Tackle Mold Without Bleach

Tackle Mold Without Bleach

Like a lot of Mums, I love a long hot shower. Unfortunately heat and water are two things mould loves. So many bathrooms have a battle with mould and mine is no exception. Bleach has long been the ‘go-to’ when it comes to ridding our homes of mould. But there is a better, natural way to tackle mold without bleach. Read on to find out how.

What is mould?

Mould is a type of fungi. To grow mould needs water, warmth, oxygen and a food source. Mould will consume any organic matter. It also secretes digestive fluids that aid in material breakdown. Mould can’t get the nutrients it needs from synthetic materials such as concrete, glass and plastic. But it can attach itself to such materials and feed off organic materials like dust and skin cells. Mould can also draw moisture from the air even if the surface it is living on is dry.

Mould spreads in two ways. Either by the extension of tiny root hairs called hyphae, or by releasing spores into the air. These spores are then carried by water or air to a favourable location to grow. [1] It is easy to see how mould spreads quickly and why the bathroom is an ideal place for it to grow.

Why is mould a problem?

Mould is everywhere. Outside many different types of mould surround you. It is inside the home where you want to try and limit mould exposure.

Mould and its spores can trigger all sorts of health issues. The most common is an allergic reaction. Other problems include respiratory and/or immune system response. This could be an asthma attack. Chronic cough. Constant sneezing and runny nose. Throat infections and sinus congestion. Some moulds produce mycotoxins. Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can cause neurological disturbances and even death. [2]

Why bleach doesn’t actually work.

Many people, especially product manufacturers, suggest bleach as the ideal way to fix a mould problem. Unfortunately this doesn’t work. Ever wondered why, even after treating a spot with bleach, the mould reappears at a later date? This is because the bleach didn’t actually kill off the mould. It simply caused it to become transparent instead. The microfibers of the root system remained. [3]

Bleach in the right concentration can kill off surface mould on non-porous surfaces. But on porous surfaces bleach is unable to penetrate and the root system remains intact. Most commercial mould-killing products only contain about 5% bleach. The recommended concentration is actually a 10% solution. Bleach also degrades with time and after only 90 days in the bottle it has lost 50% of it’s potency. Bleach can also damage wood and tiles. This makes them more susceptible to further infestations. It also can’t be used safely on soft furnishings or clothing.

How to tackle mold without bleach.

Luckily there are a few more natural alternatives you can use to tackle any mould problem in your house. The only one I haven’t been able to solve is mould growing in silicone. Unfortunately this means you will probably have to replace the silicone, as the root system is too hard to get to.

Option 1

This is my preferred option as it is cheap, easy to put together and works. Clove Oil. Clove oil is naturally anti-fungal. [5] And unlike bleach it has the ability to penetrate porous surfaces. There are two options you can use to make your own Anti-Mould spray.

Mix ¼ teaspoon of pure Clove Bud Essential oil with 500ml water in a spray bottle. Liberally spray the affected surface and leave overnight. Wipe off the next day.
Source housekeeping Guru Shannon Lush (ABC radio)

If you want to save even more money you can make your own clove oil by following this tutorial here:

http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Make-Clove-Oil-Kill-Mold-29730039

Option 2

It is not recommended to use Clove oil while pregnant, as it is a uterine stimulant. The safest option for you during this time is vinegar and water.

Mix 7 parts vinegar with 3 parts water in a spray bottle. Spray the mould and wipe off with a microfibre cloth. [5] Make sure you use fermented or distilled vinegar. It has been shown to be more effective than the cheaper diluted acetic acid vinegar.

Prevention is better than cure.

The most important step in any mould removal is prevention of recurrence. There are a few steps to take to keep your home mould free. An easy one is to diffuse Protect or Thieves Oil for half an hour a day. These kill mould spores in the air along with viruses and bacteria. Both are also an immune booster so good for all round health. Don’t have an essential oil diffuser? You can buy one from many online sources.

Eliminating moisture from the home is vital to control mould. Check for any leaks or water sources and fix them. Wipe condensation from windows in the morning. I use a window vacuum for this and it is fast and effective. Air out the house by opening windows as often as you are able. Wipe down shower walls and floor after bathing. And ensure you have a good exhaust fan in the bathroom.

References:
1.http://www.intuitiveenvsol.com/What_Is_Mold_.html
2.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold_health_issues
3.https://www.normi.org/articles/bleach-mold.php
4.http://blacktoxicmolds.com/bleach-kill-mold.php
5.http://www.ajofai.info Antifungal activity of essential oils derived from some medicinal plants against grey mould (botrytis cinerea)

6 ways to improve indoor air pollution

6 ways to improve indoor air pollution

As you are reading this, you are probably sitting indoors in front of your computer. We are spending more time indoors than any other time in history. Because of the way we live, it is now more important than ever to find ways to decrease our exposure to indoor air pollution. Read on to learn easy ways for improving indoor air pollution. 

Introduction:

It is estimated that we now spend up to 90% of our time indoors. This percentage has increased greatly in the last 30-40 years. Because of the large amount of time we spend indoors, it is vital that we find ways of improving indoor air pollution to ensure that our indoor environment is as healthy as possible.

The Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) states that ‘Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks.’ (source) They also believe that air pollution is two to five times higher than outdoor air pollution. I live in a city where smog is a real problem. Therefore the thought that the air inside my home is considered more polluted, quite frankly scares me. This lead me to research ways of easily and cheaply improving indoor air pollution in my own home.

Exposure to chemicals, pollutants and toxins within our homes has a direct impact on our health. The terms ‘sick building syndrome’ and ‘building related illness’ are now being recognized by doctors. Symptoms range can be acute complaints of dizziness, headaches, eye irritation and respiratory irritation to name a few. Or chronic exposure, which have long term effects and can include respiratory complaints and cancer.

Articles on indoor air pollution statistics and sources of exposure can make scary reading and be overwhelming. Luckily there are some simple and inexpensive things you can do today which will make a dramatic difference in improving indoor air pollution in your home.

Sources of Air Pollution:

Indoor air pollutants can come in two forms. Particulate matter and Gaseous pollutants.

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter are all solids and liquids that are suspended in air.

These include;

  • Pollen
  • Mould
  • Smoke
  • Dust Mites
  • Animal Dander
  • Viruses and Bacteria
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dust

Gaseous Pollutants

These pollutants are the result of a combustion process. These can come from cooking processes, tobacco smoke or vehicle use. However, some less obvious sources include;

  • Soft furnishings
  • Adhesives
  • Building materials
  • Paint
  • Varnish
  • Pesticides
  • Cleaning Products

 

Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are gases emitted from some liquids or solids. They may have short term or long term negative health effects. VOCs can be emitted by thousands of products and the concentration of VOCs can be up to ten times higher indoors.

