I’m kicking off the New Year with a feature post by Joanna Halliday. Joanna is a friend of mine. She is a stay at home mom of 2 girls, ages 4 and 1. She enjoys long walks on the beach, light jazz, pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, oh wait sorry wrong information. She has spent the last year working hard at ridding her home of Chemicals in cleaners and body products. I hope you enjoy the information she has provided. I know it has reminded me again of why I work at being green and how I should always put the earth first. I am hoping to get back into a hardcore green cleaning mode here as everyone is growing and I’m able to spend more time tending to our house. With out further a due!
Chemical Free – Joanna Halliday
When my husband approached me about going chemical free I felt overwhelmed. I’m not a person who enjoys cleaning my house. I enjoy having a clean home but the actual act doesn’t really appeal. I’m the type to buy a product that promises no scrubbing or effort. One that would magically turn my bathroom sparkly white. My husband had watched a documentary called Chemirical which had opened his eyes to the chemicals we were bringing into our home. After a few weeks of him asking me to watch it I gave in, and he was right, as he usually is, I was astonished at how ignorant I was to the chemicals I was exposing our family to. I learned from the documentary that most cleaning products are riddled with harsh chemicals that they don’t even list on the ingredients label of the bottle. The cleaning and beauty products industries are not regulated like our food industry, they are not required to disclose all their ingredients on the label. I also learned that most of the chemical products in my home where harmful to my family, the environment, and me. This started to bother me…..a lot. So I took action. I started to research what it would take for our home to become chemical free, and to my surprise, it was easy and made me feel great! A year and a half later I still don’t love to clean, but I feel so much better about cleaning. I feel like our life has been simplified and uncluttered because our cleaning cupboard and routine is less complex. Bellow I thought I would describe the reasons to go chemical free, steps to becoming chemical free and staying chemical free, and some of the recipes and websites I use to make the cleaning and toiletries products.
WHY GO CHEMICAL FREE?
- It’s CHEAP!
- The current products that promise to keep your home germ free and sparkling clean with no effort do so by using harsh chemicals linked to everything from skin rashes to asthma to cancer. These chemicals, and the bottles they come in, are also hazardous to our health, our pets, and our earth.
- Turn that cluttered area under your sink and in your shower into a wonderful haven of simplified beauty.
- It saves you MONEY!
- It’s easy to start and to maintain.
- You can throw away the rubber gloves, baby locks, and face masks you own because you needed to store or use harmful products……simple is better.
- With only a few ingredients you can clean your whole home.
- It’s VERY CHEAP!
STEPS TO BECOMING CHEMICAL FREE
(SO YOU DON’T GET OVERWHELMED)
- STOP BUYING PRODUCTS – Stop buying products to clean your home. Yes, even if they are on a super door crasher sale. Even if you have a coupon that makes the store give you money back. Don’t buy any more it’s not worth it.
- ONE AT A TIME – As the products you use start getting low (4 – 6 uses left) make a chemical free cleaner to replace it. This way if the chemical free one does not work how you would like you still have a few uses of your old cleaner to use until you can find a recipe you do like. And starting to replace one cleaner at a time helps us to not feel overwhelmed and have to make a lot of changes all at once. I was actually surprised how much cleaner was stored in my home. When I stopped buying chemical products at the store some of my products lasted for over a year!
- START A RECIPE BOOK – Each time you make a cleaner or toiletries record it like you would a recipe for your kitchen. There are a lot of resources for cleaning product recipes (I’ll list my resources later), but you can search the internet, books at your local library, friends and family (especially older members, a lot of these recipes come from a time before Superstore and scrubbing bubbles!).
- EXPERIMENT – If a recipe doesn’t work, try another one or experiment with the ingredients or measurements. Keep trying to replace chemical products in your home, if you clean chemical free then move to your toiletries, makeup, baby products ect.
- AWARENESS – Let your family and friends know you are choosing to go chemical free. This way they won’t buy you chemical laden products for presents and spreading the word is important.
- WATCH FOR SALES – Here is how to make your money really stretch. Going chemical free is cheap all around but if you watch for sales on the things you need to buy then you really can make a huge difference in your budget.
