Monday, 30 January 2012

Toxins in our homes

A number of years back I started to develop a sensitivity to chemicals.  It began with sunscreen and I would start to itch on my neck right where my lymph glands are and eventually would be clawing at it until it was red and angry.  After a few months I noticed sensitivities to other things too like perfumes, moisturiser and some makeup etc.  It was obvious that my body had 'had enough' of toxins in the environment and I had to do something about it.  

I set about researching ways to eliminate chemicals from our home or at least cut back as much as possible.  I stopped buying commercial cleaners and made my own, I began to make soap, used natural pest controls as much as possible and began an organic vegetable garden.

Non-toxic cleaners and airfreshners 
Since moving back from overseas it has taken me a little while to get myself unpacked, settled into our home and organised enough to begin making my own again but last week I made some of these cleaners and air fresheners for our home.

All purpose cleaning paste- Mix 2 heaped tablespoons bicarbonate soda with 1 tablespoon white vinegar.  Store in an air tight container.  For really stubborn spots, use with an old toothbrush and scrub well.

All purpose cleaner spray - Citrus cleaner.  3/4 fill a jar with white vinegar and add any citrus peels from oranges, lemons etc to it as you eat them.  Over time the vinegar will extract the oils from the peels.  You can read more about it at 'Just Like My Nan Made'.

Tiles, bath & basin- Use the all purpose cleaning paste above.  Apply with soft cloth.  Wipe off with clean moist cloth.  Leave a while for stubborn stains.

Mould removal- Wipe white vinegar onto surfaces, leave overnight, then scrub off with a small bristled brush.

Toilet cleaner- Use white household vinegar and leave to soak for ten minutes.  Limescale can then be scrubbed off.

Air freshener Spray- 25 drops lavender, 10 drops lemon, 5 drops eucalyptus essential oils in a 500ml spray bottle of distilled (or boiled and cooled) water.  You can add 20ml of rubbing alcohol so that the spray evaporates into the air quicker but this doesn't bother me so I don't add it.  I don't spray so much of it that everything gets wet in the first place.

Homemade soap and washcloth

I also make our own bath soap as a hobby.  I use the 'Cold Process' and it is really not much harder than making a cake batter.  I usually double the batch on my recipe and it makes 12 bars of soap which last us quite awhile so I only make soap 2 or 3 times a year.  If you add nice soft hand knitted washcloth and a bit of ribbon you have a lovely handmade gift.

Knitted Dishcloths
There an hundreds of washcloth and dishcloth patterns available online for both knitting and crochet, but I mostly just like the simple stockinette stitch knitted ones.  The ones above are knit on 4mm needles with a dk (8 ply) or worsted (10 ply) weight yarn.  I cast on 35 to 40 stitches and just knit back and forth until I had a square and then cast off.  The blue one has a little loop to hang it on a hook.

I knit washcloths out of soft bamboo or cotton bamboo blends because they are so soft and luxurious but I knit dishcloths from a tougher cotton to give more scrubbing value.

I keep these cloths in each bathroom so I can give them a quick clean and dust each day.  I also use one of these in the kitchen all the time.  When they are dirty I throw them in with my regular laundry and reuse them again and again.

If you are not a knitter but would like to be, these are a great place to start.  Youtube has great knitting videos that you can replay and replay until you get it right.  I often use them when learning a new technique.

Some interesting reading on toxins in the home:
Statistics for parents on household chemical toxins
Harmful ingredients list


  1. Hi Chez,
    I have just found your link on Down to Earth, good luck with your journey and return to work routine....not easy.
    I was told by a man with a pop top caravan that the ONLY way to keep mould and mildew off the van was a watered down mix of Dettol, don't know what the mix was but worth knowing.

  2. Thanks for all those cleaning recipes. Will have to give them a try. I'll have to have a go at your knitted squares too when I start learning to knit soon :)

  3. i have knitted and crochet some wash clothes... i love them they are so absorbant...friends and family i have given them too....same they all love them.....going to give the cleaning things a go too.....a old tooyhbrush is always a handy thing to have in the cleaning cupboard..

  4. Abbyesmum, My Mum swears by putting Dettol on bites from insects to stop them itching too.
    Pam I'm glad you are making your own washcloths and using them too. Hope you like the one I sent you for Christmas.
    Sammyleia, you can do it! Knit knit knit :)


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