‘EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s “Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) Study” …..found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regarless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas…. and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed.’ (source)

VOCs can be found in many common products we utilize everyday in our homes.

  • aerosol sprays
  • cleaners and disinfectants
  • air fresheners
  • dry cleaning
  • paint, paint stripper
  • solvents
  • furnishings
  • building materials
  • printers and copiers

Health Effects of Indoor Air Pollution

The health effects of indoor air pollution can be categorized as either Acute, (rapid onset, short, severe course), or Chronic, (persisting for a long time or constantly reoccurring).

Acute:
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Breathlessness
  • Headaches and/or dizziness
  • Runny Nose
  • Allergic skin reaction
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Nose bleed
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Poor concentration
Chronic
  • Chronic runny nose
  • Digestive issues
  • Memory problems
  • Sinus problems
  • Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
  • Some VOCs can cause cancer in animals and are suspected to contribute to cancer in humans
  • Sleep issues

Steps to Improving Indoor Air Pollution

The above all seems very grim and frightening. However, there are some simple, cost effective things you can do in your home right now to improve the quality of air.

Eliminate the source: Have a look around your home and identify some of the possible contributing factors to air pollution and make a plan to fix, repair or remove the source.

Clean air conditioner air ducts regularly.

Adjust gas stoves and heating appliances to decrease the level of emissions.

Properly vent all fuel burning devices, including fireplaces, water heaters, gas and wood burning stoves.

Use natural pest control to decrease exposure to pesticides.

Minimize dust mites in your home. For tips on how to do this, refer to my blog post on 10 ways to minimize dust mites. You can read it here.

Eliminate odours in the home instead of masking with artificial smells. Or use Essential oils to provide scent where needed.

Ventilate: Let fresh air in. Simply opening windows to let in fresh air whenever you can will  go a long way to help remove pollutants from your home.

Ensure that you have good exhaust systems in place in bathrooms and in the kitchen.

Put down a welcome mat: To stop people bringing in pollutants from the outside, place mats at every entrance to encourage wiping of shoes and ask people to remove shoes within your home.

Where you have the option, opt for hard flooring and have washable rugs.

Ban smoking from your home.

Invest in a home air cleaner: These are pricey but may be an option for some. For those of us who simply do not have the budget for this level of protection, grab your Essential Oil diffuser.

Essential oils have many health giving and cleansing properties. Some Essential oils are antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and some will kill airborne mould spores. Diffuse these oils for half an hour a day in bedrooms and living areas to help keep air clean, I like to use a combination of sweet orange, cinnamon. clove, rosemary and eucalyptus.

Change to a natural clean: cleaning products and disinfectants are responsible for a large portion of the air pollution we have in our homes. Changing to an all natural, non toxic cleaning system will help to keep air pollution inside your home to a minimum.

Go green: Houseplants are a great way to help lower indoor air pollution naturally. Here is a list of some good ones to try. List is taken from an article written  by Mother Earth Living. You can read  the full article here.

  • English Ivy: An excellent choice for removing formaldehyde, benzene and even airborne fecal matter, this native of Asia, Europe and North Africa is somewhat difficult to grow indoors. It prefers moist air, so mist leaves regularly when humidity is low and keep in bright light. Beware that the leaves are poisonous to pets and humans when ingested.
  • Ficus ‘Amstel King’: Adept at clearing formaldehyde and a good general air purifier, the new ficus cultivar Ficus alii is rapidly gaining popularity. Native to Thailand, this plant is related to weeping fig, but less finicky and with long pointed leaves. Water thoroughly, allowing the top half-inch of soil to dry out between waterings, and provide bright, indirect light.
  • Gerbera Daisy: This lovely plant from Africa adds a splash of color to the room and removes a variety of chemical vapors from the air, notably formaldehyde and benzene. It makes a delightful plant in the summer garden, and if brought indoors in the fall, it may continue to flower through the winter. This is a relatively difficult indoor plant that requires bright light and moderate temperatures.
  • Peace Lily: This lily is adept at removing a variety of alcohols and chemical vapors, including acetone, benzene, ammonia, formaldehyde and xylene, and it scored among the top plants tested for removing several toxins. This easy-to-grow lily can raise humidity levels by up to 5 percent, a helpful feat in dry climates. They enjoy semisun to semishade and being watered a lot at once, then being allowed to dry out.
  • Rubber Plant: This handsome houseplant from southeast Asia, known botanically asFicus elastica, is near the top of the list for removing formaldehyde. Under proper conditions, a rubber plant can reach a height of 8 feet. Rubber plant is extremely forgiving. Ideally, it prefers bright, indirect light; regular watering; and mist on its leaves when the air is dry.
  • Snake Plant (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue): Native to West Africa, this evergreen perennial clears smog, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air. Like aloe, the snake plant produces oxygen and removes carbon dioxide at nighttime, making it ideal for bedrooms and other low-light rooms. This plant can withstand considerable neglect and infrequent watering.
  • Spider Plant: This flowering perennial is native to Africa and removes smog, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene—found in auto exhaust, synthetic perfume and paint. A NASA study found this plant can remove 96 percent of the carbon monoxide and 99 percent of the nitrogen dioxide within a sealed chamber. This resilient plant thrives in a variety of environments. It prefers medium to bright light, but avoid extended amounts of direct sun.
  • Weeping Fig: These popular tropical trees, known botanically as Ficus benjamina, are excellent at removing a variety of pollutants, including formaldehyde, xylene and toluene. They come in three main varieties: a bush, a standard tree and a braided tree with entwined trunks. Weeping fig has a tendency to drop its leaves when moved. They enjoy full to semisun and moist soil.

 

Conclusion:

In conclusion, this article shows, indoor air pollution is a very real problem that most of us are unaware of. It can be the root cause of a myriad of health related problems. Left unchecked and the health implications are huge. The above suggestions are simple and effective things you can do right now to improve the quality of air in your home.

Have you implemented any of the six suggested ideas for improving air quality in your home? If so, i would love to hear what you have done and how it has worked for you. Please leave a comment below.

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/guide-air-cleaners-home
  2. https://draxe.com/indoor-air-pollution-worse-than-outdoor/
  3. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/indoor-air-facts-no-4-sick-building-syndrome
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/indoorairpollution.html
  5. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-01/documents/indoor_air_pollution.pdf
  6. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality
  7. http://www.motherearthliving.com/healthy-home/reduce-indoor-air-pollution-zm0z14ndzhou?pageid=2#PageContent2
  8. http://www.webmd.com/lung/features/12-ways-to-improve-indoor-air-quality
  9. http://yourmedicalsource.com/content/ten-ways-reduce-indoor-air-pollutants#axzz4Nvqr8v7A
  10. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2010/08/7-easy-ways-to-reduce-indoor-air-pollution/index.htm
Health effects of dish wash liquid

Health effects of dish wash liquid

A few weeks ago we looked at what the environmental impact was from doing the dishes. This week takes a more personal look and we investigate health effects of dish wash liquid. Dish washing liquid contains  many different chemicals designed to foam, de-grease, preserve, fragrance, lather and decrease surface tension. Many of these chemicals have an effect on human health and well being. Read on to learn more about the health effects of dish wash liquid. 

