Quick hand soap and body wash!

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I figured I would K.I.S.S. this Friday afternoon for you 😉 with my hand soap and body wash “recipe” – it is so simple I feel guilty even calling it a recipe.

I stopped buying “hand soap” and body / baby wash ages ago when I discovered Dr. Bronner’s liquid castille soap, and NEVER looked back! So much plastic waste is created when buying those individual plastic bottles for liquid hand soap and body wash (it seems you just can’t avoid that if you are buying the pre-made product)! Instead I refill my Dr. Bronner’s bottles at The Soap Dispensary, (they also refill the vegetable glycerin) and use this simple recipe for both my hand soap AND body wash:

In a pump dispenser or squeeze bottle, add & mix:

2 parts liquid castille soap
1 part vegetable glycerin
12 parts water

These ratios are approximate – I just eyeball it when filling up my soap containers. You can even add this recipe to one of those “foam soap dispensers” that foams your soap for you, and it will froth up nicely. If you use a regular dispenser, don’t be discouraged by the “wateriness” of this recipe – it still foams up really well when you rub your hands together, AND you don’t have to wet your hands before applying it! Plus, the glycerin makes this soap non-drying. None of our family members (a few of whom have sensitive skin) have ever had a problem with this soap being too harsh on the skin – I even used it on my son when he was an infant as his “baby wash” (using the baby mild unscented version).

I use the lavender or tea tree infused castille soap for my hands, and the “baby mild” unscented version for body wash / baby wash. I actually prefer this recipe to regular storebought hand soap or body wash, as it rinses off super easily and cleanly. Especially for those of you with soft water – it can be a pain washing some of those commercial soaps off, especially from squirmy toddler hands!!

With the essential oil infused soaps, your hands can have a lovely scent without the harsh fragrances from many popular brands of hand soap. And one of the big Dr. Bronner’s bottles goes a LONG way when you are using such a small amount for each of your soap dispensers, so you will save money too!

Hope you enjoy this quick trick!

Got stank? Baking soda!

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So everyone has odour issues in their home from time to time. Whether it’s pets, sports equipment, work boots, or anything else – say goodbye to that oh so toxic Febreze, and say hello to benign baking soda! Today I will share with you a few non toxic odour busting tips.

1). LITTER BOX STANK – Oh kitties, how we love you. Yet a stinky litterbox often comes along with your cute furry self. A quick solution to an unusually stinky box (I’m not promising your cat’s poops will smell like roses, here), is to sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda in with their litter. I find this to be extremely helpful, when I remember to do it! Keep a leftover spice shaker filled with baking soda near your cat’s box so you have it handy!

2). STINKY SHOE STANK – Oh husbands, how you work so hard on the construction site, (insert sweaty job here), all day, and how we love you for it. Oh children, how we love watching you score those goals at your soccer game. But how we do not love your stinky shoes! Sprinkle some baking soda in those puppies and let them sit. I guarantee that smell will be greatly reduced! Shake the leftovers out when ready to wear them again. If some is leftover inside, no biggie, it will keep on doing the trick on those sweaty feet and socks that are shoved inside 😉

3). STINKY UPHOLSTERY – Oh comfy couch, how we enjoy spending time relaxing with you. Yet you often hold an unpleasant taint from the traffic of many many bottoms and footsies. Sprinkle baking soda generously on the sitting surface and let sit for an hour or so. Vacuum me up and your relaxation zone should smell much more fresh! If you find you are needing some sort of scent, simply fill a spray bottle with water, and add about 10 drops of your essential oil of choice (I prefer lavender) to each cup or so of water. Spray away – don’t go too crazy, it IS water, so it WILL make your couch a bit damp for a short time. Make sure you do this AFTER you vacuum up your baking soda, or else you will have a squelchy mess on there that you will have to allow to dry out. Spray this anywhere you would like to add a refreshing scent!

#3 works for your car, too!

