Every day we are exposed to a cocktail of chemicals in our cleaning products, sprays, furniture, varnishes and many more. We are now seeing these chemical residues accumulating in our tissues, including breast tumors. Add to this the fire retardants sprayed to all our new furniture and carpets, fumes from plastic products and kids toys, car and industry pollution and we are swimming in a toxic soup each day. To replace our cleaning products on a gradual basis will reduce this toxic load on our bodies and support our body's natural 24/7 detox processes.
Many of the ingredients below are common household products, and many recipes use similar ingredients. Starting with a pack of some key essential oils, bicarb soda, vinegar and some common foods and spices will get you moving towards a less toxic home.
General tips for reducing chemical exposure include:
- Use natural, biodegradable and perfume free detergents and cleaning agents, do not dry clean clothes.
- Avoid chlorine: use water filters, limit pool and hot tub use. Use chlorine spray (below) after swimming in a chlorine pool.
- Wear 100% cotton clothes, avoid flame retardant materials (antimony).
- Use organic or cotton throws over couches, use organic casings over mattresses and pillows.
- Use aluminium-free deodorant.
- Use fluoride-free toothpaste (tin, titanium).
- Avoid playing on pressure treated wood (arsenic).
- Use air purifier to reduce dust, especially in the bedroom.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to batteries (light up shoes).
- Avoid using plastic furniture (polyvinyl chloride (PVC)).
- Avoid use of herbicides or pesticides, on lawns gardens, home or on pets, use homemade non toxic products as below.
- Use natural skin products - shampoos, soaps, lotions, make-up, lipstick.
- Regularly open windows and doors and allow the house and car to air to allow fresh air in.
A note on food and cooking methods:
- Choose glass or wax box containers when purchasing beverages
- Buy meals in wax paper or freezer wrap
- Never microwave in plastic
- Store food in glass or Pyrex
- Bring your own mug when buying coffee
- Avoid aluminium and non-stick cookware - instead use stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic titanium, porcelain enamelled iron.
- Do not cook in aluminium foil or drink from aluminium cans.
- Use aluminium-free baking powder.
- Microwave in glass of ceramic.
- Avoid food containers with coding 3 (PVC - cling wraps, plastic squeeze bottles and some jars such as cooking oil and peanut butter), 6 (Styrofoam) and 7 (BPA - baby bottles and other bottles and lining of boxes and food cans).
- Choose organic food where you can - especially foods listed in the EWC's dirty dozen.
Natural Air Freshener - In a medium saucepan, simmer a quart of water with natural ingredients to freshen and clean the air. Don't let the water evaporate off completely. Possible combinations:
- 1 sliced lemon, 2 tablespoons rosemary and a dash of vanilla
- 1 sliced lime and 1 piece chopped ginger root
- 1 sliced orange, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg and cloves
- 1 sliced lime and 2 tablespoons thyme
Sticky Residue - Eucalyptus Oil straight out of the bottle with a soft cloth to dissolve and remove just about anything sticky, greasy or for those dreaded ink stains e.g. sticky tape and sticker residue, texta, pen and paints, chewing gum, candle wax, hair removing wax & grease & oil stains off, glass, carpet, clothes, floors and walls.
Gum/Grease - Use lemon or Citrus Bliss to help take gum or grease out of clothes (test in a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that the oil won’t affect delicate dye or fabrics).
To get greasy (including sunscreen), grimy clothes clean, soak them in a bucket of hot water, a capful of eucalyptus and laundry powder. For stubborn stains apply some Eucalyptus Oil with a bit of washing powder straight onto the stain and scrub, then soak.
Washing - A few drops of Purify in the wash water will help kill bacteria and germs in clothes.
Drying - Put Purify, Elevation, lemongrass or another favourite oil or blend on a wet rag and then place into the dryer to keep clothes smelling great – without artificial perfumes or fragrances.
