Six Ways to Clean Your Laundry, Naturally

Six Ways to Clean Your Laundry, Naturally

Did you know that simply by doing laundry, you are polluting your indoor air? Because your laundry products have harmful ingredients, and your laundry room may be poorly ventilated, that clean laundry smell comes at a price.

What’s Lurking In Your Laundry Detergents & Softeners?
So, what’s in your laundry detergents and softeners?

According to a University of Washington study on air contaminants from consumer goods, between 18 and 20 chemicals were detected in four laundry products – including likely carcinogens, developmental toxins, and allergens.

It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it? Doing laundry pollutes your air.

Relax though because you can clean your laundry without dirtying your air.

Here are six steps to cleaner laundry and indoor air:

1. Try vinegar instead of fabric softener

Instead of liquid fabric softener add 1/2 cup white vinegar to your laundry final rinse. Many washers have a special rinse cycle setting that you can use.

2. Ditch your dryer sheets

Ditch the dryer sheets that release harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in favor of less toxic alternatives. Dryer sheet chemicals adhere to your laundry AND are released into the air.

See what you think of these alternatives:

  • Wool dryer balls – You can either make your own or buy them. These 100% wool dryer balls naturally soften your laundry in the dryer. If you like scented laundry, use a drop or two of your favorite essential oil like lavender on the dryer balls. The only downside to using the balls is the noise which, not surprisingly, sounds like you put several tennis balls into your dryer.
    • Feeling crafty? Check out this YouTube video on how to make your own dryer balls. It’s not a bad project. Don’t buy the washable wool because it won’t work right. YouTube has lots of videos on how to make dryer balls, but the three-minute version should tell you what you need to know.
    • To buy wool dryer balls, go to Amazon.com where you can get a set of six for around $20. They are reusable and last a while.
  • Use a fabric swatch and add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil. While this will not soften your clothes, it will add a pleasant scent, and will be quieter than the dryer balls.

3. Opt for a “clean” laundry detergent

Try a laundry detergent that is healthier for you and the environment. These are highly rated and tested:

  • Green Shield Organic Laundry Detergent – Free & Clear Regular & HE
  • Biokleen – Laundry Liquid – Free & Clear or Citrus Essence
  • Ecover – Zero Laundry Liquid Concentrate

4. Make your own laundry detergent

You can always make your own laundry detergent. Here’s a recipe for an easy and clean detergent.

  • 1 bar (4 oz) Castile Soap finely grated
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • Mix and use 1/4 cup per load
  • A note about Borax: some people have concerns about Borax causing skin irritation, but it IS safe to use. It’s true that if you do hand wash with Borax, it may irritate your skin. This effect is due to Borax changing the water’s pH, so as long as you are not doing hand laundry, Borax can be used without harming your skin or releasing harmful VOCs. With it, your laundry will be bright and clean.

5. Ventilate your laundry room

Do your best to improve ventilation in your laundry room. Hot water causes the water disinfectant pollutants to vaporize creating significant VOCs.

How does this happen?

Your city water contains disinfectants to keep your water safe, and when these disinfectants are heated and sprayed into droplets, they can easily vaporize. This happens in the shower, bath, dishwasher and laundry primarily. Whole house water filtration systems do not remove these disinfectants, so your best bet is to use cooler water and/or ventilate your laundry room well.

Another way to tackle this problem is to use an air cleaner that is specially designed to clean up VOCs including the ones created by vaporized disinfectants.

6. Leave the door open

Always prop open the washing machine lid to allow the inside to dry out to prevent mildew growth.

So how do you clean your laundry without dirtying your air?

Get the shopping list of laundry and cleaning products that you can trust. You’ll find kitchen, bathroom, all purpose, glass and laundry cleaners and detergents in a handy shopping list format.

Suggested reading:

The Truth About What’s In Your Cleaning Products

Kitchen Cleaners: Safe, Non-Toxic Ways to Clean the Kitchen

Why Dusting Makes a Difference to Your Health – It’s Not What You’d Expect

Why Dusting Matters to Your Health

When you saw this title, you probably immediately thought about allergies caused by dust mites.

But, dusting matters for other reasons.

After reading this, you may want to move dusting closer to the top of your housekeeping list.

Chemical Flame Retardants Settle Into Household Dust
It may be time to pay more attention to dusting especially if you live with young children.

Here’s why.

Chemical flame retardants escape from all sorts of home products and settle into household dust.

The products with flame retardants include electronic devices (computers, TVs) and anything made with polyurethane foam (sofa cushions, mattresses, pillows, car seats), among many others.

Sadly, many of your home products contain flame retardants.

Inhalation And Ingestion Risks
The flame retardant dust can be inhaled by you or even ingested by your small children who put everything into their mouths.

Neither is good.

The EPA Is Concerned

The EPA “is concerned that certain flame retardants are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic to both humans and the environment.”

Kinda scary, right?

