Thursday, March 19, 2015

Toxin Free Cleaning Products


For about two years now I've had the goal of making our home chemical free.


There were a few mental myths I've had to get over to get there.

Myth number 1, only super hero women make their own cleaning products. The first time I heard that women actually make their own cleaning products I was very defensive. Surely no one could be that perfect. Ahhh but the truth, you don't have to be superwoman (or superman) to make cleaning products, because they're actually super easy to make!

Clean Home 2The second myth was that I didn't have time to make my own cleaning products. The truth is that each of the cleaning products I use is super easy to make, other wise I wouldn't have the patience to make them.

The third mental obstacle was that it would be expensive to use only all natural cleaning products. Again, wrong. By making them myself I'm saving a lot of money.

The fourth concern was that all natural products can't work as well as store bought products. Depending on what you use this can be true, but the list I've compiled for you are only ones that really do work.


After jumping over all 4 of these hurdles during the last year or so, I'm now able to share with you how to get toxic cleaning supplies out of your home, and still get your home really clean!

What's the problem with store bought cleaning products? Well they're lot's of fun. They can cause asthma, light headed, screw up our hormones, cause allergies, and can even cause cancer with continued exposure. Great stuff huh?

A great resource is the Environmental Working Group's site where they've decoded over 2000 cleaning products for you, and can tell you how safe each of them is. Here's the link. You can also enter products by name and it will tell you how safe they are, and give you healthy alternatives if you'd rather buy a product.


So on to the awesome, and affordable natural alternatives!



Laundry Soap

There are two choices I'd recommend for laundry soap.

The first, which I've used for over 2 years now, are soap nuts. They are completely all natural, and can be composted.

Their only down side is that over time they make whites slightly grayish. This hasn't been significant enough for me to stop using them, however if you're freakish about your whites being bright there is another option.

This recipe from DIY Natural has gotten great reviews from several bloggers whom I well respect.


Purchase:
Soap Nuts  A 4 lb. bag lasted our family of 5 about a year and half. Try a half pound for $11.95.
or
Ingredients for Laundry Soap      
-Borax  76oz. $3.99 at Target
-Washing Soda  55oz. $9.08 w/ shipping
-1 bar of soap (like Ivory or Dr. Bronner's)



Fabric Softener

Dryer sheets and fabric softener are very toxic.

What goes on your clothes ends up on your skin, and a lot of people end up having reactions from that. One of the cheapest products, and easiest way to avoid allergies, is to use this natural fabric softener.

White vinegar is a surprisingly good fabric softener, and helps eliminate static build up. Don't worry, it won't leave even a trace of vinegar smell behind.

To use it I just pour vinegar into the fabric softener spot in my washing machine up to the max line.

After the wash cycle I put the clothes into the dryer like usual. The clothes and towels come out soft and usually static free. I've never had the vinegar damage anything (it isn't a bleaching agent), however I haven't used it with all materials.

An alternative fabric softener is Wool Dryer Balls. I've never used these, because I'm fine with the vinegar, but I've read great things about them. They go straight into the dryer with your clothes and are reusable.


Purchase: 
White Vinegar is available at most stores. I buy a huge 128 oz. bottle at Target for $2.74.
or
Wool Dryer Balls, or here is a way to make your own.              



Dishwasher Soap

Convenient
This recipe from DIY Natural is my favorite dishwasher soap!

There's also a help page here which can help you through making slight adjustments to the recipe to get it to work perfect for you. I can compare this D/W soap to the Target brand that I was using before switching over.

For the rinse aid I use plain white vinegar. I had my doubts about replacing my Cascade or Jet Dry with vinegar, but it actually works great! To use it I pour it straight into the fill spot for the rinse aid.

If you have a lot of trouble with your dishes getting dirty when washing them, try using less detergent. A repair man once told me that if there is too much soap the bubbles don't totally rinse out. Then the bubbles cause food particles to stick to the dishes. I only need 1 1/2 tsp. of the dishwasher soap to run my dishwasher. If you keep having trouble, it may be the dishwasher. Mine ended up having a clogged filter that needed replacing.

Purchase:
Borax  76 oz. $3.99 at Target
Washing Soda  55 oz. $9.08 w/ shipping
Citric Acid  7.5 oz. $4.99 also available
Kosher Salt  1 lb. at Target for $1.47

You may be able to find all of these ingredients at a local store. Since the recipe doesn't require much citric acid I buy mine in the bulk section of my local health food store.

