Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

I started making Eco enzyme during Chinese New Year when I cumulated quite a lot of mandarin orange peels.  Eco enzyme is a mixture of 3 ingredients: fresh fruit or vegetable scraps, sugar, and water that goes through 3 months of fermentation and then turns into a vinegar based eco detergent that has many uses around the household.  While finding out how Eco Enzyme works, I read that the term eco enzyme is more of a “colloquial term” than a real enzyme product.

The real enzyme is probably what Tampines estate is using to kill their cockroaches when they recently announced that they will be going the enzyme route as a more effective form of pest control treatment, after a month-long trial last year showed positive results.  I had to admit that I cringed a little when I saw the reporter licking off the enzyme solution from her finger to show that it is edible and completely safe.  Then again, how I wish that everything we wash down our drain should be as safe as this. I always thought that for a population that counts a small part of our drinking water from reclaimed sewage water, we should be more wary of the chemicals that we wash down our drains.  But of course, the water treatment technology is more sophisticated and advanced that I think.  Still, I prefer less harsh chemical detergents around the house, and even better, make one on our own with ingredients that we know are safe.

The Eco enzyme I made is not for consumption purpose.  And there are only 3 steps.  The initial time spent on mixing the ingredients takes less than 5 minutes, then we leave the rest to Science to break down the scraps and turn it into an environmentally friendly household cleaning solution.  Here’s how:

Step 1 : Gather a plastic container with a lid, fresh vegetable and fruit scraps, black or brown jaggery sugar, and water.

Step 2 : Fill up the container with 10 parts water, stir and dilute 1 part sugar, then top with 3 parts of fruit peels and vegetable scraps and stir again to mix well.  Leave enough gap in the covered container for air to expand during the fermentation process.  Cover the container, keep it slightly loose, not screwed too tightly and leave this in a cool area away from the sun for 3 months.

Step 3 : Filter to extract liquid enzyme.  I use a coffee filter bag with wire handle for this job.  Store the Eco enzyme in plastic bottles and dilute according to usage.  The residue that has been filtered out are useful as plant fertilizer.

After reading up, making and applying the Eco enzyme in household cleaning, following are some tips and links that I have penned down/bookmarked during my DIY Eco enzyme journey and hope that you will find it useful as well.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

+ Why plastic container?

Gas will build up during the fermentation process might cause a glass container to explode.  Even though plastic ones are safer, always leave a gap inside the container when filling up the ingredients.  Also, for the first month, open the cover to let build up gas escape every day when fermentation is most active.  On certain days, I can even hear a fizzing sound of air escaping as I  unscrew to open the lid.  After 1 month, check on the eco enzyme once a month.  Stir the solution to keep everything well mixed once a while.

+ Any preferred vegetables or fruits to use?

Citrus based fruit peels make the best smelling eco enzyme.  For my first batch, I added 100% mandarin orange peels.  Later I learned that one of the benefits of making Eco enzyme is to reduce the amount of kitchen waste sent to landfills.  Since scraps like vegetable roots, peels, yellowish leaves are unavoidable, turning them into Eco enzyme instead of throwing them away is a great way to reuse them. I have since been following a 70% fruit to 30% vegetable scrap ratio to keep my final Eco enzyme smelling good and to do my part to ease the landfill load.  However, only fresh scraps can be used.  Do not include cooked leftover vegetable scraps that are uneaten.

+ What are those marking on your container?

That is a method I learned from a DIY workshop ran by this group mentioned in this article to measure the ingredients required for a batch of Eco enzyme without a weighing scale.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Firstly, cut out a strip of thin paper as long as the height of your container without the lid, I always use the newspaper since it is thin enough for me to do multiple folds.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Next, fold it into halves 4 times, so that when you unfold the paper, you get 16 equal parts.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Mark the paper according to the recipe, with 10 parts for water, 1 part for sugar and 3 parts for fruit/vegetable scraps, leaving the remaining 2 parts for an air gap.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Trace the marks onto the bottle.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Then I add the ingredients in this order: 1. pour water till it reaches the marked “water” level, 2. add sugar until it displaces the water to reach the level marked “sugar”, and finally 3. drop fruit peels and vegetable scraps till the liquid level reaches “food”.  Give it a good mix and cover.

