Friday, October 26, 2007

Nature's Miracle- because my dogs still have accidents

Those of you with pets have probably heard of Nature's Miracle (made by "Eight in One Pet") before. If not, it's a fantastic product to have around the house. I first encountered the "original formula" when I had four house rabbits, and found myself needing to clean up their crates and the room I let them hop around without adding toxins to their environment. Who wants to see a bunny suffer? They've got sensitive (cute, wiggly) noses![1]

Fast forward to Weeble, my beloved handicapped dog. He had so many accidents on the carpet, this stuff was a lifesaver. It really does work well to take the stink out of pet messes, as long as you are able to attack the problem promptly (if your pet messes on your floor while you're out, God help you ;).

The original scent is fairly inoffensive, but the company's come out with an "Orange Oxy" version as well. Functionally, I don't notice a difference. In terms of scent, well, I'm usually so annoyed when I happen to be breaking out the Nature's Miracle, that scent isn't the first thing on my mind. We actually use the orange version on our hardwood floors (spray, wipe) and it works nicely.

The company makes the product available in 1 gallon jugs, so you can refill your spray bottles with a little less waste. If you're a "dribbler" not a "sprayer" (heehee), you can buy the 32oz bottle version as well.

My current dogs are fairly housebroken these days (well, one is completely, the other is a stubborn little girl), but when we first got them we used the Nature's Miracle training pads a lot. Not very eco-friendly of us, and I've found some reusable solutions since then. Thankfully, we don't need them anymore.

1. By the way, if you ever need a home for your bunnies, I cannot recommend these "bunny condos" highly enough. Wire floors are too hard on bunny feet- give them a break! ( is an excellent resource in general).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bi-O-Kleen Automatic Dish Gel

I reviewed the Biokleen automatic dish powder back in August, and when I finished the package just a few days ago I was eager to try the dish gel.

Unfortunately, my experience with the gel hasn't been good so far. Since I began using it, many things are coming out of the dishwasher crusty. I do rinse my dishes before putting them in, but if they have the slightest bit of grime on them it seems to solidify when washed with this product. My dishes seem to have a film on them. I love the convenience of a liquid, but this is definitely one of the worst performing dishwasher soaps I've tried in a long time. I actually feel badly writing this, too, because I love all of my other biokleen products. This one doesn't seem to have any reviews on, so I'll have to nose around and see if other people were as disappointed. In the meantime, I feel obligated to use up this big jug, but yikes!
I'll update this review if things improve at any point.

Meanwhile, I am relegated to re-washing some dishes and utensils by hand.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Carpet shampooing doesn't have to be toxic!

I'm still here! :) School got busy and then I got sick. I'm too picky to let my apartment go much, but I definitely wasn't up to trying and reviewing anything new.

So I finally saved a bit and got myself a carpet shampooer. To be precise, I got a
"Hoover F5914-900 SteamVac with Clean Surge".
My desire for one was so great because the carpeting in our apartment's bedroom has looked filthy since we moved in, and the rental shampooer I got from the grocery store actually made it worse (I think the thing was broken). I did a lot of research before choosing this model, and I have to say, I'm pretty happy with it.

Many years ago I shared an apartment with a mentally handicapped dog. Before we discovered "doggie diapers", our carpets suffered mightily. This was an apartment with carpeting throughout the unit as well. The poor little dog couldn't reason out even to use a puppy training pad, and after the stink got a certain amount lethal, we bought a Bissell. It worked... okay. Nothing like a professional job or the unit we once rented from a hardware shop.

The Hoover seems somewhere between professional and the Bissell so far, but it's very hard to tell because the carpet is a very mottled multi-colored job. I'm amazed at the filth in the water it pulls out though.

But let me get to the eco part!

So of course the thing came with a bottle of Hoover brand cleaning solution. This little bottle had no marked ingredients, which always irks me.
For the sake of science (you hear that, readers? I sacrificed my sense of smell for you! ;) ) I used it on part of my bedroom carpet. It worked quite well, but it smelled absolutely horrid and caustic. I wanted to crick a window, but it was a bit late and cool out.

