Top 6: Pumpkin Carving Hacks

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It’s only tradition that the Halloween spirit takes over neighborhoods with custom carved pumpkins on porches and doorsteps. Carving pumpkins is a fun activity the whole family can take part in. From ghoulish gourds to traditional jack-o’-lanterns, everyone can enjoy making their own “spook-tacular” creation. We’ve put together tips to help you achieve your pumpkin carving goals—whether it’s flexing your artistic abilities, lighting the way for trick-or-treaters or just getting in the spirit! Woman carving pumpkin Before the designing begins, carve a trench out of your pumpkin. Not only will this help to clean it out, but you’ll also be set when it’s time to place a candle inside and put it on display.
Drawing face on pumpkin Use a dry erase marker to draw out a design on your pumpkin. Unlike a permanent marker, you’ll be able to erase any mistakes before carving your masterpiece!
carving out pumpkin Hammers and cookie cutters may not be conventional tools for pumpkin carving but don’t knock it until you try it! Using both will help make cleaner lines on the pumpkin and ultimately result in a cleaner carving. Kiddos will love seeing their favorite shapes on their pumpkin, too!
Cleaning out pumpkin Place a tea-light candle in a small glass votive to avoid any fire hazards. Lighting your pumpkin with battery-powered tea lights is another safe option.
Pumpkin used as an ice chest New uses for pumpkins! For a fun addition to a holiday spread, you can also carve out half the pumpkin and place a bowl inside for serving snacks and drinks.
Watermelon and pumpkin craving Remember the options are limitless! You can also use a watermelon or pineapple to create a new twist on the classic jack-o’-lantern. In these versions, you get an after-carving snack!  

Tiesta Tea Cookies

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If your mom is a baker—and if she enjoys tea— she’ll love these jars assembled with ingredients to make delicious tea cookies. These jars are easy to assemble and the kiddos will enjoy putting them together too! Add her favorite tea to make a one-of-a-kind Mother’s Day gift. For a finishing touch, use a pretty ribbon or string to tie the directions around the jar. Tiesta Tea Cookies dry ingredients, tea cup and blueberry wild child

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. Loose tea leaves (fruit flavors work best) finely ground
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate chips

Jar Assembly

Layer all ingredients in jar except butter and egg yolks. Place the lid on the jar. Use yarn or string to tie the recipe tag around the lid.  

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and soften butter.
  2. Combine ingredients in jar with butter and egg yolks.
  3. Roll into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.

A Holiday Gift Guide

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Every year you face the same dilemma: What should I get for my loved ones? What did I get them last year? And, of course, can I get away with a simple gift card? We recommend making something crafted with love by your very own hands. It’s easier than you think, and in the end, it really is the thought that counts. Even if you haven’t attempted a handmade gift since that stunning Crayola family portrait a few decades ago, there is hope this holiday season. Admittedly, some of it comes from the Internet, where anything is seemingly possible; but we’ve unearthed a few good handcrafted gift ideas that seem both charming and simple. Candles, almonds, and present underneath a pine tree

Herb-Infused Olive Oil

Add a little spice to plain old olive oil. Infused olive oils are perfect for sautéeing your favorite vegetables, as a dressing, or drizzled on freshly cooked hot pasta with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. They also look pretty snazzy just sitting there in the bottle, if you get some of the cool bottles from The Container Store. Here’s how: Stuff a handful of herbs in decorative, food-safe bottles, preferably with a rubber stopper, and add oil. Try chile peppers for a kick, or rosemary for a classic taste. Adorn the bottles with pretty ribbon and a label describing what’s inside. Please Note: If fresh herbs are used, then the oil must be stored in a cool dry place (in the refrigerator for garlic) and used within a week to avoid spoilage and possible illness. The safest bet is to use fresh herbs that have been washed and then completely dried in a food dehydrator until all moisture is gone. Make it even more special: Pair with a bottle of fine balsamic vinegar and a few of your favorite olive oil recipes.

Aztec Hot Chocolate

Nothing says comfort like a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a chilly winter’s night. Kick up the volume with this exotic twist on classic cocoa, guaranteed to toast your tootsies. Here’s how: In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, 3/4 cup superfine sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (found in the Bulk spice area), 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder, 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Transfer mix into a small container or a cellophane bag and attach with a note to mix 2-3 tablespoons with 1 cup of hot water or milk. Make it even more special: Tuck the cocoa into a BPA-free travel mug with a few cinnamon sticks bundled with a bow.

