Tag Archives: toxic

Are You Cleaning Your Floors With Dollar Bills? Great Swiffer® Alternatives!

10 Feb

ImageSwiffer®  style dry & wet mops are a great improvement over previous mop styles for cleaning most flooring, but they have their drawbacks too. Don’t throw them out just yet, I’ve got some great inexpensive, health & eco-friendly alternatives, including recipes, you can use with your existing Swiffer® equipment that you are going to love!

I first saw this style about 20 years ago on one of my trips overseas, and I though it was the greatest thing ever. At the time, sponge head roller mops were the height of technology in the US; awkward to wring and impossible to clean & dry the heads properly, not to mention the expensive replacement costs. When I first saw a Swiffer®  about 10 years ago, I ran right out and bought one, only to discover they did not have a removable cloth, but rather a chemical soaked one-use disposable pad!

My friend ran the mop over her floors every evening then just tossed the cloth in with the rest of the wash since there were no chemicals. I, on the other hand, was reduced to cleaning the floors just once a week since I had to use a different pad for each area & the cost really added up fast. You’re not really cleaning, since you are not rinsing, you are just spreading chemicals around on your floor, which then gets tracked all over your house and furniture. Can you imagine the harm you are exposing your kids & pets to as they lay on the floor and put things in their mouths?!

In fact, it is estimated that each year, US & Canadian consumers spend $800 million on cleaning wipes! If all types of disposable wipes consumed annually in North America were loaded into trucks, they will fill 9,000 18-wheel semis, stretching 68 miles! Worst of all most wipes are not biodegradable because of the synthetic fibers, not to mention impregnated with harmful chemicals that pollute our water supply & soil, and currently account for about 22% of landfill waste. See the problem?

So what’s the alternative?

First of all, you will be glad to know you can keep your Swiffer®  equipment. Since they have the pinch style attachment, you can tuck any of these refill suggestions and most are also the exact same size (you can always trim if you need to). You can find multi-packs of all the following items at your local dollar store so you do not have to buy the name brand.

swiffer alternatives dry

Dry/dust mop. Package of 16 Swiffer®  dry cloth refills will run you about $5; for $1 you can get the following generic versions at the dollar store.

  • 10 pack of disposable dry cloth refills. For the times you have to use disposables, like cleaning up after pest fumigation.
  • Handiwipes ®. Usually 6-pack; these are great especially if you need to apply a spray polish & need a flat cleaning head. You can use this as a disposable or hand-wash these.
  • Microfiber cloths. Usually 2-pack; these are best for grabbing dust bunnies & pet hair. You can rub it together to ball & remove most pet hair before tossing it the wash.

swiffer alternatives wet

Wet mop. Depending on the type you buy, a 12 pack Swiffer®  wet refills can set you back about $7. Again, we go to the dollar store to find everything needed.

  • Disposable wet refill. Depending which dollar store, you can usually find these 6-10 per pack. Again, these are for times when you  may be cleaning up something more harmful than the pads themselves.
  • Handiwipes ®. Usually 6-pack; these are usually best for washing tall windows or applying coating to a no-wax floor. Depending on the situation, you can either hand-wash or dispose after using.
  • Microfiber cloths. Usually 2-pack; these are best for almost all situation since you can use either the smooth or napped side. Just throw in the wash afterward.
  • Microfiber dishcloth. This cloth has a napped side which can be flipped over to the  nylon mesh on the back side when you need to scrub. You can throw this in washer, but hang-dry because of the mesh.

swiffer alternatives liquid

Cleaning liquid recipes. In lieu of pads soaked in chemicals or the 42oz cleaning fluid refill that runs about $7, you will be using a spray bottle from the dollar store with a homemade cleaning solution, depending on the surface. CAUTION: NEVER reuse the reservoir or cleaning fluid bottle! This can cause damage to body & property due to fumes, explosion & fire when chemical residue mixes with even natural products! Spray the floor in front of you & mop as you walk backwards. Use a free kitty litter bucket for your rinse water, since it the right size & shape, allowing you to squeeze excess water out by pressing it against the inside wall above the waterline. If you don’t have one, ask the people you know or post a request on Freecycle. Here are some great recipes using simple, inexpensive, & eco-friendly common pantry items.

