Homemade Dryer Sheets & Softener

CTA-wool-dryer-ballsWith names likes “soft rain mist” or “fresh cool breeze”, who doesn’t love soft laundry right of the dryer that smells so fresh and clean? But the truth about dryer sheets and liquid softeners couldn’t be farther from the warm, fuzzy feelings Snuggles the Bear sends us on t.v.

Filled with harmful chemicals like benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, limonene, ethyl acetate, camphor, chloroform, linalool, pentane, etc. (how do you even pronounce these ingredients…yikes!)…dryer sheets are so dense in artificial fragrances just to cover up the pungent smell of all of these toxic chemicals. These fragrances and chemicals stay in the fibers of your clothes for a long period of time, allowing plenty of opportunity for your skin, body and brain to absorb these nasty toxins all day and all night long.

These chemicals are known to have cause…

  • Central nervous system disorders and headaches
  • Skin disorders and allergic reactions
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimers
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Irritate mucous membranes and impair respiratory function
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or drowsiness
  • Liver or kidney damage

With the insane amount laundry I do on a weekly basis and knowing that the majority of it is my children’s clothes, I regret that I haven’t paid more careful attention to this sooner. While I would love to hang our clothes out to dry in the sun the old-fashioned way like my parents use to do, it’s the middle of winter and we are staying with my sister until our forever home is ready.

I recently shared a new all-natural laundry detergent recipe that we are trying and now I have a 2-part solution to both the softening of your fabrics and the fresh smells. Substituting these chemically-ridden fabric softeners for an all-natural, toxic-free alternative is much easier and affordable than you may think!

wool-dryer-ballsFabric Softener: Organic Wool Balls

I bought a set of 3 organic wool dryer balls to give this method a try and I am so impressed! People have been making wool dryer balls for years as an eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener. Adding one or two of these guys to your dryer with your wet laundry, they help fluff up your laundry as they bounce around in the dryer with your clothes. They are great at reducing static and softening your laundry and wool can absorb up to 3x it’s weight in wetness, helping your clothes dry faster and consuming less energy by your dryer because it doesn’t have to run as long. They are especially good for drying baby clothes and anything for people with sensitive skin because they are organic and completely chemical-free. The wool balls are naturally anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-static and are reusable for up to a year or more, unlike disposable dryer sheets that you toss after each load.

Dryer Sheets: Cotton with Essential Oils

If you are the type of person who needs your clean laundry to smell fresh and scented, essential oils are the way to go! There are so many great benefits to using these oils and making your own homemade dryer sheets are so incredibly easy. I cut up one of my husband’s old cotton t-shirts into roughly 5″ squares and added 3-5 drops of essential oils to the dry fabric. I tossed 2 of them into my wet load of laundry in the dry and let them spread the essential oil goodness on our clothes. My favorite to use is lavender, although it may be fun to play around with seasonal scents and use a citrus lemon or orange blossom in the warm summer months or the holiday scents through the winter season! Use the sheets for 2-3 loads before washing them and starting over with new oil.

Have you had any experiences with natural drying solutions for your laundry routine? What has worked well or not at all for you? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Recipe: Whipped Organic Coconut Lotion

lotion-ctaTis the season for dry, flaky skin but beware…the chemicals, artificial fragrances, and other nasty ingredients in the lotions that we apply to our skin are directly absorbed by our bodies and are linked to all kinds of not-so-good health issuesyikes.

While we have been using safer lotions here at my house that protect us against some of these nasty toxins, I wanted to take it a step further, especially knowing we use lotion on our babies every night after their baths. I found this super easy recipe for all-natural organic lotion that uses just 3 simple ingredients and decided to whip up a batch to give it a try!

