If You Only Change One Thing

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If you only change one thing in your life right now, get rid of those household cleaners. Please, toss them straight into the trash. 

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I’m taking a break today from my normal food format to share with you another part of my life that is very important to me: living in a nontoxic environment. If there is one healthy change you can make for yourself, try this one. Of course, its impossible to avoid all the dangers of this world, and if you tried, you may be the next new bubble boy:

But in all seriousness, trying to live toxin free can only do good things for your health. Before I went Paleo, before I switched to all organic food, the first lifestyle change I made for myself was switching to all-natural, nontoxic house cleaners. One day in college I was cleaning my apartment, using the typical, standard window cleaner, when I started violently coughing. “Is that normal?”, my roommate at the time asked me. To me, this hacking around cleaners was totally normal for me- it had happened all my life, and it never occurred to me that maybe my body was trying to tell me something…or literally expel something. After a little research, I learned how terrible household cleaners are for you. They’re filled with chemicals, known carcinogens, and can even combine with one another to create literally poisonous fume.

So why are these cleaners still sold on the market?  To make a (very, very) long story short, they’re not “ingested” in the typical sense, like food, so they’re under different rules and regulations. But guess what? These cleansers make their way into your body when you inhale them after being sprayed on surfaces, are transferred onto your hands while scrubbing, and if you have a toddler or crawling baby? You know exactly where those hands or toys go.


For those of you just embarking on the all-natural household cleaner venture, here are some tips for you:

  • Vinegar is magic. It literally cleans everything.
  • Tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and has natural antibacterial properties. It’s a little more pricey, but a few drops is all you need, so it should last a long time.
  • Castille soap acts as a base for a lot of homemade cleaners. It comes somehow from vegetables, so its naturally nontoxic, and it comes either scented or unscented. (My favorite brand is Dr. Bronner’s, specifically the Peppermint and Rose scents.) 
  • Citrus peels (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit) are regarding as having antimicrobial properties, and make vinegar smell….less like vinegar.
  • Essential oils add scent to anything you could make. Experiment away!
  • Washing soda can be found in any story like Target, Wal-Mart, or maybe even some grocery stores. If you need some right away, taking baking soda, put it on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. This changes the molecular structure, and thus, makes the conversion. 
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In my own home, I make my own stove cleaner, hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, disinfectant, air freshner, fabric spray,  window cleaner, tile cleaner, and all purpose cleaner.  I find comfort in knowing that I could literally drink this stuff and not fall over dead. (Although, honestly, I probably wouldn’t feel too great.) I also love all the money I’ve been saving. Store bought all-natural, organic, nontoxic cleaners can cost upwards of $5-$6 a bottle. My former favorite all-natural laundry detergent? $14 a bottle.

Fourteen. Dollars. A. Bottle. (What was I thinking??)

The cleaners I’ve started making? Between 50 cents and $2. (I’m not kidding.)

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So what are you waiting for? Here are some of my favorites:

  • My go-to all-purpose cleaner: 1 part water, 1 part vinegar, a few drops of tea tree oil and some fresh lemon juice.
  • My heavy duty cleaner: 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, and as many orange peels you can pack into a bottle. Let sit for 10 days and then scrub (anything) away.
  • Yoga mat cleaner: ¼ cup warm water, 1 tbsp. baking soda, 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and one lemon slice for good measure.
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Finally, I definitely can’t take credit for coming up with my own cleaners, so here are some really fantastic resources: 

http://www.younghouselove.com/2009/10/clean-up-your-act-all-natural-homemade-cleaners/

http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2013/06/homemade-all-natural-cleaning-recipes.html

http://experiencelife.com/article/8-hidden-toxins-whats-lurking-in-your-cleaning-products/

WellnessKristina Kincaid