Introduction:

A few weeks ago we talked about the unacceptable toll we place on our water ways and aquatic life every time we wash the dishes. However, often the unseen environmental costs are not enough for people to make permanent changes. Because of this, many people need to see that there is a direct impact in their own lives before they adopt change. Luckily for the fish there are plenty of reasons why we should ditch the washing up liquid in favour of a more natural alternative.

For a long time we have have understood that cleanliness is linked to health. And while to a large degree that statement still holds true, we are also starting to see that the very products that we use daily to help keep our homes clean and therefore healthy, actually have the ability to harm us. Unfortunately, unless you have an allergy to a certain product, the effects of cleaning products on our health are often unseen. Most people are unaware of the damage they are doing. However there are some serious health effects of dish wash liquid and other household cleaning products that we should not ignore.

Chemical Exposure:

My research into the chemical toll of cleaning products found many companies claim that the chemicals in their products only cause concern after prolonged and continuous use. This appears to be the case with most of the chemicals I have researched. However, the problem with that statement is, that the same chemicals that can be found in our dish washing detergent often turn up in our laundry detergent, our shampoo, our body wash, our dishwasher tablets, the spray for your kitchen bench……. The list truly goes on and on. When you stop to think about how frequently we expose ourselves to these chemicals every single day, it is staggering. I think it would be fair to say that over the course of the day, week, month and years, it adds up to ‘prolonged and continuous use’.

Think of how often you stop to wash a dish or cup during the course of a day or a week. It is little wonder that the health effects of dish wash liquid are plentiful due to the level of exposure.

Surfactants:

It would be acceptable to assume that a product sold to clean a dish that you prepare or eat food in, would be ‘safe’ for us. However, that appears not to be the case. Many of the individual ingredients found in dish washing detergent can have a detrimental effect on our health over time. One of the issues with dish washing liquid is that the chemicals get absorbed through the skin. This means that they do not get filtered through the liver. Consequently, they are directly delivered to the bloodstream. Depending on the structure of a molecule, the cells that make up your skin can prevent it passing through. However oily, non-polar substances will be absorbed by the cells simply on contact.(source)  Surfactants found in dish washing detergents are one such substance and can readily be absorbed by the skin. Many of these surfactants have been linked to cancer, skin irritation, dizziness, headaches and breaks in the DNA chain.

Health Effects of Dish Wash Liquid

There is a plethora of chemicals lurking in our washing up liquid. They are there to perform a myriad of functions such as; surfactants, foaming agents, fragrance, preservatives, hand softeners and colour.  “There is approximately 8.6 million kilograms of hand dishwashing detergent consumed every year in NZ.” (source) That is a lot of chemicals being flushed down our drains and absorbed through our skin, every single year. And yet so many of us are unaware of the health effects of dish wash liquid that we blindly use every single day. In case you need more convincing to change the way you clean, below is a closer look into just a few of the nasties that can be found in your washing up liquid.

  • “Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS): SLS is a detergent and a surfactant used to break down surface tension allowing the shampoo to become a more effective cleanser. SLS is also linked to Nitrosamines a potent carcinogen that causes your body to absorb nitrates, another known carcinogen. Over 40,000 studies in PubMed science library include information on the toxicity of this chemical.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES): SLES is a concern as it can become contaminated with Dioxane. Whether or not Dioxane is present is dependent upon the manufacturing process. Dioxane is a suspected carcinogen. Because the liver has a difficult time metabolizing this effectively, it remains in the body for an extended period of time.
  • Propylene Glycol: Although this ingredient is used in anti-freeze for your car radiator, you can also find it in dish soap, moisturizers, hand sanitizers, baby products, conditioners and shampoos. MSDS sheets warn users to avoid skin contact, yet it remains in many cosmetics. It is linked to liver abnormalities and kidney damage.
  • Methylisothiazolinone: According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep site, this widely used preservative is associated with allergic reactions and lab studies on brain cells of mammals suggest that it may also be neurotoxic. Methylisothiazolinone can be very irritating. For this reason, it is mostly used in rinse-off products. The concentrations in leave-on products are restricted to a minimal amount to lessen the risk of a negative reaction.
  • Fragrance: Artificial fragrances can contain hundreds, even thousands of chemicals, including phthalates. Since fragrances are protected as a trade secret, the full ingredients do not have to be listed on the label. Fragrances are a major cause of allergic reactions.
  • Phthalates are manmade chemicals used in a variety of products such as personal care products, food packaging, plastic medical devices, jar lids and plastic tubes. Phthalates can negatively affect estrogen and testosterone levels.
  • Triclosan: Triclosan was introduced to the marketplace in 1972, although it was originally developed and registered as a pesticide in 1969. Triclosan is a commonly found antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal ingredient in numerous products such as soaps, toothpastes, cosmetics, deodorants, first aid products, kitchen ware, clothing, office and school products, air filters, anti-microbial sponges, paints and coolers.

Manufacturers of a number of triclosan-containing toothpaste and soap products claim that the active ingredient continues to work for as long as 12 hours after use. Thus, consumers are exposed to triclosan for much longer than the time it takes to wash their dishes or brush their teeth.”

This list is an excerpt from an article written by Elisha McFarlandis the founder of My Health Maven. It goes on to talk about how dish washing liquid fares in the Environmental Working Group’s rating system for health effects and how to find safe products. You can read the whole article here.

Conclusion:

This list only covers some of the chemicals found in dish detergent, there are many more to be found. There are countless blog posts, medical and journal articles available that outline the health effects of dish wash liquid and the environment costs of the continued use of these products. It is time we took a hard look at the products we use on a daily basis in our homes and start to make better, informed decisions that will safeguard our personal health and that of the planet.

Since I have now put you off using dish wash liquid for good, I want to share with you a recipe that you can make that is safer for you and kinder on the environment. This recipe is courtesy of  Mommypotamus. You can read her take on washing up soap and how to make your own here.

I urge you to begin to look at the products you regularly use in your home and start to look at the ingredients that you are exposing yourself and your family to. There are safer, healthier and better alternatives out there. If you are interested in adopting a more natural approach to home care, then I would suggest checking out my Transform Your Home Challenge series of natural cleaning guides. This series contains all the information, techniques and recipes you will ever need to ditch the toxic synthetic chemicals permanently from your home. And even better, they come in an instantly downloadable format so you can begin the transformation of your home today. To find out more, or to download your copy, click on the image below.

