Natural Ways To Get Rid of Mosquitoes Easily

Mosquitos suck….literally!  Their presence can turn any outdoor living space into an unwanted area to be in. Recently I hosted my son’s graduation party in our backyard.  After two days of torrential Austin downpours, I had a mosquito filled backyard.  Needless to say, everyone went home with a few mosquito bites.  With all of the research I have done on cleaning our clients’ homes with Eco-Friendly Supplies, I felt horrible when I grabbed the outdoor fogger and sprayed the backyard.  Guess what….it didn’t even work!  So, I’ve spent the last week experimenting with different solutions and I have a few proven ones that I’d like to share with you.

For Large Outdoor Spaces

Our outdoor environments become a second (and sometimes first) living room for most…depending on the season.  So, while decorating I am sure you have decided to add some plants or flowers.  Let’s not only add plants or flowers for an aesthetically nice look – but let’s add the types of plants and flowers that repel mosquitoes!

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  • Citronella is a perennial grass which grows very large and can be a great filler for landscaping.
  • Marigolds are colorful, flowering plants. Be careful where placing these as the bright colors may attract other uninvited guests to your party such as wasps and bees.  They are commonly seen in borders in apartment complexes or your neighbor’s colorful, flowered front yard.  The fragrance they let off is not too sweet – but for the color factor they are a winner!

  • HorsemintBasilLavenderPeppermint, and Rosemary are more fragrant than large but have more uses than just a mosquito repellant.  Now you can have some fresh herbs for your tea or cooking and fight off mosquitoes at the same time.   

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Natural Bug Repellant

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Mosquitos aren’t just pesky…they can be harmful to your health.  We’ve all heard the scary statistics related to the diseases that mosquitos can carry such as the West Nile Virus.  We need to protect ourselves from these nasty little critters.  But, who enjoys putting on all of those chemicals to try and keep the mosquitoes off?  Let’s look at some essential oils to help out! Essential oils are essential for non-chemical bug sprays.  These sprays can be sprayed on your body and cotton materials without damage.
I mix a solution of:

  • Water  
  • Eucalyptus 
  • LemonGrass 
  • Rosemary

I use about 20 drops of each essential oil to a spray bottle.

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Then I pour a glass of wine, sit back, and enjoy my outdoor space.  I suggest you do the same.

Check out this article I found on Eco Salon about 10 Surprising Things You Can’t Recycle!

10 Surprising Things You Can’t Recycle
 by Katherine Butler on October 26, 2010 in News & Culture

If you live with a greenie, dramatic scenes can play out over the blue recycling bin. Styrofoam can be recycled, right? Hangers for sure. Why are you putting that pizza box in the trash? For the love of Al Gore, won’t anyone think of the cardboard? (And cue silent scream.)

As it turns out, throwing certain items into the recycling that you are utterly convinced can be recycled is actually worse for the environment. Oftentimes, bad items can taint an entire bin, resulting in the whole load going into a landfill. This largely depends on how well a city’s recycling facilities can sort. But it’s enough to throw a person into high anxiety with every trip to the waste bin.

Not to worry. Here’s a quick list of 10 surprising things on the “Do we or don’t we?” list. And always, if you’re in doubt about an item, check for a facility near you that may take your questionable trash bit.

Pizza Boxes I know, I KNOW. It seems like these cardboard boxes are made for the recycling bins. But pizza boxes are often tainted with food and grease. Many items are recycled using a heat and water process, which is not problem for plastic and glass. But throw some cardboard soaked in oil into the process, and you’ve got a messy muck. Terry Gellenbeck is a solid waste administrative analyst for the City of Phoenix. As he told Earth911, “The oil causes great problems for the quality of the paper, especially the binding of the fibers. It puts in contaminants, so when they do squeeze the water out, it has spots and holes.”Wire Hangers Most recycling centers are not set up to handle wire. However, experts agree that your local dry cleaner may take them. Often, they reuse them or send them to a scrap metal dealer. Sure, they get the cash, but you get the knowledge you’re not sending wire hangers into the great abyss. Joan Crawford would be proud.
Plastic Bottle Caps Plastic bottle caps are considered less valuable on the market, so most recyclers won’t take them. Make sure you separate them from your plastic bottles. Also, you can check Earth911 to find a facility near you that does accept plastic bottle caps.Juice Boxes Check to see if your juice box is specially-processed for recycling. If it isn’t, you have to throw it in the trash. The plastic coating on much of the cardboard renders them unsuitable for recycling.
Plastic Bags When recycling bins are sorted manually, workers cannot open plastic bags to see what is inside. It isn’t cost-effective and could be dangerous. So they get trashed. (Note: don’t put your plastic bottles and more in plastic bags.) You can often take your plastic bags back to the store for recycling – and consult Earth 911 again for places that will take them.Styrofoam Another one that kills me, because how many times do we get handed Styrofoam containers we don’t want? But Styrofoam is a petroleum product and, more importantly, highly flammable. It’s considered a danger to most recycling centers. Again, Earth 911 may provide locations that will take it from you.
Wet Paper Paper fibers that have been soaked are shorter. This makes them less valuable to paper recyclers, who won’t collect and mill them.Paper Napkins or Towels Again, food contamination often takes these paper products out of the running. Try to use wash clothes or handkerchiefs instead.
Ceramics You would think that your old coffee mug would find a home in your recycling bin. Alas, they are not accepted at most recycling centers. Consider giving them a second life with a houseplant or in your garden.Heavily-Dyed Paper When paper is recycled, it is heat-treated. So if something is heavily dyed, it has the same outcome as a blue sock or red t-shirt thrown in with your whites in the washing machine. Consequently, a lot of paper mills won’t take the results. (Pastels are okay.) Life can still be colorful, just a bit toned down!

