Does Force of Nature Really Work?

About a month ago, I succumbed to a powerfully targeted Facebook “infomercial” and bought the cleaning system Force of Nature.

I was intrigued because anything that reduces waste, is completely non-toxic, and boasts powerful cleaning and deodorizing power from three ingredients will pull me in.

I bought a starter kit when Force of Nature was offering a promotion that seemed like a good deal. In my opinion, spending about $60 is about right for what you receive. Additionally, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The TL;DR version is that we are really enjoying using it. All the recommendation details are below! 

The premise behind Force of Nature is this, pulled directly from their site:

Force of Nature miniaturizes the electrolyzed water technology from the industrial space. It uses electricity to transform salt, water & vinegar into 2 non-toxic cleaning ingredients:

  • Hypochlorous acid: The active ingredient. Cleans & deodorizes as effectively as bleach yet non toxic.
  • Sodium hydroxide: a detergent but without bubbles. Contains a non toxic concentration of .0000003%, yet cleans as well as major brands.

So, what’s in the starter kit? You get the electrolyzer charger doo-dad, the bottle in which you do the electrolyzing, a spray bottle, and five “activator capsules” that contain the ratio of water, vinegar, and sodium. Concentrated cleaning magic. (I am a vinegar convert.)

Part of the appeal for me with this product, aside from the more natural cleaning product, is the reduction in plastic consumption. Our planet is choking on plastic and I am actively working to do my part to lessen its dominance in my life, especially one-use items that can’t be recycled.

The activator capsules come packaged in a semi-soft plastic but I was relieved to find out these are recyclable (#5). I like knowing my dependency on buying larger plastic cleaning bottles that have unknown and toxic chemicals in them will decrease significantly.

Before I dive into other nitty gritty details, here is the end result: this stuff WORKS. I have to admit, my expectations were pretty low. I’ve bought similar items from the interwebs before, including products from infomercials back in the day, and the excitement over the product usually wanes pretty quickly after purchase.

However, Force of Nature is proving itself to be a staple around my house. Even my husband admits to liking using it, which is a Big Deal for him. (See below for less-than-stellar video of my making a bottle of FON.)

So, what can you use this stuff on?

We haven’t discovered much it doesn’t do well with! Because it’s mostly water, there is no drying agent in the mixture. I never thought about this before with other cleaners, but that “no streak” factor that I like from some of my favorite cleaning products is somewhat due to the drying agent. Keep this in mind for surfaces like glass or countertops, as it’s not 100% streak-proof. Note: do not use on an unsealed counter top; sealed or non-porous counter tops only. We have quartz counters in our kitchen, which are non-porous, so it’s safe to use on them.

As for smell, it has a less-offensive chlorine scent, and even for a Super Smeller like I am, I don’t find it bothersome. When it dries, the area just smells clean. Force of Nature is more reminiscent of a pool than something as strong as chlorine bleach. My lungs don’t hurt if I take a breath around it the way bleach can hurt eyes and lungs. And lingers. Boy, does bleach linger. But not Force of Nature! It is safe to use around pets and babies and you don’t have to wear gloves to protect yourself from it if you don’t want to. Nor do you have to turn on every fan in your home after you’ve used it.

Effectiveness: in my opinion, Force of Nature is the best de-greaser I have found. I don’t say that lightly. It pulverizes grease, instantly dissolving it. Plus, it gets rid of odors. One of our favorite surfaces we love to use Force of Nature on is our butcher block in our kitchen. I like to spray it down, wipe it up with a paper towel, and then lightly spray on some more to let it air dry. After drying, the butcher block is completely deodorized and food-safe once again. I have always hated how chopping onions leaves a lingering odor no matter what we do, but this stuff gets it right out. Color me seriously impressed.

This stuff is a rockstar for cleaning bathrooms. I know it’s at least half psychological but I just don’t feel as “ucky” when I clean the bathroom with FON as I do with other cleaning agents.

Flooring: we have a large expanse of hardwood floor in our family room and in the natural sunlight, I can see every drip or paw print that has ever left an impression of any kind. Force of Nature gets it clean with no smudges. I wish I could make a whole bucket of it for mopping.

Because of the de-greasing power, I decided to try this on the inside of our oven door after my husband had tackled it with Barkeeper’s Friend. There was still some semi-permanent baked-on crud in there. I saturated the door and let it sit for a minute before I wiped it up. It got more up but didn’t get everything. That said, I love having something non-toxic to use on the inside of the oven. I would venture to say the majority of oven-cleaning products are overtly toxic.

We have not yet tried FON on carpets or drapes with any kind of stains. I would be interested to see how it does with pet stains. We have one of those small wet-vacuum carpet cleaners where you put the formula in one end and it sucks up the dirty water in another. At some point, I’ll test out this theory. Force of Nature does ask you to test out a small patch of carpet or other upholstery before saturating. They also have a comprehensive FAQ on their website about what you can/cannot/should do for different odors, stains, and surfaces.