Keep in mind these ingredients will last you a very long time. I bought these ingredients about a year ago and still have a large amount of the the borax, washing soda and kosher salt left.

*The Borax and Washing Soda can be used for laundry soap and dishwasher soap recipes.



Hand and Dish Soap

For dish soap I use straight up Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, usually the peppermint because it's cheaper.

To make hand soap I reuse a foaming hand soap pump (like this one from Method). When it's empty I refill the bottle with water until the water is 1- 1 1/2 inches from the top of the bottle. I add 3 Tbls. of Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, then put the lid on and shake the bottle. All done. A refill in only seconds!

This works well with Dr. Bronner's soap because it's concentrated and all natural. There are a couple of different scents that Dr. Bronner's offers like Lavender and Peppermint, or Baby Mild for those who don't want a scent. The scent does come out light but it's enough that I can smell my kids hands to see if they really washed them with soap.

The cost is much better than even getting a bottle of soap at the dollar store. You're also avoiding triclosan by doing this, an ingredient the Governor of Minnesota has banned, but many products still carry. Triclosan can cause liver damage and is in many hand soaps and hand sanitizers.

Cost- 32 fluid oz. bottle
$0.52 from Vitacost per refill
$0.32 from Trader Joe's (only available in Peppermint) per refill

Purchase:
Dr. Bronner's 32 oz. liquid soap from Vitacost $16.19
or
Dr. Bronner's 32 oz. liquid soap from Trader Joe's $9.99

We also use Dr. Bronner's liquid soap as body soap in the shower, and as shampoo for most of the family. I recommend spending about $2 at a beauty supply store for a pump top. If you've got kids it really helps them to know how much to take, and makes it much easier for them to shower themselves.



Hand Sanitizer

Purell and other common hand sanitizers have an ingredient called triclosan in them. Triclosan can cause liver damage and is in many hand soaps and hand sanitizers.

To make an all natural hand sanitizer you can use either water, aloe vera gel, or witch hazel as a base, then add essential oils.

Purchase:
Water- free
or
Aloe Vera Gel- 16 oz. $2.89
or
Witch hazel-  16 oz. $4.99 at Walgreen's (can also be used as a mild facial astringent)



Rug Cleaner

This is the easiest way in the world to clean carpet! Are you ready for it?

Hydrogen Peroxide, which is actually just water with extra oxygen in it. It's super safe for carpet (at least it hasn't caused any issues with the 4 different kinds and colors of carpet that I've used it on). No need to add anything else or dilute it.

I started out pouring it straight from the bottle onto the rug, but that was too much at a time, so I bought a spray bottle.

To use it I pour the hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle, then spray it straight onto the carpet. I let it sit for about a minute then gently rub the spot in all directions with a rag or wash cloth.

To clean larger areas I've put straight hydrogen peroxide into my hand held carpet cleaning machine (instead of the chemicals) and it worked great! Good thing the stuff is so cheap.

If it's a really bad one (like my daughter puking up carrot cake- think carrot juice- on the white carpet) then I repeat the procedure a couple of times until it's all gone. It does an amazing job, and no chemicals!

Before I found hydrogen peroxide I was using a spray made of 15 oz. of water mixed with 30 drops each of lavender and rosemary essential oils. Shake the bottle and spray. I have had good success with getting paint off the carpet with this spray, even paint that's been sitting on the carpet for a day.

Purchase:
Hydrogen Peroxide- for sale at many stores, Target 32 oz. bottle for $0.97
or
Lavender  0.5 oz. $5.82, and Rosemary essential oils 0.5 oz. $3.89. These amounts may sound small but they last for a long time.



Window, Mirror, and Bathroom Cleaner

If you have kids they will lick the window at some point in time. I remember seeing my toddler do that and cringing at her eating up the Windex chemicals on it. Thankfully no more! There's something that works just as great, is non toxic and is inexpensive to buy.

Skyscraper Cleaners 4
White vinegar in a spray bottle is the easiest, and best working product to use. Simply put vinegar into a spray bottle and spray onto windows and mirrors, then wipe clean.

This will leave a clear, streak free shine. If you have a cloudiness or streaks it's probably just the vinegar taking coatings from previous chemicals off the mirror, and should clear up after a couple of uses.