Time to Focus on Dust, If You Can

Just think, all this time your cleaning has probably been focused on eradicating germs when you probably should have devoted just a bit more time to cleaning up toxic dust!

Learn how to reduce the levels of dust without dusting.

Yes, it’s true, there is a way!

And try to dust more often… if you can.

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How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes Without Harmful Chemicals

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes Without Harmful Chemicals

Imagine, being outside enjoying your yard and garden without being surrounded by buzzing mosquitoes.

What if you could sit peacefully? No swatting away insects and free of sticky repellents.

Sounds good, right? But how?

You can use all natural ways of repelling mosquitoes.

So, rather than dousing yourself with DEET, and spraying harmful chemicals on your lawn, try these safer, all natural alternatives.

You can thank Howard Garrett for this advice. He literally wrote the book on natural organic gardening called The Organic Manual.

Here’s how you take back your yard.

Address Standing Water

Eliminate standing, stagnate water.

You’ve heard this bit of advice before, but there could be areas you’ve missed.

Look for standing water in your gutters, gardens, bird baths, and planters. Empty if possible. Discard things like planter trays because they collect water.

Be sure to check your gutters because if they aren’t clean, you can also find mosquito breeding grounds there too.

For standing water that you cannot eliminate, use Bti product such as Bactimos Briquettes or Mosquito Dunks. You can find these products at your natural gardening store.

What is Bti?

Bti is a bacteria that specifically targets mosquitoes and black flies in their larval stage, but causes no collateral damage. Bti is eaten by the mosquito larva and becomes highly toxic to the larva killing them within minutes after ingestion.

What you’ll love about Bti is that it kills the larvae AND repels the adults from laying eggs. The EPA has categorized the risk to non-target organisms as minimal to non-existent.

What to do If Bti is not available? Try sprinkling instant coffee crystals in the standing water.

Scatter Dry Granulated Garlic

Scatter dry granulated garlic in problem areas. Some of the worst areas are around trash cans and in the tall grass borders that always seems to be moist. Broadcast at 2 lbs per 1000 sq. ft. in beds, turf, pots and plants.

Using dry granulated garlic can repel mosquitoes for up to four weeks.

Simply buy the dry granulated garlic from the grocery store (in the extra-large size) and start shaking.

Spray With Garlic Spray

Spray adult mosquitoes with garlic spray or garlic-pepper tea. Using garlic sprays can repel mosquitoes up to 14 days. See recipe below for how to make garlic-pepper tea. You can buy garlic spray at your gardening store.

After spraying, your place will have a strong garlic odor, but it quickly fades and is well worth it to be able to enjoy some yard time.

Use Natural Herbs as Repellents

Use mosquito repellents that contain natural herbs such as aloe vera, citronella, vanilla, eucalyptus, tea tree oil and citrus oil. These really do work well and are available at your natural grocery store.

HOMS BiteBlocker from arbico-organics.com works well.

You can also mix your own. Try Vanilla dabbed on the skin or clothing. Or, Vanilla Mix which is 8 oz. water, 2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tsp. orange oil. Spray on skin and clothing liberally.

Garlic Pepper Tea Recipe:

To make garlic/pepper tea, liquefy 2 bulbs of garlic and 2 hot peppers in a blender 1/2 to 2/3 full of water. Strain the solids and add enough water to the garlic/pepper juice to make 1 gallon of concentrate. Use 1/4 cup of concentrate per gallon of spray.

To make garlic tea, simply omit the pepper and add another bulb of garlic. Add two tablespoons of molasses for more control.

Be very careful with the pepper solids and concentrate because it might irritate your eyes and skin.

So, put down the DEET and grab some garlic and Bti and take back your yard!

Got fleas or ants? Check out our other articles on natural pest control:

The Best Way to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally

Six Killer Ways to Kill Ants Exterminators Won’t Tell You

The Best Way to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally

Best Way to Get Rid of Fleas, Naturally

So you’ve got fleas in your house, and you’re miserable. Those flea bites are incredibly itchy and take forever to heal. You’re perturbed with everyone and everything.

So far, you have resisted calling the exterminator because you know the treatment is probably pretty toxic. You’re wondering if less toxic remedies really work.

The answer is yes! You can get rid of fleas using organic, non-toxic remedies.

Here’s how:

Take these steps to get rid of fleas:

1. Apply Diatomaceous Earth

Apply diatomaceous earth in dry weather to outdoor areas using a dusting machine. This will kill the fleas in the yard. Treat the entire area thoroughly. Wear a dust mask when applying since breathing the DE dust can be harmful to your lungs. Use only natural diatomaceous earth that contains less than 1% crystalline silica dioxide. Never use swimming pool DE.

What is diatomaceous earth (DE)?

DE is a white powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When a bug with an exoskeleton (think flea, ant, roach, bed bug) comes into contact with DE, it sort of works under the shell, punctures the body, and the bug dies.

Sounds good, right?

