As a nutritionist, my main focus is the contents of your fridge and pantry. But in order to achieve optimal wellness, we need to address the whole environment, not just the food you eat.
Did you know that the average home is 5 times more toxic than the outside air!? So why spend all that time detoxing, when you "retox" every time you walk in your door? This wellness series will be about how to easily replace some of the primary contributors to home toxicity with safe, effective alternatives. I decided at the beginning of this series that I would at least try a non-toxic solution to every cleaning problem. My advice to you is to do the same, and simply replace your products with these versions as soon as yours run out, so you don't feel overwhelmed by dumping a whole cabinet of supplies!
A great resource is the Environmental Working Group - check their cleaning guide section of their website, ewg.org, for a rating of your cleaning products!
Part 1 - Glass Cleaner
The EWG gives original Windex a "D," and for good reason! Most glass cleaners contain ammonium, which is irritating to the skin and respiratory system. Windex also contains toxic synthetic fragrances and hexoxyethanol, another potential skin irritant.
Instead, try this recipe for natural glass cleaner!
1.5 c white vinegar
10 drops lemon essential oil
Review - It really does work! It seemed more watery at first, so I did have to wipe the mirror down a couple more times to get it to dry than with normal glass cleaner, but it was completely streak free! I tried to take a picture of the results to prove it, but since I used it to clean a mirror, so they were all just awkward selfies. The other pleasant surprise was that the lemon overpowered the vinegar smell, so I now have a fresh smelling bathroom, not one that smells like a 5th grade science project.
Part 2 - Fresh Laundry
Most people use dryer sheets to keep their clothes static free and smelling fresh, but most people don't know that these dryer sheets contain toxic fragrances and harmful chemicals. For example, even the "Free & Sensitive" Bounce sheets contain a chemical shown to cause reproductive harm to animals!
Instead, I use wool dryer balls with my favorite essential oil!
Why does this work? The balls themselves keep clothes separated in the dryer, which shortens drying time and keeps clothes wrinkle free. The wool fibers provide a natural softening effect to the fabric of your clothes, as well as reducing static and collecting hair. Then I add a couple drops of lavender essential oil to each ball, and voila! Nicely scented, soft and fluffed laundry, free of chemicals!
Part 3 - Sink De-clogger
Drain-O is a No-No! Of the 33 drain cleaning products reviewed on the EWG's healthy home website, 27 received an F! That's a huge fail for health safety! It also tells us that there aren't many natural alternatives to the sodium hydroxide, sodium hypochlorite, and surfactants present in most drain cleaners. These chemicals are harmful to the respiratory system, reproductive system, skin, and environment, so please, the next time your sink slows down or backs up, try the natural approach, and...
MAKE A VOLCANO!
Okay, so maybe not really, but remember the 5th grade science project I made fun of in part 1? That classic volcano science reaction that happens when you add vinegar to baking soda? What if you could give your kids a science lesson, while cleaning? I don't think I have ever been more excited to have a drain clog, because this was actually so much fun!
Prep your drain by pouring 1/2 c baking soda down the drain, and mix 5 drops lemon essential oil and 5 drops purify essential oil, 1 c white vinegar, and 1 c boiling water, and pour your mixture down the drain! Cover as best you can to contain the volcano effect, wait 10 minutes, and rinse with 4 c boiling water.
Review - I was SO impressed with how well this worked! I used it on my bathroom sink, so I had to get creative on how to best force the baking soda under the drain stop. I ended up with a lot of excess baking soda in the sink and not down the drain, so I was worried I would end up with a huge volcanic mess in my bathroom, but I poured the vinegar over it anyway! It bubbled and fizzed, but didn't overflow, and I plugged the drain after I saw most of the vinegar go down. 5 minutes later (it should be 10 but I was eager to see the results) all 4 cups of boiling water went down the drain so easily and we haven't had any slowing since! And, with the lemon and purify, there was more emulsification of any kind of fatty deposits, and the bathroom still didn't smell like a 5th grade science project :)
Part 4 - Sap Remover
'Tis the season for holiday joy and christmas tree sap everywhere! I am assuming people normally use something with an alcohol base for de-sapping, but a couple drops of lemon essential oil worked like a charm!
Part 5 - Shower De-scummer
Please don't clean your shower if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant. I don't think tilex or scrubbing bubbles have these warning labels, but oxygen bleach, sodium salts, and butoxydiglycol all present a high concern for reproductive, endocrine and developmental health.
Instead, use this magic goo recipe!
1 c white vinegar
1 c dish soap (make sure there is no bleach!)
10 drops melaleuca
Heat the vinegar and combine with the soap and essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray your shower, tub, glass doors, and fixtures, leave for as long as you can (at least 20 minutes) and wipe down!
Review - This is my favorite!! I have always hated cleaning the shower, because its the most immersive cleaning experience, and as such, you are the most assaulted by the cleaning product you use. I get fully in my shower to clean it, which means my bare feet are all up in the Tilex. After learning that the bottoms of the feet are the fastest route for essential oil uptake and distribution to the entire body, having my feet exposed to this level of toxins really freaks me out! Not to mention I close the shower door to clean the inside of it, so I'm just inhaling the scrubbing bubble fumes until I'm done! And I love to take weekly detox baths, but always worry about how many toxins stay behind after cleaning it. When I tried this the first time, it was so goopy that it didn't come out of the spray bottle well, so I just kind of slopped it onto the tub and the sides of the shower. I had planned on leaving it for 20-30 minutes while I got some other cleaning done, but a snafu with our water being shut off led to it staying on for at least 3 hours. When I finally came back to wipe it down, the spots that had been gooped were bright white! With zero scrubbing, just perfectly, beautifully white, even the textured non-slip part of the bottom of the tub that I have never been able to clean all the way with chemicals! It was quite comical though, because of course the spots that hadn't been sitting under this magic concoction for 3 hours were still dirty, so it was quite a sight until I mixed up my second batch and did a better job of coating the surfaces evenly. The melaleuca is a great addition because of its antimicrobial properties it can help prevent mildew formation!