Earth Day: My Adventures with Homemade Cleaning Products

For many years, I have dabbled in making my own household products. There has been one thing I have been avoiding doing though …. Making homemade laundry soap.  Well, I finally took the plunge and I wanted to share some tips, photos, and recipes with you all!

The biggest advantage, I think, to making homemade or more natural household projects is safety. There are way too many chemicals, perfumes, dyes, and unknown ingredients in the products we typically use. Find a label on something in your home right now – there’s probably a few ingredients in there that you can’t even pronounce! I like to know what I

put on my skin, on my countertops, on my clothes, and in the air I breathe. It’s also very cost-effective to make your own products.

Take a look at the two photos below. The one on the left is a piece of fabric sitting in liquid Tide….. all of the phosphates/chemicals have sunk to the bottom, and that will be deposited into our water system. On the right, is a natural company’s alternative to traditional laundry soap… the photo speaks for itself.

(photos courtesy of Kathy Rosner)

Below is my recipe for laundry soap, and I find that it works just as well as “regular” products:

Mix all ingredients into a glass container:

3 cups Borax

2 cups Baking Soda

2 cups Washing Soda

1 bar of grated Fels Naptha Soap

In place of Fabric Softener (which is one of the most notoriously dangerous household products there are), I use ¼ cup of white distilled vinegar. It keeps your clothes soft and doesn’t leave a strange smell (I promise)!

Another simple laundry soap idea? Just use 1/4 cup liquid castile soap for each load.

If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge into homemade products, at least consider using some safer, cost effective alternatives. For more information on alternative products, contact: Kathy Rosner (KrosMail@aol.com).

If I was stranded on an island…

If I was stranded on an island, and only allowed ONE supplement to take with me… what would I choose? That’s easy – probiotics. Our body has both good and bad bacteria – which we need for different reasons. However the average American has too much “bad” bacteria. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria! They keep our delicate digestive system in balance… and now that I mentioned it …. The digestive system is one of the most important systems in our body. 80 % of our immune system is housed in the digestive system, and in the research, digestive problems are heavily linked to women with high stress levels. Do YOU know any women, with high stress levels, that could benefit from a strong digestive and immune system?

Bug Off… Naturally!

Did you know that most bug repellents on the shelf contain toxic chemicals, like DEET, which can be harmful? Instead, try using herbs and pure essential oils for a far safer protection.mosquito

The herbs thyme, lemongrass and basil oils are often used for repellents and smell really good also! When using essential oils, be sure to dilute them with a carrier oil or a lotion.

Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and is also antibacterial and antifungal. The natural solvent proprieties in Tea tree oil actually help dissolve insect toxins in existing bites, stop itching and heal the bitten area. In fact, making Tea tree oil a part of your home first aid kit would be ideal.

Citronella candles can help keep away ticks, flies and misquotes. The ingredients in these often contain these same essential oils and have a pleasant smell.

Other effective ingredients for keeping the bugs away include:

  • Lemon eucalyptus
  • Rose geranium
  • Pennyroyal (effective on a variety of biting insects- including chiggers, fleas, flies, gnats, ticks and mosquitoes)
  • Patchouli and neem  (Neem has been used for thousands of years to repel insects)

If you like the convenience of just buying a bug repellant off the shelf, go for an all natural, organic brand from the health food store. Chances are, these will contain most of the ingredients above. (I like Badger Anti-Bug Balm)

If your home is being invaded with ants this summer, try peppermint oil. Add two teaspoons to a cup of water and spray it anywhere you see ants. You can also use peppermint oil on your skin.

Enjoy a bug-free summer in the back yard or at the park, without bugs and without harmful toxins !

