I’ll be completely honest. I HATE cleaning! There i said it. I, The Green Housewife does NOT like cleaning in any shape or form. I can easily find things I would rather be doing than cleaning the toilet or scrubbing the floors. I clean because it is necessary, not because i enjoy it. I dream of one day being able to pay someone to do it for me. Since i DO in fact have to wash, buff, scrub and polish on a regular basis why not make the process as uplifting as possible. Here I look at 5 ways cleaning can actually be good for your mental health. Don’t believe me? Read on….
Can help decrease Cortisol levels and depression
How we perceive our home directly effects our mood and levels of Cortisol (a hormone in the body which is released in response to stress). One study found that when women perceived their homes as cluttered and full of unfinished projects, they experienced higher levels of Cortisol and depression. Doing a big de-clutter and sorting out all those little jobs we start and never find time to finish can help us feel a sense of control and order.
Imagine coming home from a day at work and encountering piles of washing waiting to be folded, stacks of newspapers piled up ready to go out to the recycling bin, dishes waiting in the sink and the kithcen bench is littered with a weeks worth of unopened mail. You are not going to be able to relax and unwind properly. Spending a little time each day to keep on top of the clutter in our homes goes a long way towards creating a restful, stress free environment.
Can help you make healthier food choices
We know that what we eat can effect mental health. If we adopt a healthy diet we are less likely to suffer from depression. A 2013 study in the Journal of Psychological Science states that participants were more likely to reach for a chocolate bar than an apple when they were working in cluttered spaces. (source)
Cortisol which we just learnt is at higher levels when we are stressed about the state of our home, also causes you to hold onto weight. Where as a vigorous cleaning session will help lower Cortisol and give you a good workout to boot.
If you have ever suffered from insomnia you will know how it effects your mental health. Nothing functions without sleep, except for Mothers! Your cleaning can be contributing to your lack of sleep.
In one article I found air pollution can be responsible for difficulty sleeping. We know that in most homes the air pollution is higher inside the home than out. (source) The toxins from our cleaning products are a direct contributor to indoor air pollution, as are the chemicals released from our carpets and soft furnishings. In one article on sleep issues, (source) mould was found to effect ones ability to nod off. Mould left unattended can be a contributing factor in chronic insomnia. How you address the mould in your home is really important. Bleach which traditionally has been used for mould remediation is certainly going to increase your indoor air pollution.
The solution to a good night sleep and a well rested mind? Decrease the air pollution in your home by adopting a natural, low toxic cleaning regime and sleep easy.
Green clean and stop being a hormonal mess
Our endocrine system controls all of our body functions through hormones.Too much or too little hormone released from different glands can tave a detrimental effect on anxiety. (source) We have already discussed the role of Cortisol, the stress hormone. Thyroid function can also effect mental health. Hyperthyroidism has been linked to anxiety and panic attacks. Sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone can also change how we feel emotionally.
So how does this relate to cleaning? Most of our cleaning and personal care products contain chemicals that are known endocrine distruptors (source). That means that they interfere with the body’s natural hormone regulation. The only way to ensure that the products you use in your home and on your body are not going to disrupt your hormones is to make your own using natural, non toxic ingredients.
Use your oils
The beauty of making your own cleaning products is that you can customize them to your needs and mood. Need a little uplifting? Add some lemon, sweet orange or grapefruit oil to your clean. All the citrus oils have mood uplifting properties.
Got up this morning and even the coffee isn’t lifting the fog? Then add either Rosemary or Frankincense to your cleaning products for mental clarity and focus. Or add Peppermint oil for mental energy.
So while I admit to not particularly enjoying the cleaning process it turns out that a clean home is not just aesthetically pleasing but good for us too. So I will splosh in the essential oils and enjoy the mood enhancing, and mental clarity while I am scrubbing the toilet!
Do you use Essential Oils in your home? I would love to hear what you use and how they work for you. Leave a comment below and share your experience with us.
If you want to learn more about using Essential Oils and other natural cleaning methods then I encourage you to check out my downloadable Natural Cleaning Guides. Through the series I teach you everything you need to know about cleaning in a safe, natural and environmentally (and mental health approved!) way. I share all my recipes, knowledge, tips and tricks in this course. Click in the image below for more information.
Make your Own Dog Poop
A simple solution to a common environmental
issue few of us are even aware exists.
Today I was out walking my dog with a good friend. I was telling her about my ideas for this blog when she set me a challenge. Come up with a solution that solves the problem of what to do with dog poo. Now at this stage in the walk my own dog had already pooped 4 times! (I swear he saves it all up just so he can poo in an exciting location……a bit like kids who love trying everyone elses toilet!). It was obvious that there was a need for a solution but ashamedly I had never really though about it before. I had always scooped and dumped without a thought. When you consider the bacterial content of your pet’s poop and how long that bacteria can survive, thoughtlessly throwing it away no longer becomes an option.