So stop using dollar bills to clean your floors & use the method that is best for your flooring, health, wallet, and the planet. You’ll be so happy with the results you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner!

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Is Your Moisturizer Toxic? Natural, Inexpensive Alternatives You’ll Love!

23 Jan

ImageIt’s a common problem this time of year; dry, flaky, itchy winter skin. It’s not just exposure to frigid temperatures and bitter winds, but dryer than usual indoor air bolstered by furnaces and wood-burners, as well as long hot showers to a stave off the chill, all culminate in to a blizzard of dry dead skin cells each time we disrobe. Dry flaky skin is not only uncomfortable, but opens the body to infection through the skin and worsens respiratory allergies by giving dust mites an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Before I give you the recipes, I’m going to school you first. First, let’s talk about staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water and avoid diuretics like caffeinated beverages and cold medicines. Use a home humidifier. Do not take hot bath or showers. The hot water washes away skin’s protective oils along with harsh, soap-based cleansers wash away the outermost layer of protective skin cells. Use only hypoallergenic body soap, Dove Sensitive is the best according to my doctor, especially for your delicate bits & pieces. Use only hypoallergenic laundry products and do not use fabric softener since towels are meant to be a bit rough to gently exfoliate loose skin.

Now let’s talk moisturizers. The skin is the body’s largest organ; what goes on our skin in absorbed into our bloodstream. Why do you think they tell pregnant women not to even handle certain medications? The bottom line is this: if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, why would you slather it on your skin?

Commercially produced moisturizers are not only an unnecessary expense, but are full of toxins. Think baby oil (mineral oil) and Vaseline (petroleum jelly) are safe, especially for your baby? Think again! Petroleum based products coat the skin like Saran Wrap, clogging pores causing blemishes and interfering with the body’s ability to rid itself of toxins via the skin, but also affects the liver’s ability to process nutrients, and are known carcinogens, not to mention the harm to the environment from fossil fuel extraction. Only about 1% of any moisturizer has all of their ingredients screened by the FDA, and more than half contain known toxins. Here are just some of the most common culprits:

  • Artificial colorings: carcinogenic and often contain heavy metals such as lead and arsenic.
  • DEA, MEA & TEA: hormone-disrupting chemicals and form cancer-causing agents.
  • Formaldehyde: carcinogenic & mutagenic, damaging and inhibiting the repair of DNA, also used to embalm dead bodies.
  • Petroleum (mineral oil jelly): we just talked about this, baby oil & Vaseline.
  • Propylene Glycol: another petroleum based carcinogen, also used to de-ice airplanes.
  • Synthetic Fragrances: can cause headaches, dizziness, rashes, coughing & vomiting.

So what do you do about it? Here are some natural, inexpensive and highly effective products and recipes, for use as topical moisturizers (face, body, lip & hair) as well as soothing baths. Store all oil based products in a sealed container, in a cool dry place away from direct light. All of these are safe for kids and pets too.

