Sometimes you will want more control over the your cleaning chemicals. Due to my wife’s allergies, we found that it is better to create our own cleaning ingredients to remove allergens and save money on cleaning tools. Here are just a few cleaning recipes to start your DIY green living journey. For this entry I wanted to focus on healthy cleaning recipes for home cleaning. —–
*do not use on anything sensitive to acid. i.e. marble, granite etc
• Equal parts water and white vinegar • Add essential oils to preferred strength • We use about 15 drops wild orange and 10 drops peppermint in a conventional spray bottle. Gently shake to combine.
LAUNDRY DETERGENT POWDER
We based this recipe off of This recipe by Rebecca. When we had our child, My wife tried substituting with the Dr. Bronner’s baby bar soap; however she found the soap to be too gentle; it did not get out newborn spit up stains (the smell). We went back to using the recipe with the Fels-Naptha bar and it did not bother our baby at all.
What you’ll need:
• A 1/2 gallon – 1 gallon container with tight fitting lid. If using essential oils, choose glass. • A large cheese grater, preferably with non-skid bottom • A stout mixing spoon
Ingredients for Safer Laundry Detergent:
All that is required are three ingredients (in equal amounts):
• Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (you can make your own out of baking soda as well if you want!) • 20 Mule Team Borax (brightens colors and gets whites dazzling). Adding borax boosts detergent and it helps to “soften” hard water so there are no traces of rust. • Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar (stronger for work clothes). You can also buy high quality soap granules from Earthborn Elements. • (optional) essential oils (consider lemon, orange, or mandarin for an uplifting, clean scent) or (lavender for relaxing and calming).
I love this recipe because a little goes a long way.
SHOWER CLEANING PROCESS
This one is simple.
• I use dawn soap, • baking soda • water • kitchen sponge (designated for bathroom cleaning).
Splash a line of soap on the tub floor and sprinkle baking soda. Get the sponge wet and scrub away. For the shower walls I put dawn soap and baking soda on the sponge and scrub the walls. Then I rinse the sponge thoroughly and scrub the soap/ baking soda off. I use a cup to fill with water to rinse the rest away.
This process is so cheap, very effective and I have found my tub stays cleaner longer.
Are there DIY recipes that you would like to share for home cleaning or a recipe you would like to see? Let us know below and it may show up in a future blog entry.
Living a clean, healthy lifestyle can require a lot of effort in our modern industrialized nation. In many ways our use of technology has become unbalanced. Pursuit of convenience and profit outweigh wisdom, stewardship, and wellness. The same scientific and industrial advancements that transformed society with sanitation, hygiene, and medicine have polluted every part of our natural and cultural world. It’s hard to find a place in nature not polluted by heavy metals, pesticides, carcinogens, and EMF radiation. The more I learn on this journey, the more I am tempted to be frozen in survival mode. Truly, everything in the modern world seems to be aimed at choking out life.
Which is why I believe life is truly a miracle. As a Christian, I lean back and trust the Lord to protect my family, and me. I am one small person. I may not be able to change governmental policies or close evil corporations, but I can make empowered choices about the products my family consumes. With the internet and the free market, we can find products (or make them) that will have a limited negative effect on our well-being.
I’ve learned to focus on the little I can control and let go of what I cannot. I think these small changes can make a big impact as we share what we learn with our family, friends, and those in our sphere of influence. I hope the principles below help you make empowered choices that serve the well-being of you and your family.
I hope this strategy serves you as much as it has served me…
• PAY ATTENTION
• READ LABELS
• DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH
• DISCERN WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR LIFE
Have you considered that each individual person has their own “normal”? Based on our family of origin, where we live, what social groups we belong to, even our diet; they all create a familiar atmosphere. That atmosphere has programmed us to make habitual choices. Often to grow as a person we need to think above “normal”.
This is essential for our health. Many of us have been programmed to trust the medical industry and we may assume that corporations that make consumable goods have our best in mind. But corporations are not people; they are driven by survival and the desire to make a profit. For some companies, if the product they make is harmful to people and the planet but increases profit, they have no hesitation to sale it.