Disinfecting Oils - On Guard, lemon, Purify, melaleuca, lime, cinnamon, thyme*, peppermint*, eucalyptus.
Deodorizing Oils - Purify, peppermint*, clary sage*, melaleuca, lavender, geranium*, eucalyptus.
KITCHEN CLEANING TIPS
Disinfecting Spray - Make a disinfecting spray by mixing 5-6 drops of a disinfecting essential oil or blend with 30ml water in a small misting spray bottle. Shake and spray on counters, cutting boards, microwave, refrigerator, garbage cans or other desired surfaces.
Counter Cleaning - Add 1-2 drops of lemon, OnGuard or another disinfecting oil to a damp rag and use to wipe down counters, tables or stoves.
Rubbish Bin Deodorizer - Add 3-5 drops of a deodorizing essential oil or blend to 1Tbs. baking powder. Sprinkle into trash can. Or sprinkle a few drops of Eucalyptus oil into the bin.
Dishes - Add a few drops of lemon to dishwater for sparkling dishes and a great smelling kitchen. You can add the essential oil to a dishwasher as well.
Oven Cleaning - A paste of baking soda and water cleans ovens without the chemicals or the hassle of the self cleaning cycle. Just make a paste on the bottom of the oven, leave for a few hours and wipe off for a shiny, chemical free oven.
Scouring Powder - Pour 1 cup baking soda, ½ cup salt, ½ cup borax powder into a jar and mix well. If you want to make a shaker, put in a pint or quart mason jar and poke some holes in the top with a sharp serrated knife. Lightly wet surface with water or undiluted white vinegar (for really bad messes). Sprinkle powder on and let sit 5 minutes. Scrub with sturdy brush until clean. Rinse with water or vinegar (for really bad messes).
Stove Vent Fan - Clean the stove vent fan with boiling water and baking soda. Haul out your biggest pot, fill it with water and bring it to a boil. Then very slowly (about a tablespoon at a time) add 1/2 cup of baking soda very slowly. Submerge filter in pot. Dump the grease slick then rinsing the vent with really hot water out of the tap until the water runs clear.
Small areas can be removed with wiping a cloth with eucalyptus oil neat.
Dishwasher - Fill a dishwasher safe bowl or jar with 2 cups of vinegar and set on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run through on a hot cycle with no other dishes in the dishwasher to clean and remove the musty odour.
Garbage Disposal Unit
- Cut a lemon in half, shove in garbage disposal and grind (with water running) for 10 seconds.
- Freeze lemon and orange peels in ice cube trays with vinegar or water and throw these in and grind for 10 seconds.
- Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda in and then 1 cup of distilled white vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes before running the water and activating the disposal.
Mildew Spray - Mix 5 drops of lemon oil and 5 drops white fir oil with 2 oz. water in a small spray bottle. Spray on areas with mildew.
Deodorizing Spray - Place 5-8 drops of a deodorizing oil (try 5 drops grapefruit and 1 drop peppermint) in a 1 oz. spray bottle and fill the remainder of the bottle with water. Shake well and spray into the air.
Mirror Cleaner - Place 1-2 drops of a disinfecting oil (try lemon) with 1 tsp. vinegar in a 1 oz. spray bottle. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water. Shake well and spray on mirrors. Use a dry rag or newspapers to wipe off.
Soap Scum - Eucalyptus oil neat on a cloth. Also great to remove oil and grease off range hoods.
Mould spray - Clove Oil**/Water mix - Dilute 1/4 tsp Clove Oil in a spray bottle with 1 litre of water. Spray on anywhere you have mould issues e.g mould in shower, grouting, sink, walls, outdoor shade sails and furniture, umbrellas and even clothes, canvas shoes etc.
Shower mould - Scrub down the shower with a mix of 4 litres hot water, 1 tablespoon of bicarb and 1/2 a cup of white vinegar then rinse with hot water. Now spray your Clove Oil/Water mix (as above), leave for a little while, then scrub and rinse with hot water again. Wipe dry the shower and spray a light spray of your Clove Oil/Water mix over entire shower and leave it on to do it's work killing off any remaining mould spores. Get into the habitat of spraying your shower with this mix regularly.
