“It Started With Yum” Blogging Exchange: Green Cleaning

To all my blog-managing readers out there: Don’t you just ADORE the blogging community? So much inspiration, so much creativity, so much UNDERSTANDING. Earlier this year, I was struggling with a lack of close female companionship in my life, but over the last several months (namely since my Everygirl feature) I’ve managed to make so many new blog friends. While most of these friendships have been cultivated virally via email and/or social media exchanges, I’ve been so touched by the sincerity of them. To shout out to some of them – Anne of Anne the Adventurer, Candie of Craftbaby and some really fun comment/twitter exchanges with Caroline of Between Your Ears and Joelle of A Charming Occasion. One exception to these viral blogging friendships however, is my recent reconnection with Jessalyn, the blogger behind It Started With Yum.


Jessalyn and I have actually known each other for over a decade, starting back in high school (or was it even middle school?). The point is, we’ve known each other for a very long time. But, aside from a few shared friends, we were never really all that close. Fast forward to adulthood and, like people often do, we grew into two newly-shaped women with a LOT in common – One thing being our blogs.

Oh, and this is Jessalyn – Put a face to the name!

Photo by Adam Barnes

After reading a rather sentimental and raw post of mine on blogging over at ReadBreathe.com, Jessalyn was touched and contacted me with a proposition – A service swap, if you will. A chance for us to teach each other a little piece of our blogging niches and then collaboratively posting about our adventures.

You don’t have to ask me twice!

You guys know all about my own personal blogging niche. As for Jessalyn, she’s a very talented cook and gardener who uses her site to share her adventures in the kitchen (and beyond). For our first swap, she agreed to show me how she cleans her home using household resources and natural products, while I promised to show her how to style her kitchen shelves. From the moment I knocked on her freshly painted mint green door (amazingly inspired by our very own mint studio!), we had a fabulous time catching up, exchanging expertise and later, touring some of her town’s best thrifting (to be expanded on in its own post on Friday).

When it came time for Jessalyn’s “Green Cleaning” tutorial, I parked myself on her kitchen stool and got to note-taking. Her ideas were so SIMPLE and something I wish I had been doing for years. I’ve since rattled off all of my new tips to anyone who will listen, and now that person is you! So pull up a chair and let’s get down to business…


  1. Baking soda
  2. Vinegar
  3. Empty spray bottle (for homemade solution)
  4. Shaker (for baking soda)
  5. Castile soap
  6. Lemons (not pictured as we used those bad boys right up)

All purpose cleaning spray

This all-in-one spray made of water and vinegar cleans anything from kitchen counter tops (although, I was told to avoid granite) to the bath tub. All it takes is a combination of equal parts water and vinegar in any empty or recycled spray bottle you have on hand. Jessalyn offered this tip if the smell of vinegar isn’t your cup of tea: Soak orange peels in the vinegar for a bit before making the solution. When using the spray, the hint of orange scent will mask the vinegar – Although, apparently the vinegar scent dissipates once the cleaning solution evaporates anyway. EXTRA TIP: When cleaning the toilet bowl, disinfect to the max with straight vinegar, stored in a generic condiment squirt bottle.

Baking soda

Jessalyn keeps a little shaker (sort of like the ones you see at coffee shops containing cocoa or sugar) full of baking soda on the kitchen window sill. When the sink needs cleaning, she wets the sink down and then coats the surface with a few scattered shakes of the powder. Let it sit for a few minutes and then return to wipe it down. BONUS: This is where you can use a halved lemon (or even just the empty peel) to further bleach and disinfect the sink, simply by rubbing it over the already-rubbed-in baking soda. Rinse, and you’re all done!

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap

Coming in all sorts of different scents (Jessalyn’s was peppermint), this de-greasing liquid soap works wonders on cooktop surfaces. Jessalyn demonstrated by squirting a bit in several sections of the cooktop and then shaking baking soda from that same little shaker on top. Swirl it together and then work it into the problem areas with a rag, and watch the white powder turn brown – This is when you know it’s working…Wipe it up with a wet towel and then a dry one. This combo works with any greasy issues you have around the house.

And that’s it! Isn’t that amazing?? I can’t tell you how much money I’ve wasted on harsh chemicals to clean our house, thinking that green DIY products made from natural resources was too hands-on and time-intensive. Turns out it super easy and super inexpensive. As John and I use up the chemical cleaners we have on hand, I will definitely be replacing them with Jessalyn’s suggestions.

Now, I invite you to head over to It Started With Yum to see what I was able to contribute to our blogging exchange! Click here for a run down on how we styled Jessalyn’s DIY open shelving (a tutorial about how said shelves were constructed can be found here). Pssst…Here’s a sneak peek:

Thanks, Jessalyn for this fabulous idea and I’m so thankful to have a new friend in you. Looking forward to more adventures to come!

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