficacy of our homemade cleaning fluids quickly turned into shouts of glee when he used Care2.com’s recipe for tea tree oil mold remover to clean our bathroom ceiling. He said it was better than the bleach-based products we used in the past. “Plus, no cancer!” I hollered up the ladder at him. He still wore goggles, however, so the oil wouldn’t irritate his eyes, and a face mask we have lying around, because the smell can get quite overwhelming. (Oddly enough, I thought it smelled rather bleach-like.)

Essential oils can be potentially toxic to cats, so do keep Fluffums out of the area where you’re doing this. (For more information about cats and essential oils, I recommend reading The Lavender Cat.)

2. Dr. Chekhov’s Cold & Flu Tonic
The name was my sister’s silly idea. She was thrown on her back by a severe case of the sniffles, and complained bitterly about a sore throat. So, improvising from herbal wisdom, I told her to mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with about 8 oz. or more of water, plus 20 drops of echinacea extract—to be taken three times a day for a few days. It didn’t perk her up instantly, of course, but after some bed rest (this is very important), her sore throat vanished, and a couple of days later, she was practically bouncing off the walls. Apple cider vinegar kills bacteria and prevents the little buggers from sticking to the lining of your throat, while echinacea—which you may find in many “immune-boosting” health shakes—has antimicrobial properties and stimulates the immune system to battle infections.

You can make a warm version with a teaspoon of honey, as well, but be sure to rinse your mouth well after that because the combo of honey and vinegar can corrode your dental enamel. (We happened to have echinacea extract at home because I told the hub to try this formula when he had an onset of allergies in Florida last week, and so he bought some from a nearby health store. It wasn’t a cure-all for him, but he said he felt somewhat relieved of the symptoms after drinking this for a few days.)

Remember kids, Chekhov doesn’t have a real M.D., so this isn’t a substitute for non-quack medical advice, and you should always consult your doctor before trying home remedies if you’re pregnant, nursing, or on other medications. (Some people may be allergic to echinacea, as well, so do approach with caution if you’re hypersensitive.)

3. Baking Soda: Miracle Cleaner
If there’s one product that can put all chemical-cleaner manufacturers out of business, it’s baking soda. I use it for everything from unplugging drains (sprinkle a heapful of baking soda over the drain, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then pour hot water over it) to getting coffee and tea stains out from inside our ceramic mugs. I also like to shake some into the trash bin to absorb smells. And it works great on baked-on gunk on oven pans, and even, to my surprise, rust stains in our sink.

4. DIY Hair Conditioner
I also improvised this from different sources: 1 egg yolk (left over from your egg-white facial), 2 teaspoons of castor oil, and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. I found this actually worked a little too well, resulting in hair that was almost greasy, so the next time I do this, I’m going to reduce the amount of castor oil by 1 teaspoon. Still, if you have dry hair and are seeking one of those “deep-conditioning treatments,” this would do the trick. My hair became incredibly soft and shiny, and now I’m thinking of adding a few drops of lavender essential oil (and experimenting further) so this can replace my store-bought conditioner. Less haste but less waste.

Applications of apple cider vinegar also all but vanquished any dandruff I had. My scalp still tends to itch the next day, however, so I’m still looking for a solution to this problem.


  1. Adelin said,

    June 23, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    Dr. Chekhov’s Snake Oil!!

    Works wonders. Blind can see, lame can walk. You get the idea.

  2. The Worsted Witch » Eco-Me Home said,

    July 19, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    [...] I’ve written about the importance of making over your home into a chemical-free sanctuary, while sharing some of my own favorite on-the-cheap homemade cleaners that easily trump toxic, immune-system-stressing chemicals any day. (Windex? Buh-bye. Lysol? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.) [...]

  3. The Worsted Witch » Mail Call: Finding Eco Products said,

    February 5, 2007 at 10:44 am

    [...] Related articles: 1. Martha Stewart Living Jan 2007 2. Totally Bamboo 3. Vinegar: Disinfectant of Champions 4. Test Kitchen Witch 5. Eco-Me Home 6. Hub’s Guest Review: Seventh Generation Laundry Liquid Detergent 7. Maybe Baby: Chemicals & Kids 8. Implements of Green 9. Eulogy for Swiffer [...]

  4. Sue said,

    September 15, 2007 at 2:05 am

    1. Tea Tree Oil Mold Killer

    Essential oils can be potentially toxic to cats, so do keep Fluffums out of the area where you’re doing this. (For more information about cats and essential oils, I recommend reading The Lavender Cat.)

    Dear Witch :)
    Thank you for spreading safe information on eo’s and cats. Sue, The Lavender Cat
    No matter what has been claimed - it is not a misconception.

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