Diffuse On Guard into the air to help eliminate mould.
Toilet - Dump a cup of baking soda into the toilet and let it soak for at least an hour. Pour in a cup of white vinegar, leave for 5 mins and flush. Unless the toilet is really dirty, this will clean it without scrubbing.
Shower Heads - Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar, tie the bag around the shower head so that the shower head is immersed in the vinegar. Leave on for up to 12 hours and remove carefully. Pour it down the drain and your shower head should be clean and free of hard water residue.
Urine Stains - Mix 250 ml hydrogen peroxide 3% (most pharmacies), 3 tablespoons/45 grams of baking soda, 1 drop of liquid hand dish washing soap in the spray bottle, swish ingredients, do not shake the bottle, and use within 20 minutes. Do not attempt to store the leftover solution as it will leak out of the bottle. The mixture only works if you use it immediately, because the cleaning by-products are active for only a short time period. You should see the stain lift and disappear within 5-10 minutes. Once the mattress dries, if a baking soda film remains, then simply wipe or vacuum it off.
FURNITURE & FLOORS
Disinfect floors & surfaces - Citrus Infused Vinegar - Fill a jar with (organic) citrus peels and pour undiluted white vinegar over them. Leave for a few days (up to 2 weeks) and strain out the vinegar to use as a natural cleaner.
Hard Wood & Tile Floors wash - Add a couple capfuls of Eucalyptus oil** to very hot water.
Polish - Put a few drops of lemon, Purify or white fir oil on a dust cloth and use to wipe down timber.
Clothing Deodorizer - Place a tissue or cotton ball with several drops of Purify, lavender, lemongrass, melaleuca, peppermint, Citrus Bliss or another favourite oil in a perforated wood, glass or stone container. Place container in a closet, shoe cupboard or drawer to help naturally keep clothes smelling great.
Bug repelling oils for home & garden – (from Natural Homestead: 40+ Recipes for Natural Critters & Crops by Jill Winger)
- citronella: repel flies, ants, fleas, gnats, mosquitoes, moths, nematodes and ticks.
- pine: keep fleas and ticks away.
- lavender: attracts beneficial bees in its foliate state, strengthen with other oils to effectively repel mosquitoes.
- peppermint*: ants, aphids, bean beetle, flies, lice, moths, beetles, spiders and squash bugs.
- patchouli: inhibiting the onset of bed bugs, ants, fleas, lice and other creeping and crawling creatures. In the garden, repels gnats, snails, weevils and woolly aphids.
- sandalwood: keeping weevils and aphids at bay and repel mosquitoes.
- rosemary*: used as an ingredient in a spray that is used to repel flies.
- purify: mouse repellent (a DoTerra blend)
Essential Oil Bug Spray (from Wellness Mama) – In a 250-300ml spray bottle, add 150ml distilled or boiled water, 1ooml witch hazel or vodka to fill almost to the top. Then add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional). Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. Try a blend of Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus OR 30 citronella, 25 peppermint, 15 tea tree, 1 tsp of jojoba oil* (optional, if you add this, add only 50ml of vodka or witch hazel). Shake well. Spray onto exposed skin and/or clothing, avoiding eyes and mucous membranes. Reapply every 2 hours, or as needed. Store in a dark bottle, away from heat or sunlight.
Quick & Easy Bug Spray – Add 10-15 drops of repelling oil to 30ml water in a small misting spray bottle. Shake well and mist over exposed skin and clothing.
Personal Bug Repellent – Apply repelling oils directly on the skin (dilute with a fractionated coconut oil if you are covering a large area).
Pest Repellent for your home – Place repelling oils on a string, ribbon or cotton ball and hang near air vents or windows or place in cracks and other areas where bugs or pests come through. Or sprinkle a few drops at entrance points and in the corners of your home to repel, spiders, cockroaches, moths, silverfish etc.
