Of all the places in a home, the bathroom rarely enjoys much celebration. Most see it as a germ-infested porcelain wasteland or, with less exaggeration, the one place you shouldn’t let your kids play unless they’re in the tub. Deadly chemicals hide under the sink, particles of who knows what float in the air, and mold and mildew steady grow in the deepest crevasses of darkness.
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Because of this perception, it’s imperative that we keep clean and healthy in the bathroom. That means two things though: great cleaning methods and equally great products.
Starting under the sink, you won’t be surprised to know many traditional cleaners are made up of toxins, alkylphenolic compounds, phosphates, dyes, and fragrances. So, while you may be killing off other dangerous microorganisms, you’re exposing yourself to hazardous chemicals. Quite a tradeoff. Instead of using toxic chemicals reminiscent of Chernobyl, there are a number of natural, non-toxic products available.
We’ve all heard of the magic of vinegar – but does it work? Yes, in fact, it does. That same 5 percent vinegar solution at the market has been cited in studies to kill 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). That said, load up a spray bottle, pour some down your drains, or simply use a rag to clean and disinfect. To add a little firepower, you can even mix vinegar with hydrogen peroxide. Feel free to add some of your favorite natural essential oil (eucalyptus, lavender, etc) to add a bit of fragrance if you like.
Baking Soda is another remedy for your chemicals woes. Sprinkle some on tough bathtub, sink, or toilet grim and wash the germs away! For clogged sinks, pour about ½ a cup down a drain, followed by 1 cup vinegar. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then flush with hot water.
For anyone with a porcelain tub, you know stains can be tricky to buff out. Try pouring some lemon juice followed by alum power (found in the spice isle) and let it work it out for you. For the tough spots, let it sit a few hours or even overnight.
If you’ve noticed any smells, try Borax (which is just another name for the natural mineral compound sodium borate). One mixture often cited is 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon Borax in a 16 oz bottle. Fill the rest up with hot water, shake until the Borax is dissolved, and bear wonders to your new all purpose cleaner.
All Natural Bathroom Products
Once you’ve disinfected your bathroom with your all natural cleaners, it’s important that you follow up with prudent product choices.
Choosing organic fabrics can be a great addition to any bathroom. Organic cotton towels are excellent at their job and are soft to the touch – I highly recommend them. Also, try to avoid shower curtains with high levels of PVC. From the time you buy them to the time you throw them away, they can give off harmful chemicals.
If you’re looking for a one stop source for many of your toiletries, Tom’s of Maine is a good starting place. While it’s a large brand, it deserves some credit. Whether it’s toothpaste, deodorant, floss, mouthwash or soap, Tom’s sticks to an all natural philosophy. Tom’s provides information for all of their ingredients, its purpose, and the source. There is no animal testing, no artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, or preservatives, and most importantly, Tom’s is devoted to sustainability, recycling, and the environment. In fact, 10 percent of all Tom’s profits go to human and environmental “goodness”.
Also, try your local “organic” or natural living store to pick up locally made alternatives. Farmers markets occasionally have products related to the bathroom and they might even have some in season specials!
There is another alternative, however: make your own!
Toothpaste: Okay, bear with me. While this may sound crazy at the get go, you can do it. Essentially, you’ll combine baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, vegetable based glycerin, and flavor to taste. The best formula I found was at Instructables.com. Follow the directions, be sure not to ingest, and you’re free of chemicals like triclosan or sodium laureth sulfate!
Deodorant: Granted this is equally bizarre to make at home, it is also possible. As you may have guessed, baking soda is a main component. In addition, however, you’ll find yourself using cornstarch, Shea butter, Cocoa butter, vitamin E tablets, and an essential oil of your choice. Check out a great guide here.
Soap: Making your own hand soap is a great way to avoid chemicals and dyes from the store. In addition, bar soap has about three times the life span of liquid soap and doesn’t require a plastic bottle. Many people also find that making soap is a fun activity. There are dozens of recipes for making your own soap and the best process to do it, so I encourage you to go out there are find one that suits you. A good general guide can be found on TeachSoap.com, though. In my opinion, some homemade soap along with some homemade bath salts can make bathing a new experience.
Ahh, Free of Chemicals…
Hopefully, you can use this info to get all the germs (and hazardous chemicals) out of your bathroom. Living green is important, but it requires us to do more than buy “green” products. By living frugally (did I mention you save a fortune by making your own products?) and making only what you need, you give back to the environment in an unbelievable way. Practicing these methods and passing them on can reduce your overall waste enormously.
So, that said, give it a try, and maybe you’ll find yourself crafting everything you need in your bathroom.