However, if you can't stand the short lived smell of vinegar, here's another great alternative spray that I use often. I use a spray made of 15 oz. of water mixed with 30 drops each of lavender and rosemary essential oils. Shake the bottle and spray.

Purchase:
White Vinegar is available at most stores. I buy a huge 128 oz. bottle at Target for $2.74.
or
Lavender  0.5 oz. $5.82, and Rosemary essential oils 0.5 oz. $3.89, these amounts may sound small but they last for a long time.



Bathtub and Sink Cleaner

There are two options in the bathtub and sink cleaner department. One is very cheap and the other is more effective.
The cheap option is baking soda. I've used it to clean the tub/shower, sinks, and the inside of the toilet bowl.

For sinks and the toilet bowl the baking soda is just fine, and saves you money. For tubs there's an option that works much better.

The first time I cleaned the tub with Borax I was amazed at how much easier it was to clean with than baking soda (baking soda requires more muscle).

To use the borax or baking soda get the tub wet then sprinkle the powder around the tub. Scrub and rinse the tub. Again baking soda does work, but Borax will save you some arm muscle.

To keep from over dumping the borax I used a funnel and put some into an old herb container (washed out). Much more effective sprinkling and less waste. The dollar store or Aldi have good options for larger holed containers to use.

Purchase:
Baking Soda- most stores carry it. Target 1 lb. $0.72
Borax  76oz. $3.99 at Target



Shower Spray

Fill a spray bottle with equal amounts of concentrated dish soap (like Dr. Bronner's) and warm vinegar. Spray on the shower and tub, then wipe off.

Here's the site to check it out.

*I finally got another spray bottle so I could try this method my friend has been using. I loved it! This method works really well and requires almost no scrubbing.

The Dr. Bronner's soap is so concentrated that next time I will use even less of it, approximately 1/3 soap 2/3 vinegar.


Purchase:
Dr. Bronner's 32 oz. liquid soap from Trader Joe's $9.99
or
Dr. Bronner's 32 oz. liquid soap from Vitacost $16.19
White Vinegar is available at most stores. I buy a huge 128 oz. bottle at Target for $2.74.


*Updated 4/10/15



Disinfecting Wipes

One of the final pieces to the chemical free puzzle was getting rid of Clorox wipes. I'm currently using this disinfecting hand wipes recipe from DIY Natural.

Put some cut up rags into a jar, add white vinegar and 10-15 drops of lemon or rosemary essential oil. Shake it together and wipe away.


Purchase:
White Vinegar is available at most stores. I buy a huge 128oz. bottle at Target for $2.74
Lemon $3.39 or Rosemary essential oils 0.5oz. $3.89



Air Freshener

Vodka baby! No I'm not drinking it (much), I'm cleaning with it! The antibacterial benefits of vodka, along with it's ability to help maintain a scent, make it perfect for making air freshener!

Most air fresheners are very, very toxic. To learn how to make a super simple air freshener spray click here, or here for gel air fresheners.

Purchase:
Vodka- varies (cheap kind is fine)
Choose any scent combination. Lavender  0.5oz. $5.82, and Rosemary essential oils 0.5oz. $3.89, these amounts may sound small but they last for a long time.

*Bonus: This spray doubles as a spray on deodorant. Not great for heavy sweat days but great for the lighter ones!


Shopping List:
Borax
Washing Soda
1 bar Ivory soap
White Vinegar
Citric Acid
Kosher Salt
Dr Bronner's Liquid soap in Peppermint
Rosemary Essential Oil
Lavender Essential Oil
Hydrogen Peroxide
Vodka

To make dishwasher soap, rinse aid, fabric softener, laundry soap, hand soap, dish soap, hand sanitizer, rug cleaner, window, mirror, and appliance cleaner, bathroom cleaning spray, toilet bowl cleaner, bathtub and sink cleaner, shower spray, disinfecting wipes, and air freshener (plus the cost of vodka) you'll only need about $49!

Some of these things, like the vinegar I go through quickly, but most of them will last you about a year. That's less than $50 to replace 15 toxic cleaning products with healthy choices, for about a year!

If you'd like to reduce costs invite some people over and have a product making party to divide up the total costs.

Each of these products takes only minutes to mix together. If you aren't used to making products I would try adding one at a time so you don't get overwhelmed.


Enjoy living and breathing in your toxin free cleaning products home!


What other products would you like to see a natural version of?

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