All You Need Is Less, Eco-Friendly Living, Natural Living

Green House Week 2: Bathrooms

How to give your bathroom a green makeover -

Welcome to the bathroom, friends! If you’re new to the series, the Intro post is here. I’m going to try my very best to keep it short and sweet. Here goes!


What To Phase Out

Air Fresheners:  The problem here goes far beyond the aerosol cans –  those plug-in deals aren’t any better. Air fresheners market themselves as being pleasant fragrances that work to mask foul odours, but their ingredients can irritate nasal passageways, and have been linked to birth defects, reproductive toxicity, allergies, and asthma. Air fresheners make air quality worse, not better – let’s skip ’em!

Eighteen-Ply, Made-From-Kitten-Fur Fancy Toilet Paper: I know, I know, this is kind of a nice luxury. Everybody enjoy a bit of pillowy softness on their nether regions, right? But I’m about to drop some reality on you, I did some extremely thorough internet research and discovered this jaw-dropping fact: Each year in the US alone, seven MILLION  trees are cut down just to make toilet paper! Seven million! Be honest: Are your nether regions worth seven million trees?!

What To Bring In

Recycled Toilet Paper: To some of you this may seem like just the worst thing in the world, but it’s not! I assure you! If everyone in the United States switched just ONE roll of toilet paper to the recycled kind, we would save 470,000 trees, 1.2 million feet of cubic landfill space, and 169 million gallons of water (1). One roll! Doooo it.



Here’s the deal. I’ve been making my own toothpaste for three years now, and at every dentist visit I get five gold stars and a trophy for my gleaming smile. This recipe uses baking soda, which many people assume is too abrasive and damaging to teeth enamel, BUT, not so! Dentists use something called the Relative Dentin Abrasiveness scale to measure how abrasive toothpastes are to teeth. The scale runs from 0-200, 200 being the most abrasive. Baking soda clocks in at a measly 7, with the closest commercial toothpaste coming in at a 25. (You can check out the scale here).

This recipe makes a smaller batch than the recipe found in my book, so you can try it for a few days and see what you think.

1 Tbsp Baking soda
1 Tbsp water
Spearmint extract

Measure the baking soda into a small bowl or jar, and slowly add water until you get a thin paste. Add 1 drop of spearmint extract, and you’re done! To use, just dip your toothbrush into the mixture and brush away. Your teeth will never feel cleaner. Swear.

Tub Scrub
1/4 cup baking soda
1 Tbsp Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap
Warm/Hot water

Combine the baking soda and castile soap in a small bowl, slowly add water until you get a thick paste, and then dip a cloth or non-abrasive scouring pad in and use it to scrub your bathtub. The baking soda does an amazing job of cutting through soap scum and grime, and the soap cleans and makes everything shiny and smelling great. Plus your arms will look faaabuloussss!

Shower Spray
This is fantastic for getting glass shower doors crystal clear. Just heat up a cup or so of white vinegar, and then carefully pour it into a spray bottle with a fine mist setting (a funnel is helpful so you don’t burn ya self with it). Lightly mist over glass shower doors and leave to settle in for 15-20 minutes, then wipe with a soft cloth or non-abrasive scouring pad. Repeat a few times if your doors are extra filmy.

Extra Credit: Yoni Wipes

If you’re a woman you understand just how much toilet paper you can go through in a day, especially if you are well hydrated. I grew up in a house with six women including myself, and I swear it is ridiculous. Yoni wipes (also sometimes called Family Cloth) offer an alternative. Basically, they are reusable cloth wipes – typically only used for pee- that you launder and re-use. I’m going to be honest and say that I haven’t made this leap yet, aside from using cloth wipes with Olive, and I’m not sure if I will. BUT, the option is there! You can make yoni wipes from squares of cotton or flannel, or buy them re-made from sites like Etsy.

UP NEXT WEEK! The Bedroom (oh LA!)


If you like these hippie ramblings and you’d like to read more, my book is available at most public libraries, on Kindle, in your local bookstore and here

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  • Reply Sarcastically Katie May 13, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    Do you have any recommendations for a replacement air freshener? I have a kitty litter box in our bathroom as well as a (sometimes pretty smelly) man who uses the bathroom as well lol

    • Reply jamie May 13, 2015 at 1:58 PM

      try incense matches. they completely remove the post-poo odor from the air. just one single match does the trick. we use those in my house mostly for modesty—it’s embarrassing to have someone go in after you and smell your odor! and they work amazingly. if you light one just before you go in to use the bathroom to mask the kitty odor, you will have a few minutes of relief from that smell, too, but it won’t last b/c the gross kitty matter is still sitting there. but if you scoop and remove, then light the incense match, the odor will be gone. these things are like magic. that said, inhaling any smoke is actually breathing in fine particulates. which too much of can be hard on the lungs, of course, but it’s not toxic in the way some chemicals are, and it’s such a small amount at a time. plus incense matches are fairly subtle, just the right tiny dose, not overwhelming you with plumes of smoke or anything. i’ve used them in public restrooms (with smoke detectors!) with no problem just by fanning a bit. try them and be amazed. i actually have a small, attractive, antique “ashtray” that lives permanently on the back of the toilet, with sand in it for standing up your incense match. no one ever smells fecal odor in my house, ever. EVER.