Tips for Making Your Outdoor Patio Space Beautiful!

Whether you have a porch, patio or backyard…with the warmer days and nights approaching, this area becomes a useful second living room.  Before you buy new pillows for your outdoor furniture and add new flowers to the flower beds, let’s clean this wonderful, outdoor area before we spruce.


Take a moment and review your outdoor space…

  • Do you have empty flower beds that have weeds growing in them?
  • Does your BBQ Grill still have charcoal from last spring?
  • Do you have a smoking pot where you put your ashes from cigarettes or cigars?

Remove all of the old debris from these places so that you can refill them.

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If you have an outdoor patio umbrella now is the time to open it to get all of the dead bugs and debris out of it’s crevices before the next use.

Patio Furniture will most likely be covered in dust so remove all of the cushions and spray and scrub with a soft bristled brush to remove grime.

  1. Patio Cushions.  Before deciding to replace them they may fit in your washing machine for a quick cycle wash and air dry.  If not, go ahead and use your hose on a high power setting to spray off as much built up dust as possible.  (Tip…Don’t place the patio cushions on the chairs until your first use of the patio.  The green pollen hasn’t settled yet and will settle into the soft fabrics the most).  After washing them, place them in a storage bin or your garage to keep them clean until ready for use.

Flower beds may have accumulated more weeds than flowers.  Remove the weeds and debris and fill them with new dirt to prep them for the Spring flower arrangements.

2.  BBQ Grill.
The grill, if not kept covered, may need some personal attention both inside and out.  Remove any old charcoal and debris from the inside and give the outside a thorough wipe down.  It’s best to clean the inside grill grates while the grill is on a warm setting with a soft wire grill brush.  (Tip…After cleaning the grates with the grill brush cut an onion in half and wipe it over the grates to keep it clean.  Keep this in mind before and after you grill in the future to keep the grill clean).

Once fully cleaned, spray cooking oil on the grates to keep your next meal from sticking and the clean up after easier as well!


3.  Concrete and Walls.
Floors, windows, and screens are the most used yet least cleaned areas of the patio.  We step along with our pets all over the outdoor spaces all year round.  Then, we open our windows to let the spring time air in and our screens stop a lot of dirt from getting into our homes.  Let’s clean these neglected areas quickly and easily.

The best way to clean the concrete from a years worth of grime is to rent or buy a power washer. It is a very tedious process but the best way to make the concrete look fresh. 

Before you decide on the solution to add to the pressure washer make sure it is environmentally friendly since it will be seeping into the earth and your water supply eventually.  Click here for a list of environmentally friendly pressure washer solutions that are Pet, Human and Earth friendly.

4.  Windows.

Your outdoor windows and walls may be harboring some spiders and their homes.  Take a blower and blow out the areas that seal your home – like your windows and doors –  to remove the debris from winter bugs.

It’s also a great time to mix a solution of vinegar and water to clean off your outdoor patio windows.

5.  Screens.

Don’t forget to take the screens off the windows and give them a good scrubbing too.  They hold a lot of dust and, if neglected, can get so clogged with yearly dust you can’t see through them.


Now that everything in your outdoor living space has been reviewed, cleared and cleaned you can analyze what needs to be replaced. 

  • While cleaning your grill you may have noticed you are low on charcoal or propane .  Now’s a good time to buy it before you decide to grill.
  • The patio chair cushions might have been home to a few squirrels or other outdoor pets.  If they weren’t able to be cleaned, spruce up your patio furniture by replacing them.
  • If you noticed any rips in your screens or cracks in your windows while cleaning them, put a repair note on your to do list before you decide to open your windows for some fresh spring air.

We spend a lot of time in our outdoor spaces and they are really become second living rooms to some of us. Most of us that have pets understand that our outside patio spaces become our pets’ first living room spaces.  They too will enjoy a clean living room!  Light up the BBQ grill, pour some lemonade, and relax on your clean or new patio pillows because Spring is here!

Mittens on your kittens or socks on your Dog?

