How Does Your Environment Affect You?

There’s something wrong with a mother who washes out a measuring cup with soap and water after she’s only measured water in it.  -Erma Bombeck

by Neissa Springmann

by Neissa Springmann

We all know that having an organized and clutter-free home and work environment is important, but with busy lives it’s not always realistic. However, having a clean and toxic-free home and work environment is actually simple and essential to good health!

Below are natural and chemical-free solutions and remedies. Not only am I excited for you to have them, but I eager to put them to use in my home and office space!

Here’s to surrounding ourselves with happy and healthy environments!    ~Neissa


Creating a Heathy, Clean and Toxin-Free Home or Office Environment

Did You Know…
…that a chemical-free living area enables our body to use its energy for rejuvenation and healing instead of detoxifying harmful chemicals?
Research has shown that many of these chemicals can disrupt the endocrine system leading to breast and prostate cancer, endometriosis, fibroid tumors, ovarian cysts, loss of sex drive and fertility. They can also potentially damage brain chemistry leading to hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and even mental illness. Additionally, they can accumulate in the organs, triggering cancers of the liver, lung, colon, thyroid, etc.  

How can I apply this to my life?
Thankfully, there are many inexpensive, easy-to-use natural alternatives which can safely be used in place of commercial household products. Here is a list of common, environmentally safe products which can be used alone or in combination for a wealth of household applications:
 
  • Baking Soda: cleans, deodorizes, softens water and scours.
  • Soap: unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars, is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.
  • Lemon: one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
  • Borax: (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
  • White Vinegar: cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
  • Washing Soda: (or SAL Soda) i.e. sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use with care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol: an excellent disinfectant. (It has been suggested to replace this with ethanol or 100 proof alcohol in solution with water). There is some indication that isopropyl alcohol buildup contributes to illness in the body. 
  • Cornstarch: can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, and shampoo carpets and rugs.
  • Citrus Solvent: cleans paint brushes, oil and grease, and some stains. (Citrus solvent may cause skin, lung or eye irritations for people with multiple chemical sensitivities.)

living life naturally2

Cleaning Formulas

Combinations of these basic products can provide less harmful substitutions for many commercial home products. In most cases, they’re also less expensive. Here are some formulas for safe, alternative home care products:

All-Purpose Cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Store and keep. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc. Or use a citrus-based natural all-purpose cleaner.

Air Freshener: Commercial air fresheners mask smells and coat nasal passages to diminish the sense of smell.

  • Baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes absorbs odors around the house.
  • Having houseplants helps reduce odors in the home.
  • Prevent cooking odors by simmering vinegar (1 tbsp in 1 cup water) on the stove while cooking. To get such smells as fish and onion off utensils and cutting boards, wipe them with vinegar and wash in soapy water.
  • Keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter.
  • Grind up a slice of lemon in the garbage disposal.
  • Simmer water and cinnamon or other spices on stove.
  • Place bowls of fragrant-dried herbs and flowers in room.

Bathroom mold: Mold in bathroom tile grout is a common problem and can be a health concern. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using shower.

Carpet stains: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on stain, let sit for several minutes, and clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water. For fresh grease spots, sprinkle corn starch onto spot and wait 15 – 30 minutes before vacuuming. For a heavy duty carpet cleaner, mix 1/4 cup each of salt, borax and vinegar. Rub paste into carpet and leave for a few hours. Vacuum.

Chopping block cleaner: Rub a slice of lemon across a chopping block to disinfect the surface. For tougher stains, squeeze some of the lemon juice onto the spot and let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe.

Coffee and tea stains: Stains in cups can be removed by applying vinegar to a sponge and wiping. To clean a teakettle or coffee maker, add 2 cups water and 1/4 cup vinegar; bring to a boil. Let cool, wipe with a clean cloth and rinse thoroughly with water.

Dishwasher Soap: Mix equal parts of borax and washing soda, but increase the washing soda if your water is hard. If you want to use a commercial dishwashing soap, try CitraDish or Nellie’s All-Natural diswasher powder, which contain no bleach or phosphates.

Dishwashing Soap: Commercial low-phosphate detergents are not themselves harmful, but phosphates nourish algae which use up oxygen in waterways. A detergent substitution is to use liquid soap. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the warm, soapy water for tough jobs. Or use a citrus-based natural dish soap.

Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 cups hot water. For stronger cleaning power add 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use non-aerosol spray bottle. (This is not an antibacterial formula. The average kitchen or bathroom does not require antibacterial cleaners.) To disinfect kitchen sponges, put them in the dishwasher when running a load.

Fabric softener: To reduce static cling, dampen your hands, then shake out your clothes as you remove them from the drier. Line-drying clothing is another alternative.

Floor Cleaner and Polish:  Vinyl and linoleum: mix 1 cup vinegar and a few drops of baby oil in 1 gallon warm water. For tough jobs, add 1/4 cup borox. Use sparingly on lineoleum.wood: apply a thin coat of 1:1 vegetable oil and vinegar and rub in well painted wood: mix 1 teaspoon washing soda into 1 gallon (4L) hot water brick and stone tiles: mix 1 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon (4L) water; rinse with clear water. Most floor surfaces can be easily cleaned using a solution of vinegar and water. For damp-mopping wood floors: mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water. Add 15 drops of pure peppermint oil; shake to mix.

Furniture Polish: For varnished wood, add a few drops of lemon oil into a 1/2 cup warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Cloth should only be slightly damp. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and finish by wiping once more using a dry soft cotton cloth.

Laundry Detergent: Mix 1 cup Ivory soap (or Fels Naptha soap), 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar, pour into basin and let it set for a few minutes. Scrub with brush and rinse. A mixture of borax (2 parts) and lemon juice (one part) will also work.

Tub and Tile Cleaner: For simple cleaning, rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinse with fresh water. For tougher jobs, wipe surfaces with vinegar first and follow with baking soda as a scouring powder. (Vinegar can break down tile grout, so use sparingly).

Window Cleaner: Mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar with 1 liter (qt) warm water. Use crumpled newspaper or cotton cloth to clean. Only use the black and white newspapers, not the colored ones. Don’t clean windows if the sun is on them, or if they are warm, or streaks will show on drying. Be sure to follow the recipe, because using too strong a solution of vinegar will etch the glass and eventually cloud.

Healthy Home Cleaning Habits

  • Exchange indoor air by opening windows
  • Minimize dust
  • Keep bedrooms clean
  • Use gentle and green cleaning products
  • Clean from the top down
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3 thoughts on “How Does Your Environment Affect You?

  1. Pingback: Finding Joy in “The Juggle” | the iGnite Your Life blog

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  3. Pingback: Regain An Appreciation For The Beauty Around You | the iGnite Your Life blog

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