The only surface I have tried this on that I won’t regularly use it on is brushed stainless, like our refrigerator. It left some obvious streaks and I prefer to use a traditional cleaner with a drying agent before hitting it with the special stainless goop we have on hand. Yet, just before writing this post, I used FON to clean the stainless steel sink drains and strainers in the kitchen. They came out sparkling clean with minimal elbow grease involved. If you’re remotely OCD when you clean, you’ll be happy with this product.

Other items of note: the electric charger base thingy has a counter on it with a very bright blue readout. My eyes are incredibly sensitive to blue light, so I do not keep the charger/base plugged in after I’ve made a bottle. If it doesn’t bother you, you can keep it plugged in and it will count down how many days remain of the 14 you get with each bottle. But if you’re like me, you’ll go through a bottle in under a week cleaning every surface and deodorizing all the things, so you won’t need to keep track of the days. You also have to keep it out of direct sunlight. We stash ours under the kitchen sink.

Refill packs are 25 for $19.99, $1 less if you are a subscriber. Pretty solid deal, if you ask me. The only other product they offer besides the starter kit and refills are travel bottles already made up for you. These would be great for road trips and/or traveling with little ones.

Last but certainly not least, each purchaser gets a referrer link. Here’s mine, if I’ve convinced you to try it. I hope I have! You’ll save $35 on your starter kit if you’re a new customer. (I will earn free refill packets.) Otherwise, there is no gimmick or sales pitch involved. It’s win-win, considering the money-back guarantee.

Force of Nature is definitely a Zoe Recommends product. If you’ve tried it yourself, I’d love to hear from you!

The Virtues of Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Like exercise or flossing, cleaning one’s makeup brushes is something makeup bloggers and aestheticians strongly recommend doing if you regularly beat your mug with all kinds of pretty products, as I am wont to do.

Like exercise or flossing, I need to do it way more often than I actually do.

I think the pros do this multiple times a week. Bravo to them. I don’t make the time to do it, though I know it’s much more hygienic to do it that often.

Gross consequences of never washing your brushes are things like big old clogged pores and eye infections. Conversely, if you buy super cheapy brushes that don’t last longer than a few months, you can always just keep buying new ones every so often.

However, if you are serious about makeup, you know the importance of investing in at least one or two key brushes. I’ve been given several sets over the years and have plunked down more money than I care to say on a couple of really solid brushes that have lasted me a long time.

Cleaning one’s brushes also increases their longevity, so it’s a good payback system.

There are dozens of suggestions out there for how to clean your brushes and with what. I find that a few drops of tea tree oil and a little gentle shampoo (or even something like Dawn) works really well. Tea tree oil kills the germs and the Dawn or the shampoo sudses out the oils and dirt. (Not sure if “sudses” is a verb but I’m going with it.)

I took the liberty of taking some photos of my process today. You can see that I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay overdue with cleaning mine. They all needed to soak for quite a bit and be rinsed out really thoroughly before they were clean. I went through at least three bowls of pink, dirty makeup water.

So don’t be like me and literally let dust build up on the tips of your brushes. Soak those suckers as often as you can make time for it. Your face will thank you for it!

Assemble your soaking bowl, cleansing soap or shampoo, and your tea tree oil.

Assemble your soaking bowl, cleansing soap or shampoo, and your tea tree oil.

zoe says 060213-2

Get those babies in there, letting the tea tree oil disinfect.

Second set of brushes...

Second set of brushes…

Rinse THOROUGHLY, gently squeeze out the excess water, and lay on paper towels.

Rinse THOROUGHLY, gently squeeze out the excess water, reshape, and lay on paper towels.

Pretty maids all in a row...

Pretty maids all in a row…

Be sure not to put them back in their containers right away, since you want any excess water to drip onto the paper towels. If too much water sits at the base, it’ll get mildewy and disgusting. Nobody wants that.

Lastly, you can help the drying process along by gently blowdrying them when they’ve air dried for a while. Then you’ve got nice, clean, fluffy brushes to help you look your best again.

Mandatory: cleaning with music

Happy Labor Day!

I hope all of you are enjoying some (much needed) time off. Out here in my neck of the woods, we’re enjoying some spectacular autumn weather. It’s sunny and breezy and in the high 60s. It doesn’t get much better than that for a day off.

While a certain law student I’m dating is at the library studying, or whatever it is that law students do on the weekends, I’ve been occupying myself at home. I edited some photos, answered some emails, Facebooked, Google Plussed, let the dog out to play in the backyard where he wooed at our neighbors’ dogs, and then I got tired of sitting at the computer and decided I should straighten up a bit.

I grabbed my ‘Pod, attached it to the stereo and cranked up the tunes while I went to work in the kitchen.

This is something that has been an absolute must for me since I was a wee tween. (Well, I wasn’t “wee…”)

I can not do housework without listening to music. It is absolutely impossible. Maybe this is why so many people hummed and whistled back in the day. It really helps keep up one’s motivation. I’m not a fan of doing dishes, vacuuming, or folding clothes, but if there is a fine beat pulsing throughout the house (or my ears, if I’m ear-budding it), it makes it just shy of enjoyable, if mindless work can be considered enjoyable.