Scented Bath Salts

In the little corner of the store we like to call “HBA” (Health and Body Care), you’ll find everything you need to give the gift of relaxation in a warm bath. Measure three cups of Epsom salt into a large plastic Ziploc storage bag. Add 10-15 drops of your choice of 100 percent pure essential oil. (Popular options include eucalyptus, which is clarifying, and lavender, which is calming; but Sprouts has many to choose from.) Shake, squeeze, and massage bag vigorously to mix the salts and oil. Package the scented salts in a pretty glass jar with a lid. Be sure to print up some labels to mark the scents. Make it even more special: Consider gifting the bath salts with an inflatable bath pillow and a few votive candles in a matching scent. If handmade gifts are not your speed, Sprouts still has you covered for inexpensive yet thoughtful items guaranteed to produce a smile. You might find books and CDs, organic cotton gifts, scented sachets, and always, always, lots of vino (remember, when you buy any six bottles, mix and match, you get a free wine carrier—a great excuse to play the “one for you and two for me” game!).  

Top 4 Ways to Up Your Hot Cocoa Game

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On a cold winter’s day, there’s nothing quite like cozying up with a hot cup of cocoa. While hot cocoa is delicious to enjoy on its own, stir things up this season with our top four ways to up your hot cocoa game. Whether you like it icy, spicy or with a hint of mint, here are a few tips to get you started.

S’mores Hot CocoaHot Cocoa

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Milk, any kind
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Hot Cocoa
  • 2 Tbsp. Chocolate syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • Graham crackers, crushed to line rim
  • 1/2 cup Marshmallows

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to low broil and place baking sheet on the highest rack.
  2. Take a few marshmallows and rub them around the top of your mugs so the graham crackers will stick. Then, dip mug in graham cracker crumbs until well lined.
  3. Heat milk and water in a saucepan over medium heat until warm—about 5 minutes.
  4. Add cocoa, chocolate syrup and sugar and whisk vigorously until thoroughly combined.
  5. Pour hot chocolate in mug and top with 1/4 cup of marshmallows each. Carefully set mugs on the baking sheet in the oven and broil marshmallows until browned, keep a close eye on them as not to let them burn.
  6. Carefully remove from the oven.
  7. Top with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and extra graham cracker crumbs.

Frozen Hot Cocoa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) Chocolate
  • 1 packet Hot Cocoa
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 cups Milk, any kind
  • 3 cups Ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Chop chocolate into small pieces and melt in a glass container, then microwave in 10–20 second intervals until melted.
  2. Add in hot cocoa mix and sugar to melted chocolate. Mix until blended.
  3. Add in 1/2 cup milk, stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. In a blender, place remaining milk, cooled chocolate mixture and ice cubes.
  5. Blend on high speed until smooth.
  6. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Spicy Hot Cocoa

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Hot Cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) Dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup Milk, any kind
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar

Instructions

  1. Chop chocolate into small pieces and melt in a glass container, then microwave in 10–20 second intervals until melted.
  2. Add in hot cocoa mix, cayenne and sugar to melted chocolate. Mix until blended.
  3. Add in 1/2 cup milk, stir until smooth.
  4. Add spicy chocolate mix to hot cocoa and stir well. Enjoy!

Minty Hot Cocoa

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Hot Cocoa
  • Peppermint/candy canes
  • Peppermint oil

Instructions

  1. Make hot cocoa and add in a drop of peppermint oil.
  2. Top with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candies/candy canes.
  3. Serve with a candy cane in the mug.
 

Essential Oil Diffuser Blends

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Whether you’re trying to relax, de-stress or get energized, using an essential oil diffuser can be a great way to put you in the right frame of mind and add the perfect ambiance to your home or office. Feeling overwhelmed about what combination of oils to use? Take a deep breath—we’ve made it easy for you! Mix things up with these rejuvenating essential oil blends: Essential Oil Diffuser basket

Wake Up

  • 1 drop Basil oil
  • 2 drops Lemon oil
  • 2 drops Ylang ylang oil

Energizing

  • 1 drop Peppermint oil
  • 1 drop Rosemary oil
  • 2 drops Cinnamon cassia oil

Rise & Shine

  • 6 drops Rosemary oil
  • 3 drops Peppermint oil
  • 2 drops Basil oil
  • 2 drops Ginger oil