Thankfully, I have an alternative- Earth Friendly Products' Carpet Shampoo! It smells like bergamot and sage (yum!), and it works just as well as the Hoover brand. I saved half of my bedroom carpet to do a comparison on, and the two products are functionally interchangeable. The Hoover machine comes with a bunch of caveats about only using Hoover liquid (they all do that), because other products may foam too much or somehow ruin the machine. I love the carpet shampooer, but I definitely am not buying the cross-branding hype. Just for "assault on my nose" reasons alone, I'd rather use the EFP. My dogs, my husband and I have to walk on this carpet too!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Dust from on high

On Saturday I tackled one of my least favorite chores- dusting places that rarely get dusted. This mostly meant the ceiling fan in our bedroom, which I suspected of being covered in dust and thereby triggering my allergies every time I am in there. I was right. I got out my handy Swiffer Duster with the extendable handle and went to town. It took three duster cloths to get all the dust off that fan, and a fourth to get up above our closets half-heartedly. The dust raining down on me and our bed despite my best efforts was so grim that I had to vacuum afterwards. What a fun chore indeed.

So I was thinking about the waste of all of those cloths, and about Swiffer's being owned by Proctor and Gamble, who test on animals. Properly humbled, I decided to look for a solution to my distance dusting needs. Sure I could use my vacuum extentions, but I actually haven't found that to be a very good solution. Despite the sucking power, I feel like I'm blowing around more than I'm removing.

I already replaced my Swiffer cloths with microfiber ones so hmmmm... one of my favorite cleaning product companies, Casabella, makes a special ceiling fan duster, and although I secretly want one, it is a bit of a monotasker. (Still, look at it! I may actually dust my fans more often with that thing). Their extendable wool duster looks good, but is only hand-washable. (And still, it does look good).

Essentially, Casabella makes a large variety of dusting tools.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Hodgepodge Saturday

I have a few cleaning things on my mind, so here's a potpourri of a post.

1. My current favorite company for wax tart melts is Gramma Frans Fixins. Beware the jumbo tarts! They really are huge, the size of a big muffin perhaps. My favorite are the soy tart cups. Soy wax is much better for the environment than petroleum-based paraffin wax, burns cleaner, and cleans up easier when spilled (with soap and water most of the time!) They have some great autumny scents.

2. I noticed today when I was in Whole Foods that Real Simple has come out with an entire book on cleaning techniques. I must admit, I am curious although I suspect that most of my cleaning techniques are just fine. It has no reviews yet, so who knows!

3. As per my last post about wanting a giant moo-shoo dog on the front of babyganics' packaging, they mentioned that they also have a line called "petganics". It's basically the same products, but with wee little hundchens on the front. So there you have it ;)

Monday, October 1, 2007


I just finished up a bottle of toxic Windex-like stuff (generic version) that was purchased years ago. I couldn't pour it out, and as it was decanted into a small spray bottle of mine I didn't want to bring it to the household chemical people. Basically, I forced myself to carefully use it up. Much to my glee, BabyGanics' Glass and Surface Cleaner arrived at my house just as I was ready for something new. I just automatically feel better about glass cleaners that aren't dyed blue, and while I was on the verge of just using white vinegar and water, this product was a nice treat (I do wish I had the lavender-scented one though. As regular readers know, I am nothing if not a scent junkie.) I wonder if I could drop some lavender EO into it.

Anyway, this spray worked much better than the generic-Windex. I didn't even know that was possible, but my glass table shined. I stood back from it, looking at it curiously. Huh, I thought. I'd used white vinegar on it and that hadn't created this level of gleam either.

I'm new to Babyganics. Having no kids of my own, there was something about the picture of a baby on the front of the packaging that made me instinctively think "not for me". What they need to do, I think, is Photoshop in a small dog. If the woman were smooching a small dog I'd probably have found them sooner ;) (And if the products came in a bacon-scent perhaps my dogs would help me clean.)

So, you know that I'm a former design professor, right? With that out of the way, prepare for slightly tangential critique. I'm not sure about the photos of people used on packaging at all. I haven't seen studies about whether consumers respond to that- certainly if I did have a child it might catch my eye as I look for cleaning products. On the other hand, I have a sense of products featuring photographs as part of their design as being somewhat less sophisticated. I'm not entirely sold on babyganics' design, and I think I'd add a couple more scents to capture the new aromatherapy cleaning market. Can I pick the scents? Someone needs a "spicy kitchen" cleaning product scent.. something that smells like clove and cinnamon and ginger. Or maybe a "log cabin" scent that's somehow woodsy and smokey and crisp.

So, what do YOU think of the package design?