HTC intro cover

 

The Environmental Impact Of Washing The Dishes

The Environmental Impact Of Washing The Dishes

My husband will tell you there is plenty wrong with doing the dishes. If he had his way, he would never hand wash another dish ever again. In fact he is trying to convince me to put three, yes three!, dishwashers in our home when we build soon. I’m not converted on the idea yet. Aside from my husband’s aversion to washing dishes, there are actual environmental costs every time we fill the sink and squirt in the dish wash liquid. If you are interested in the environmental impact of washing the dishes, even if it is just to justify three dishwashers, then read on. 

Washing the dishes is something that most of us will do at least once every single day. Have you ever wondered what happens to the soapy water once you pull the plug? I certainly hadn’t. Most of us are blissfully unaware of the impact the simple act of washing a dish can have on the environment.

Dishwashing liquid contains a plethora of chemicals. Many of these chemicals are derived or manufactured by petrochemicals which is a limited and non renewable natural resource. The manufacture of the individual chemicals and the end product requires huge amounts of water and energy. It is then packaged in a container that is not biodegradable, requires more chemicals in its manufacture and is often tossed into landfill once empty. Often it is then shipped or trucked over distance to stores all over the country or world adding to its environmental footprint along the way. By the time it arrives at its final destination in your kitchen it already is on the environmental back-foot. And unfortunately it just gets worse from here.

Many dishwashing liquids contain phosphates.Phosphate is added to reduce spotting and film on dishes, as well as help remove food and grease, suspending them so that they are not redistributed back onto dishes. Phosphate is a naturally occurring mineral and is essential to plant growth. It is used as a fertilizer in the agricultural sector.  The problem with phosphate comes when there is too much of it entering the water ways. It causes an over growth of algae and plant life. This excess growth starves the river or lake of oxygen once that algae dies off. It reduces the availability of nutrients to fish and other plant life. This can lead to great loss of fish life. Some algae release toxins during the decaying process which also can cause death in fish and animals that drink from the affected water. A large part of the problem is caused from agriculture, however phosphates found in many of our cleaning and personal care products are certainly a contributing factor.

It is not just fresh water that is effected. One study found high levels of perfluorinated compounds, which are found in items such as the non stick coating in food packaging and in carpet stain repellants, in loggerhead sea turtles. The same properties that make them tough at resisting stains and spills, also makes them remain in the environment. These chemicals then get filtered through creatures such as mussels and clams which then get eaten by the turtles. Triclosin which is a chemical found in dishwashing liquids and antibacterial handwash has been discovered in dolphins at levels that can disrupt hormones, growth and development. Triclosin is stored in the fatty tissues of mammals. Even scarier is that Triclosin has also been detected in breast milk. Triclosin has also been causing trouble in municipal wastewater treatment plants by disrupting the microbes that are involved in the ‘sludge processing’.

Surfactants are the agents  that  give dishwashing liquid its wetting, dispersing and foaming ability. However the common surfactants found in traditionally used detergents can wreck havoc for aquatic life. According to Lennitech, a company specialising in water treatment, detergents are poisonous to all forms of aqautic life. The detergent “destroy the external mucus layers that protect the fish from bacteria and parasites; plus they can cause severe damage to the gills.” The other problem identified by Lennitech caused by surfactants in freshwater systems is that they reduce the surface tension of the water allowing other chemicals and pesticides present in the water to be more easily absorbed by fish.

Next week I will look at how washing the dishes effects us and our health. However I wanted to cover the environmental effects first because at the end of the day, we have a choice about what we expose ourselves to. The aquatic, marine and plant life do not. They rely on us to keep them healthy and safe. At the end of the day, one must at some stage stack the plates, fill the sink and wash the dishes. The reality is we simply cannot just stop cleaning. However, I ask you to rethink how you do the dishes and maybe you might consider trying an alternative, natural and more environmentally friendly option in the future.

Have you tried any natural dishwashing products? If so, i would love to hear what you have used and how it has worked for you. Just leave a comment below.
References:

  1. http://www.facilitiesnet.com/green/article/The-Environmental-Impacts-of-Cleaning-Products-Facilities-Management-Green-Feature–10796
  2. http://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/cleaning/environmental-impacts
  3. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/household-cleaner-affect-environment-79335.html
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080216095740.htm
  5. http://mightynest.com/blog/a-cleaner-way-to-wash-up-%E2%80%94-11-avoidable-ingredients-in-dish-detergent
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eutrophication
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dishwashing_liquid
  8. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/triclosan-and-dolphins
  9. http://www.lenntech.com/aquatic/detergents.htm

 

 

Essential Oils, The Benefits and the Risks

Essential Oils, The Benefits and the Risks

Let me start off by saying that I love Essential Oils and I use them daily in my home. They are a fantastic addition to any natural cleaning regime and are great added to many personal care products. I have also utilized their healing properties in various ways on myself and my family. However, Essential Oils are incredibly potent and need to be handled and used with care, responsibility and caution. If you want to know more about Essential Oil safety then read on. 

Use of herbs and plants has been around for thousands of years. Every indigenous culture world wide has their own ways of using plants to treat a myriad of problems. The use of the oils Frankincense and Myrrh is even mentioned in the bible. However it really has only been recently that Essential Oils have become popular in western society. Many Multilevel Marketing companies have sprung up and the internet is now full of people selling and giving recommendations for Essential Oil use. My issues lie in the lack of training and education a lot of these people have who are making recommendations. Most of them are not trained in aromatherapy and are giving recommendations that could be potentially dangerous.

Think about what an Essential Oil is. For example it takes 3000 lemons to make 1 kg of lemon oil. Or 68 kgs of lavender flowers to make 450 gms of lavender oil. These oils are incredibly concentrated. One drop of oil is the equivalent to approximately 10 -15 cups of herbal tea or 20 herbal tinctures. I do not know anyone who would say it would be wise to drink 15 cups of herbal tea in a sitting and yet I have seen recommendations for ‘health’ recipes that have multiple drops of Essential Oil in the mixture. Extreme caution should always be taken when ingesting Essential Oils and it should only ever be done with a health professionals guidance.

There are some Essential Oils that are safe to be used undiluted on the skin. Most however need to be diluted in a carrier oil. For adults that dilution can be 3-5%, or 3-5 drops per teaspoon of carrier oil. In infants the ratio is even greater with a recommended dilution of 0.05% and up to 1% in older children and the elderly. There was one case I heard of where a mother, going on advice she found on the internet, applied an undiluted Essential Oil to the bottom of her child’s feet which resulted in a seizure and a 2 week stay in hospital. It is important to remember that just because something is ‘natural’ it does not mean it is safe. Just take arsenic, lead and mercury as examples, all natural substances.