I say this because, often the food and products we consume are making us sick. We’ve become accustomed to inflammation, fatigue, and obesity as a society that we don’t realize we are a part of the problem. We are putting things in, on and around our body that hurt us. Do you get a headache after you drink diet soda or eat sugar? Does your skin get itchy when you apply lotion? Do you get dizzy after you scrub the shower? Those are signs that something you’ve been exposed to is hurting you. Your body is telling you to pay attention.
READ LABELS & DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH
You must first read the label to know what’s in the product. Search out what each ingredient is and discern how vulnerable you are to that toxin. Once you do this long enough, you can develop a running list of ingredients to avoid. Then, when you are examining a new product, toxins will stand out to you, and you can move on quickly.
Safe and environmentally friendly products are very trendy right now. Corporations have caught on to the demand for less toxic products. They will use words like “green”, “all natural”, and “nontoxic” to make their products more attractive to the consumer. But these claims are not regulated and are open to interpretation by the company that sale the product. They mean nothing. Pure marketing. You must read the actual ingredients and decide for yourself how toxic or safe the product is. Typically, Ingredients with long chemical names that you cannot pronounce are red flags.
Examples of ingredients I avoid: SLS, EDTA, Formaldehyde, Bleach…
I use search engines to find information. I also recommend the Environmental Working Group. They have strict standards and rate products based on their toxic level. Beware info could be out of date. You can also find books and many people on Instagram that inform about this subject.
Books: A Healthier Home: The Room by Room Guide to Make Any Space a Little Less Toxic – Shawna Holman
Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home – Renee Loux
I really appreciate Shawna Holman’s approach to less toxic living… ALLT:
ASSESS – What do you really use? Eliminate what is not used.
LET GO – Use less; only what you need.
LEVEL UP – When you run out of something, try to make the replacement less toxic – within your budget and lifestyle.
TRANSFORM over time. Changes add up; we never arrive; just keep going.
I looked up products my family uses on EWG’s website. Overall, I think we are doing well. EWG Verified is “0”, the best rating and “10” is the most toxic rating.
A simple and often cheaper way of ensuring the products you use in your home are safe and less toxic is to make them yourself. We will cover this topic in our next post.
… Disclaimer: We do not claim to be experts on these subjects. We communicate what we understand to be well sourced facts. We acknowledge that information on these topics evolves over time and that we may not have uncovered the full story on these subjects. Please do your own research and follow your peace. We make suggestions out of good will and state that you follow them at your own risk. Our heart is to spark curiosity and empower you to make incremental changes that deeply improve your wellbeing. Thank you for going on this health journey with us.
It is an inevitable truth that as we age, keeping up with cleaning becomes more challenging. Regardless it also becomes more necessary to ensure that the house is clean to provide a healthy happy home. For the Seniors, it becomes imperative to create a system of cleaning techniques and support. This will allow for healthier living conditions and in respect longer lives. Here we have provided an overview on healthy home techniques for Seniors.
Declutter, Declutter, Declutter!
With a long life comes an accumulation of objects and memories. However more objects in the house allows for more places for dust to accumulate and makes the house harder to clean. If it is becoming too cumbersome, it may be time to pass sentimental items to loved ones or perhaps it’s time to store unused sentimental items in storage. Consider items that could be considered hazards and organize objects to keep all possessions orderly. For electronics and lamps, Professional organizer and family caregiver Carrie Kauffman recommends “placing cord organizers to keep them contained. Also consider any objects that may cause slipping hazards such as rugs. By having an organized and decluttered arrangement, your living space becomes easier to navigate that eases the cleaning process.
If you are struggling to declutter and organize, consider hiring a professional organizer or asking your home care assistant for assistance. Consider how the space is being used. Has an old family member’s room become a place for storage? Try to dream up the potential of what that room could be used for, whether it be a quite study or a sun-room. Not only is this a great way to declutter, but it’ll allow more freedom of house navigation.