So…this recipe is full of super healthy ingredients that are safe and effective on our skin. Vitamin E Oil is a great moisturizer which keeps your skin healthy and softens rough rough patches while reducing wrinkles. Coconut oil, unlike water-based lotions that give the appearance of moisturizing your skin, helps strengthen underlying tissues and helps remove excessive dead flaky cells on the skin. And it calls for a few drops of essential oils – I chose Balance blended oil for my recipe just because I’ll be using this on my kids and it has calming and focusing benefits – what mother wouldn’t want that?!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil (optional)
  • a few drops of pure essential oils (optional)

Directions:

Measure 1 cup of coconut oil into a mixing bowl and add the Vitamin E and essential oil drops. Coconut oil is best when whipped from a solid state at room temperature. Place in a KitchenAid mixer or use a hand-held mixer and blend for 3-4 minutes on medium speed. Pour into a glass jar and seal.

Note: I have found this lotion seems a bit greasy when first applied to the skin. Wait just a few minutes, as your body will absorb the oils, leaving your skin soft and healthy!

Recipe: All-Natural Laundry Detergent

CTA_laundryClean, fresh clothes are important to our personal hygiene but using the conventional laundry detergent to wash your clothes may actually be doing more harm than good. In most places, detergents are not required to list their ingredients on the bottle and are often filled with nasty things like phenols, optical brighteners, bleach, surfactants, artificial fragrances – toxic chemicals that are then in constant contact with our skin and absorbed directly into our body. Yikes.

Like many mamas out there, I see my fair share of laundry throughout the week and for the past few years I have been using Seventh Generation’s plant-based free & clear detergent in the compostable container. It’s worked really well for us and I have been perfectly happy using it. However, I already had all the ingredients to try a homemade recipe and decided to give it a shot anyways.

I did some research on different mixtures and recipes and this one seems to be deemed the “original” recipe of homemade laundry detergents. It’s really quite easy and just takes a few minutes of your time to put everything together! The great thing about this all-natural recipe is it contains zero phosphates and zero fillers and the all-natural recipe is perfect for babies and people with sensitive skin.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) of shaved bar soap (I used a Dove non-fragrant, hypo-allergenic bar)
  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 1 cup of Washing Soda
  • Cheese grater
  • Glass jar with lid

Directions:

  1. Shave one 4.5 oz bar of soap with a cheese grater
  2. Add 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of washing soda all together
  3. Thoroughly stir together and store in an air-tight jar or container until ready to use
  4. Use 1 tbsp per load (try 2-3 tbsp for large or really dirty loads)
  5. NOTE: You can add 1/2-cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to act as a natural fabric softener. Not only does vinegar disinfect equally as well as nasty Clorox, but it dissolves mineral deposits in hard water, and removes any soap residue on the clothing.

If you give this a try, let me know how this recipe works for you! Do you have a detergent recipe that is your favorite? I’d love to hear your thoughts below…

Recipe: All-Natural Pumpkin Facial Scrub

pumpkin-scrubWith all the crazy amounts of work and planning surrounding last weekend’s move, we’ve hardly had time to enjoy our fall. Now we are trying to jam a season’s worth of fun activities in a few short days…and that includes pumpkin carving!

I recently wrote about some wonderful ways to re-use your Halloween pumpkins and one of my ideas was a Pumpkin Facial. Having just carved pumpkins last night, I decided to whip up a super simple and all-natural recipe to reap the amazing benefits of pumpkin. With Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, the insides of pumpkins are full of crazy-healthy vitamins. And the directions for this facial scrub could not be any easier!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fresh pumpkin flesh
  • 1 tbsp of milk
  • 1 tbsp on honey
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar

Directions:

Puree some pumpkin flesh and milk to make it creamy (to your liking), a dash of honey and a couple of spoonfuls of brown sugar to offer an exfoliating texture to it. Apply to your skin and let sit for 15-20 minutes to soak in all the yummy vitamins while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or even better…a pumpkin spice latte!

Immunity Boost: All-Natural Flu Shot Smoothie

I recently posted my thoughts on why we don’t get the vaccination in our house and some ugly facts about the flu shot. Without the shot, you may wonder how to stay healthy and protect yourself against this nasty season of colds and stomach bugs. From taking a daily vitamin to getting plenty of sleep and vitamin C to eating the right types of fruits and vegetables every day, there are a number of natural ways to build up your immune system to fight against germs.