WHAT TYPE OF THINGS DO I NEED TO BUY TO BECOME CHEMICAL FREE?
Almost all of the products I make are very simple, only require a few ingredients, and take only a minute or two to mix up. Here is a list of what is in my cupboard.
- Baking Soda (Bought in bulk at Superstore)
- Vinegar (Largest bottle I can find at Superstore)
- Ivory Soap bars
- Glycerin Soap bars (Organics aisle in Superstore – Guelph Soap Company)
- Distilled Water (Largest bottle I can find at Superstore)
- Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (Laundry aisle in Superstore)
- Mule Team Borax (Laundry aisle in Superstore)
- Liquid Castile Soap (Organics aisle in Superstore / Health food store – Dr. Bronners) –This is the only item that costs a bit so it is worth waiting until a customer appreciation day sale at your local health food store or price matching at different stores.
DO I NEED ANY SPECIAL EQUIPMENT?
No. I use all stuff from my kitchen. Pots, pans, box grater, whisk. To store the finished products in I use a few different things:
- Used Peanut butter jars – These jars are great because they have a wide mouth where you can put your whole hand in the jar to scoop out soap or foam from the soap.
- Spray bottles – I get mine from Ikea (cheap and they work well).
- Pails – Our local Tim Hortons gives 7 gallon pails away for free. You can also buy them at Home depot for pretty cheap.
*A caution against using your old cleaning spray bottles and containers. The chemicals from the old products are often leaked into the plastic and they will eventually leech back into your new products. It is best to take the bottles to your local eco centre to have them disposed of properly.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN’T MAKE?
I havn’t come across anything yet. There are a few things I’ve been holding out on like toothpaste…..I really like Aquafresh and haven’t convinced myself to give it up yet. Or there are issues I’ve encountered, like the water in our area is very hard and I haven’t found a recipe for soap for our dishwasher that works very well yet, but I’m still working on it. I did choose to buy a natural dish soap last time I was at the store because it was discounted to the point where it would be cheaper than making it, but I ensured it was chemical free and all the ingredients were listed on the bottle.
RECIPES AND RESOURCES FOR CLEANING PRODUCTS AND TOILETRIES
Here are a few easy recipes that I use:
1. All purpose kitchen cleaner – 1 cup water to ½ cup vinegar in a spray bottle.
2. Bathroom cleaner – make a paste out of baking soda and water, scrub counters and bathtub. Spray on straight vinegar from a spray bottle and leave for 1 minute. Wipe off with warm water.
3. Toilet Cleaner – Sprinkle ¼ cup of baking soda in the toilet and use a brush to scrub. Pour 1cup of vinegar into toilet (trying to pour onto the sides). Let stand for 5 minutes. Flush toilet.
4. Window Cleaner – mix ¼ cup vinegar, 2 cups water. ½ tsp dish soap in a spay bottle.
5. Laundry Detergent – bring 5 cups of water to just under a boil. Use a box grater to grate 1 3.1oz bar of Ivory Soap into the water. Stir until dissolved. Fill a bucket with 3 gallons of hot water. Pour in Ivory soap mixture, 1 cup of Mule Team Borax, ½ cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Let cool for 6 hours. Stir before each use. Use a ½ cup for each load. Front loader friendly.
6. Shampoo and Conditioner – mix 4 Tblsp Castile Soap, 7 oz Distilled water in a clean recycled jar with a wide mouth. Shake until a thick foam forms, spread a couple of handfuls of this foam on your hair. Rinse.
5. Jewelry Cleaner – http://www.food.com/recipe/jewelry-cleaner-180133
6. Oatmeal bath for dry or itchy skin – grind rolled oats to a fine powder in your coffee grinder. Add to a warm bath.
7. Rug deodorizer – Sprinkle baking soda on your carpet and leave for 10 – 15 minutes. Vacuum up the baking soda for a fresh and clean carpet.
These are just to get you started. I find the internet is the best resource. Here are a few websites to check out:
http://www.ehow.com/ –This site is great to search for any recipe.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/1774/250-Bath-Body-Recipes –Great bath recipes.
I hope this may inspire you to start out the new year with a fresh perspective and go chemical free, you will be very rewarded. Happy New Year!