When we think about being healthy, we spend a lot of time focusing on what we put in our bodies. We think about what we eat or don’t eat, what we drink or don’t drink. But we don’t often think about the things that get into our bodies through the air we breathe and the things we touch.
Sometime around puberty, I started having a horrible reaction to the cleaning product aisle in the grocery store. Luckily, I had a sweet and understanding mom that didn’t make me go down there. But as I got older and started having to buy my own cleaning products, I had to venture in. It was horrible. I tried to hold my breath, but it was difficult, and my lungs just felt like they were trying to jump out of my body in the hopes of getting some fresh air.
And honestly, it’s no wonder. From the Environmental Working Group (EWG):
Our research has turned up products loaded with extremely toxic compounds banned in some countries. Some of their ingredients are known to cause cancer, blindness, asthma and other serious conditions. Others are greenwashed, meaning that they are not, as their ad hype claims, environmentally benign. Still more hide the facts about their formulations behind vague terms like “fragrance.”
The EWG has found chemicals in household cleaners that damage red blood cells, bones, eyes, and lungs and are known carcinogens. Do we really want this stuff around us? Around our kids…pets…friends we like? I say no. Now, you could go replace the cleaners you have with ones that are safer. If that’s your jam, I recommend checking out the EWG amazing database to see which cleaners score the best grades. If, however, you are like me and need/want to save some money, then I have some tips for you. The only main ingredients you will need are spray bottles, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and white vinegar. I buy the biggest containers of vinegar and baking soda for under $5 every six weeks or so.
- Mirrors and kitchen and bathroom surfaces — Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray down your surface or mirrors and wipe away. I tend to do an initial spray on all my surfaces, set up my podcast, and then start wiping away.
- Toilets and stains — If the vinegar spray isn’t strong enough to get the job done, then I add in some baking soda. A little baking soda with a bit of elbow grease gets most stains on your counter out (at least in my experiences), and adding baking soda to the bowl of your toilet is an excellent and safe replacement for toilet cleaner. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have the clever little spout to get the goods under the bowls rim. If one of you smart people figure this one out, shoot me a line. Until then, I just use my toilet brush to scrub the baking soda around and clean my toilet.
- Ring around the tub or sink — For ring o’ kid around your tub and other surfaces that have a build-up of film, I fill a bowl with baking soda, add a squirt of dish soap, and just enough water to create a nice paste. I’ve found that covering my tub in the paste before I clean my other surfaces significantly cuts down the time I need to scrub the tub.
- Clothes — Dryer sheets are horrible for you. Almost all (even the organic ones) get a D or F by the EWG because of the potential damage they do to our skin and respiratory system. So instead of putting a sheet of “spring flowers” in your dryer, use vinegar. My ingenious husband has recently discovered this formula.
- 4 rags (we cut up old washcloths)
- a 1/4 cup of vinegar
- a jar with a fitted lid.
- (Optional) a few drops of essential oils. Make sure that none of your people or pets are sensitive to EOs before you use them in this mix.
We throw a rag or two (depending on the size) into the dryer with our wet clothes. When the clothes are dry we put the rag back in the jar, shake it up, possibly add some more vinegar if it’s getting low, and like that, we are ready for the next load.
These are just a few ways I keep my budget in check and work to create a safer and healthier environment for all the living beings in my life. I hope this inspires you to investigate what you are exposing yourself to on a daily basis and take action if those things don’t serve you. For more tips on living healthy on the cheap check out Health on the Cheap: Have a plan! , Health on the Cheap: Eat all the produce! , and Health on the Cheap: Use every bit!.