There are also many natural flu smoothies or blends that you can whip up as soon as you start to feel something creep up on you. Because most of these recipes have all-natural ingredients, you can take this as soon as you are feeling under the weather – no need to worry about overdosing on medicines or weakening your immune system with chemicals and drugs!

The Flu Shot Smoothie

cta-flu-smoothieThis particular recipe I found and have been using is jam packed with immunity-boosting, flu-fighting ingredients and is sure to get you back on your feet in no time. Having used this before, I can say that the flavor isn’t exactly exciting, but it’s definitely manageable enough to drink a cup or two when you need it most. It’s really the after-zing that gets me, so have something tasty ready to chase it down with.

And an added bonus: these ingredients are so cheap to buy and the powders and honey you can use with multiple batches throughout the season – much cheaper than doctor visits, prescriptions drugs and time off of work!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or choppedstrengthens the immune system as well as helps to fight chest infections, coughs and congestion
  • 2 tbsp on ginger powder clears the ‘microcirculatory channels’ of the body, including the pesky sinuses; a great stomach calmer for flu or nausea
  • juice from 6 lemons has strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers; reduces fevers; filled with immunity-boosting Vitamin C;  antiviral properties to fight off the virus on the mucous membranes in the nose and throat
  • 2 tbsp on honeyis anti-bacterial and anti-fungal; reduces cough and throat irritation
  • 1/4 tbsp of cayenne pepper is a well-known digestive aid; breaks up and moving congested mucus; is an anti- agent and helps relieve allergies; 
  • 3 cups of pineapple juice rich in vitamin C and can fight off viruses; has bromelain, which is effective in suppressing coughs and loosening mucus

Directions:

Blend everything together and drink 1 cup 3-4 times days until you are feeling better – or even beyond that to strengthen an already-weakened immune system and build up your defenses! Store extra juice in a glass jar and refrigerate.

** This article and the information presented in it are my own opinions and personal research and are not intended to be medical advice. Please consult a professional before making any medical decisions!

Homemade Recipe: Herbal Disinfectant

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: kids are full of germs. I am always wiping down toys, books and furniture to avoid spreading around cooties. But just thinking about using highly toxic chemicals to do this makes me cringe – Lysol, Clorox, bleach…yikes. Not only do I not want myself or my family inhaling, licking (my son is teething, everything goes right into his mouth) or touching these chemicals, they can be a source of respiratory problems and allergies, things I’d rather avoid with my kids.

So I did a little research and found this great homemade recipe for a do-it-yourself herbal disinfectant spray with some simple ingredients. My favorite thing in this cleaner is Borax – did you know that it’s a natural disinfectant that has been around for almost 4,000 years? We’re going to give this recipe a try and see how it works!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups HOT water (Borax requires hot water to dissolve properly)
  • 1/4 cup Borax
  • 3 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • 5 drops of lemon oil
  • 5 drops of lavender

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray and wipe clean with a cloth.

herbal

Homemade Recipe: Toothpaste

There are so many harmful additives added to our toothpastes – chemical sweeteners, artificial colors and detergents are all a part of the grocery store toothpastes…yikes! The great thing about this easy recipe is baking soda is a natural whitener and it polishes your teeth at the same time. Peppermint essential oi is known for its antibacterial, antiseptic, and pain-relieving properties, which are great things to fight against mouth and gum infections and bad breath! Plus it adds a minty fresh flavor to this homemade paste, making it more like the store-bought product.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt (the minerals in sea salt are great for teeth, but can be left out if the taste is too salty)
  • 10-15 drops peppermint essential oil (or add your favorite flavor – spearmint, orange, etc.)
  • Filtered water (add to desired consistency)
  • Glass jar for storage

Directions:

Mix together baking soda, optional salt, and peppermint. Add a little water at a time, stirring after each addition, until paste reaches desired consistency.

toothpaste