The quality of your oil and the type of oil you buy are all important considerations for safety. I recommend buying only therapeutic grade oils. You do get what you pay for and if the price seems too good, then it probably is. But in saying that I do think that there are some great companies out there who are selling fantastic quality oils and that many of the Multilevel Essential Oil companies are very pricey. One of the reasons buying therapeutic grade oils is important is that you want to ensure that you are getting the proper properties from your oil. If you buy one that is ‘cheaper’ there is good reason to believe that it may have been cut or diluted with something else. Therefore you are not necessarily going to get the benefits you want but you will be getting the properties of whatever substance the oil has been diluted with. If you are wanting the full benefits of an Essential Oil make sure it is pure and has been processed correctly. For example, if you are wanting an oil just for its perfume then buy a cheap one. It may have only been processed for 15 minutes which will deliver on smell but not health benefits. Alternatively the same oil that is Therapeutic Grade may have been processed up to 1 1/2 hours.

Extreme care needs to be taken when using Essential Oils around children, the elderly and pregnant women. That does not mean that you need to avoid them completely. Just that you need to exercise caution and educate yourself on safe practices. I have three preschool age children and use Essential Oils in my home regularly. I make sure that I check out any new Essential Oil before I use it and educate myself on whether that oil can be used around my children. This only takes me a few minutes and could save my children from experiencing a potentially dangerous side effect. If you do not think that Essential Oils can be that dangerous, think again. Sage oil has been reported to have been the cause of seizures in infants and children. (source). Even common Eucalyptus oil,which appears in many homes, can be dangerous if you do not buy the right type. Buy the wrong variety and the outcome could be disastrous. Here is what one aromatherapist had to say about use of this oil.

‘Eucalyptus, for example, has over 900 species, with about 20 being used in the essential oil realm.  E.globulus is your common Eucalyptus species but should not be used around anyone with Epilepsy.  E.radiata is good for long term use with chronic respiratory infection and works well on viral or bacterial infections.  E.smitthi is child safe where E.globulus is not. So the actual species is the type of essential oil you want to buy, don’t just go by the English name – you may not know what you’re buying. (Side Note: Some experts say Eucalyptus Globulus can cause choking or even death in infants and any Eucalyptus should not be used on a child under 2 years of age. E. globulus is a very strong Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus Smithii is the mildest of all and safe for children and the elderly. E. radiata is another good choice recommended by some well known aromatherapists.)’ (source)

I cannot stress enough, you need to inform and educate yourself! Do not simply take the word of any thing you read on the internet. Including from me! I am not an expert on Essential Oils. I am not a qualified aromatherapist. Essential Oils when used correctly and responsibly are an amazing resource that can add huge value to your home. Just do your homework first.

How do i use oils in my home?

I mainly use oils in my natural cleaning regime. Many Essential Oils not only have health promoting properties but cleaning ones as well. For example, I like to use Lemon oil when cleaning my kitchen because it has great grease cutting properties. I also use Lemon oil to help me deter spiders in the home. Eucalyptus is added to my toilet cleaner and in my laundry for its antibacterial properties. Peppermint Oil is used to help keep the mice out of my cupboards and Rosemary to keep the moths and silverfish at bay. Clove oil is used to kill mould, (do not do this if pregnant as clove oil is a uterine stimulant), and diffused to purify the air. When I want to add an Essential Oil to a product that I know will come into contact with with my kids either topically, like in a hand wash or bath products, or inhaled, I make sure I only use oils that are safe for them.

Below is a list of Essential Oils complete with warnings and advice for use on children. It is complied by Lea Harris a certified aromatherapist from the book Essential Oil Safety: A Guide For Healthcare Professionals. 

  • Anise/Aniseed Pimpinella anisum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 5
  • Anise (Star) Illicium verum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 5
  • Basil (lemon) Ocimum x citriodorum – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Benzoin Styrax benzoin, Styrax paralleloneurus and Styrax tonkinensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Birch (sweet) Betula lenta – avoid using (all routes) on children
  • Black Seed Nigella sativa – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Cajuput Melaleuca cajuputi, Melaleuca leucadendron – avoid using on children under 6
  • *Cardamon Elettaria cardamomum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Cassia Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum aromaticum – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Chaste Tree Vitex agnus castus – avoid using (all routes) on prepubertal children
  • Clove Bud, Clove Leaf, Clove Stem Syzygium aromaticum, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia aromatica – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Cornmint Mentha arvensis, Mentha canadensis – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • *Eucalyptus Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus maidenii, Eucalyptus plenissima, Eucalyptus kochii, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus Autraliana,Eucalyptus phellandra, Eucalyptus smithii – avoid using (all routes) on children under 10
  • Fennel (bitter), Fennel (sweet) Foeniculum vulgare – avoid using (all routes) on children under 5
  • *Galangal (lesser) Alpinia officinarum, Languas officinarum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Garlic Allium sativum – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Ginger Lily Hedychium coronarium – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Ho Leaf/Ravintsara Cinnamomum camphora (cineole chemotype)  – avoid using on children under 6
  • Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis (pinocamphone chemptype) – avoid using (all routes) on children under 2
  • *Laurel Leaf/Bay Laurel Laurus nobilis– avoid topical use on children under 2; avoid all routes for children under age 6
  • Lemon Leaf/Lemon Petitgrain Citrus x limon, Citrus limonum – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Lemongrass Cymbopogon flexuosus, Andropogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon citratus, Andropogon citratus – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Marjoram (Spanish) Thymus mastichina – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Massoia Cryptocarya massoy, Cryptocaria massoia, Massoia aromatica – avoid using (all routes) on children under 2
  • May Chang Litsea cubeba, Litsea citrata, Laura cubeba – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Melissa/Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Myrtle (red) Myrtus communis – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Myrtle (aniseed) Backhousia anisata – avoid using (all routes) on children under 5
  • Myrtle (honey) Melaleuca teretifolia – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Myrtle (lemon)/Sweet Verbena Backhousia citriodora – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Niaouli (cineole chemotype) Melaleuca quinquinervia – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Oakmoss Evernia prunastri – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Opopanax Commiphora guidottii – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Oregano Origanum onites, Origanum smyrnaeum, Origanum vulgare, Origanum compactum, Origanum hirtum, Thymbra capitata, Thymus capitatus, Coridothymus capitatus, Satureeja capitata– avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Peppermint Mentha x Piperita – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Peru Balsam Myroxylon balsamum, Myroxylon pereiraw, Myroxylon peruiferum, Myrospermum pereirae, Toluifera pereirae – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Rambiazana  Helichrysum gymnocephalum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • *Rosemary (1,8-cineole chemotype) Rosmarinus officinalis  – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Saffron Crocus sativus – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Sage (Greek), Salvia fruiticosa, Salvia triloba Sage (White) – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • *Sage (White) Salvia apiana – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Sage (Wild Mountain) Hemizygia petiolata – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Sanna Hedychium spicatum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • *Saro Cinnamosma fragrans – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Savory Satureia hortensis, Satureia montana – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Styrax Liquidambar orientalis, Liquidambar styraciflua – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Tea Leaf/Black Tea Camellia sinensis, Thea sinensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Tea Tree (lemon-scented) Leptospermum petersonii, Leptospermum citratum, Leptospermum liversidgei,– avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Treemoss Pseudevernia furfuracea – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Tuberose Polianthes tuberosa – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Turpentine Pinus ayacahuite, Pinus caribaea, Pinus contorta, Pinus elliottii, Pinus halepensis, Pinus insularis, Pinus kesiya, Pinus merkusii, Pinus palustris, Pinus pinaster, Pinus radiata, Pinus roxburghii, Pinus tabulaeformis, Pinus teocote, Pinus yunnanensis– avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Verbena (Lemon) Aloysia triphylla, Aloysia citriodora, Lippa citriodora, Lippa triphylla – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Wintergreen Gaultheria fragrantissima, Gaultheria procumbens – avoid (all routes) on children due to methyl salicylate content
  • Ylang-Ylang Cananga odorata – avoid topical use on children under 2

