One of the first things I did when I decided to make the transition to a more natural lifestyle was to ditch the toxic cleansers and beauty supplies. I kind of always knew the cleaning products weren’t good for us, due to the headaches I would get when I used some of them. But soaps, shampoos, and lotions being bad for us as well, was a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t like I wasn’t feeding the stuff to my kids!
But I have since learned that anything topical has the potential to not only be a skin irritant, but also be absorbed right into our blood stream. In fact, some substances have been proven to be better absorbed by our body when applied topically, then when ingested! And so began my quest for safer products to clean my house and my children.
The cleaning products weren’t much problem to find, as more and more safer alternatives have been popping up for a pretty reasonable price in most local supermarkets lately. I still find that I like to make my own, as it saves money and I can be 100% sure that the ingredients are safe. But it’s nice to know that when I’m short on time or ingredients, I can pick something up at Target that is relatively safe.
Skin care products are another story though. You can find them, but HOLY COW are they expensive. And with some of my kids thinking that pouring a container of shampoo into the bathtub is a fun bath pastime, I just can’t justify the cost.
So I’ve been on the hunt for good DIY – “Do It Yourself” recipes to use in my house and on my kids for the last year or so. I’ve tried many of them. Some were bad, some were good, and some were great. Below are some of my favorite recipes that I have been using often lately. There are a couple ingredients you’ll need to have on hand that you many not usually have in the house, but it’s worth the investment as they’re all relatively inexpensive and last a long time. Essential oils are a wonderful addition to the recipes I’m going to share, as many oils have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties and are what give these recipes their cleansing “power”.
1. FOAMING HAND SOAP
- Water (distilled or filtered is best)
- Liquid Castile Soap (I like Dr. Bronners best, which you can find at Target or online)
- Vegetable glycerin, olive oil, or almond oil (this is what keeps the soap from being too drying on our hands)
- Essential oils.
You can either wash out an old foaming soap container you’ve finished, or purchase brand new foaming soap containers online. Fill the bottle 2/3 with water, add 1/4 cup of castile soap, 1 tbs of vegetable glycerin or oil, and 10 drops or so of an essential oil. I like using tea tree or thieves best because it gives the soap an anti-bacterial component. But if you are going for scent, lavender or orange are also nice.
I keep these soaps in both my bathrooms and on my kitchen counter (but not for dishes, just hands). Many guests have come out of my downstairs bathroom sniffing their hands and remarking on the wonderful smell of my soap! Additionally, these soaps make very nice gifts.
2. HOMEMADE ALL PURPOSE CLEANSER
- Peels from any citrus fruits – orange, lemon, or grapefruit
- white vinegar
- An essential oil that corresponds to the fruit peels you are using (lemon oil for lemon peels, orange oil for orange peels, etc.
This is a VERY economical and easy cleanser to use, and it works on everything – counter tops, sink, stove tops, even floors. All you need to do is stash the peels from any citrus fruits you use in a ziploc bag in the freezer until you have a nice amount collected. Place the peels into a glass jar, pour some salt on top, and let it sit for a half hour or so. The salt helps draw out the oils from the peels, which will make your cleanser stronger. Next, fill the jar up halfway with vinegar, and then top off with water until the top. Close the jar properly and let it sit for 2-3 weeks at least. When it’s ready, strain out the liquid from the peels (you can discard the peels at this point), pour into an empty spray bottle, and add 10-15 drops of the proper oil to the liquid (the essential oil will make it stronger, and mask the vinegar smell).
Note: Citrus essential oils have the ability to erode plastic over time. If you are going to be using the cleanser up quickly, I think it’s fine to use a plastic spray bottle. However if it’s something that may last you a month or longer, you may want to consider investing in some glass or stainless steel spray bottles.
TEAR FREE BABY SHAMPOO AND BODY WASH:
- Liquid castile soap (for this recipe I like to use Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild (unscented).
- 1 tbs vegetable glycerin, olive oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil
- 1 tbs aloe vera gel or Vitamin E oil
- Lavender essential oil
I have been using an empty 12 oz shampoo container for the last month or so to make this recipe in (yes, one that got emptied into the bathtub… ) One day I’ll probably get around to purchasing new containers. But in the meantime, this one works well. If you are using this for young children I would recommend sticking to lavender, as it’s the most gentle essential oil and is safe to use on small children. Just mix all the ingredients above and use on little bodies and hair.