  1. Crisco (vegetable shortening). This stuff has more uses than duct tape & is dirt cheap!  Since this 100% plant based cream is hypoallergenic and safe for the most sensitive skin, no wonder it is a popular choice in hospitals and medical schools as a lubricant and moisturizer. Most common uses are: sexual lubricant, make-up remover, hair conditioner (if you straighten or curl coarse textured hair with hot irons), post-bath moisturizer (use on slightly damp skin), dry cracked skin treatment (before bed, apply to clean hands & feet, cover with cotton socks & gloves). Most people put it in a clean glass lidded jar, so they don’t have to have the tub sitting out.
  2. Coconut oil. This a great alternative if you don’t want to use Crisco as a facial moisturizer. This oil is easily absorbed through the skin; rapidly hydrating, conditioning, and shielding the skin from moisture loss. It contains vitamins A, B, C, and E, and its protective anti-oxidant qualities protect the skin from free radicals and other environmental aging factors, as well as having properties that protect against viral, fungal, and bacterial infections, including yeast. To make a balm: use an electric mixer to whisk 1c of cool coconut oil (optional add 1t Vitamin E oil & a few drops essential oil for fragrance) for about 7min or until the correct consistency. Place in a lidded glass jar & store in a cool dry place out of direct light.
  3. Oatmeal bath. Make your own Aveeno soothing bath using rolled oats & a blender. While Aveeno runs about $8 for 12oz, you can buy a 2lb canister of generic rolled oats for about $2 at Aldi’s. Just make sure you get the plain rolled oats, not steel cut or flavored with sugar. After I’ve reduced it into a fine power in the blender, I store it in a plastic flip-top powdered coffee creamer container my neighbor was going to put in the recycling bin, and just sprinkle in a bathtub of warm water and soak the itchy skin away.
  4. Olive Oil. Contains antioxidants including vitamins A, D, E, & K, and is best used on very rough dry skin, wrinkles, stretch marks & scars since it is not as quickly absorbed as other natural oils like coconut. It also holds up well in body and bath oils. When making these mixtures, I prefer to use a new plastic flip-top shaker bottle or squeeze bottle, and be sure to store in a cool dry place away from direct light. Bath oil: Combine 1oz Extra Virgin olive oil, 1oz Sweet Almond oil, 1/2oz of Grape Seed oil & 10-15 drops of your choice of essential oil in bottle, cover tightly & shake until blended. Body oil: Combine 1oz Extra Virgin olive oil, 1oz Avocado oil & 1oz of Wheat Germ oil in a bottle and shake until well blended. Apply sparingly to damp skin after bathing, spreading with hands, then pat dry with towel or air dry.

So what did we learn today? De-icer is for airplanes, embalming fluid is for corpses, petroleum is for cars, and NONE of them should ever be used on your body. So skip the drugstore and shop the grocery store for gorgeous skin as nature intended. Your wallet and your body will thank you!

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Inexpensive Non-Toxic Soap Scum Removal That Really Works!

16 Sep

ImageI hate cleaning the shower; its right up there with visiting the dentist. I really hate all those expensive cleaning products that practically require a HAZMAT suit and still don’t solve the problem. So I went on a quest to solve the problem and keep more money in my pocket and I’m here to share my findings with you.

Here’s the scoop; as long as you have water (especially hard water) and soap, you are going to have soap scum. These new body washes with moisturizers are especially bad, forming a film on you skin and a film on your surfaces. Advertising geniuses tell you that you not only need an array of expensive foaming color-changing toxic chemicals to tackle this pesky problem, but now you also need to buy a battery operated device that constantly sprays your shower to prevent the film in the first place. The only result of these products is that they stink up your home, burn your lungs, nasal passages and skin, damage metal fixtures, and pollute the water. After all this, you have less money in your wallet, still do a lot of wiping and rinsing, and still have soap scum! And while you might not care about polluted water, remember this is the same water that waters the plants and animals you and your babies eat, and the water you and your babies drink and bathe in. Still think it’s not a problem?

So how do you prevent and get rid of soap scum?

Prevention

  • Buy soaps with as few additives as possible. Do you really need all those additional moisturizers? A few drops of baby oil on your wet skin before towel drying will seal moisture in skin more effectively for a fraction of the price.
  • Squeegee shower walls after each use. If it’s not on the surfaces, it can’t build up.
  • Spray regularly with a vinegar solution. Make a solution of white vinegar and water in a new spray bottle. I use 1:3 solution but you can increase the vinegar up to 1:1. The mild acid will dissolve minor build up and keep surfaces sparkling clean.
  • Use a water softener if you have really hard water.