 

The first time I read this I was wondering, what CAN I use around my children? The beauty is that there are so many different Essential Oils that there are actually plenty that you can use. Below is a chart, again by Lea Harris, which shows some of the oils that are safe to use around children.

 

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The other time in your life you need to be particularly careful about Essential Oil usage is during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Below is a list of Essential Oils that should be avoided during this season. (source)

 

Aniseed Pimpinella anisum
Basil ct. estragole Ocimum basilicum
Birch Betula lenta
Camphor Cinnamomum camphora
Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis
Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris
Parsley seed or leaf Petroselinum sativum
Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium
Sage Salvia officinalis
Tansy Tanacetum vulgare
Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus
Thuja Thuja occidentalis
Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens
Wormwood Artemisia absinthium

 

I hope that you take this information as intended,which is to help you make informed decisions in your home. Please do not let it put you off using Essential Oils in your home. As previously stated, when used responsibly and correctly, Essential Oils are a great addition to your home. In particular they are an integral part of my Natural Cleaning regime.

Do you use Essential Oils on your home? I would love to hear what you use and how you use them. Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

 

20 uses for baking soda in your home

20 uses for baking soda in your home

Baking soda has to be the most widely used and versatile tool in the Natural Cleaner’s Toolbox. Whole books have been written dedicated to this powder. It is cheap, easily to find in any supermarket and has literally dozens of uses. If you want to discover some great ways to use baking soda in your home then read on.

1. Make Toothpaste:

This is something my husband and I have been doing for about 6 months now and we love it. It does take a little getting used to since we a used to sweet tasting toothpaste and this is salty. I cannot go back and now hate the sweet taste of conventional toothpaste. My dentist also commented lately how good my gums were looking and my husband no longer has sensitive teeth since making the switch.

Simply mix together 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil with between 1/2 – 1 teaspoon baking soda (start on the low side until you are used to it). Add in 5 drops of peppermint oil and you are done. Just dip your toothbrush into the mixture and brush away.

2. Clean your face:

This is another trick I do myself. I keep a small jar of baking soda in the bathroom, I pour about 1 teaspoon of powder onto my palm and mix with enough water for form a paste. I apply to my face and rub gently. Baking soda will act as a cleanser and has a mild exfoliation effect. Rinse in clean water.

3. Clean brushes and combs:

Natural oils and hair products build up in our combs and brushes over time. To keep them clean and fresh, mix 1 teaspoon baking soda in a small basin of water and soak brushes and combs. Rinse and allow to dry.

4. Make a bath soak:

In a food processor blend 1/2 cup rolled oats until they become a very fine powder. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda and 15 drops of lavender essential oil. Mix well. Add half of the mixture to your bath, swirl to dissolve. Lay back and relax!

This is a great combination if you have skin irritated by sunburn or eczema.

5. Clean burnt food off pans:

If you are anything like me you won’t be a stranger to burnt offerings in the bottom of your saucepans. Simply boil 2 inches of water in the bottom of the pot for a few minutes. Add 1/2 cup baking soda and leave overnight. In the morning simply give a gentle scrub. Rinse and wash as usual.

6. Deodorize the fridge:

I love broccoli and cauliflower but I hate the way they smell, especially when opening the fridge first thing in the morning! To combat smells in the fridge put a small container on the shelf full of baking soda.

7. Shine silverware:

Make a paste out of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Rub onto the silver with a clean cloth. Leave for 15-20 minutes. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

8. Clean the bath and sink:

Make a paste from baking soda and water. Using a clean cloth rub the paste over surfaces. Rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.

9. Deodorize carpets and soft furnishings:

Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil in to half a cup of baking soda. Sprinkle over carpet and couches. Leave for 20 minutes then vacuum.

10. Clean the toilet:

Turn off the water at the cistern. Flush a few times to remove water from the bowl. Sprinkle in baking soda. Scrub with a toilet brush. Turn on the water and once cistern is full, flush to rinse.

11. Freshen your bins:

Add baking soda to the bottom of your rubbish bins to help absorb foul odors.

12. Unblock drains:

Before you go calling a plumber, give baking soda a try. Tip 1/2 cup of baking soda into the sink. Pour on white vinegar and watch the fizz. Keep adding vinegar until the fizz stops. Pour a jug full of boiling water down the drain and your blockage should be fixed.

13. Soothe Itchy Skin:

Next time you have an itchy mosquito bite grab the baking soda. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with a little water to form a paste. Apply to the bite for itch relief.

14: Cure Stinky Feet:

Mix baking soda and water into a paste. Apply to feet and allow to dry. Also try sprinkling some Baking Soda into shoes for odor absorption.

15. Boost Shampoo:

Add a teaspoon of baking soda to your shampoo before use and wash as per normal. The baking soda helps remove dirt, oil and residue build up from hair products.

16. Put Out A Fire:

Turned your back for a second and turned back to find a small fire in your pan? IT happens! Grab the baking soda. Throw a handful at the base of the fire to extinguish.

17. Remove Stains From Coffee/Tea Cups:

Make a paste out of baking soda and water. Rub the stains. Rinse and wash as per normal.

18. Make Mouth Wash:

Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda in a glass of water. Swish about, spit and rinse. Done!