+ How does the end product look like?

It should be brownish with a pleasant citrus vinegar aroma.  Filter with a cloth bag to retrieve just the liquid portion and store the Eco enzyme in plastic bottles.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

+ How do you use the Eco enzyme?

I have just harvested my initial batch that yields fewer than 2 litres, too precious to be used nonchalantly.  I am currently using it to mop the floor, cleaning the kitchen counter and as fertilizer for my plants.  This is a list of household uses and dilution instructions for Eco enzyme which I find will come in handy when my next few containers reach their 3-month fermentation target.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Anyone with experience to chip in more?  I find myself barely scratching the surface.  I am lucky that my first few containers fermented without a hitch.  Nothing rot. No terrible smells.  Will update as I go along if there is anything worth a mention, both making and using it.

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Hand Sewn Produce Bag : Plain Design

Hand Sewn Product Bag // Mono + Co

Instead of Tenugui, I hand sewn another version of produce bag with another 100% cotton fabric found under the curtain section of Daiso.  Like the scallop border, so I sew the bag without drawstring loop to keep this design intact and simply seal the sides using the blanket stitch.

Hand Sewn Product Bag // Mono + Co

Reinforce the bag opening by going through the fabric with several repeated stitches using contrasting colored thread.

Hand Sewn Product Bag // Mono + Co

And they turned out nicer than I thought.

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Step-By-Step Guide : Hand Sewn Produce Bag

My hand sewn drawstring bag turned out more useful than I thought.  Originally made to store my homemade bread, I have started using them for buying loose items like dried beans and mushrooms from the dry goods store.  I have also started using them for the fresh produce shop, for broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, fresh mushrooms….

I used this Tenugui from Daiso, measuring 87cm x 35cm.  Since they already come hemmed at the sides, sewing work is minimal.  I chose to sew a drawstring version so that the produce will not fall out from the bag.  An alternative is bag clip, this will be an even simpler project as there will be no need to sew a loop for the cord.

Fold and iron the shorter sides to create a loop for the string to go through later.

Start sewing.  I sew with a blind/invisible stitch so that the stitches can hardly be seen on the right side of the fabric.

Here is a great instructional video to illustrate the how-to.

If I use white color thread, the stitches will hardly be noticed.  Repeat the series of blind stitch on the other end.

To sew the side seam, I used the blanket stitch.  And here’s another video.

Stop sewing when you reach the loop section.

Repeat for the other side.

Flip the bag out.

I used a safety pin to guide a cotton ribbon through the loop.

Tie a knot with the ends and the cotton drawstring bag is done.  Handwash and line dry before use.

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Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag

Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + Co

I wanted to hand sew a drawstring bag to store my home baked bread when these Tenugui with cute animal prints caught my eyes at Daiso.  Made of 100% cotton, these hand towels come in a dimension that is perfect to be turned into a drawstring bag with a few simple folds and blanket stitches without cutting the fabric.

These bags are also in the perfect size for buying in bulk stores for nuts, grains, onions, potatoes, carrots etc.  No more bulky containers when grocery shopping!

Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + CoHand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + CoHand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + Co Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + CoHand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + Co

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Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// these hand-sewn cotton bags for shopping in bulk, sewing more out of excess tea-towels I have at home.

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// this meat-free request at a cafe, it’s getting easier nowadays.

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// shopping for eggs, look ma, no disposable plastics!

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// a foot soak update, less than $2 spent.

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// this sourdough toast, best eaten plain.

DIY Scented Vinegar Cleaner

DIY Scented Vinegar Cleaner // Mono + Co

White vinegar is one of the natural cleaning products I use at home to replace toxic household cleaners.  Mix it with equal parts of water, it becomes an all-purpose cleaner that removes grease wonderfully and disinfects effectively.

While it doesn’t smell as good as it cleans, vinegar actually has deodorizing properties, after drying up, that is.  I have since learned a neat trick to transform my bottle of vinegar into a more pleasant smelling eco-cleaner, by simply infusing the vinegar with ….. orange peels!  My family devours bags of oranges weekly, so I have no problem cumulating enough peels for this eco project.  You can use essential oil too, but this is a cheaper method, using citrus peels that would otherwise be discarded.