Goodnight Sleep

  • 2 drops Sage oil
  • 1 drop Ylang ylang oil
  • 20 drops Neroli oil

Calming Night

  • 4 drops Cypress oil
  • 4 drops Lavender oil
  • 4 drops Marjoram oil

Relaxing

  • 2 drops Jasmine fragrance
  • 2 drops Lavender oil
  • 15 drops Vanilla oil

Unwind Time

  • 1 drop Chamomile oil
  • 2 drops Lavender oil
  • 2 drops Sandalwood oil blend
 

Smart Buys and Creative DIYs

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Using everyday groceries to their fullest potential is a great way to see how much good-for-you foods can offer from start to finish. You’ll love flexing your creativity muscles as well as taking steps to a greener and more sustainable future. We used Sprouts products that we had finished enjoying to make these fun crafts! From soup cans to eggshells, see how everyday staples can be transformed with a little thinking outside the grocery bag.Tin can heart shape on it.

Soup Can Lanterns

What You’ll Need:

  • Cans from soup, beans or veggies
  • Nails
  • Power drill
  • Hammer (optional)
  • Votive candles

Directions:

Start by cleaning out and removing any packaging on the can. Use a paper stencil and a pen to draw out a design on the can. Place can on a stable surface and secure it so it cannot move. Carefully use a nail and drill to puncture the metal by following the design you’ve made. You can tap a nail with a hammer a few times to first puncture the hole and then follow through with a drill for an easier break. Continue creating small holes in the metal until the design is complete. When finished, place a votive candle inside.      
Cotton balls in jars

Storage Jars

What You’ll Need:

  • Jars from salsa, nut butters, pasta sauce and more
  • Twine or ribbon (optional)
  • Household essentials

Directions:

Clean and remove packaging from the jars you’re using. Add a decorative touch by either adorning with ribbon or twine. Place your household essentials in the jars according to your preferences.                

Eggshell Planters eggs in a storage

What You’ll Need:

  • Planting soil and your favorite herbs
  • Eggs
  • Bowl
  • Small spoon
  • Small knife
  • Spray bottle with water (optional)

Directions:

Not only are eggshells a unique place to house your plants, they also offer nutrients, enabling them to act as an all-natural fertilizer for your plants. Start by gently tapping around the egg’s circumference on a hard surface to crack open the shells. Pour the egg into a bowl and set aside. Gently rinse cracked eggshells and place them out in their carton to dry. Once dry, carefully create a hole at the base of each eggshell. Start from the inside of the shell to make a drainage hole. Use a spoon to scoop planting soil into each eggshell. Plant seeds and follow your seed’s specific instructions for how to plant it into the soil. Spritz the soil with water. Be sure to place your planters in an area that gets regular sunlight. Once the plant begins to sprout, you’ll be able to transfer it over to a more generously sized pot so it can grow without restraint.  

Trick or Treat Yo’self DIYs

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Three different body scrubsWhy play tricks this Halloween when you can treat yourself to a DIY fall-filled spa day? From a snickerdoodle body scrub to a soothing oatmeal face mask, you’ll be surrounded by sweet fall scents and utter relaxation. Feel boo-tiful with these easy fall DIYs.
Video Description: Tune in to learn how to make Snickerdoodle Body Scrub, Oatmeal Face Mask and Soothing Body Soak recipes by One Lovely Life. Recipes included below.

organic coconut sugar

Simple Snickerdoodle Body Scrub

If cold season dryness is plaguing your skin, give this coconut sugar body scrub a try! It will help exfoliate and moisturize dry skin. For a 60-second pseudo manicure/pedicure, scrub mixture into your hands or feet for one minute, then rinse in warm water and pat dry. You won’t believe the difference! (Note that this mixture is a bit too coarse for the face and is meant for body use only. Also, if you’re using it in the tub or shower, know that the coconut oil can make things a little slippery!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Big Tree Farms Vanilla Coconut Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Sprouts Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, combine coconut sugar, coconut oil, cinnamon and nutmeg until creamy and smooth.
  2. Transfer to a jar with a lid. Store at room temperature for up to one month.
  3. To use, gently apply a small scoop of the scrub to dry skin and rub gently to exfoliate and moisturize. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
  4. If your mixture separates, simply stir it a bit with your finger before using.