And there you have it! Three odour busting tips that should hopefully have you putting down that febreze bottle for good. Did you know you can also fight BODY stank with baking soda? Check out my odour busting deodorant recipe HERE. If you have any other odour dilemmas you need help with, please feel free to ask me in a comment. Don’t forget to share with your friends, and like me on Facebook for more quick tips and non toxic solutions!

Cleaning your mirrors

I often get asked how I clean my mirrors and windows without leaving streaks or using harsh chemicals / alcohol based cleaners. Back in my ‘chemical days’, I never had much luck with Windex – I found this left extreme streaks, no matter how much or little I tried to use. I couldn’t understand how this was such a popular product, as it never seemed to work for me!

Well, in my natural cleaning days, I started to use two tools to clean my mirror – my All Purpose Vinegar Spray – which is basically just half water, half vinegar, with some tea tree if desired – and a great window cleaning micro fibre cloth, like this one:

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These cloths are AMAZING – you can even use them with straight water, but I find the vinegar solution gives it an edge. There is something about the weave on these particular cloths that make them work so well. I can’t vouch for all mirror cleaning cloths, only these in particular! They are super durable. I also use them to shine up my faucets! You can buy one here – I also have them available for purchase at my DIY parties.

And there you have it – mirror and window cleaning without chemicals! Gotta love it 🙂

Why I choose to DIY (or, Why I Am Not a Crazy Person)

As frequently as I come across people who are stoked to find out that I make my own body and cleaning products, I find myself speaking to people who come across as viewing me like I am some crazy time waster or paranoid nutjob. I get your concern – it may seem daunting and bizarre to make your own products when so many are readily available to buy. Huh? You make your own toothpaste? You know you can buy that, right?

Yes, I know I can buy that. And I know that people spend years trying to find beauty products that are just right for them – their skin / hair type, their budget, their preference for fragrance. A guy I know finds the scent of coconut oil to be “too girly” for him. Okay, sure. Although I wouldn’t smell coconut oil on a man and be like “Wow, what a girlyman,” I see how someone might have a preference for different scents and such. I know a few people who can’t get over the fact that their laundry might not smell like hibiscus flowers or Essence of Hawaii anymore if they start to DIY.

That being said, there is a bit BUT in here for me. BUT what about your health? You might not believe it makes a MASSIVE impact on your health to regularly douse your body and home in known carcinogens (and many people need to believe the impact is massive to make a switch), but for me, any negative health impact I can easily avoid is a no-brainer. I can’t do much about the radiation leaks from Fukishima. I can’t do a lot personally about the pollution in the city air that I breathe. I can’t do much about toxic runoff into our groundwater, or acid rain. I mean, people can make differences in these areas, but I am talking about me personally, at this point in time. I just am not in a position to change these things anytime soon. So I have to start with what I CAN do.

It’s just like when I tell people I buy organic and I get hit with the whole “Well, we’re all f*ed anyway, there’s chemicals in everything” speel. Well, okay, I get what you are saying, but why not minimize exposure as much as you can? If, as people say, we are regularly exposed to so many chemicals and carcinogens that are beyond our control, why not at least make some impact on the exposure we CAN control? Why not? If I can increase my chances of a few extra years of life to spend with my loved ones, why would I not work towards that? I don’t think that makes me paranoid – I think it makes me proactive and informed. Feel free to disagree, but know that I don’t exist in a state of fear every day. I feel empowered and joyful to be doing what I can for my family!

Your skin is a naturally absorptive organ. If you are putting chemicals on it, you DO risk having them absorbed into your body. And if there are residues on your hands (ie. hand cream, hand sanitizer, etc), you don’t even need to rely on your skin for entrance to your body. Try your mouth. If it’s on your hands for a long period of time, it’s likely in your mouth as well. And when it comes time for home cleaning, you are breathing in those sprays and powdered cleaners. So it’s hitting your respiratory system as well.