I have since upsized my vinegar purchase to a 5-litre version which is way cheaper so that I can make this all-purpose vinegar cleaner in bulk, in 2 weeks.

DIY Scented Vinegar Cleaner // Mono + Co

What you need:
// Get the cheapest cooking vinegar you can get your hands on.
// Reuse an empty glass jar/plastic container, you can make as much or as little as you want.  However, being a really effective multipurpose cleaner (except on marble, granite and hardwood surfaces), you may find yourself running out of it very soon if you make too little.  I use it mostly on ceramic tiles in the kitchen, bathroom and glass surfaces.
// Citrus peels.

How:
// Fill the container with citrus peels.
// Pour vinegar to cover the peels and leave aside for 2 weeks.  You will notice the color of the vinegar will turn dark gradually.
// Strain the peels from the infused vinegar which by now will smell more like store-bought orange oil cleaner.  Store the liquid in a clean container, away from the sun.

To use:
// Mix equal parts of water with the citrus infused vinegar. Fill up a spray bottle with the diluted vinegar and use it as an all-purpose spray cleaner.  Just remember to avoid marble, granite and hardwood surfaces.
// I use the concentrated version to scrub/ wash bathroom floor.  Love the smell.  And since it does not lather up like standard detergents, I need not rinse with a large volume of water.

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DIY Facial Toner

DIY Facial Toner // Mono + Co

I occasionally turn to my kitchen pantry for a DIY no-frills face cleansing regime since my journey started to educate myself on healthier alternatives for the little things we eat and use every day.  Skincare is definitely on the list.  The task of looking for effective skincare products with the least chemicals and even lesser packaging materials is more daunting nowadays as the number of brands and product range increased with more advanced research and development.

What used to be a simple clean + moisturize procedure has since morphed into a multiple-step skincare routine that requires ever more products.  There is no way I can fit so many fancy products in my tiny bathroom, so I zoomed in on some of the edible key active ingredients and made them on my own.  I am lucky that I do not have sensitive/ acne-prone skin or allergy reaction to these food ingredients.  But I will always test new ingredients on a small patch first (behind the ear or back of the arm) before applying on the entire face and neck.

DIY Facial Toner // Mono + Co

So what can be made from my kitchen pantry?  Many skincare products sitting on the shelves have drawn their inspirations from natural food like fruit, honey, oat, seaweed, olive oil, etc.  I simply bump up their concentration level in my homemade version in place of chemicals with names that I can’t pronounce, like 100% raw honey facial cleanser, or a 50% oatmeal + 50% banana mask.

I like to make them in really small batches, sometimes enough for only one application for items such as facial masks, to ensure freshness and to avoid contamination and the inconvenience of storage.  I use various recipes in rotation, depending on what ingredients I have in stock.

DIY Facial Toner // Mono + Co

One of the first few items that I DIY-ed and still using now is a toner made with only apple cider vinegar and filtered water.  I tried making my own after reading how apple cider vinegar benefits skin beyond the kitchen.

I have been using the one from Bragg, the raw, unfiltered and organic version with the “mother”- the beneficial enzyme, visible floating around when the bottle is shaken.  This is more expensive than the filtered ones, but a little goes a long way, after dilution, it costs less to make than buying the commercial toner.

I dilute 1 part vinegar with 8 parts filtered water, making 100ml or less each batch and store it in a clean glass bottle.  There are recipes out there that use more vinegar than mine but I thought it would sting my skin and choose the safer, more diluted recipe.

DIY Facial Toner // Mono + Co

Here’s another variation of the toner : some afternoons, I would save a few tablespoons of strong green tea from my teapot to mix with the vinegar instead of filtered water for extra anti-oxidant properties.  I usually make just enough for one application as this mixture needs to be store in the fridge.