Some interesting (kinda) poo facts:
1 gram of dog poo contains 23 million fecal bacteria! 
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dog poo is as toxic to the environment as oil and chemical spills. 
Dog poo is a common carrier of some pretty scary nasties: heartworms, hookworms, giardia, E coli, salmonella, parvovirus, roundworms and tapeworms. 
Throwing a bag full of poop in the trash results in piles of plastic and infested poop sitting in landfill. Seriously does that even remotely sound like a good idea?
In the USA the equivalent of 267,500 tractor trailers loaded up fully with dog poop end up in the landfill every year. 
Dogs diets are high in protein which causes their poo to be acidic.  Leaving it on your lawn (or someone elses!) will burn the grass leaving ugly brown spots. 
It can take over a year for a dog poop to decompose completely. In that time the eggs from the parasites listed earlier are happily hatching! Those eggs can still be present in soil for years. 
When it rains, the left behind poop on berms and footpaths gets washed away down the storm water drains taking their on board bacteria, viruses and parasites with them. 
So challenge accepted! Off I went to find some solutions. Here’s three I found. The first is worm farming. Worms love the gross stuff. Making your own worm farm is pretty easy and there are plenty of YouTube videos and online instructions to be found. You can also purchase one from any garden center or large Hardware store for around $100 (NZD). If you decide to use this method you must only feed the worms dog poo. They will happily eat it but if you give them a taste of what else is available like kitchen scraps then they will stop eating the poo altogether. You really can’t blame them! Any worm castings (essentially worm poo) you get from the process can only be used to fertilize non food producing plants in your garden due to the bacterial content.
Next is a good solution for when you are out and about with your pooch. You can now purchase water soluble dog poo bags. These can then be flushed directly down the toilet. This is a good solution as the poo then goes through the treatment plant which takes care of the bacteria. I like this idea for using when out on a walk but prefer another method when at home as the cost of the bags makes it too expensive otherwise.
The third method and the one I am currently using at home is a Dog Poop Recycling Station. Sounds flash right?! Essentially it’s just a mini septic tank. I found this idea being utilized in Vancouver, Canada. Now I’ve been to Vancouver and I swear every single person seems to own a dog. It’s like it’s a Council bylaw or something. So if there was going to be a system that works, then this city ought to know it! And it’s actually really simple.
Let’s Get DIYing!
Gather your materials:
For the natural starter:
First thing to do is to pick your spot. You want somewhere that is easily accessible but that the kids won’t get to. You also want to make sure that it is away from any food producing plants. Now get digging! You want to dig a hole that the bucket will sit in and the top of the hole is level with the lid of the bucket. Take the bucket back out of the hole and fill the bottom of the hole with an inch or two of stones or gravel. This allows for drainage.
Now drill holes in the bottom of the bucket and around the outside of the bucket coming up the side about 2 inches. You want about 30 holes.
Bury the bucket in the hole you dug and back-fill to fit snugly. The top of the bucket will now be sitting above ground. Now fill with poo. You want a good couple of inches in the bottom to get you going.
Make the starter by combining the sugar, cornmeal and yeast in a bowl. Add the warm water and let it sit for about 20 mins. It should be frothing. Pour on top of your poop. Leave undisturbed for 48 hours. Now you can start adding more poo.
One piece of advice. Make sure you have the appropriate size bucket for the amount of poop your dog/s generate. It does take quite a long time to break down. The amazing thing I found was the total lack of smell. Even with the lid off there is only a faint yeasty smell.
Viola your very own poo recycling station!
I would love to see what you have made. I’m sure some of you are going to get far more creative than I did with your Recycling Stations. Post a pic of your finished product below or on my Facebook page by clicking here.
Taking care of the world we live in is important if we want to pass it on to our children in any fit state. If we all make small changes we can accomplish big things. There is a saying I like, ‘Act local, think Global’. Even making changes on a domestic level in your own home has impact far beyond your front door. If you are like me and want to do what you can to make a difference my Transform Your Home Challenge is a great place to begin. During this four week course you will gain the knowledge and skills to completely ditch the toxic cleaning products from your home. Click on the image below to find out more about this course and how it can help make your home safer and healthier and how it will help the planet we all live in too.
http://www.amazon.com/Flush-Puppies-Flushable-Certified-Compostable/dp/B004K4ZV1K (Flush Puppies availiable on Amazon)
http://www.tubby.co.nz/product/flushable-dog-poop-bags-0855917005149-B00MFWH8GK/ (where to buy in NZ)
Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema as it is more commonly known is a common yet painful chronic illness that afflicts many infants and children. There is no cure but with proper treatment and a few changes at home it is manageable If you want to learn how changing your cleaning regime to a natural based one can help you to manage your child’s Eczema then read on.