If you or a loved one are having trouble navigating around the house, marking containers and goods may be a great way to add some extra organization to your living space. This should include lables for refrigerated goods and their time of expected expiration. Try to keep foods that are closer to expiration closer to the front of the fridge to ensure they don’t get lost in the shuffle. It is also wise to make it routine to check the fridge every couple of weeks for lost or expired foods.
The importance of Techniques and Tools
For elders who are cleaning, it is important to protect oneself from being injured. Avoid bending or stretching when possible. If there is a job that requires bending or contortion of the body, try to limit work to 10 to 15 minutes or ask a care giver, family, or friends to provide the cleaning for you. Try diluting any cleaning solution into a bottle to refrain from having to bend down and dip the sponge into a bucket. For vacuuming, consider the floors you have and use a vacuum that accommodates for that flooring. Light weight vacuums typically have an option for hardwood floors so you should be able to avoid needing to sweep.
Set a schedule
Cleaning an entire house can be daunting. However by setting cleaning tasks to specified days, you can create a rhythm that ensures that the house remains in a healthy condition and makes house cleaning more manageable. Prioritize rooms that are used the most such as the bathroom and kitchen, setting tasks by their importance. Tasks such as washing the dishes can be done on a nightly basis while vacuuming can be set as a weekly task.
Try not to put off the dishes, it is a daily task that can become cumbersome quite quickly. It is suggested that seniors clean dishes after every meal or at least daily. If dishes are becoming a problem, consider your cookware, it is much easier cleaning a glass dish used for baking then a cast iron skillet.
The importance to staying green
Greener cleaning tools equates to a healthier home, a purer environment and better air quality. According to Leslie Reichart, a nationally-recognized green homekeeping expert and writer of the book The Joy of Green Cleaning, [when you use many cleaning products] “harmful chemicals are being released into the environment.” It’s important to stay mission focused. The purpose of cleaning is for health and safety so it’s important that you prioritize your health with cleaning. Avoid using chemicals with strong chemical odors; instead focus on green cleaning products.
Stayed tuned to the healthy home blog for more resources on green cleaning products. You can also contact us to get a professional green cleaner to providing a safe clean environment for living.
Have a network of support
You want to ensure that you have a plan of support to assist your aging loved one. This can include establishing roles, delegating tasks and having an emergency assistance plan. It is also important for caregivers to consider your own health. Experts suggest the healthiest course of action for Seniors relying on care providers is that they should adopt minimalist living approaches while keeping the house organized. As a caregiver, if you find that you are spending too much time cleaning or organizing unnecessary unused items, it may be time for that item to go into storage or passed on.
Know your options
Diminished vision and hearing, cognitive decline, and limitations in mobility are just a few of the many challenges brought on by aging. Despite these conditions, according to the AARP, 76% of adults 50 and older want to remain in their current homes.
For this reason, Caring.com has developed a resource to help seniors and their families determine if aging at home is a viable option. They detail programs, services, and other forms of support available in North Carolina to help aging residents continue to live at home. You can view it, as well as a guide to in-home care, here:
I recall a time when my friend asked me “Do you know what sodium laurel sulfate [SLS] is?” while we grocery shopped in Chicago. Naturally I answered “No, I don’t”. “Well, it’s a chemical in shampoo that builds up in your body as formaldehyde; ya know, the stuff they embalm people with” she responded. “That is so gross!” I was stunned.
It was 2008 and I had already begun my “clean eating” journey. Having my friend explain this to me was not a surprise, but startling none the same. I didn’t even question if she was right. I was just determined to AVOID SLS at every turn. Since then, I have been adamant to choose skin and body care that does not have toxic ingredients in them. Though usually a costly and inconvenient endeavor, I believe the health benefits will be worth it for life.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to not take someone’s word as truth and authority. I suppose it’s part of maturing and realizing we can all get it wrong, even on a subject we are deemed an “expert” on. As someone who values truth and integrity above all else, I try to devote more time to making sure what I have adopted as truth is actually TRUE. It’s a journey!
