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All-Natural Laundry

4 Jul

In my previous post about family skin care,I shared a little bit of my opinion on the issue of separate “non-toxic” stuff for the little people. If you’re spending a boatload of money on some high-end fragrance-free detergent for your little people so you don’t irritate their skin, or if you’re having to use a separate detergent free of optical brighteners for your husband’s military uniforms, you’ve got two problems:

  1. You shouldn’t need artificial fragrances on ANY of your laundry, and it’s not good for ANY family member, and
  2. That’s too much work!

And as I showed you before, it’s not that hard to make non-toxic, non-irritating laundry stuff to keep your clothes looking nice that’s also FRUGAL!

Laundry Detergent

I like to mix up a big batch of this stuff and this is pretty much all I use. Here’s my recipe:

  • 1 bar Castile soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s Lavender for laundry.)
  • 3/4 c. washing soda
  • 3/4 c. borax
  • 1/2 c. Oxi-Clean

Now the Castile soap & Oxi-Clean can be a little pricey, but this is still a pretty cheap recipe. I put the Oxi-Clean into my food processor, add the Castile soap (you may have to cut it in half to get it fed into the machine), then the washing soda & borax. Easy peasy!

Pre-Treating

Let’s start with one very simple thing: There is no pre-treater that will get out EVERYTHING. But any time you spill something or get something on your clothes that is likely to stain, there are a few rules to follow:

  1. Don’t get it hot until the stain is out. If you’re going to use hot water, make SURE it’s okay for the stain. Hot water will set some stains (like blood).
  2. Take it off and treat it immediately. The sooner the better!

Basic Stain Removal

There are hundreds of different types of stains, but most stains fall into one of four main categories: protein, tannin, oil, or dye.
Protein stains include a LOT of common household stains: milk, baby formula, blood, cheese sauce, mud, eggs, pee, poop, vomit, etc. Do NOT use hot water on these! When you think of protein stains, think of raw eggs. If you have raw egg on your countertop and you use really hot water to try to clean it, it will get kind of sticky and thicken up. What’s happened is that the hot water has “cooked” the egg. The same is true with protein stains in your clothing: If you “cook” the proteni, it will be harder to remove.
If a protein stain is new, try rinsing in cold water to get it out. If it’s old or dried, soak it in cold water. You might want to try adding a little detergent to the water to let it soak, depending on how bad the stain is. After treating the stain, wash it in cold water and check it.
Tannin stains include most of your alcohols, coffee, tea, juices (including tomatoes), berries, and so forth. Wash these in HOT water; usually you won’t even need to pre-treat it. But if you’re using a homemade laundry detergent or a detergent that includes a soap, you’ll need to use a pre-treater.
Oil stains can be a pain! Whether it’s automotive grease, butter, lotion, cooking oils, or whatever, oil can be hard to get out. Stains caused by sweat (ring around the collar, underarm stains, etc.) are also oil-based. There are three ways to get oil out, depending on the severity of the stain. The easiest way (which works best for smaller stains or for stains without much color to them) is to use a pre-treater. The slightly harder way is to use dishwashing soap and wash the garment like you would wash your dishes! This tends to work great on most automotive garments.
But if it’s something REALLY intense, you can pull out the big guns (but I caution you that this is NOT natural. Or safe! Be forewarned!). You can use gasoline to remove the stain. The problem is that you’re really not supposed to rinse gas down the drain because it will get into the water supply, and you absolutely MUST rinse & hand-wash the garment perfectly before laundering it. AND you have to launder it separately from everything else and make sure that you can’t smell any gasoline vapors before drying and if you DO smell any vapors you have to wash it again and again until you get it because if you try to dry it without getting all the vapors out, it’ll catch fire. Look – don’t go the gasoline route. Seriously. I know it’s technically an “option”, but it’s an “option” like mastectomy is an “option” to prevent breast cancer. It causes way more problems than it solves. I mention it ONLY because at some point, somebody will recommend it to you. Don’t do it.
Dye stains are the hardest to get rid of – even worse than oils! Cherries & blueberries leave dye stains, as well as grass, ink, paint, magic marker, and drink mixes (like Kool-aid). Pre-treat with a pre-treater, then soak the entire garment in a solution of about 1 tbsp. hydrogen peroxide to 1 c. cold water for 15 minutes, then check to see if the stain is gone. And good luck!