Now, I don’t mean to come off as fear mongering. In fact, if you want a balanced perspective on the likelihood of absorption of chemicals through your skin, start with this well written article.. There are lots of misleading quotes out there that have their facts stretched. But there IS a risk to your body, and I personally would rather not take it for a tradeoff of the minor comfort of convenience buying my own personal care products and cleaners, or some kind of fragrance (that I could easily largely re-create with a DIY personal scent using essential oils). Not to mention that if I run out of something, I can easily whip up a batch of it with ingredients that I keep in bulk in my cupboard, rather than running out to the store.

Not to mention the OTHER reasons for DIY. Cost, for example. Most of my products are made at a tiny fraction of the cost of anything I could buy with the same effectiveness. I generally use widely available, CHEAP ingredients that you can buy in BULK and bring your own container for at places like The Soap Dispensary. If you are bringing your own container and buying in bulk, this approach also largely reduces the amount of plastic waste that goes into the garbage. You can’t recycle a toothpaste tube, to my knowledge!

Some of the products I make I find to have superior effectiveness to storebought alternatives, like my toothpaste and deodorant for example. Not to mention “No-poo!”. I love what this does for my hair (and my son’s cradle cap)!

So I hope this explains the reasoning behind what I do. Yes, I am also a crafty person. I do a lot of home baking, and gardening as well. I like the feeling of personal empowerment that comes from producing things for yourself with less reliance on middlemen. But let me finish with a tiny pep talk on how EASY it is to DIY home cleaners and body products! Most of my basic recipes only involve a few ingredients, and usually only basic mixing is involved, unless there is an ingredient you need to melt. It really only takes minutes to make things like toothpaste, deodorant, spray cleaners, and the like. And if you need a little jumpstart to get you going, why not try hosting one of my DIY parties?. A really fun learning experience for friends and family!

And if you still think I am a crazy person, that’s okay 🙂

Two ingredient, non-greasy moisturizer!

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So you’ve seen my luscious body butter recipe, but are wondering about something that won’t feel greasy on your skin – especially your face and hands. Well, I have just the trick for you – vegetable glycerin. This by-product of the vegetable oil making process is an amazing moisturizer, suitable for all skin types. By itself, I have read it can actually pull moisture from your skin on a long term basis, being a humectant. Add it to water, however, and you have a wonderful moisturizing agent that goes a long way. You should be able to find it at most natural / health food stores. NOW Foods makes a particularly nice product.

Get yourself a small spritzer bottle, and clean it thoroughly. Add to the bottle:

1 part vegetable glycerin
10 parts water

Shake to mix, and spray on your face and hands to use. And there you have it! Is that simple for you, or what? And don’t forget cost effective! Apparently this also works to ‘set’ make-up. I am not a make-up user, so I have no idea what this means. But set away!

Let me know how this works for you!

Cleaning with acids and bases

imageSomething I have found that is not necessarily common knowledge – but can be extremely helpful to know when creating and using your own cleaning products – is the different uses and methods for using an acid to clean, vs. using a base to clean – and when to combine and when NOT to combine these kinds of ingredients.

Let’s start off with a simple explanation of pH, which is the scale of measurement for the acidity or alkalinity of something. Most things that we interact with in our daily environment are pretty close to neutral (no acidity or alkalinity). As we move along the scale of more acidic or more basic (alkaline), things will be generally more reactive, and have a more harsh effect on your body and things we are trying to clean. We use acids and bases to create certain reactions that are helpful in the breaking down of certain types of messes, but we generally do not want to apply something too acidic or too alkaline to our body – it is best to keep body products closer to pH neutral.

The cleaning products that we are going to use are close enough to neutral that they are not going to cause any harm to our bodies when using them to clean and disinfect our home. However, it is important to know that a lot of them ARE classified as acids or bases, and to remember where they lie on the pH scale. This is so we know what types of tasks they will be useful for, and when and if to use them in conjunction with another ingredient. If we change the pH of a product too much by combining it with something else, it may lose its effectiveness, or a reaction may occur that may or may not be helpful.

