My husband and I have been on a path to natural health and wellness and reducing the toxic load of our home for quite some time now. In today's society, this takes commitment and deliberate actions, as our stores are laden with pesticide coated produce, processed boxed foods, injected and toxic proteins. And that's just what we eat, never mind what is in all the cleaners and air fresheners that we use everyday.
Harsh chemicals and toxins are in EVERYTHING we use. They are riddled with warnings, cautions, and hazards and are toxic to our bodies if ingested, and sometimes even when touched or inhaled. We are required to use gloves and often other safety precautions before handling, and inhaling many of the cleaners we use can restrict airways, choking us and making it hard to breathe, flare up allergies and asthma and even cause adverse reactions in some cases.
Synthetic air fresheners we spray into the air remain in the air for hours afterwards. Even though we can't smell them, we are still ingesting and inhaling those toxins.
And we wonder why diseases, respiratory issues and cancer is on the uprise.
I never really stopped to think about it until I had children, who were licking the floor as they crawled around, touching surfaces and then putting their fingers in their mouth. Who like to explore and open cupboards where potentially dangerous substances are stored. Those little ones whose wellbeing is my priority and responsibility.
Creating a greener, safer home, meant turning to natural solutions that are non-toxic and are without all the health risks and warnings. And if my kids get into it, it's not going to harm them. Wouldn't you want to effectively clean your home, knowing that you weren't putting yourself or your kids at risk of being poisoned or harmed? It's a no-brainer to me.
When we spray the surfaces of our home or work space, even after the streaks are gone and the cleaner "appears" to be removed, it remains on those surfaces. Thus, every time we touch that surface we still absorb those toxins through our skin. So as our kids crawl around on the freshly mopped floor, they are touching those toxins, as are we when we walk around in our bare feet. The largest pours in our body are on the bottoms of our feet, so you can imagine how fast those toxins will reach our blood system as we walk on those surfaces.
Yet many of the "all natural" cleaners or "green" cleaners on the shelves today tell us they are "safe" and "environmentally friendly". While they might be better for the environment, are not any better for you or your health and still contain ingredients that are toxic to us and thus deceiving in the marketing! Not only that, the cost of all the cleaners (because one cleaner usually only does one thing) adds up and takes a big bite out of the budget.
Thankfully there is another way.
I'm here to say there's a way to clean your home NATURALLY, without toxic chemicals, that actually WORKS. And is multifunctional, thus easier on the budget too! And if your kids crawl on or lick the surface afterwards, it's totally safe! :)
Are you ready for the answer?
Essential Oils! I'm not even kidding you. Many essential oils not only work well to eliminate such things in our environment (in the air and on surfaces) but also in our bodies. There's been a steady rise in the use of essential oils the past decade, and no, it's not because it's a fad….it's because people are using essential oils and seeing how well they work and how potent and powerful this beautiful gift of the earth is. The scientific studies being done on the benefits of essential oils are growing each day. Check out this wonderful website for awesome scientific research on essential oils www.aromaticscience.com.
Now, I'm not talking drug store shelf or grocery store shelf or even health food store shelf essential oils. Those are almost always adulterated in some form or another and are not the highest quality or the purest. Not all essential oils are created equal and where it was harvested, what time of the year, the elements, the distillation process, the testing, and if anything was added to the oil, all will affect the oil itself. So if you're paying $5 for a bottle of essential oil, put it back and walk away. Those oils are not safe or beneficial and could be just as toxic and harmful to you as those other cleaners! More on essential oils and quality/purity another time.
My family and I use doTERRA essential oils and have for over a year now. We have had nothing but huge success using them for ourselves, but I've also enjoyed using them around the home for cleaning. doTERRA essential oils are completely non-toxic, beyond organic and free from any pesticides, chemicals, filler and foreign contaminants, and are safe for internal, topical and aromatic use. This means that by cleaning with these high quality and pure essential oils, it's ok, and even beneficial to us, to inhale and touch them as we clean our home, but they also make the surfaces of our home clean as well. Win Win!
There are other natural ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your home, that also aid in the cleaning process. If you don't have some of these items, I would highly recommend picking them up, and most of them are very inexpensive.
