I'd like to share a few of my thoughts on cleaning products...both for home and for body. The cleaning product industry is BIG business. Just walk into Target or any drugstore and count how many items you have to choose from to clean your floor. Or you face. Or you toilet. It's madness. Even the natural cleaning market is easy to get sucked into. There is a better way!
About a year ago, I decided that I wanted my house to be completely safe...and I didn't want to spend a lot of money doing it. I gave away all of my old cleaners...Lysol, Clorox Wipes, 409 spray, etc. It was amazing how much space I had under my sinks and in my closets after they were gone. I replaced it all with a simple spray bottle of vinegar, water, Dr. Bronner's, and essential oils. I use this mixture as a multi-purpose spray for everything. For windows, I use straight vinegar and wipe with newspapers. For scrubbing the counter, sinks, tubs, and toilet, I use baking soda and essential oils.
I love letting Bella help me clean now (and she loves it too) because I know there is nothing that could hurt her. She sprays and I wipe...we're a great team. There is no way I would have ever let her help when I was using traditional cleaners. I have noticed that I am much more sensitive to the harsh smell of cleansers now that I don't use them. I usually have to tell hotel staff to not clean the bathroom while we are there because the chemicals are much to strong.
When you make the change to natural cleansers, the first thing you might notice is that they don't "smell clean" like you are used to. There is no bleach smell. No chlorine. No watery eyes, itchy skin...no turning the fans on and opening the windows. You may get a slight vinegar scent, but it fades quickly. The smell of the cleaner is not what cleans...don't be deceived :)
I also think that we, as a culture, have become so phobic about germs, etc. There is no need for artificial anti-bacterial soaps, sprays, etc. They actually hurt your body's natural ability to fight bacteria. Plain 'ol soap and water is the best defense again spreading germs.
Adding essential oils to your cleansers is so fun...because you can choose your scents! I especially like tea tree oil for it's natural anti-bacterial power and lavender for it's soothing scent. Lemon, peppermint, rosemary, and sweet orange are also high on my list. The sky is the limit...there are so many options.
I stick with a very basic concoction...I just fill a spray bottle up about 1/4 way with white vinegar, add a little Dr. Bronner's (so many scents to choose from there as well), add my essential oils (just a few drops) and fill the rest up with water. That's it. Simple. One bottle.
If you need a "recipe", check out this site. And more here. They have everything from furniture polish to drain cleaner to air fresheners.
I use a natural soap for washing dishes. I will be switching to my own mixture for laundry soon. Here are the recipes I am checking out. Baking soda is an amazing help in the laundry room and everywhere else. Being that we don't use bleach, our whites tend to look a little dingy. Sunning is a great natural way to bleach things. Even in the winter, you can lay or hang things in sunny windows. We don't have a dishwasher right now...but please be aware that traditional dishwasher detergent is one of the most poisonous items in your home. Go natural!
There is a huge market for all natural cleansers...but they are SUPER expensive. I do purchase them sometimes...but there really isn't a need. If you read the ingredients, you will see that all it is is exactly what you can make at home. You can make wonderful, inexpensive cleansers for pennies.
Shampoos and conditioners have insane amounts of disgusting things in them. I can hardly believe that our government allows us to purchase some of these items and put them on our delicate bodies! Some of the main ingredients to avoid are sodium laurel sulfate and any parabens. Yucky!
Your skin is your largest organ and it drinks in everything you put on it. I like the rule "If you can't eat it, don't put it on your body!". You can check your own beauty products here. There are 8 ingredients/chemicals that have been outlawed in America, but over 1,000 that have been outlawed in Europe. I urge you to do your own research on the ingredients in your makeup, shampoos, soaps, etc. If you aren't scared, alarmed, and angered...something is wrong with you. However, if you have trouble believing it...it might be because there are billions of dollars spent on commercials to tell you otherwise. You will find contradictory information on everything, but you have to think for yourself and make the best decision for you and your family. There is a lot of money at stake...if everyone switched to natural body care, the beauty product business would be in a lot of trouble. I'm sure someone is making sure that doesn't happen. It's always about the bottom line.
What are the options? Natural shampoos and conditioners. Pure bar soaps for shampoo or body. Many people go without soap altogether because it's so drying. Hot water and a wash cloth work great. Pure toothpastes (fluoride is poisonous ...I'm not crazy...do your research). You can use baking soda for toothpaste, flavored with essential oils. You can use Dr. Bronner's to brush your teeth as well...it's very sudsy, but it works. The other (and I think better) option is to go completely natural and use baking soda to "wash" your hair and apple cider vinegar to rinse. You can also use honey and other foods to condition. It's wonderful.
As for face washing routines...I use the oil method. I'm sure many of you have heard of it or use the same thing. Basically, you wash your face with oil...because oil dissolves oil. It's the best face cleansing "system" I've ever used...and I've tried MANY. My skin is acne prone and oily and this really helps to keep blackheads under control. Here is how you do it:
- Combine 1 part extra virgin olive oil (organic is best because pesticides are concentrated in fats) to 1 part castor oil and add whatever essential oils you want. I like tea tree oil and lavender. Store it in an airtight glass container. If your skin is super oil, you may want to increase the amount of castor oil...to keep it lighter.
- Tie all your hair back and have a wash cloth handy. Pour a liberal amount of the oil mixture into your hand and then start massaging it onto your face. Think of it as a mini-facial. Massage the oil into your skin for 30 seconds - 1 minute.
- Wet the wash cloth with STEAMING hot water. Ring it out and lay it on your face. When it cools, do it again. And again. You're steaming out the impurities. Just be sure to make the water as hot as you can stand. Sometimes I'll just sit on the bathroom floor with the wash cloth on my face and enjoy my facial.
- Rinse the wash cloth out and use it to wipe the oil off of your face. Be sure to get all of it...especially on the jaw and hairline. This is the part that exfoliates...your skin will be silky smooth!
- Splash more hot water on your face and pat dry.
- Use extra moisturizer after your done if you want...you can just use a small drop of the oil and rub it in your hands and then on your face as well.
Another wonderful, cleansing practice is dry brushing. I first heard of it when I was on my raw food kick last summer, and I love it. Check it out.
It's really easy to make your own lip balm, lotions, salves, etc. But if you want to buy them...one of my favorite sources is Prairieland Herbs. I have met the mother and daughter who make and sell the products and they are wonderful. I love the lotion bars and the cheek gloss. The soaps that they sell on the site are amazing too.
The only mainstream brand I will buy is Aubrey Organics (if I do buy something...which is not very often). All of my research shows that they are the purest and "cleanest" brand out there.
Please be aware that the phrase "natural" is not regulated by the FDA. Any company can put "natural" in their advertising and get away with it. Even many of the brands you can find at Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and your local health food store contain the ingredients I have told you about. Be sure to read labels...and then read them again! If it's a long list of unpronounceable ingredients...don't buy it!
There is a lot of information here...and it can be a bit overwhelming. Try not to become cynical...it's easy to just dismiss it and say "well, everything is toxic...who cares?!". But please consider how many times a day you put on that chemical lip gloss, and the 12 gels and lotions and concoctions when you're getting ready in the morning. Every day...for your entire life. There are so many cancerous chemicals that we willingly put on our bodies. Educating yourself is the first step.
Go check out your bathroom right now...and make the choice to go natural!