Let’s look at a few of the most common ingredients in homemade cleaners and where they lie on the scale:

ACIDS
Vinegar
Lemon / Citric acid

BASES
Soap
Baking & washing sodas
Borax

Bacteria that thrive in our body generally prefer a relatively pH neutral environment, because that is the pH of our bodies, where they are looking to multiply. So when we are looking to disinfect, we can apply at either side of the scale. The stronger the base or acid, the more disinfecting quality it will have. An acid or a base will also have a preservative effect – if your cleanser is made with an acid or a base, we can be sure it will have a lengthier shelf life.

Generally acids are great for cleaning off dirt and bacteria (and giving things that “squeaky clean” feeling), while bases are good for breaking down grease and fats. Therefore, vinegar makes a great countertop disinfectant, and baking / washing soda and soap are great for cleaning greasy kitchen spills / stains on clothing / oils in our bathtub from our skin.

One thing it is very important to realize, is that if you combine an acid and a base, they will cancel each other out and lead to a neutral substance, generally speaking – at least when we are talking about the ingredients we are using. When we are talking about intense bases and acids that are very high or low on the scale (and therefore dangerous for use), it may not be the case. However, let’s keep our discussion relative for the moment. This neutralizing effect may be helpful or unhelpful. Let’s talk about a few examples.

DESIRED NEUTRALIZATIONS:. When using the “No-poo” method for washing hair, we first use the baking soda (alkaline) mixture to clean our hair. We then add the apple cider vinegar (acid) mixture as a rinse, which effectively balances the pH of your hair. This leaves your hair silky and shiny, at a healthy balance. This is a desired neutralization effect to promote the health of our hair. Anything too basic or acidic will eventually strip our hair and leave it unhealthy. In terms of cleaning – we spray our bathtub down with our vinegar mix after cleaning with our alkaline abrasive cleaner, so as to neutralize the slippery effect of the alkaline sodas. Adding a small amount of vinegar (acid) to your rinse water when handwashing dishes also really helps to remove any residues from your soap (a base).

UNDESIRED NEUTRALIZATIONS: However, when disinfecting our countertop with our vinegar spray, if we combine it with baking soda right away, we are neutralizing the effect of either ingredient, and not doing a great job at sanitizing. And vice versa, if we are trying to clean a greasy mess and we are using baking soda and vinegar together, the grease may remain. We would do better to scour with a paste made of washing soda first to tackle the grease, to wipe the mess clean, and then to apply vinegar afterwards to neutralize any leftover residue. Another common mistake I have seen people make is adding castille soap to a vinegar based spray cleaner. You are effectively neutralizing both ingredients this way, and the mixture may end up being useless. If you want to try an experiment, mix some liquid soap and vinegar and watch what happens. See the white floaties? This is your soap, “de-saponified.” Not functioning as soap anymore!

The important lesson to be learned here is to follow the directions for homebased cleaning and body products carefully or you may be messing with a pH level that is serving a certain function. Feel free to ask me any questions if you are looking for an alteration – better to ask than to end up with a useless product or something that is going to be irritating for your skin!

Cream of tartar for cleaning?!

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So a friend recently made me aware of the cleaning powers of cream of tartar, so when I came across a very stubborn eggy (stainless steel) pan that the dishwasher didn’t clean, I decided to try it out!

All I did was dust the surface of the pan lightly with cream of tartar, added a bit of water, let it soak for a about 15 minutes, came back and scrubbed with a scrubby sponge. The pan looked as clean as it had looked EVER. Like even better than brand new. Have any pots or pans with ‘stains’ on them, or a stubborn stuck on mess to clean? Try EDIBLE cream of tartar to clean those pots and pans better than any commercial cleaner could do. I wish I had taken a before picture of the pan……but I must admit I wasn’t counting on it working as well as it did!

Hooray for cream of tartar!