It seems like we are getting questioned more and more in regards to what type of products we use in our home for washing, bathing, cleaning, etc. So, I’m going to break down into some of the details here – covering everything from laundry detergent to toothpaste.
There are reports and correlations that some chemicals may cause cancer. If you do a little research you will see reports that detergents, specifically sodium lauryl sulfate with dioxane, and antiperspirant may be linked to cancer. The debate is definitely fiery and there are two sides that I will not get into. Because for us the changes were made because of our son’s contact eczema on his face and head as an infant. I talk about that in a earlier post HERE.
But honestly the bottom line as far as I am concerned is: your skin is the largest organ on your body and slathering chemicals on it can’t be a good thing.
When we made the change to all natural products I cleared out a ton of normal household cleaning products you would normally see in a house – Windex, Tide, Crest, Lysol, etc – and I went on a hunt for a more natural solution. I even threw out the perfumes and lotions. It was only then that I realized that somewhere along the road product marketers were geniuses because for many centuries households didn’t have a different product for each cleaning need, this is relatively new concept.
In my search I learned to watch for key words. I steered clear of words like detergent, sodium lauryl sulfate, surfactants, and other words that were too difficult to pronounce and that appeared to be chemicals. The one negative side of using products without these chemicals is that you lose the foam. And most people use foam to gauge whether something works.
We’ve been very happy with the changes we’ve made. I love that it takes just a few products now to do everything.
Laundry Detergent – Mix 1/2 Borax with 1/2 Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Add a few drops of essential oil. Shake. And you have laundry detergent. Be careful about adding shredded soaps – some of the soaps that are called for in many of the recipes online have chemicals in them. For the real tough loads with all the stains I use an Oxyclean prewash.
Hand Wash, Bath Soap, Dish Soap – We use castille soap for all three. I prefer the bar for our baths and the liquid castille for soap pumps. Castille soap is made from olive oil and coconut oils. For bar soap we use Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap and I can pick it up relatively inexpensive at our local grocery store. For liquid castille I usually turn to Dr. Bronner’s peppermint castille soap (scented with essential oils) or Desert Essence Liquid Soap with tee tree essential oil. We actually use very little soap in the bathroom, we found that it is completely unnecessary when you are eating healthy and make a few other changes in your life.
Dishwasher Soap – This one was a little trickier. You can find some basic recipes online for homemade dishwasher detergent that calls for baking soda and vinegar. And sometimes a few other ingredients. I tried several different options. One even called for citric acid or lemonade Kool-Aid. But after a few days or a week my dishes would have tons of ugly spots. So now I just buy Ecover Dishwashing Powder from our local natural food store. This stuff works fantastic. I would love to make my own powder and save money, but this brand works so much better than anything I could make.
Cleaning countertops, baths, etc – This is very simple. I have two spray bottles. One is filled with vinegar, the other is half bleach half water. I try to use the vinegar as much as possible, but other times the bleach calls my name. Vinegar is a great disinfectant and its safe for all your children’s toys. It just stinks. But in case you are worried about its cleaning effectiveness please not that numerous studies show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar—the kind you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses).
Toothpaste – I know you probably can’t believe this, but your regular toothpaste does contain detergents. There’s an easy fix. Tom’s of Maine sells a SLS free toothpaste, or you can try Castille soap or baking soda. I’ve tried all three and they work fine for me. But the children prefer Tom’s due to the taste of the other two. We usually use the SLS and Fluoride free toothpaste by Toms so that we don’t have to worry about the children swallowing any of it.
Shampoo and Conditioner – This has been the hardest one for me. There is a no ‘poo movement of folks who stop using shampoo completely and report that after the initial 1-2 months their hair looks great and isn’t greasy. The only problem is that I haven’t been willing to go with greasy hair for 1-2 months. I’ve tried baking soda, I’m not crazy about it. But I usually use the castille soap with a natural conditioner, or a I use baking soda and vinegar. And sometimes, when I just feel like nothing is working right I sneak some chemical laden shampoo – but it always leaves my hair looking dried out more and frizzier. So, there are a few things you can try. My dear husband just uses water, but he usually keeps his hair very short so it makes it much easier.
Deodorant – The use of normal soap and anitpersperiants leave your body on a rollercoaster ride between freshness and stickiness. If you cut them out, you will fair much better when it comes to body odor. I say this from personal experience. Just trust me here. Throw out your deodorants and soaps. And try this recipe from Passionate Homemaking for an all natural deodorant made from coconut oil. This is the absolute best! The ingredients include coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder. Even just a mix of coconut oil and baking soda works great.
I need to wrap this post up, but I don’t want to stop until I talk just a little about the wonders of coconut oil. We do not leave our house for longer than the day without coconut oil. It is a staple in our life. It is an incredible moisturizer (no other lotions needed), a great hair conditioner, an amazing deodorant even by itself, works wonders on eczema and dry skin, and tastes great with food…especially popcorn. Sometimes before a bath I lather it on Petra’s hair and it does wonders. We buy a gallon of unrefined virgin coconut oil from Mountain Rose Herbs and it ends up being 1/2 the price if we bought it from the store. And our children think the gallon buckets make great stools! (see photo above)
And that’s it. I hope it doesn’t seem overwhelming, because it isn’t. Think about all the products you have now in your house, and imagine replacing them with just a handful.