Wow, that is one loaded question, but a good one! I'm not a chemist, but I'll do my very best to answer it! Here goes!
Let's start with Dr. Bronners. I've been using this for several years for making foaming hand soap, disinfectant, mopping the floors, even in a pinch as bodywash. Dr. Bronners is a concentrated castile soap that has many, many uses! Here's a quote from their FAQ page on their website:
What does "Castile" mean? Is the bar soap also a castile soap like the liquid? What is the difference between the bar and liquid soaps?
In earlier centuries, an all-vegetable based soap was made in the Castile region of Spain from local olive oil. By the turn of this century, "Castile" had come to mean any vegetable oil-based soap, versus animal (tallow) fat-based soap. "Pure-Castile" is now also your guarantee that what you are using is a real ecological and simple soap, not a complex blend of detergents with a higher ecological impact due to the waste stream during manufacture and slower biodegradability. Unfortunately, many synthetic detergent blends are deceptively labeled as "Liquid Soap" even when they contain absolutely no soap whatsoever.
Both our bar and liquid soaps are pure-castile, as they are all vegetable oil-based. The bar soap wrappers prominently state that they, too, are pure-castile, like our liquid soaps. The difference between the liquid and bar soaps is that the liquid soaps use potassium hydroxide to saponify the vegetable oils, versus sodium hydroxide used to make the hard bar soaps.I cannot find anything to show the difference between Mrs. Meyers and Dr. Bronners, I believe it is just the simple fact that Dr. Bronners is pure castile soap. If you check out the ingredients, Mrs. Meyers has other things in their soap like aloe vera, etc. While I have never tried an of Mrs. Meyer's soaps, I do have their all-purpose cleaner that I was given at the Favorite Things Party. It is AWESOME and I highly recommend it.
Now to address the difference between the soaps and vinegar. They are very different substances and are going to work in different ways.
I'm going to give you the explanation I gave to my 1st grader this past year in science: Soap works by attracting the dirt and the dirt and grease sticks to it. Then when we rinse the soap off we are rinsing away the dirt that is stuck to it. However, if you want to gain a better understanding, read this article. =) I found it fascinating!
However, vinegar works differently. Vinegar is an acid and cleans by breaking down mineral deposits and also by killing bacteria. Studies have shown that vinegar kills 99 percent of surface bacteria, 80 percent of germs, and 82 percent of molds on a counter. That is certainly some powerful stuff! If you go to vinegartips.com, there is a wealth of information on vinegar and it's many uses!
Around our home, I use vinegar to clean mirrors, make disinfectant spray, put it in my dishwasher as a rinse aid, etc. It's so versatile!
Baking Soda is another natural and frugal substance to clean with. (Another ingredient in my homemade dishwasher detergent.) It helps dirt and grease dissolve in water and is also very effective used as a mildly abrasive scouring powder. I've used it to remove stains from the sink or countertops, or even stubborn coffee and tea stains from mugs. There are so many things it's useful for...here's an informative article with 27 ways to clean with baking soda.
About the essential oils...I use a lot of tea tree oil in my home and find it in the vitamin section at Walmart. For other oils that I use, I have found Puritan's Pride to be an excellent source. I bought some last year during their "Buy 2 Get 3" special and was able to get them at an excellent price. Craft stores can also be a good source! I actually bought my peppermint essential oil and lavender at Hobby Lobby in their soap making section. (Using my 40% off coupon, off course!) Essential oils last quite a while and can be used in so many things. And the smell is amazing!!
AnonymousJuly 3, 2012 10:59 PMTwo totally-unrelated-to-this-post questions: 1) what curriculum(s) do you use in homeschooling & 2)you seem to always wear a skirt in your pictures--do you always wear skirts? Just out of pure curiosity. . . :) JessaNow to answer the skirt question that started it all...."Do I always wear skirts?" (I'm going to answer the curriculum question in another post.)
Yes, and no. The majority of the time I do wear skirts because it is my preference. I love wearing skirts for so many reasons. But on occasion I do wear pants because sometimes a situation arises where it would be more modest to do so, although it isn't often. I have found I can do just about anything in a skirt! I also enjoy wearing dresses...maxi dresses are just about my favorite thing to wear! But if you were to stop by while I'm working outside you'll most likely find me in a baggy t-shirt and long basketball shorts, lol. =)
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little question an answer session. If there's something else you're curious about or that I can help you with, just let me know!