-Baking Soda - scrubs, whitens, deodorizes and cuts grease
-White Vinegar - cuts grease, deodorizes, and dissolves mineral deposits
-Borax - scrubs, disinfects, whitens, cuts grease, and deodorizes (although Borax is natural, it is toxic if ingested and can cause skin irritation. Keep away from children, pets and food preparation areas). If in doubt, stick to baking soda.
-Unscented Castil Soap - vegetable-based soap that is safe enough to brush your teeth with. Dr. Bronner's is a great brand and can be found at most health food stores and some grocery stores as well.
-Epsom Salts - helps to keep oils suspended in homemade cleaners
-Fels - Naptha Soap - a bar that is great for stain removal and cleaning. Look int he laundry aisle of the grocery store but is more difficult to find sometimes and may need to be purchased online if you can't find it.
There are many essential oils that are great to help cleanse, deodorize and protect your home as well. The list is extensive, but I'll just be touching on a few today.
Let's start in the laundry room! Everyone has to do laundry. It's a part of life if you want clean clothes to wear. I'm working my way into going more natural in this area of our every day life and have recently purchased a SmartKlean laundry ball so we will be detergent free! Yay! This ball not only cleans, you need to only use the rinse cycle, thus using less water, and your clothes are static free!
For a while, however, I had changed to an eco friendly, soft and gentle laundry soap, thinking this was a better solution for our laundry then regular laundry detergent. Like I mentioned before, just because it's eco friendly and safe for the environment does NOT mean it's ok for us and it is still filled with harmful toxins.
If you prefer the idea of a detergent of the laundry ball, you can make an easy laundry soap that is penny's a load, yet still effectively washes your clothes in a non-toxic way.
Here's the recipe for your own homemade laundry soap…
-4 lb box borax
-4 lb box baking soda
-1 box Arm & Hammer washing soda
-3 grated bars of Fels-Naptha
-3.5 lbs OxiClean (powder, not liquid)
Mix together and store in an airtight container.
The cost is about $20 for 20lbs of soap and you use roughly 2 Tbsp per load, depending on size. For those of you with high efficiency washers, don't put the soap in the soap dispenser, but sprinkle it right into the drum of the washer.
*Using these natural ingredients in your laundry will keep your clothes lasting longer and looking newer for much longer as well.
Then add about 10-15 drops of your essential oil of choice (and that you like the smell of), such as Lemon, OnGuard blend or the Purify Blend, onto a damp cloth and throw the cloth in with the wash. Your clothes will come out smelling great and will also be super clean.
Use the same cloth and add your fav smelling oils to it, whether it be the same or different, and throw it in the dryer with your laundry. It can be strong, so start with 1-2 drops and go from there and experiment to get the perfect strength of smell that you love, without the synthetic toxic bounce sheets.
If you accidentally forget the laundry in the washer and it gets that "mildewy" smell, add a couple drops of lemon or purify blend to a damp cloth, add it to your wash and do a short cycle. Your laundry will come out smelling fresh once again!
To dry your clothes, use wool dryer ball. They not only shorten dry time, but are not laden with toxins like dryer sheets, which then transfer to our skin and can cause irritation and allergic reactions.
*Dryer sheets are also dangerous as they clog the lint filter making your machine a higher risk for fire. Even if it appears clean, test your filter and run water through it. If no water passes, replace it, because if water can't pass through then neither can air and you run the risk of your machine over-heating and catching fire.
As a natural stain remover for your clothes, simply take a bar of Fels-Naptha, wet the corner and then scrub into the stain.
For a spot removal or to also use on regular laundry stains, mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 1 part OnGuard foaming handwash. It not only attacks regular stains but also removes rust stains. You can also use this mixture as a general cleaner.
Now on to the toilet! For a great toilet bowl cleaner use the following….
-I use 1/2 cup baking soda
-About 10 drops of Melaleuca (or essential oil of choice like Purify blend or OnGuard blend)
-1/2 cup of Vinegar.
Don't pre mix or you'll have a nice mess on your hands ;)
Add in the order listed into the toilet bowl and as the mixture begins to react, start scrubbing. The ingredients all work together to deep clean your toilet. It also cleans your toilet brush at the same time!
