On a recent evening I tuned in to Netflix to see if there were any good documentaries and I came across Chemerical: Redefining Clean for a New Generation. According to the Netflix synopsis:
Blending humor and education, this engaging documentary follows … a typical American family, as they attempt to rid their home of all toxins…
The film did not disappoint and it got me fired up to do my best to find some simple and fun homemade remedies for day to day grime. Here are a few of the solutions I found that work amazingly well:
Brush your teeth with mud – 6 ingredients
Have you ever read the ingredient list on a tube of Colgate or Aquafresh? Do you even know what any of that stuff is? What did people use to clean their teeth before the advent of fluoride, PEG/PPG 116/66 copolymer, and sodium lauryl sulfate? So, I looked up recipes for homemade toothpaste and came across quite a few, finally deciding to try Homemade Clay Toothpaste from Stephanie at Keeper of the Home. This super simple recipe calls for only 6 ingredients: bentonite clay, boiling water, sea salt, stevia, peppermint oil, and tea tree oil. All the ingredients were easy to find at my local health food store, Whole Earth Center in Princeton, NJ.
I tweaked Stephanie’s recipe ever so slightly, using about half the salt, xylitol instead of stevia (a personal preference), and a little coconut oil instead of tea tree oil (both are said to have antimicrobial properties). Oh, and I used a wire whisk rather than an electric mixer – the ingredients blend quite easily.
The result? A mildly minty, creamy, muddy, yummy glop that tastes great and REALLY makes my teeth feel clean! I drink tea and coffee every day and this concoction seems to be as effective as commercial toothpaste, if not more so. It doesn’t foam and that may feel strange at first, but you have to realize that “foaming action” is merely a gimmick to provide the illusion of effectiveness. I have only been using clay toothpaste for a couple of weeks, so time (and my dentist) will bear out its true effectiveness.
There are so many other toothpaste recipes available on line, many containing baking soda and other non-toxic ingredients. With all the simple “old-world” choices available, why would you clean your teeth with harsh chemicals? And if you don’t feel like making your own toothpaste, I strongly recommend you try one of the many handcrafted tooth powders from EcoEtsy seller Aquarian Bath.
Homemade laundry soap – 3 ingredients
This easy recipe from DIY Natural has gained wide popularity on the web. My only problem was having to go to 2 different stores to find the 3 ingredients – borax, washing soda, and a specific bar soap. However, now that I have them and know where to get them, I feel it was worth the extra effort. My tweak to this recipe was to use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile bar soap instead of Ivory or Fels Naptha, because I wanted a vegan product. I was completely floored to find that a tablespoon of this homemade laundry powder is as effective as a 1/4 cup of the chemical-ridden liquid I was using before I switched. Homemade laundry soap rocks!
If you have a sensitivity to borax (for example, if you are prone to eczema), our own Eco Karen Lee has a borax-free recipe for laundry soap that she says is equally effective.
Amazingly simple dryer sheets – 2 ingredients
Now that I had found the perfect chemical-free recipe for laundry soap, I was bound and determined to find a replacement for the dryer sheets that I use to remove static. Did you ever notice that the ingredients in dryer sheets are not listed on the package? How do they get away with that? Want to know what they can include? Read this article on Care2. Wow – the list reads like your worst nightmare.
Because we live in a small condo, air drying our laundry is not a viable option. So, a little hunting turned up this helpful article on Simple Organized Living. I decided to try solution number 9 – only 2 ingredients needed: safety pins and cloth.
So, I grabbed a scrap piece of white cotton flannel and loaded it up with a couple of safety pins and – voila – my new, reusable dryer sheet! Believe me, I had my doubts that this could possibly work, but I had nothing to lose in trying. The result? It worked like a dream (not a nightmare). No scent was added to our clothes – another huge plus. Of course, if scented laundry is more to your liking, add a few drops of essential oil to your safety pin dryer sheet and refresh it every few loads. What could be simpler?
Other solutions for static-y laundry? Toss in a few of these woolen dryer balls from EcoEtsy seller RaisingGreenKids. According to the description, “…wool is a highly absorbent fiber and also attracts static … it draws the moisture out of your clothes … also help separate the clothing for better air circulation, thus faster drying time…”
And then there’s vinegar. I have not tried this yet, but I have read that adding a splash of plain white vinegar to the rinse cycle of the washing machine can help reduce dryer static and soften clothes. Is there anything vinegar can’t do?
It feels so good to have found these simple and effective chemical-free solutions for day to day cleaning of home and body. The overarching theme here is SIMPLE.
What are some of your favorite tried and true “green alternatives” to commercial cleaning and body care products? Here at EcoEtsy we LOVE comments.
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