Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living

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.

Reviews from

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By Rebecca · March 18, 2009
This is in my "to-read" shelf simply because I've been looking for easy ways to cut out having to buy lots of different--and expensive!--products. I just happened to be searching for homemade soaps & laundry detergent recipes online yesterday, so coming across this book was quite serendipitou... ...more
By Shauna (The United States) · ★★★★★ · January 26, 2010
While I recognize this book is not for everyone, I've been thoroughly enjoying it. The recipes are clear, easy to follow, and (most) are quick and simple. While I am not yet ready to give up antiperspirant, I have made toothpaste, facial toners, laundry boosters, and an antiseptic bathroom cleans... ...more
By Michelle (Soldotna, AK) · ★★★★★ · August 09, 2008
I bought this book based on recommendations from Amazon readers of Clean House, Clean Planet, which I was interested in picking up. They said that both books were great, but that Better Basics for the Home was more all-inclusive, with recipes for not just cleaning compounds, but also personal car... ...more
By Lisa (The United States) · ★★★★★ · November 18, 2008
I love what I learned from this book about alternatives for petroleum-based products we use every day. I especially like the personal care products section, and my goal is to reduce the chemicals I put in and on my body (and in and on my kids). It covers a wide range of topics from green cleaning... ...more
By Sarah (The United States) · ★★★☆☆ · February 02, 2015
A fascinating reference book, with great tips, history, recipes, and more. This is one to own, not borrow to read from the library. I may have to get this for the BHE's next birthday. ...more
By Lollipopwater (Seattle, WA) · ★★★★☆ · May 25, 2009
Among many other things, this book contains non-toxic recipes for any household cleaner. I have used many of them, and I'm perfectly happy with the results. The tips are helpful, and I like the easy, personable approach of the author.

My one complaint is that, for me at least, the different sectio... ...more
By Shawna (The United States) · April 04, 2012
My daily reference for home cleaning solutions and the inspiration behind the Happy Hearth & Home cleaning business I started this year. Best book ever to have on hand if you're wanting to have a less toxic home environment. ...more