19. Relieve Diaper Rash:

Add a couple of teaspoons to your baby’s bath water to help soothe a sore bottom.

20. Clean Your Floors:

Mix half a cup of baking soda in a bucket of warm water. Use to mop your floors. Add any essential oil you like for extra cleaning power.

Phew! That is only 20 uses but trust me when I tell you there are many, many more. I have tried all 20 of the list. How many have you done and what is your favourite way to use Baking Soda?

 

How to deep clean your dishwasher

How to deep clean your dishwasher

All appliances need some maintenance and care every once in a while. Most of us purchase an appliance, use it and do not consciously think about it again until something goes wrong. At least I am guilty of this. Apparently those little white booklets that come with our purchases tell you what you are supposed to be doing, but hands up who actually reads them! Didn’t think so. In order for our appliances to work at their best and last the distance we should be taking better care. Recently my dishwasher reminded me it was well over due for some TLC. If your dishwasher is crying out for some attention and not working as well as it should, try a deep clean to set things right again. If you want to know how to clean your dishwasher easily using only one natural ingredient then read on. 

I have been fiddling around lately with a new and improved version of my dishwasher powder. I have been tweaking the recipe over a few weeks, doing a few washes to put it through its paces and changing the proportions if needed. Finally I thought I had a finished product I was really happy with. The first load I did everything came out clean, sparkly and smelling seriously good. I was happily high fiving myself when the next load came out just as good as the first. Feeling confident I made myself a big jar full.

Fast forward two weeks and I noticed the glassware coming out of the machine looking cloudy. Then a few days later there appeared to be grease on all the plastic containers and the kids drinking cups. The cutlery was the next, it started to have smudgy marks all over it. Then finally by the end of the week even the plates were not looking clean. I was gutted. Maybe the powder I had been so proud of was failing. Back to the drawing board.

So I tried another combination of ingredients but no improvement. Then another and another. Nothing was working and by now it was obvious something was seriously wrong with our dishwasher. My Hubby has a clinical allergy to washing even one dish by hand so this was serious! Luckily I had an uh-huh moment and remembered it had been several months since we had last cleaned the dishwasher. This was a job we used to do at least once a month. Usually we would have noticed problems before now so my guess is that the new powder was actually helping keep the machine itself cleaner too which is how we were able to leave it so long.

But now we had some work to do to get the dishwasher working well again. Luckily it is really easy to do and requires only one cheap, natural ingredient most of us already have in our pantry. Vinegar. The first step is to take out the filter in the bottom of the dishwasher. Boil the jug and soak the filter in very hot water in a bucket. If it is really greasy, as our was, then add a small squirt of dishwashing liquid. Once all the grease is softened give the filter a good scrub and rinse. Put it back into the machine.

Next put 1 cup of vinegar into two bowls. Place one bowl on the top rack of the dishwasher and one on the bottom rack. Perform a rinse cycle and then leave the door closed to steam clean for 20 minutes. Once finished empty the bowls into the bottom of the dishwasher and give the inside of the door a wipe down.

Your dishwasher should now perform a lot better. Mine certainly did and I am pleased to report I am back high fiving myself on the latest version of the recipe.

Have you cleaned your dishwasher lately? Maybe you should give this a go.If you do let me know how you go by leaving a comment below.

 

 

How you do the laundry may be worsening your child’s Eczema.

How you do the laundry may be worsening your child’s Eczema.

Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis afflicts many young children and will often be experienced by more than one family member. Unfortunately there is not cure for Eczema, therefore treatment plans focus on management. A child with Eczema is very sensitive to environmental triggers and how we clean our home and what we expose the skin to can greatly effect skin integrity. A few weeks ago I wrote a post that looked at cleaning products in the home and how they can effect your child’s Atopic Dermatitis, you can read it here. This week I want to be more specific and look at one area in particular that has a direct impact for skin sensitivity. The laundry. If you want to know more about how to wash your family’s clothes best in order to help prevent Eczema flare ups then read on. 

I was a paediatric nurse for a long time before starting my family. During that time I saw many infants and children come through our doors with itchy, red, bleeding and often times infected skin. Although Eczema is considered a common childhood disease, it should not diminish how life effecting growing up with Eczema can be. For these children simple pleasures like swimming in the sea, rolling down a grassy hill and playing in a sandpit can either set off a flare up, cause pain or increase the chances of a secondary infection. Even sleep, which is a necessity for proper growth and development can be severely affected.  Summer which for most children is a favourite time of year is the worst for children with Eczema as the heat often makes symptoms worse.

Maintaining good skin integrity is what management of Eczema is all about. A flare up can be caused by a number of triggers but a common one is exposure to laundry detergents. Laundry detergents are comprised of many ingredients, most of them synthetic and many of them toxic. A detergent will generally consist of surfactants, builders, bleaches, brightener, fragrances, enzymes and preservatives. Many are manufactured by using petrochemicals and most are not biodegradable.

  • Surfactants – help to dissolve oil and grease
  • Builders – help to soften water and increase the efficacy of detergents
  • Bleaches – whiten clothing by making stains transparent
  • Brighteners – make clothes luminously white
  • Fragrances – make your clothes smell nice rather than the chemical smell that would be present.
  • Enzymes – digest organic stains and solvents
  • Preservatives – make the shelf life longer.

Our skin is our first line of defense to prevent toxins from entering our body. Depending on the structure of a molecule the cells that make up your skin can prevent it passing through. However oily, non-polar substances will be absorbed by the cells simply on contact.(source)  Surfactants found in laundry detergents are one such substance and can readily be absorbed by the skin. Many of these surfactants have been linked to cancer, skin irritation, dizziness, headaches and breaks in the DNA chain.They also pose environmental threats.

Bleaches make our clothes nice and white but are potentially dangerous chemicals to have around. If bleach gets mixed with many other chemicals it can let off dangerous gasses such as mustard and chlorine gas. Bleach will also react with the fats and oils found on our skin and dissolve tissue. This is why your skin feels slippery if you ever get bleach on it.

Brighteners work by absorbing “ultraviolet light and emit it back as visible blue light. This blue light masks any yellowing that may be present in the treated material and makes it seem brighter and whiter than it would otherwise naturally appear to the eye” (source) In fact this is an optical illusion as your clothes just appear cleaner without actually being so. In order for brighteners to make your clothes glow white the substance needs to remain on the fabric after washing. Therefore our skin is exposed directly to this chemical for extended periods of time. Optical brighteners can cause skin irritation and rashes.

Fragrances in laundry detergents have strong links with skin and eye irritation and allergic reactions.