Fortunately, it does not have the same effect on mammals. DE is totally non-toxic. There is no buildup of tolerance like poisons because the killing method is physical, not chemical.

Remember to keep the DE dry and although you can eat food-grade DE and rub it on your skin, do not inhale DE because the silica is bad for your lungs. (source:http://www.richsoil.com/diatomaceous-earth)

2. Dust Your Pet’s Sleeping Quarters

Dust your pet’s sleeping area with DE being careful to avoid breathing the dust. If your cat sleeps around, you will be dusting a lot of areas.

3. Apply Nematodes (don’t skip this step)

Apply beneficial nematodes to your lawn. Look for a brand called NemAttack or ask your local natural gardening store for what they recommend to combat fleas. You’ll need to do two applications 7-10 days apart in the early morning or pre-dusk when the sun’s rays are gentler. Nematodes can be added to your lawn using a watering can or hose end sprayer. Follow the directions on the label.

What are beneficial nematodes?

They are microscopic roundworms that occur naturally in soil and can be used to control a variety of pests including fleas. You probably don’t want to know the details about how they work.

You’ll be pleased with the end result.

4. Bathe Your Pet

Bathe your pet with mild herbal shampoos looking for orange oil or tea tree oil as ingredients.

Not brave enough to give your cat a bath even after watching at least 10 videos on how to do this safely?

Opt for rubbing the cat’s fur with a lemon grass, cinnamon, sesame and castor oil spray.

5. Comb or Brush Your Pet

Comb or brush your pet. It will help remove the fleas and relax you both.

6. Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum

Start vacuuming daily and don’t stop for a month (fleas have a fairly lengthy life cycle). Vacuum pet’s sleeping areas, carpet and basically anywhere where flea eggs could have fallen off.

To ensure that the fleas do not hatch inside your vacuum cleaner, vacuum up some DE or take the bag to the garbage immediately.

What are the best ways to treat flea bites?
Here are the most effective:

  • Soothe bite with moistened green tea bag 2-3 times a day. While odd-sounding, you’ll find this works well.
  • Apply lavender essential oil in a carrier oil (coconut oil works well) to the bite. The lavender oil takes the sting out and so the bite will heal more quickly and you might get a reprieve from the itching.
  • Apply tea tree lotion to a water proof band-aid and leave in place. Change the band-aid once or twice a day.

Looking for other ways to live healthier without making yourself crazy? Sign up for The Zen of Pure Living 12 Week Email series.

If you have ants, check out Six Organic Pest Remedies for Ants That Work.

Sources:

The Organic Manual: Natural Organic Gardening and Living For Your Family, Plants and Pets by Howard Garrett

Don’t Make These Three Mistakes With Your Drinking Water

Are You Making These Three Mistakes with Your Drinking Water?

You know that drinking clean water (and lots of it) is key to good health, but you’ve probably been making these three common mistakes because it’s easy to do.

In fact, you’re sort of set up to make mistakes because the information isn’t readily available.

Mistake #1 – Drinking Unfiltered Tap Water

Tap water has contaminants that you shouldn’t drink. When you consume these contaminants, you make your body work harder removing things like chloramine, chlorine, arsenic, MTBEs (gasoline additive), and nitrates. What’s the point of making your body work harder?

You probably think that your local water department has got you covered.

Think again!

Of course, water departments have guidelines, but a couple hundred contaminants have yet to be regulated, and your water department isn’t perfect, so even regulated contaminants exceed safe levels from time to time.

So, avoid mistake #1 and do your body a favor by drinking filtered water. It’s simple. Don’t know which filter or brand? Check out The Minimalist Guide to Water Filters to find the perfect solution in a flash. Many solutions don’t even require a plumber.

Mistake #2 – Drinking Bottled Water
You might be scratching your head on this one, but the bottled water industry is completely unregulated, so no one is watching out for you.

Who knew?

The water quality might be better or worse than your tap water. No one really knows.

In a Natural Resources Defense Council study, 22% of bottled water brands contained chemical contaminants at levels above health limits. That’s almost a quarter over the limits for what’s deemed healthy. According to the NRDC, if consumed over a long period of time, some contaminants can cause cancer or other health problems.

Sigh.

Also, phthalates can leach from the plastic bottles or lids on glass bottles after being stored for just ten weeks. Phthalates are regulated in tap water, but not in bottled water. (source: NRDC: bottled water)

Mistake #3 – Thinking Your Water Pitcher Is Effective
If you’re using one of the widely used water pitchers, you’re not getting much contaminant filtration. Most of water filter pitchers remove less than 10 contaminants, and many focus solely on chlorine.

So, if your water company uses chloramine, your water pitcher is not doing you much good.

About 20% of water departments, especially in the South, use chloramine instead of chlorine to disinfect water.

Effective water pitcher filters do exist, but don’t bother buying the ones in a big box store. Check out which water pitcher filters we recommend that remove over 50 contaminants.

So, which if any, of these mistakes were you making?

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