Eczema is a common childhood illness. with an estimated 20% of children affected. Although it is mostly infants and children who suffer, adults can also be affected. Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema is not just a skin condition. It is a problem with the immune system. We are doing our children a disservice if we simply treat the symptoms and do not address the root cause. Changes in diet and exposure to environmental triggers are key management tools. What I want to explore further in this post is how some simple changes to your cleaning regime can go a long way to helping you control Eczema in your child.
I have three preschool age children and one thing I have gleamed from watching them is that they hardly ever just sit on a chair. They roll and lounge all over the floor. They lean and sprawl over benches and tables. Their wee bodies come into contact with practically every surface in the home. We know that our skin absorbs up to 60% of all it comes into contact with. When we clean a surface, even if we rinse afterwards there are traces of those products left behind. Over time our exposure to residual cleaning products rises. Children by their very nature of exploring the world largely through taste and touch are more at risk of exposure to toxic substances left behind on benches, floors and soft furnishings. Ensuring that what we clean with is as low toxic as possible is a good idea whether your child suffers from Eczema or not.
The problem with all the household cleaners that we buy from our supermarkets is that they are made from synthetic chemicals. If you read the Data Safety Sheets on any individual chemical listed in your cleaning products, you will likely find that they are a skin irritant. Skin irritation is one of the most common symptoms of exposure to household cleaning products. A child with Eczema is extremely sensitive therefore covering our home with substances that cause skin irritation while cleaning just does not make sense.
When our body encounters a foreign substance it triggers the immune system to go into action. Eczema is caused by an overreaction of the immune system. An important management tool to prevent flare ups is to limit exposure to triggers. Creating an allergy free home is an important aspect of disease control. Changing the products you clean with to ones that are natural, organic and low toxic will help minimize the immune system response. In one study it was shown that children who grew up in a household that used a dishwasher (and subsequently dishwasher liquid) were more likely to develop allergies such as Eczema and Asthma. (source)
When we wash our clothes some of the detergent is left behind in the fibers. Commercial laundry detergents are made up of a concoction of chemicals, most of which are petrochemicals which are a non-renewable resource. Detergents typically consist of surfactants, dyes, water, softeners, foaming agents, (like Sodium Laureth Sulphate), alcohol, preservatives and antibacterial agents. They then add synthetic fragrance to hide the chemical smell. These fragrances are reported to interrupt normal hormone activity. The preservatives and antibacterial additives can irritate skin and cause allergic reactions.
I have a little one at home who has not been walking for long. Before she got up to her feet she spent considerable time initially roiling and then crawling over the floor. Being down at that level also meant that anything that she came across would naturally get the taste test. Whatever I used to clean the floor was going to end up on her hands and knees and in her mouth. I did not want hazardous substances like bleach and ammonia all over my precious little Squidge. Years ago I remember having a friend whose infant suffered from Eczema. He had red, itchy and sore patches, in particular on the knees and lower leg. One day she swapped to using a microfiber mop and cleaning the floors simply with water. You can guess what happened…..the eczema cleared up.
Over a lifetime the chemical load placed on our bodies is huge. While we cannot avoid chemicals entirely we can make really simple, quick and cheap changes within our home which go a long way towards lessening the load. The incidence of allergies, such as Eczema in children, is on the rise. Experts are making links between our lifestyles and the choices we make in our homes and diets with increased incidences of immune system related disease. Changing how you clean your home and irradiating the toxic synthetic chemicals will help you manage your child’s Atopic Dermatitis.
When I look at the benefits of changing to a low toxic, natural cleaning regime I can find no downside. It is cheaper than buying commercial products from the supermarket. For example I can make dishwasher tablets for less than half the price of any I have seen in the supermarket. It is easy and quick to implement. Most recipes take less than a minute to whip up and even making your own dishwasher tablets takes less than 5 minutes and you can make in bulk. It is safer for the environment and for your children and pets. Most products you make are non toxic if accidentally consumed, They do not cause skin irritation (unless you have a specific allergy). They do not produce toxic fumes or cause respiratory irritation. Most of the ingredients can be found in your pantry or at your local supermarket. Customizing your products to suit your needs and preferences is easy.To read 5 reasons to change your cleaning regime to a natural one click here.
If you know of someone who suffers from Eczema and you think they could benefit from this post, please share it with them. I would love to hear your experiences with managing allergies in your home and what has worked for you. Please leave a comment below. Your experience could help somebody else.