Over the summer my husband did a several week-long therapy program for his arm lymphedema. The treatment involved the daily changing of compression garments and he was instructed to spray Lysol on one of the bandage sets every night in between the treatments. Seriously? They want me to spray chemicals onto pieces of material that are going to lie next to your skin? Only to be absorbed into an arm that is struggling with lymph drainage and detox? A medical professional advised you to do this?
Well, I found that insane so I headed to my natural grocery store and asked one of the staff members for some alternatives. She recommended patchouli oil, which she herself uses to disinfect children’s toys and other points of contact for grubby little hands around the house. Diluted with water, the oil smelled lovely and I sprayed it on the bandages daily to keep them fresh and disinfected. The nurses and doctor at the clinic were none the wiser and we got through the treatment chemical-free. So I began to think about what other household chemicals could be replaced with things like essential oils.
This will be by no means an exhaustive list, nor have I tried all of these ingredients. But I want to get you thinking about substitutions for common household chemicals so that you can free your life from all the harmful toxins we are exposed to. I’ve talked a little about the problems with toxic products before. Those of us with MTHFR and other methylation gene mutations are inherently chemical sensitive; even if you don’t notice rashes or other overt reactions to chemical products, your body still has to detoxify them. These substances really aren’t good for any human being but we’ve become so used to purchasing them that we don’t really think about the ingredients anymore. Since eliminating most chemicals from my home and body, I have found myself reacting more to these products when I do come into contact with them. Your body might have built up a tolerance to harmful chemicals, but that doesn’t mean it wants them.
Essential oils like tea tree, peppermint, lemon and lavender can be used in applications like cleaning, personal care, home health remedies and first aid (the last linked article offers several applications beyond just wound care). You can use them to replace toxic dryer sheets, for example, or even in baking. Check out this index of essential oils to learn more about all the different things that these powerful substances can do.
Two products that we rarely use, yet still linger in our bathroom cabinets are sunscreen and insect repellent. I’ve hesitated to toss them “just in case.” But did you know that you can make your own non-toxic sunscreen? I’ll be making this one next summer. As for the bugs, the young man who delivers my produce told me that he uses coconut oil to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Sure enough, a bit of poking around online led me to this organic bug balm recipe. In fact, proponents of coconut oil claim that it has over 1,000 uses.
I could probably write an entire article about natural alternatives for household cleaning products. But the state of Idaho has already prepared this handy guide to safer cleaning, letting you know how to prepare organic solutions for everything from carpets to ovens to weed killer. At first it might seem daunting to prepare your own household cleaning agents. But consider how easy it is and how much safer your home will be. I like to purchase the ingredients in bulk from wholesale warehouse clubs and save money that way. In fact, I’m finding that I can increasingly purchase many of my “alternative products” from the club we belong to, including usually pricey items like gluten-free flour mix. It pays to shop around.
What’s your favorite natural homemade product?
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