My Pre-Treater (like “Shout”)

Here’s the recipe:
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/2 c. washing soda

Put into a spray bottle and use like any other pre-treater.

Fabric Softener

You really don’t need fabric softener, you know. But if you DO feel the need for fabric softener, add a little bit of white vinegar to a Downy ball and throw it in the wash. I feel the need to warn you, though, that although this remedy is very popular, it’s not really that useful.

WARNING: Basic chemistry lesson to follow!!!
Distilled water has a neutral pH of 7. Solutions with a pH lower than 7 are acidic and solutions with a pH above 7 are basic. “Hard” water is water with lots of minerals in it, like iron and calcium and magnesium; this water is usually acidic (the acid in the water dissolves metals that it comes into contact with, making it more mineral-rich). “Soft” water tends to be more basic. Incidentally, if your water is very soft or you wash your clothes with a water softener, you will probably want to reduce the washing soda & borax in the above laundry detergent recipe to 1/2 c. each.

When you mix an acid and a base, the resulting compound will have a pH that will be closer to neutral. If you use vinegar and baking soda in the same cleaning product, you’re using water, and water’s much cheaper than vinegar & baking soda.

Washing Soda has a pH of 11 and Borax has a pH of 8.5, whereas vinegar has a pH of 2.4. When you add vinegar to the same wash water that you just added your washing soda & Borax to, you’re neutralizing the water.
Chemistry stuff over!

Smelly Good Spray & Wrinkle Releaser

I do keep a bottle of “smelly good spray” (as my kids call it!) and wrinkle releaser that I use on some of my garments. I do NOT use it baby clothes, but they don’t need it.

  • 1 c. water
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 1/2 c. alcohol (either rubbing alcohol or clear unflavored vodka)
  • 15-20 drops lavender essential oil (go by smell)

You use it like you would use Febreeze or Downy Wrinkle Releaser, but check it on your fabric in an inconspicuous place before using it because you want to make sure that it won’t damage your fabric. Usually it hasn’t been a problem for me, but it’s better safe than sorry!

Whole-Family Skin Care

2 Jul

For many families, babies get all the good stuff! In a lot of households, babies get special shampoo, special lotion, special laundry detergent, etc. For many of us, we just accept that babies and younglings get the toxin-free, super healthy stuff while the grown-ups get the commercial stuff.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Babies and toddlers may have a reaction to many chemicals found in commercial skin care products, but that’s only because their virgin skin hasn’t yet developed an immunity or a resistance to the vast array of chemical concoctions we use daily. It does NOT mean that adults should be using these products – just that most adults have adapted to them.

But ideally, shouldn’t we all be non-toxic?

And as parents, think on this: Your toddlers are still in your arms all the time! If you use a detergent that your child is sensitive to on YOUR clothes and save the “good stuff” for their clothes, they’re still going to get exposure to the toxins every time you pick them up. For parents (especially mothers!) of infants, it’s even more important, because these little ones are constantly mouthing on parents. Infants are “tasting” Mom’s skin every time they nurse or she lets them suck on a finger.

For some of us, we may cite cost as a factor, but I have great news! Homemade skin care products can be made in minutes and cost less than virtually every commercial product on the market! Here’s a few of the recipes that I use:

Shampoo/Liquid Soap

Admittedly, this one can be rather expensive, depending on where you purchase your Castile soap. But we use this soap as shampoo, hand soap, face soap, body wash – you name it. First, here’s what I love about this soap:

  • It’s mildly acidic, so it will de-tangle hair. (I do advise that you wait to brush/comb your hair until it’s dry to prevent breakage, and if you have exceptionally thick hair like I do, you may need to comb it in sections the first time after the shower, but I have to do that no matter what shampoo & conditioner I use!)
  • It rinses clean in only one rinse. This is GREAT for those reluctant little bathers who do NOT like having their hair rinsed!
  • It’s mildly anti-bacterial; this can greatly help to reduce body odor as most of that is caused by bacteria.
  • It’s heavily anti-fungal, which is great for preventing yeast infections.