There is something to be said for blasting music throughout the house more than just listening on headphones, especially if I’m by myself and it’s not going to bother anyone else. Pro to living in a non-metropolitan city: no one lives above or below me and won’t come knocking on my door because of a high noise level. Win.

So in order to keep my cleaning mojo going, I’m going to go crank up the tunes once more and tackle the virtual mountain of clothing there is to be folded. I know, it’s Labor Day, and I’m working. But at least I’ve got a few weeks’ worth of music ready to accompany me.

Zoe Recommends: listening to music while you clean/do chores/tend to your home. It soothes the weary soul – especially if you’re like me and this lady.

Thoughts on Maintaining a Home

Now that I have been maintaining an actual house for almost two months, I have one or two observations. Namely: this is hard!

Don’t get me wrong. I love having an actual house with a yard and everything. Having no one live above me or below me or sharing walls with me is a relief and a luxury that I am treasuring. However. Despite living in a home that is the size of a large apartment, keeping it in a regular state of cleanliness is a challenge for which five years in New York City could not and did not prepare me.

Keep in mind I have 0 children, 1 live-in boyfriend and one (VERY furry) dog. If I don’t Swiffer and vacuum at least once a week, all of my hardwood floors are littered with white poofballs of fur floating around. It might be poetic if my tolerance level weren’t so low, especially in light of the prevalence of and my addiction to watching the show Hoarders. Add on top of  all that a very loving and devoted significant other, but one who is a) a man and b) in law school and you get me keeping up with the housework much more than I ever had to before. (Despite the inherent fact that most men are much less impervious to filth, and mine is no exception, he did do laundry for me for over a year. It was one of the best years of my entire life.)

Come the weekends, we have to address whether we will be doing anything for the yards and surrounding grassy areas. There are weeds and other annoying things that grow without our consent. I do not mow the lawns. I do not mow, period. Thankfully my dude is more than capable and willing to take on this chore. But I had noticed that the exterior of the house was utterly filthy and took it upon myself to grab the hose with its somewhat power-washer spray nozzle and give the front porch, back deck and sides of the house a thorough water scrubdown. I don’t care if the Internet underlines that word in red, by the way. I’m using it as a singular word.

Now. I took a solid hour of using blasting cold water to remove I don’t know how many spiders and their webs, dirt, dust, grime, and flora debris from the porch, deck, steps and side of the house. However, I have two enemies that no amount of spraying will alleviate, as I discovered immediately after completing this outdoor chore.

In our backyard is an absolutely enormous walnut tree. If you’ve never seen a walnut in fruit form before, it looks like this:

It’s like a very small golden delicious apple, except nastier looking. As you can see, they rot easily and when they are opened, the fruit part turns into that black mess you see at the bottom there. Gross.

Having a walnut tree is only cool in writing. These things are everywhere. They fall on the roof of the house at all hours of the day and night, making a hard knocking noise that can scare the bejeezus out of you. (Probably just me, though.) They fall in the street and make a popping noise when you run over them with your car. To avoid walnut, squirrel and bird poop from raining down on the car, we don’t park it under the tree on the other side of the fence. Here’s what a small portion of the street looks like under the tree:

If you think it’s annoying to deal with more than one photo of walnuts, try dealing with this on your property 24/7. They not only never stop falling off the tree and make it difficult to walk a straight line in the yard, but the squirrels are mad for them. Enter Enemy #2.

Squirrels don’t bother me as far as rodents go. I even think they’re pretty cute most of the time. But as fast as the walnuts can fall off the tree, they are scooping them up and cracking them open on my front porch steps and back deck and leaving me with black crumbled debris to move aside with my foot – or power washer, like last weekend. Exhibit C:

In sum, it looks like I never clean my steps and porch because of this ugly mess. Every single day I move a ton of walnuts’ worth of nastiness off my steps, porch or deck, and as soon as I’m inside the house the squirrels think this is their cue to grab more walnuts and open them up, leaving them for me to clean up. (Remember one of the early episodes of American Dad where Roger the Alien says, “Someone will clean that up?” Yeah. That’s what these guys are doing to me.)

I have no clue if there is actually anything to do about this problem. And as far as problems go, it’s pretty low on the Must-Do-Something-About-This scale. But goddamn if it’s not annoying as hell. They’re making me look like I hoard walnut poop. Let’s face it, that’s what it looks like. I don’t want to be one of those people who eventually turns a blind eye to it and then starts bringing it into my home and piling it into every corner and I start calling it my Precious. Hmm. Sounds like I need to watch less Hoarders.

Luckily, it’s autumn and I know that the leaves and walnuts are supposed to be falling off the tree and that come winter, I will have less of this issue to deal with, especially if we get snow. Please God, let’s have lots of snow.

But I am keeping an eye on these little buggers.

My dog would love nothing more than to dine on squirrel any given day of the week. The photo below of Lucas is perfect because he looks so incredibly Wile E. Coyote. I can only hope that the similarity ends with his looks and that execution wise, his high prey drive will actually teach these little porch-ruiners a lesson.