Removal

You will love these methods because you will see the results instantly; it’s like magic! Depending on your surface, you can use a range of products. Always test on an inconspicuous area first to avoid scratching damage. Harder surfaces such as gazed tile and porcelain are more forgiving than fiberglass and acrylic. You can find generic muti-packs at your local dollar store so there is no need spend more on name brands. The trick is, the surface and scrubber must be completely DRY or they will not work effectively. Do NOT use in conjunction with any cleaning solution. It’s so easy you can even train your spouse and kids to do it each time they step into the shower before turning the water on. Assign each person their own wall they are responsible for, if you need to.

Plastic souring pads. This is for getting the really thick stuff off. Just make gentle but firm circular scrubbing motions, like you are waxing a car, and watch the soap scum flake off like a blizzard in record time! It also keeps your upper arms tone, reducing the dreaded “bingo wings”.

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Nylon scrubbing pads. This is for more delicate surfaces, lighter build-up, or getting into tight areas. These pads will retain the soap, so clean or replace them more often.

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Magic eraser. These are for the most delicate surfaces like chrome, fiberglass and shower doors. Use a simple back and forth motion and watch your shower doors become crystal clear in no time.

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So the choice is yours: spend dollars per use on stinky hazardous chemicals that cause damage, still require labor and don’t do the job completely, OR spend pennies per use on kid and earth friendly methods that actually work. Seems like a no-brainer to me!

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Dangerous Fabric Softeners & Safe, Cheap Alternatives

27 Jul

ImageNo parent in their right mind would say, “ I don’t mind that my kid suffers  from allergies and the side effects of that medication because he smells snugly fresh, and that’s what’s really important!” But we are creatures of habit, so it’s all about making a few little changes that add up to a big difference.

“Non-toxic” fabric softener or dryer sheets likely include some of the following not-so-snugly ingredients: alpha-terpineol, benzyl acetate, camphor, benzyl alcohol, limonene, ethyl acetate, pentane, and chloroform. Fabric softener chemicals appear on the Environmental Protection Agency’s hazardous waste list and can cause:

  • central nervous system disorders, headaches, and loss of muscle coordination
  • irritation of mucous membranes and impaired respiratory function
  • nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or drowsiness
  • liver or kidney damage
  • skin disorders and allergic reactions
  • cancer

People are exposed to the chemicals by breathing those great smelling molecules in the air near the clothes or by absorbing them through the skin via direct contact with the snugly soft clothes. Ahhh,  fresh…and deadly! (Remember “I love the smell of Napalm in the morning”?)

Then there’s the damage to your septic tank and gunky buildup in your washer and dryer which is a breeding ground for all sorts of microscopic critters. Eww! Not to mention all the money you spend on whiteners and brighteners to try to undo the effect of the waxy film softeners are designed to leave on your laundry to make them soft and fragranced. You may a well pour scented candle wax in your wash water, its essentially the same thing.

So, what do you do about it?

  • Hang dry. To minimize static, don’t dry clothes completely in the dryer. When they are still at least somewhat damp, hang them to dry or use a drying rack.
  • Dry synthetics separately. Synthetic are really the static culprits, they are the main ones that should be hang dried. If you do use a dryer, keep them separate from natural fabrics like cotton.
  • White vinegar. Its a natural fabric softener and will also help clean the gunk out of your machine. Use 1/2 cup in the wash cycle. Don’t use bleach since it may cause toxic fumes.
  • Baking Soda. Add a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the water in your washing machine and let it dissolve prior to adding your clothes. It acts as a water softener and helps makes clothes super soft.
  • Natural detergents & softeners. There are natural laundry soap containing soy-based fabric softener and liquid fabric softener, such as Ecos Earth Friendly.
  • Aluminum foil. Adding a foil ball to your dryer will dissipate static, and the ball bouncing around will help fluff up the fibers too.
  • Dryer balls. They fluff up the clothes but don’t stop static, so follow the first 2 suggestions when using this method. They also double as massage balls (but not all massage balls can be used as dryer balls). Don’t use tennis balls because their materials release unwanted gasses and can stain clothing.

So lets review: little changes that safeguard your health, washer, clothes, septic tank, which translates to additional savings in medical costs, repair costs, replacement costs, and laundry additive costs. Good for you, good for your budget, good for the environment!

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