Soothing, Calming Oatmeal Face MaskVirgin coconut oil and raw oatmeal

If your skin is feeling a little dry or irritated, this soothing oatmeal mask will do the trick! Oatmeal calms inflamed or dry skin, and coconut oil adds a natural layer of moisturizer that will hydrate dry skin without clogging pores. If you need a little help clearing up a breakout, you can also add 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the mixture!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Oatmeal (quick cooking or old-fashioned)
  • 2 Tbsp. Sprouts Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey
  • Optional scent add-ins: 1/4 tsp. Vanilla extract and/or nutmeg

Instructions:

  1. Pulse oatmeal in a blender or food processor until fairly fine (no big pieces).
  2. Add coconut oil, honey, vanilla and nutmeg (if using). Stir to combine until smooth.
  3. Transfer to a jar with a lid and store at room temperature for up to one week.
  4. To use, spread 3-4 tablespoons of the mixture over a clean (freshly-washed) face and let sit for at least 5–10 minutes. Rinse off and gently pat your face dry.
 
BAG OF EPSOM SALT

Soothing Body Soak

This soothing, detoxifying body soak is great when you’re tired, sore or overwhelmed. Try experimenting with various oil combinations for a different effect—cinnamon, clove and eucalyptus for a dose of fall aromatherapy, lavender for a relaxing effect, or a combination of peppermint and orange for an energy boost.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Sprouts Epsom Salts
  • 1/2 cup Baking soda
  • 10 drops Favorite essential oils

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and massage together with your fingers. (This will help distribute the oils evenly.)
  2. Transfer to a jar with a lid and store for up to one month.
  3. To use, scoop 1/2 cup of the mixture into a warm bath, sit back, and enjoy! Soak 20–40 minutes, for best results!
     

Meet Emily

Healthy Living Blogger and Recipe Developer

Emily lives, loves and cooks at One Lovely Life, where she shares healthy recipes and inspiration for living a happy, full life. You’ll find fresh, vibrant, allergy-friendly recipes that don’t feel like they’re missing anything. In addition to healthy recipes on her blog, you’ll find made-over sweet treats, book recommendations and tips for living a life you love.  

Say Goodbye to Deja-Brew with Coffee Upgrades

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Coffee and cookies “I’m going to be productive, efficient and amazing today.” These are the words of a person with a strong coffee in hand. Just because your coffee keeps you on track, doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it. Easily add some variety by doctoring the flavor, and enjoying with add-ins. Here are ideas we’ve been brewing up:

DIY Bulletproof Coffee

Crunched for time? Bulletproof coffee offers a fast and efficient way to get your caffeine and fats, all in the same cup. Make it at home and blend into a frothy finish.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. Grass-fed butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Coconut oil
  • 8 oz. Freshly brewed hot coffee
  • Optional: 1 tsp. Chocolate extract, vanilla extract, mint extract

Instructions

  1. Simply blend ingredients together in a blender.
  2. Enjoy!
Source: Danny Seo

Mexican Coffee

Start your morning with sugar and spice and everything nice! Shop our Bulk Department and grocery aisles to pick up everything you need.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups Water
  • 2/3 cup Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Molasses
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup Medium-grind coffee

Instructions

  1. Bring water, brown sugar, molasses and cinnamon sticks to a boil in a pot over moderate heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Mix in coffee and boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof pitcher or clean pot.
  4. Discard coffee grinds and cinnamon sticks.
Source: Epicurious

Add Cream to Your Coffee

A homemade creamer is easy to make and can be customized to your craving of the day. Use a base of choice—we recommend your favorite dairy or non-dairy milk.

Mocha Mix

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Base of choice
  • 4 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
  • 5 Tbsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until combined.
  2. Can be stored in the refrigerator. Remember to shake well before use.

Coconut Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Base of choice
  • 1 cup Coconut flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until coconut flakes are chopped fine.
  2. Strain creamer to remove coconut flakes.
  3. Can be stored in the refrigerator. Remember to shake well before use.
Source: Rural Spin

Don’t Forget to Take a Dip!

Now you’ve made the perfect cup of coffee—how should you enjoy it? How about with your favorite cookie or biscotti? It’d be sad to think cookies were only meant to be dunked in a glass of milk. Indulge a little and dip Sprouts Pumpkin Snaps in your next cup of coffee for a delicious treat.  