So, does SLS become formaldehyde in our bodies… I don’t think so. BUT I discovered there is no way of knowing how the SLS is preserved before it is added to products. They are not required to put that on the label. And it does appear that most SLS is preserved with formaldehyde. So maybe my friend was right after all?
So, what is Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)?
It is a surfactant that helps oil and water mix. It is used in products to make them sudsy and to clean better. Think liquid dish soap, liquid hand soap, shampoo, and toothpaste. It’s also put in food items like marshmallows.
SLS is known for drying out skin by breaking down the epidermis layer. Regulations state it must be under 1% of a product and should not stay ON the skin for any length of time. For example, washing your hands with a SLS product is less irritating than using a lotion with SLS.
SLS is used in a lot of lab tests because of its surfactant nature. Therefore, we do have a lot of scientific data on it.
SLS does not sound that harmful to our bodies when it is diluted properly and only briefly in contact with the skin. That said, it does dry out our skin, which is our biggest organ and part of our immune system.
The problem with SLS seems to arise by what it is preserved with.
There is no evidence that SLS is carcinogenic or that it causes hair loss. Sometimes “lack of evidence” just means they haven’t researched it enough. Due to the abundant lab tests utilizing SLS it does appear that SLS on its own is not carcinogenic. The jury is still out on hair loss. Again, it’s not just about the SLS, it’s about the unknown, carcinogenic preservatives it’s mixed with. Formaldehyde, for instance, is carcinogenic.
The moral of the story is that it’s our responsibility to be informed consumers. Corporations and manufacturers do not have our best interests in mind. They want to make money. Often, shortcuts are made, and cheap toxic chemicals are used to increase profit.
I recommend reading labels and researching the words you do not understand. You will be very enlightened. Many body care products use naturally derived forms of SLS. They are supposed to be healthier options. I’m not sure if that means they are preserved with something less toxic.
Please dive into the research below to learn more.
“Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or one of its cousins like Ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) or Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), is the main cleaning agent and second-largest ingredient after water in most regular brands of shampoo, shower creams, liquid soap, toothpaste, shaving gel, bubble baths, etc.”
The fact that SLS, or its more common name in science, the reason SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate) is found in so many studies is the same reason why you find it in a lot of cosmetics, household and industrial cleaners – it is cheap! SLS is a cheap surfactant, commonly used in scientific labs to dissolve other molecules, for analytical studies, for toxicological studies and for any other application that does not require more natural conditions such as preserving the 3D-structure and activity of proteins. That is the downside of this very cheap surfactant, it damages protein structures or, correctly expressed, denatures the proteins, and thereby they lose both shape and function. In fact, one of the most used laboratory analytical methods for proteins is based on the ability of SLS to denature proteins (SDS-PAGE).”
Does SLS Cause Blackheads? Yes, SLS is most likely comedogenic. It has scored positive in the classical rabbit’s ear assay . In spite of that, it is regrettably often found in acne cosmetics.
Can SLS Cause Hair Loss? SLS has been found accumulated in hair follicles [4, 5, 18] but so far there is no study that supports that SLS could cause increased hair loss.
Does SLS Cause Dry Hair and Split Ends? Yes, SLS damages the outer surface of the hair strands, the cuticle, resulting in loss of shine, a rougher surface and split ends [19-21]. Even though all anionic surfactants to some extent damage the hair surface compared to only using water, SLS is harsher than all other surfactants used in skin care products.
“SLS is an anionic surfactant commonly used in consumer household cleaning products. For decades, this chemical has been developing a negative reputation with consumers because of inaccurate interpretations of the scientific literature and confusion between SLS and chemicals with similar names. Here, we review the human and environmental toxicity profiles of SLS and demonstrate that it is safe for use in consumer household cleaning products.
“Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laurilsulfate or sodium dodecyl sulfate, is an anionic surfactant commonly used as an emulsifying cleaning agent in household cleaning products (laundry detergents, spray cleaners, and dishwasher detergents). The concentration of SLS found in consumer products varies by product and manufacturer but typically ranges from 0.01% to 50% in cosmetic products1,2 and 1% to 30% in cleaning products.3,4 SLS can be synthetic or naturally derived. This chemical is synthesized by reacting lauryl alcohol from a petroleum or plant source with sulfur trioxide to produce hydrogen lauryl sulfate, which is then neutralized with sodium carbonate to produce SLS.5”
“Down-the-drain cleaning products release SLS into the environment via household wastewater systems. In the environment, >99% of SLS readily biodegrades into nontoxic components per the OECD 301 standard.7”
“Dermal toxicity studies demonstrate that 24-hour exposure to a 1–2% (w/w) solution of SLS can increase the transepidermal water loss of the stratum corneum – the outer most layer of the skin – and cause mild yet reversible skin inflammation.”
“There is no scientific evidence supporting that SLS is a carcinogen.33,34 SLS is not listed as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC); U.S. National Toxicology Program; California Proposition 65 list of carcinogens; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the European Union. In 1998, the American Cancer Society (ACS) published an article attempting to correct the public’s misconception of SLS.”
“If you are concerned about the possible effects of SLS accumulation, look for shampoos, toothpastes and other personal care products marked “SLS free.” According to Mother Nature Network, a related product known as sodium coco sulfate, which is also a coconut derivative, may be less irritating than SLS or SLES. Look for shampoos made with essential oils, or wash your hair with baking soda.”
“Some products containing SLS include a brief warning somewhere stating that there’s a chance the product could cause skin irritation, dryness or redness on sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, always read ingredient labels carefully, and opt for natural skin care products as much as possible, including those that are homemade or store-bought but labeled hypoallergenic and organic. If you are going to use products containing SLS, try to avoid heating them and mixing them with very warm water, since this can open up the skin’s pores and lead to worsened reactions. One study found that warmer water caused SLS to lead to more skin irritation. When it comes to avoiding it in foods, your best bet is to limit consumption of processed foods (such as bottled juices, frozen meals and liquid eggs) and read ingredient labels.”
Disclaimer: We do not claim to be experts on these subjects. We communicate what we understand to be well sourced facts. We acknowledge that information on these topics evolves over time and that we may not have uncovered the full story on these subjects. Please do your own research and follow your peace. We make suggestions out of good will and state that you follow them at your own risk. Our heart is to spark curiosity and empower you to make incremental changes that deeply improve your wellbeing. Thank you for going on this health journey with us.
There are so many different resources on the internet about living a lifestyle that is family and earth friendly. The facts and opinions of so many people can be absolutely mind boggling. I like to keep things very neat and simple, I will respectfully do that here as well. I truly believe that sticking to the products that came from the earth is always the best and simplest solution. As with any chemical that you can find, natural or toxic, there will be cautions that need to be taken. Do your research for your own personal uses and adhere to the information found. That being said; I love essential oils for literally EVERYTHING! A few staple items like baking powder, white cleaning vinegar, any sort of soap (like castile) and some essential oils and you will have a power house of cleaning assortments that you can create. This is the simple and easy truth of creating your own cleaning products. There are products that have come out to completely eliminate all toxic solutions that we use to clean our homes. The norwex or e cloth was designed and I can attest to both products being very efficient. There are washable mop heads and biodegradable trash bags. The list goes on and on. The simple truth is that when we take things back to their truest form we find a much safer, cheaper and self controlled way of keeping our families and our earth healthy and happy.
Here’s an easy recipe that I found with a quick google search 1.Take the top off of an empty spray bottle, place a small funnel into the opening and pour in 1/2 cup of white vinegar. 2.Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and wait for the foaming to subside. 3.Add in 10 drops each of tea tree and eucalyptus essential oil. 4.Fill the rest of the bottle with water.