Paint Fumes - To effectively remove paint fumes and after smell, add one 15ml bottle of oil to any 5 gallon (19 litres) bucket of paint. The Purify blend and citrus single oils have been favourites, while Citrus Bliss and Elevation would work just as well. Either a paint sprayer or brush and roller may be used to apply the paint after mixing the oils into the paint by stirring vigorously. Oils may eventually rise to the top if using a water-based paint. Occasional stirring may be necessary to keep the oils mixed.
Carpet Cleaner/Deodorizer - Mix 1cup baking soda and 20 – 50 drops melaleuca, lemon, Purity or another favourite oil in a glass jar, shake together and let stand overnight. Sprinkle lightly over carpets, let sit for 15 minutes and then vacuum.
Grease/Gum Remover - Try lemon or lime oil on stubborn, greasy stains or to help dissolve gum stuck to carpet (be certain to test oil in a small inconspicuous area of the carpet first to ensure it won’t affect any delicate dyes in the carpet.
Tar & Grease on car duco - Gently rub Eucalyptus oil** on with a soft non-abrasive cloth.
Garage floor grease - Use Eucalyptus oil, a stiff brush and some old rags.
Car Upholstery - Mix 1 cup Dawn blue dish soap, 1 cup white vinegar, and 1 cup club soda together in a heavy duty spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray liberally over the stained areas and let sit for about 5-10 minutes. Use a scrubbing brush to scrub in small circles over the stains. To my amazement the stains started to lift and disappear. If water marks remain, SteamVac with warm water.
Car Deodorizer - Vacuum car and remove floor mats. Pour about 1 cup of baking soda into a container with airtight lid and add 3-4 drops of doTERRA lavender essential oil. Put on lid and shake container. Using the sieve, sprinkle the mixtre all ove rthe car's carpet and fabric and let it sit for an hour or more. Thoroughly vacuum baking soda mixture and enjoy a fresher, disinfected and yes cleaner car!
*If you are pregnant avoid using the essential oils of basil, cedar wood, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, juniper, peppermint, rose, rosemary, myrrh, sage, wintergreen, thyme, and pennyroyal.
**Always patch test surface or material before using, especially clove oil and eucalyptus. It may be necessary to wear gloves with clove oil in particular. Some essential oils can clog spray bottles, it may help to dissolve the essential oils in 1 tsp. of grain alcohol before adding water to the spray bottle.).
Lavender and tea tree oils are two essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, others may need to be diluted, check the label.
Eucalyptus Oil - Ensure you use a pure grade Australian Eucalyptus Oil, for example The Australian Eucalyptus Company's Eucalyptus Oil. Use plain Eucalyptus Oil, or when more cleaning power is needed, add a little Laundry or Dishwashing Liquid to work together with the Eucalyptus Oil.
Check out our other articles packed with simple and practical ways to improve your health including the 6 foundations of your health – clean water, fresh air, sunshine, movement, sleep and fresh food. If you have any questions, or would like specific advice on movement, breathing, health or exercise please contact us on 07) 3208 8308 or book instantly online.
Written by Dr. Jess Harvey B.Sc. (Anat, Phys), B.Ap.Sci (Comp. Med.), Ma Osteo., Registered Osteopath and Director of Head 2 Toe Health, with multidisciplinary clinics in Brisbane and Gold Coast. We provide Osteopathy, Acupuncture, Massage, Life Coaching and Counselling. We aim to get you as well as possible, as fast as possible, permanently. We believe in a thorough approach to restoring and maintaining health and address many aspects of our lifestyles that can contribute to pain, stiffness, dis-ease and disease. For any further information, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07) 3208 8308.
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This information is intended as a general guide only and is not specific for any particular condition or situation. Please seek specific advice from a healthcare practitioner before beginning a new nutrition or exercise program.