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Household Hints Book

Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living by Annie Berthold-Bond Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living
by Annie Berthold-Bond

Paperback: 400 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.02 x 9.14 x 7.43
Publisher: Three Rivers Press; (June 1999)
ISBN: 0609803255

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Amazon.com: These days, more and more people are saying no to "better living through chemistry" and yes to a lifestyle that is less toxic and more environmentally friendly. This trend toward a more natural lifestyle has become something of a crusade for Annie Berthold-Bond, author of Better Basics for the Home. After developing hypersensitivity to even very low concentrations of chemicals, Berthold-Bond was forced to rid her life of as many toxins as possible. "It wasn't until I had to be away from chemicals that I began to realize how many we lived with. The extent of the contamination is startling--from hair spray and floor wax to dandelion killers and plastic shower curtains and other products that line our hardware stores and supermarket shelves."

This book represents the culmination of her search for a more sustainable lifestyle. Taking her cue from an earlier time, Berthold-Bond, former editor in chief of Green Alternatives for Health and Environment, offers more than 800 simple and practical alternatives to common household toxins, covering everything from skin care to gardening. And the good news is that adopting her suggestions and formulas isn't hard at all. "Mixing up face creams or wood stain isn't much different than cleaning the windows with vinegar, soap, and water instead of using Brand Name X, or making a cake with flour, eggs and milk instead of buying a mix," see asserts. "With a few simple staples we can clean our houses, wash our hair, rid the dog's bed of fleas, and do many other things as well." If you have your doubts, here is her formula for metal polish:

3 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon flour, and enough white distilled vinegar to make a paste. Scoop the paste onto a clean sponge, and polish the metal clean. Rinse with hot water and buff dry.

Sure, these days it's literally impossible to lead a life that is completely toxin-free. But you can significantly reduce your exposure, and picking up a copy Better Basics for the Home is a great way to get started.

Customer Reviews
Good, but with caution, February 14, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from Bensheim, Germany
I found this to be a very comprehensive book. While I was only looking for ways to clean my home safely, I found body creams, paint recipes, etc. Many of the recipes here are good, safe, and useful. However, there doesn't seem to be much attention paid to basic chemistry; that is, just mixing soap and vinegar doesn't necessarily make a good cleaner just because soap is good and vinegar is good....if anything, the two can counteract each other, since vinegar is used to help remove soap film in other instances. The most concerning thing to me, however, is the use of lye in the homemade soap recipes. I want to be safe, not toxic, so I hardly see the point of mixing what is basically the main ingredient of commercial drain cleaner into what I'm using on my body or that of my child. Also, I found some of the ideas to feel very "made up," as though the thought was "this would probably work great too," like the tips you get in magazines, not as though they had been a tried & true cleaning recipes. All things aside, this is generally a very good book, and I would buy it as a gift to my friends but I would caution others to perhaps take advantage of the reduced price of something like "Clean House, Clean Planet," for a bit of guidance in how to use Annie's recipes more safely.

Great for beginners!!, February 2, 2003
Reviewer: Teresa L. Schmidt from Winchester, WI United States
What an wonderful book! I've been meaning to try moving to less toxic methods of cleaning my home, but had just never taken the time to do it. A few weeks ago when I was cleaning my bathroom, I looked at my bottle of tile cleaner and realized that if my two year old got a hold of it, it could kill her. So I got out a big box and put in every household cleaner I had that had a warning label on it -- then I hauled it out to the garage and told my husband that he had some toxic waste to dispsose of.

I picked up this book from my library, went out and bought everything I needed to replace ALL of the cleaning products I normally use, and spent all of about $12... Then I indulged in a couple of bottles of essential oils, and my house smells better than it ever has, and looks and feels as cleaner than ever.

The recipes are easy to make, inexpensive, and very effective. No more expensive, store bought, toxic chemicals in my house!

This book is an excellent place to start for beginners like me. I thought I'd better get my own copy before I put too many dog ears and spills on the library's! Next stop... my bathroom cupboards.