Our pets spend more time on our floors than we do. They lay on the floor and sometimes even lick the floor. Be cautious of the cleaner you use on your floors because some store bought cleaners designed to clean floors are not designed to keep pets safe. Their ingredients are harmful to our pets and we usually never know it until our pets get some sort of allergic reaction or become sick with animal flu like symptoms. In the Penny’s Personal Touch world we have met with many clients with concerns of the floor care products we use because they have experienced their pets getting sick because of licking the floor. You can trust that we have done our research on the products we use and we do not use harmful chemicals to clean floors. We also keep updated on the consumer reports on cleaning solutions that have been found to be harmful to pets and we try to make our clients aware of such products.

Recycle that drawer of old cell phones now!

Every 2 years or less most of us get a new cell phone. How many of us recycle our old cell phones or do we just throw them in a drawer?


Recycling our old cell phones help keep toxins out of our water and soil supply. Our old cell phones usually end up in our landfills. They contain toxic materials such as mercury in the crystal displays and lead, nickel and cadmium in the circuit boards and batteries. The EPA has found that only 10% are recycled. 


Do your part today and recycle your old cell phone at your local phone dealership, or donate to a charity. 

Dry Clean Your Clothes Without Harming the Planet

It’d be great if we could all just toss our clothes into the washing machine (with the cold/cold setting, of course), but lots of wintertime wear, like wool sweaters and jackets, have the “dry clean only” label attached.

Unfortunately, conventional dry cleaning is a decidedly un-green process-most dry cleaners use the chemical perchloroethylene (also called perc)-as research studies have shown that perchloroethylene exposure may be dangerous to your health, having been linked to increased risks of bladder, esophageal, and cervical cancer, eye, nose, throat and skin irritation, and reduced fertility, among other effects. (Learn more about perc’s nastiness from TreeHugger.) What’s a person who needs clean clothing to do?Many such garments, like cashmere and lambswool, can be safely handwashed, in cold water, with a gentle detergent, and then carefully laid flat to dry. If that’s not an option, though, there are greener dry cleaning options out there.

Since perc is to be avoided, look for dry cleaners that use liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) instead; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list (PDF) of where to find CO2 cleaners. “Wet cleaning” is another alternative that uses water, along with computer-controlled washers and dryers, specialized detergents that are milder than home laundry products, and professional pressing and finishing equipment.

The EPA considers it one of the safest professional cleaning methods, though it didn’t stack up quite as well as CO2 cleaning in a Consumer Reports showdown.

Still another alternative is silicone solvent-based cleaning; though it fared well in the Consumer Reports test, there are some questions about the potential health risks involved in its use, so we can’t give it a thumbs up just yet. Your best bet: Clean by hand, at home, if you can. If you have to have the professionals handle it, CO2 dry cleaning is your best bet.

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Are you masking carpet odors rather than getting rid of them

If you want to save the environment and money at the same time buy a box of Baking soda instead of these carpet odor masking bottles that cost at the most $5. These popular carpet fresheners are dangerous! They harm your pets, clog your vacuum and change the air quality in your home. When we have indoor pets we tend to sprinkle this on the carpets to freshen them, however they tend to just mask the odor built into the carpet fibers. If you are experiencing odors in your carpet first steam clean them at least once a year to pull the odors out without using any chemicals. For regular maintenance sprinkle Baking soda on the carpet and let sit as long as possible, usually overnight, then vacuum. The baking soda is not harmful to pets or humans. Baking soda does not mask the odor it rids the odors from the carpets and the air. It will not clog your vacuum either. Save the environment, your pets and breathe easier today by buying a box of baking soda. Austin eco friendly maid service Round Rock eco friendly maid service

Cleaning Your plants so that they can continue to clean your air

It’s a great idea to have plants in and around the house. They clean our inside quality of air. Tropical plants excrete substances that protect their leaves from airborne molds and mildews. When these plants are brought to live inside of our homes they continue this process by also cleaning the air around them in the same way. However we have to remember to clear the dead leaves from the plants an prune them so they can continue to do this job. Turn the plants in their positions so they can grow all around rather than on one side only. They need to breathe all around in order to clean the air all around us. Austin Eco friendly maid service. Round rock Eco friendly maid service

Earth day alert….Are paper bags better than plastic bags

Paper bags are not better than plastic bags at all! They both use a ton of natural resources and cause a significant amount of pollution. The only way to fix the problem of paper and plastic bag consumption is to bring your own recyclable bags to tote around your shopping. It takes 400 to 500years for plastic bags to break down so make a difference today and tote instead of plastic or paper! Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Are you in over your head with Christmas Catalogs?

Our email inboxes and our mailboxes are now filled with Christmas catalogs. For kids, dads, teens, and even pets, they seem to have a catalog arrive around Christmas time for just about every type of person. However we tend to hold on to them after the holidays and they end up being dust collectors. Go through your catalogs during T.V commercial time and tear out the pages you want to keep. Take the rest of the catalogs immediately to the recycling trash bin. Save a tree or two today by following this advice. Save a tree or two in the next year,by making this advice a habit when you receive your next catalog in the mail.