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Homemade Honey + Apricot Oil Body Wash

Homemade Honey + Apricot Oil Body Wash // Mono + CoHomemade Honey + Apricot Oil Body Wash // Mono + Co

Nowadays, I have recipes for so many homemade products, sometimes it’s really funny to look back on my old self: how I used to buy item after item for each and every possible purpose and ended up jamming the drawers and cabinets with too many bottles.  Some didn’t live up to their claims, so I tried out other brands, and ended up with multiple bottles of the similar thing, mostly half used.  Can you imagine the mess?

Since then, I have learned to make most of the household cleaning products and bathroom essentials with just a few basic items and find that they can be just as effective, but less harsh on our skin, like this homemade body wash with just 3 ingredients: pure castile soap, honey, and apricot oil.

I had bought the liquid castile soap for my children as their skin itch and flare up for subsequent hours after bathing with body shampoos and soap bars.  I tried countless body wash, the gentle ones, the soapless ones, the SLS-free ones, the PH5.5 ones, none worked.  In fact, I almost gave up on the first bottle of castile soap with citrus oil blend, which still gave my children rashes.  It was only when the shop owner recommended the unscented version that I hit the jackpot.  Since then, I have discovered that the same castile soap can be diluted in different ways to clean almost anything.

We are doing fine with the easiest and a highly diluted recipe of 1 parts unscented castile soap and 9 parts water, partly to save some moolah (this comes up to about $30 for more than 9 liters of body wash after dilution, though I am still sticking to the cheaper soap bars most of the time), and partly because I have learned that the amount of bubble doesn’t equate to the effectiveness of the soap. But occasionally, this mummy likes to get creative by adding pantry items for some much-needed nourishment of the epidermis.  Truth is, I derived a lot of affordable body care with luxurious sounding ingredients from the kitchen to pamper myself with, think ‘Himalayan Pink Salt’, ‘Coconut Milk’, ‘Oats’, ‘Molasses’, etc.  Come to think of it, many large brands also list these products on their ingredient list, but I am sure my homemade versions are more generous with these natural ingredients by proportion, just read on!

Finally, the best part about homemade body wash is that I don’t have to commit myself to a huge bottle of body wash for months.  I can make as little as a 30ml bottle that is akin to sampling, just in case of allergy, or a slightly larger 100ml if I really like it.


Homemade Honey + Apricot Oil Body Wash

3 parts unscented liquid castile soap
1 part honey **
1 part apricot oil***

** I used normal honey, but raw honey that has additional anti-bacterial properties, for an even more luxurious touch.

*** can be replaced with other scented or unscented oil, e.g.  jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil.

Pour everything into a clean container and shake to mix them up.  Don’t fill up the container to the brim as you need some air space to shake and mix the ingredients.  The ingredients will separate again when left sitting on the counter after a while, simply shake before each use.

Optional 4th ingredient: as the liquid castile soap I used is unscented, I sometimes like to add a few drops of essential oil to the final mix as natural fragrance.

HO

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Behind the Scenes : Origami Diamonds

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

Origami diamonds that get to stay on as cute decor even after Chinese New Year.


Origami Diamond

Instructions adapted from design and form, I changed it slightly at my step #10 and #11.

// you’ll need 2 pieces of origami paper, scissors and glue dots.  I tried using a glue stick, but they did not work.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 1 : fold the paper from one corner to the other.  unfold and repeat with the other remaining corners.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// unfold, and you’ll see the first set of folds is completed.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 2 : half the square lengthwise. unfold and repeat with the other side.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// unfold and you’ll see the second set of folds appearing on the paper.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 3 : fold the paper into a triangle again, and pinch the right corner to pry open the paper and press it down to form a square.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 4 : flip the paper over, and repeat for the other side.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 5 : fold the right and left sides towards the center fold line.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

step 7 : flip over and repeat for the other side of the paper.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

step 8 : trim off the top part.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 9 : fold bottom left and right corners towards the center.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 10 : flip over the paper and repeat on the other side.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 11 : unfold everything.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

//step 12 : fold the marked corners inwards,

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// to get this.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 12 : repeat the steps with the 2nd piece of paper.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// step 13 : to assemble, join the two pieces at the corners that are folded inwards, apply glue dots and join the corners one by one.

Origami Paper Diamonds // Mono + Co

// done!

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