    • Reply Livia May 13, 2015 at 2:02 PM

      Beeswax candles are another option. They neutralize bad smells without adding extra scents. Most candles are petroleum-based though so be sure you’re getting pure beeswax. I betcha there’s a beekeeper near you!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 14, 2015 at 7:57 AM

      You guys are awesome! Thank you for all the fantastic suggestions! I was going to suggest opening a window (open windows in bathrooms are always a good idea, ha!) or, like Livia, suggest a natural candle. You could also rig a natural air freshener by using a reed diffuser like this (I think they look very zen, too!)

  • Reply Livia May 13, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    Can you make the toothpaste and/or tub scrub beforehand and store it? Or does it need to be freshly made for each use? If you store it, what kind of container do you use? I’m picturing a mason jar. Would that work?

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 13, 2015 at 12:06 PM

      Yes, that would be perfect! If either one seems like it’s getting dried up just add a but more water to it 🙂

  • Reply Nicole May 13, 2015 at 1:10 PM

    I am so excited about this series. But, okay, I have a question. After reading this post, I googled “recycled toilet paper” and lots of scary articles come up about BPA and BPS being in that toilet paper. How do you balance between caring for the trees and BPA/BPS being that close to your nether regions? I’m truly curious about how to weigh that decision.

  • Reply jamie May 13, 2015 at 1:42 PM

    yeah, if you can wash a cloth diaper and put it back up against your little one’s bum time and again, why can’t we use reusable wipes for at least peeing? i have already decided i’m going to switch to this system, cutting small rectangles out of undyed/unbleached organic cotton knit fabric, which, since it’s already sorta off white, most likely won’t even show the minor hints of pee stains. i haven’t begun yet, b/c i’m right in the middle of a big remodel, and i don’t want to have too many things going on at once, and i want to build a lovely wooden dispenser atop a compartment for stashing the used ones until laundry day, and there’s no clean place to cut fabric or bust out my nice gingher scissors. but i’ve been planning to start doing this fairly soon. so glad that you mentioned it, b/c if i just mentioned it, it would seem so fringe. but with your endorsement, it’s going to get big, just watch. 😀

  • Reply jamie May 13, 2015 at 1:47 PM

    oh, hey, also: for us lazy types, you can just keep some baking soda (in a pretty container, of course) in the bathroom, and just wet your toothbrush and dip it in the dry baking soda and brush. this works well for me.

  • Reply MaryKate May 13, 2015 at 4:01 PM

    I’m just getting into using essential oils and the toothpaste thing sounds like a great mini-step for me to take toward integrating the oils! I mostly just love them for my 7 month old son right now, but yay for a reason to use them myself!

  • Reply teenybump May 13, 2015 at 7:00 PM

    Hey! Do you know if I can substitute the spearmint extract with peppermint oil?

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 13, 2015 at 8:21 PM

      You totally could! That’s what I used first, but switched to spearmint after a while. You could even use sweet orange or something for kids 🙂

  • Reply ELBL May 13, 2015 at 9:44 PM

    I’m supposed to be using an enamel strengthening toothpaste, apparently I have acid spit! Anyhoo, anything in your research/travels through the information/
    Interwebs have you come across something to add that is natural and strengthening?

    Side note, I think Hubby would look at me crazy if I went to family cloth… Cloth wipes for #2 so far is working, but that’s even taking time!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 14, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      Do some research into oil pulling and see what you think – basically it’s swishing coconut oil around your mouth for a few minutes each morning. Oil pulling enthusiasts swear by it for improving gum health and tooth enamel – but I’m not sure how much (if any) research there is to back it up.
      p.s. Acid spit? You are HARD. CORE.

      • Reply ELBL May 14, 2015 at 6:06 PM

        Thought about it and tried it a few times, I will look it further, thanks! And totally 😉

  • Reply Lindsey Wehn May 14, 2015 at 2:58 PM

    Awesome ideas, thanks!
    Any advice on cleaning the toilet or countertops? I have just been using vinegar and water, though not sure if there’s a better idea out there.
    Thank you!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 14, 2015 at 6:08 PM

      There will be a great recipe for an all purpose spray shared in a few weeks, that’s what I use for both 🙂 For stubborn toilet rings/stains you can use a pumice stone 🙂

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  • Reply prairie May 21, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    Dr. B’s is on sale at I just ordered some to try your ‘recipe’.

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 23, 2015 at 9:02 PM

      Oh that’s awesome, thank you for sharing!

      • Reply prairie May 26, 2015 at 8:15 AM

        I accidentally ordered the Peppermint kind. My tub smells like toothpaste. I actually love it.

        Another blog suggested using old reusable breastfeeding pads instead of sponges/cloths for quickly wiping down the bathroom sink.

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