Romantic Aromatherapy

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Aromatherapy uses essential oils captured from aromatic botanicals. Once inhaled, these aromas have the power to enhance the essence of a feeling or a romantic thought. Used to perfume lotions, soaps, body mists, massage oils and more, essential oils have a long history of romance and these simple to make recipes are sure to leave your loved one swooning.Romantic Aromatherapy and brown bag

Amorous Body Butter

Ingredients:

  • 40 drops Vanilla
  • 4 drops Sweet orange
  • 2 drops Cardamom
  • 10 drops Rose absolute
  • 1 cup Coconut oil
  • Mason jar

Directions:

Using a fork, mash room temperature coconut oil until it’s broken down. Stir in essential oils and, using an electric mixer, mix on high speed for five minutes. For a creamier body butter add unscented lotion or shea butter. Scoop mixture into a mason jar and seal.

Love Potion Spritz

Ingredients:

  • 6 drops Ylang ylang
  • 5 drops Rose absolute
  • 1 drop Clove bud
  • 1 cup Water
  • Small spray bottle

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a small spray bottle and shake well.

Exotic Bath Fizz

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Sea salt
  • 24 drops Sweet orange
  • 14 drops Sandalwood
  • 8 drops Jasmine absolute
  • Mason jar

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a mason jar, seal and shake well.

Make you own Aromatherapy

Here are a few simple tips for making your own essential oils blend. A good blend works together harmoniously with a profile containing a top note, a middle note, and a base. As the top note evaporates quickly, the middle note takes a little longer to dissipate, leaving the base note to linger longest.
  • Top Notes

  • Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree
  • Pine
  • Frankincense
  • Sweet Orange
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Middle Notes

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Lemongrass
  • Coriander
  • Geranium
  • Citronella
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Base Notes

  • Vetiver
  • Patchouli
  • Sandalwood
  • Myrrh
  • Blue Cypress
  • Texas Cedarwood
  • Amyris
  • Clove Bud
The most common essential oils used for romance are: grapefruit, sandalwood, ylang ylang, patchouli, rose and jasmine.  

Non-Toxic Cleaners You Can Make at Home

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Now that spring has arrived, it’s time to freshen up our winter-weathered homes. Unfortunately, the often-toxic ingredients found in most conventional cleaning products can be just as harmful as the dirt and germs they are meant to eliminate. The good news is that spring cleaning doesn’t have to be dirty work. You can avoid the toxins in most conventional cleaning products by making your own. White, distilled vinegar is great for disinfecting, degreasing and non-toxic cleaning. It’s also extremely economical and readily available. Note: The smell of vinegar does dissipate fairly quickly, but if the stench bothers you, try scenting it with fragrant essential oils.different cleaning bottles

What You’ll Need:

  • Aura Cacia Essential Oils (we recommend lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree)
  • Sprouts Baking Soda
  • Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Clean distilled water
  • Toilet brush
  • Spray bottles
  • Cotton cloths

Disinfecting Surface Cleaner

Wipe away grime with this gentle, yet effective surface cleaner. Mix equal parts vinegar and water to disinfect walls, doorknobs, crib rails, and so on. If desired, add 5–10 drops of essential oil, per 2 cups of mixture. Dampen a sponge mop or cloth with the mixture and get to work!

Mirrors and Windows

To give your windows and mirrors a smudge-free shine combine 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar and 2 cups of water. Add 12 drops of lemon essential oil for added fragrance. Pour the ingredients into a clean spray bottle and shake well. Spray on surface and wipe with a clean cloth.

Multipurpose Cleaner

From the stovetop to the countertop, keep your home clean, fresh and safe with this multipurpose “greener” cleaner. Take an empty spray bottle and combine 1 tablespoon of liquid Castile soap, 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar and 1 1/2 cups of water. We recommend lemon, tea tree, eucalyptus or lavender essential oils to create a sweet and wholesome scent. Put the cap on and shake well.

Toilet Cleaners

For regular toilet seat wipe downs, straight vinegar will do the trick. For tougher jobs, combine 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup distilled white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray the bowl and allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes. Sprinkle baking soda inside the toilet. Then, scrub with a brush and flush.

Bath and Shower

The best way to prevent soap and scum from building up is to regularly spray the bath and shower walls with vinegar. For a deep cleaning, make your own soft soap cleaner with baking soda and Castile soap. Use the baking soda in place of scouring powder. Sprinkle it liberally on porcelain fixtures and rub with a wet rag. Add a little soap to the rag for more cleaning power.