You can leave it in the toilet overnight to get an incredibly deep clean. It's completely safe and non-toxic, so it's not harmful to pets who like to drink from the toilet* or kids who like to play in the toilet :) It's by far safer then a toilet cleaned with cleaners.
*If you have pets who like to drink from the toilet, it would be wise to avoid using Melaleuca and use another essential oil instead.
For a natural bathroom deodorizer, simply put a few drops of your favourite essential oil inside the toilet paper roll and place back on the holder. Every time you roll for toilet paper, the smell will pour out into the bathroom!
To clean your toothbrush, put a bit of water in a class with a couple drops of of OnGuard, stick your toothbrush in so it's submerged and let it soak overnight.
All Purpose Cleaner!
-10-15 drops of Purify blend per 16 oz water
-pinch of Epsom salts
Mix in a glass spray bottle and shake well before each use.
This is great to clean the bathroom and kitchen surfaces (sink, tub, outside of toilet, counters) or most any surface in your home actually.
You can also use 2 Tbsp of the OnGuard cleaning concentrate to 24oz of water, which also makes a perfect all-purpose cleaner.
-1/4 cup of vinegar
-2 cups of water
-10-15 drops of Lemon or Wild Orange
Mix in a glass spray bottle and shake up before each use. The oils help neutralize the stinky vinegar smell.
The mixture is a great streak free cleaner for windows and mirrors. Also, newspapers, or even better, coffee filters, work amazing to wipe your glass. I also use Norwex clothes that are fantastic. (side note, for those of you who use Norwex, because of the quality and purify of doTERRA's essential oils, they can be safely used with Norwex products)
Dust mites can be a problem in some areas of the country and world. They hide in our sheets and mattresses and are hazardous to our health, especially to those with asthma or respiratory issues. The Citrus Bliss spray can help with that!
-about 5 drops of Citrus Bliss Blend
mix in a 1oz glass spray bottle and mist sheets and mattress. And it smells amazing too (like creamsicle).
I also bring this with me when I travel and spray the beds down in the hotel.
It's also a fun thing to do for your kids or guests, right before they go to bed. Mist their sheets and when they fold open the covers, they are greeted with a lovely scent.
Eucalyptus is also a great option, but doesn't smell as lovely as Citrus Bliss ;)
For pests in the house (especially with Fall here and the insects looking for a warm place to live during winter) diffuse Peppermint and they will leave! Many bugs, including ants and spiders, hate Peppermint. You can also make a mixture of water and Peppermint essential oil and mist around door ways and windows to help prevent those pests from coming in to your home.
For cleaning hardwood floors, you'll want to avoid stronger essential oils like OnGuard, or if you use them, use them very diluted, as they can take the finish off the wood. For a wonderful hardwood floor cleaner, mix olive oil or coconut oil with a little bit of water and Lemon essential oil (or favourite citrus oil). This can be used as a great wood furniture cleaner as well.
Let's quickly talk about Lemon and a few of the many wonderful things it can help clean. We've already talked about some.
Lemon essential oil will take off the sticky, gummy residue left behind after removing labels or stickers. It will get gum out of hair and help get pen and permanent marker off of walls (and other surfaces as well).
You can mix Lemon with some baking soda to make an excellent wall scrub.
Lemon has been used successfully to remove shoe polish from clothes and can get grease spots out as well.
Use Lemon and Lime to clean the glass cooktop of your stove, to take all the gunk off.
Now, with using essential oils to clean, there are some cautions I would like to address as well. Never let OnGuard sit on wood or natural stone as it will eat through it. DigestZen blend has eaten through paint within seconds (but a good option for paint remover if you need one ;P ).
These oils are so powerful at what they do, and they are obviously very strong. So when used on synthetic things, like paint and plastic, they tend to eat through them, so be careful and dilute them if necessary. You don't want to ruin your furniture. This is also why essential oils work so well for us. We are not synthetic beings and essential oils can be a helping hand for us to function at optimal health and wellness.
Always use glass spray bottles if possible and not plastic.
I hope this information gives you some useful ideas on how to start reducing the toxic load in your home and health and moving toward a greener life.
Till next time!