Natural Beauty

Do you really know what’s in the bath and beauty products you’re using? What if I told you many of the popular brands you’re using are made with harmful toxins that are not only wrecking havoc on your health, but also the environment.  The scary truth is that the government does not require health studies or pre-market testing for these products. On average, consumers use about 10 personal care products containing 126 ingredients per day.beauty products have toxinx

Triclosan (TCS) and triclocarban (TCC) are used as preservatives and antibacterial agents in many of the lotions and soaps we buy. We use these products externally, on our skin, and the rest is washed down the drain. These chemicals have been found to accumulate in our waterways. Scientist at the John Hopkins Center estimate that these chemicals are among the top contaminates in our nation’s water. Not only that, these chemicals are toxic to aquatic animals.

These hazardous toxins are also finding their way into our food supply, which, when ingested can cause the development of resistance to antibiotics against the microorganisms that are meant to protect us. Several chemicals that occasionally crop up in personal care products have been linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, and a host of other health effects. Beware of: lead, mercury, Nitromethane, Methyl cellosolve (or methoxyethanol).

Shopping Strategies:

Buy organic bath and beauty products whenever possible.

Read labels. It can be daunting to scan the long list of unpronounceable ingredients for harmful ones. Instead think about just switching to safer, organic brands.  Consider the toothpaste you use, the fragrance you wear and the sun screen you  put on. Most nail polish is also full of toxic stuff, including formaldehyde or formalin.  In your cosmetics, watch out for parabens (used as preservatives) and silver nanoparticles (found in sunscreens).

Try making your own, using herbs and natural ingredients. It’s easier than you think! Check out DIYnatual.com for an easy recipe for homemade, biodegradable laundry soap and add your favorite essential oils for fragrance.

To learn more:
organic soaps

Visit EWG.ORG, an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products, launched in 2004 to help people find safer products, with fewer ingredients that are hazardous or that haven’t been thoroughly tested.  This database provides easy-to-navigate safety ratings for thousands of personal care products. Search for all your favorite products and find out how they’ve been rated. I found it to be very informative and useful!

So many of us have already hopped aboard the “green” wagon with our household cleaning products and grocery bags, so why not do so with the personal care products your use daily? Let’s better our health and our planet by being conscious consumers and using natural organic products.

The Power of Smell: Aromatherapy and Beyond

The power of smell is a fascinating and scientific topic, but you don’t need to be a scientist to utilize the stimulating fragrances and healing proprieties that aromatherapy offers. Essential Oils can be used in many different ways. These aromatic, concentrated little compounds have a  multitude of uses that will improve your well-being and more!essential oils

Use Essential Oils and Live Well

Freshen the Air you Breathe: A diffuser can be used to bring a scent into the air and fill an entire room.

Massage Away Your Worries: Small amounts of oil can be used on the skin or added to massage oil.

Aromatherapy While You Read: Place a drop or two of your favorite essential oil on the cool light bulb of your reading lamp. Enjoy the aroma while the light bulb heats up.

Freshen Your Car: Place a few drops of essential oils on a cotton ball and place it under the seat of your car.

Curb Your Appetite: Diffusing or directly inhaling essential oils can not only have an immediate positive impact on our moods but also on our appetites.

These are my go-to oils:
Peppermint – great for nausea or upset stomach. Use a few drops on the  inside of your wrist
Lavender – use topically on wrists, ankles and neck for relaxation, or difficulty sleeping
Tea Tree – use topically for skin conditions as a natural antiseptic (acne, scar, dry  skin, cuts). Use only a few drops because it’s potent.

Try This at Home: Herbal Remedies for a Cold

Bring a quart-size pot of water to a boil, add three drops of eucalyptus oil and two drops of  peppermint. Remove the pot  from the stove, place your face a comfortable distance from the steam. Cover your head with a  towel and breathe in steam for about ten minutes. These herbs help decongest and are antimicrobial.

Dilute juice of one squeezed lemon in glass of warm water and add a teaspoon of honey. Drink this lemony goodness 1-2 times a day. Vitamin C decreases toxicity in the body and helps the  immune system.

Remember, these home remedies are not a substitute for seeing a trained health-care professional.

What questions do you have about using essential oils or in what other creative ways have you used aromatherapy in your daily life?