For most of us the laundry is one of the hardest working rooms in our home. I know i do a load of laundry most days and I am sure there are families out there who do a lot more than that. Imagine then the amount of clothes coming out of your machine and being worn by your family every week that is potentially contaminated with chemicals that could be affecting their health. This is particularly true with families that have Eczema. Every day your child is exposed to chemicals through the clothing that covers their sensitive skin that is known to cause irritation and diminish skin integrity. No matter how many times you slaver on creams to try and hydrate and soothe the skin, the problem will persist if you continue to wash your clothing and bedding the same way. Changing the way you wash can go a long way towards managing skin conditions and sensitivity.

So what is the alternative? You do not need to stop washing altogether although I would suggest that many of us do wash clothing a lot more than it actually needs, which also decreases the clothing’s longevity. Many of us also use too much detergent each cycle. More does not equal cleaner! Avoid using fabric softeners. I know we all love the soft, cuddly feeling that they provide but you only get that by the chemicals used to provide that feeling remaining in the fabric after washing. This increases the chance of skin irritation. Try adding half a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. The vinegar contains small amounts of potassium and sodium which helps to soften hard water and dissolve mineral build up. Double rinse clothing to try and minimise the amount of detergent and chemicals left trapped in fabric.

Changing to a natural based laundry powder or liquid I believe is the best way to help reduce skin irritation and is better for the environment too. A natural, homemade laundry detergent is soap based. Pure soap contains no preservatives, fragrances or synthetic chemicals that can cause irritation. Soap on its own however is not very effective in the laundry as it will form soap scum in the presence of hard water. This can easily be solved by the addition of natural water softeners such as salt and washing soda. The ingredients of natural laundry detergents are easy to source and easy to whip up. Not only does going natural help to alleviate some of the irritation caused by synthetic chemicals for children with Eczema it is safer overall for the whole family. If you would like a recipe to get started there is one on my blog post Battle of the laundry which you can read here.  

*If you cannot source coconut oil soap you can use Castile Soap which is more readily available.

If you make any of your own products in your home i would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below. Also any other tips and tricks for managing Eczema naturally.

Also if you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter and as a thank you I send you your own copy of my Natural Stain Remover Guide. This guide will have you sorted in the most common stains you are likely to encounter and gives you the tools to treat them using natural and safe ingredients. Signing up is easy, just click on the image below.

Natrual StainRemoval Guide

 

 

How to make your own baby wipes and why you should.

How to make your own baby wipes and why you should.

Every day as a parent we face endless decisions about what we feed, clothe, bathe, apply and expose our children to. From diapers to baby wipes, body lotions and formula, lotions to baby porridge. It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the decisions especially when you add sleep deprivation into the mix. Most of us make decisions on products based on friends reviews, marketing, price or the most eye catching packaging.Few people actually have the time to read the labels on everything they buy and even if they did, very few of us would recognize half the ingredients. Baby wipes are one such product were besides water the ingredient list is long and complicated. It needn’t be, you can quickly, easily and cheaply make your own where you are in control of the ingredients. If you want to know how easy it is to make your own baby wipes then read on. 

 

 

My children are precious. Their health, well being and safety are my responsibility. A baby is totally dependent on its parents to make decisions for their care. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves in order to make informed decisions for our children

“According to GoodGuide, an organization founded in 2007 by Dara O’Rourke, an environmental professor at the University of California at Berkeley, consumers know little about the products they use. Consumers need to educate themselves, as product ingredients can often lead to problems. Infants are particularly susceptible to chemically based ingredients and face a far greater health risk from exposure to toxic substances than adults”(source)

Look at the label of any brand of baby wipes on the market and you will find a long list of chemicals.It is hard to know when looking at a label which ingredients you need to be concerned about and which ones are safe. Unless you are a chemist all  the long words often blend into one. The Environmental Working Group in 2007 started to keep a database of products with a breakdown of their ingredients. Most of the products are overseas brands but have a look and you will see a lot of common ingredients which means you can probably safely assume the same is contained in your particular brand. You can check out their findings here.

I did manage to find a brand that we do stock in my local supermarket. I do not want to name the brand here as shaming is not what this is about, this is about educating ourselves as parents. What I found was a lot of concerning chemicals.

  • Retinyl Acetate (Vit A Acetate) – , Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • Fragrance – Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Ecotoxicology
  • Propylparaben – Allergies/immunotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology
  • Butylparaben and Isobutylparaben – Allergies/immunotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes,
  • DMDM Hydantoin (Formaldehyde releaser) -Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Use restrictions, Cancer, Contamination concerns (Formaldehyde) (Source)

This list is only the first five ingredients in a product that contains 20 different chemicals. It is not only the chemicals that are listed that we need to be concerned about. Some of these ingredients are manufactured in a way that allows  other chemicals to contaminate the product and since they are not an active ingredient the manufacturers are not required to list them. There are other ways that your wipes can become contaminated by unwanted chemicals. There is a good article on the hidden ingredients in your baby wipes that you can read here.

It only took me a few minutes of searching the internet to come to the conclusion that making my own wipes for my kids was one of the best decisions I have made. I have been making my own wipes since my first was born nearly five years ago. I am in control of exactly what goes into them. They have saved us a heap of money. They only take 3 -4 minutes to make. They contain nothing that can hurt my child. To me it makes sense on every level to make your own. Here’s how I make mine……

Gather your materials.

You will need:

  • A roll of paper towels. (Do not buy the cheapest ones as from experience I have found these disintegrate quickly.)
  • A container slightly wider than the roll of paper towels and about half the length.
  • A serrated knife. Tablespoon measures A cup measure.
  • Rose water (I use a food grade brand from an Indian supermarket as it is cheaper than the stuff from the pharmacy and contains less alcohol which is important when your baby has a sore bottom – ouch!). Rose water is naturally antibacterial. I have heard that the Moroccans use it to wash their hands with before eating.
  •  Witch Hazel (bought from the pharmacy). Witch Hazel has fantastic anti inflammatory and astringent properties that make it great for cleansing and healing little bottoms.

The rest is very easy. Simply cut the paper towels into two through the middle. Then place one piece into your selected container. In a bowl mix together 1 cup of previously boiled water, 1 Tablespoon Rosewater and 1 Tablespoon Witch Hazel. Pour gently over the paper towel letting the liquid soak in. Once the cardboard tube is wet you should easily be able to pull it out. Find the loose end of paper from the middle of the roll and gently pull it up.

That is all there is too it. Cheap, easy and safe for little tushes!

What natural swap outs do you do in your home? Do you make your own products? If so i would love to hear all about what you do. Please leave a comment at the end.

I love using natural products in my home. I like knowing that my children are safer because of the choices we are making. As you can see from this example, going natural needn’t be difficult, costly or time consuming. I have a heap more recipes and tips just like this one in my downloadable Transform Your Home Natural Cleaning Guides. I would love to show you all I know. If you are interested in finding out more then simply click on the image.