Now for my own testimonial: I have had flaky scalp for about eight years now. Beauticians always recommended some super-hydrating shampoo and it did nothing. Some time ago, the flaking scalp spread to my face – especially my eyebrows, T-zone, and nose. Nothing worked on it – no beauty product, INCLUDING the very expensive department store cosmetics in the pale green package! At times, it would get so bad that my scalp and face would start bleeding! When I started using this shampoo, my flaky scalp went away almost immediately, so I started using it on my face. With no other moisturizer (except a natural sunscreen when I go out during the day), everything cleared up. No more flaky skin. No more acne. Just clear and beautiful skin. I absolutely LOOOOOVE this shampoo!

So without further adieu, the recipe:

  • 1 c. liquid Castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s Almond soap.)
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. tea tree oil
  • 1/4 c. water

Mix and then store in an old shampoo bottle. I like to use a bottle left over from a foaming shampoo because it makes it really sudsy and fun!

Deodorant

Okay, so the special shampoo will go a long way toward making you smell nice, but sometimes you need a little extra. That’s when I turn to my all-natural deodorant. Now this has kind of been an experiment. I tried putting it into some old deodorant containers and it did NOT work. At ALL! So I just stuck it into a small Pyrex dish with a lid and called it a day. I apply it by rubbing it on with my fingers like lotion. It gets very hard but softens with body heat.

One note: Do NOT keep this in your bathroom while you’re showering. The heat in the room will cause it to melt. If you do it by accident, it’s okay – just put it some place cool and it’ll harden back up again.

I don’t have exact measurements for this because I just kind of eyeballed it.

  • Coconut oil
  • Baking soda
  • Cornstarch
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Lavender Oil (for girls!)

Mix the coconut oil (about 1/2 c. or so) with about 3 drops Tea Tree Oil & 7 drops Lavender Oil (for girls!). For boys you can either use 3 drops Tea Tree Oil & 5 drops Eucalyptus Oil, OR for a more neutral deodorant (for boys AND girls), you can just do about 7 drops Tea Tree Oil. Anyways, mix it up! Then add equal parts of baking soda and cornstarch until you get kind of a thick paste. Store it in a covered container and you’re good to go!

Hair Masque

Now this is just for Mom. Maybe Dad if he’s got long, flowing locks. Anyways, about once every 1-2 weeks (when my hair gets a little overworked), I mash up 1 avocado, 1 banana, and 1/4 c. honey in a blender until it’s smooth. Rub it into the hair and scalp. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse out. It makes your hair SUPER soft. To be honest, I often feel like my hair is a little TOO soft, and so I’ll shampoo it a couple of times after using it just to get it to feel a little more “normal”, but that’s a matter of personal preference.

Facial Mask

Another easy blender one. Grind up about 1 c. oats in a blender on low until still kind of coarse. Add in about 1/4 c. honey and 1/2 c. yogurt to make a thick paste (you can either do it in the blender or with a spoon). Apply and let dry (about 15 minutes or so), then wash off.

Everything Else!

Coconut Oil!

I use coconut oil as a baby lotion, a massage oil, a body lotion, a facial moisturizer, and a gentle sunscreen. I’m sure you can use it for more stuff, but it works great!

Secret Stuff for the Moms

Okay, so this is the stuff that’s NOT for the men-folk to know about! But while I’m sharing, I have a somewhat gross but highly effective aphrodisiac oil recipe that I may as well share.

It starts with an essential oil blend:

  • 5 drops Jasmine (You’ll probably need to use an Absolute because Jasmine EOs are hard to find.)
  • 3 drops Vanilla
  • 10 drops Ylang-Ylang
  • 1 drop Neroli

Now here’s the kind of gross part, but it WORKS! If you’re one of those gals who charts her fertility (and if you’re not, you should be!), wait until ovulation. Now during ovulation, you should be able to collect a little bit of cervical mucus – it’s that thick egg-white stuff that you get when you wipe after you pee. So when that happens, just take the mucus (try to get as much as you can) and add it to your oil blend.

Store in an opaque container. You’ll usually only need a few drops, or you can put some into a carrier oil. Make sure it gets some place where he’ll “smell” it. Now he won’t necessarily “smell” it – it’s actually got a very light scent – but when it hits his nostrils, the essential oils and pheremones will work to trigger a strong sensual desire. So you can put it into an oil diffuser, mix it into a massage oil and give him a massage, etc. – whatever you need to do to get it into his nostrils.

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