A Great Find!, June 5, 2002
Reviewer: Kristy S. from Boise, ID
I love this book. It has helped me to "clean house" of the chemical solutions to household cleaning, disinfecting, laundry care, facial care, insect repellent... and more! I am always finding new things to try. Most of the recipes are easy to make, easy to find ingredients, and easy to use. I love it, and I've become more aware of how commercial products affect our environment. I also notice that I no longer like the artificial fragrances in commercial cleansers, they are so strong and sweet.... I prefer the essential oil fragrance.

A wonderful book of its kind, May 3, 2002
Reviewer: marmalade-cat from New England, USA
You'll quickly recoup the money spent on buying this book. (Her recipes cost pennies compared to commercial products.) While I don't suffer from chemical sensitivities like the author does, I do have two young children whose safety concerns me and I have always tried to be environmentally conscientious.

The book has several sections, on subjects ranging from housekeeping, face, body and hair care, environmentally-friendly building materials, recipes for paint and stains, and hobbies and crafts. The sections that were of the most immediate use to me were on housekeeping and skin and hair care. As you can imagine, this book packs a LOT of information, but it's not overwhelming...easy for a lay-person to assimilate.

I would have loved to have had this book when my children were babies! There's a wonderful chapter of skin-care "recipes" developed specifically for babies. (Sorry, Johnson & Johnson.)

Other, similar books I enjoyed were The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier and Rosemary Gladstar's Herbs for Natural Beauty.

Annie does it again, April 11, 2002
Reviewer: shinma1 from Los Angeles, CA USA
I've been a fan of Annie Berthold-Bond ever since picking up the Green Kitchen Handbook. Better Basics for the Home is an extensive handbook of recipes ranging from cleaning products to spa recipes to items you can give as gifts. The appendix of suppliers is invaluable, as is the information on essential oils and body product oils (like walnut, sesame, olive, etc.) A great book for beginners and long-time product makers.

Great Resource, December 3, 2001
Reviewer: bkjfoster from Bristol, RI United States
I borrowed this book from the library, used a couple of the recipes and had a hard time returning it. I came here to buy a copy. I will be replacing my chemical products with recipes from this book as they run out. My home will be less toxic and I will spend less money.

Better Basics for the home, November 8, 2001
Reviewer: Theresa Schlining from WA ,USA
I totally enjoyed this book and still do. These practical receipes for simple cleaning have changed my whole way of cleaning. I used to use chemical products and found that they bothered my lungs. I have asthsma and so using natural products like lemon juice and vinegar to clean with is right up my alley.

I can't praise this practical book enough. Annie Berthhold Bond and has done a great job helping me to understand healthy and simple ways to keep my house safe and thats exciting to me.

Simple, Easy to Follow Solutions!, November 4, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Surrey, BC Canada
What I really appreciate about this book is that the recipes are all easy to follow and the ingredients are easy to shop for. This makes the book very practical. I'm so impressed that I've already bought a copy for a Christmas gift. I'll be putting it in a tin tub with some of the ingredients the recipes call for along with some non-toxic sponges. It'll make an excellent ethical Christmas gift! I highly recommend the book.

Thank God for Annie Berthold-Bond!, March 8, 2001
Reviewer: carolnewyork
When I became chemically sensitive a few years ago, I discovered Annie Berthold-Bond's books. With her recipes, I have been able to clean absolutely everything without having to resort to toxic chemicals. She has a solution for everything that you need. A super added bonus is that it all costs significantly less money than commercial products. I have shared these recipes with friends and family and everybody has been thrilled with the results. Thank you, Annie Berthold Bond!

Really Useful Book, January 28, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from WA State
I liked this book a lot. It is much, much better than "Clean and Green" and covers all sorts of cleaning issues. I rated this only 4 stars for a couple of reasons. In one place she says that she doesn't use borax in her body care recipes because some may be contaminated with arsenic where it is mined, but it (borax) is listed as an ingredient in her shaving cream recipes. Well? Where do you get pure borax if you can't use the laundry borax? Secondly, her suppliers list is not the greatest. Suppliers could and should have been listed at the end of each chapter as well. It is still a good reference book for any home library.

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