I love me a soft, warm towel. Smells good, feels good. I just want to wrap up in them and do a little happy dance. I feel that way with any warm, soft fabric thing I pull out of the dryer really. I'm not biased towards towels.
I am biased against chemicals.
On my green cleaning journey I'm learning...a lot. And today I learned all about dryer sheets and fabric softeners. They make our towels, sheets, and other clothing feel so nice and smell so yummy, but really, they aren't very good for us. And, there are better options!
According to branchbasics.com, "of the 3-10 gallons of toxic household cleaning products in a home, the chemicals in dryer sheets and fabric softeners are considered to be among the most toxic. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets are made up of harmful chemicals combined with a hefty dose of fragrance". As you might have read in my previous post about using the Skin Deep app, fragrance is a big concern in cosmetic products. Dryer sheets and fabric softeners are no exception.
Those fragrance chemicals are difficult to remove because they cling to fabric so the signature scent stays in the clothing. "Those lingering chemical residues in the clothes enter the body through the skin, which is tantamount to eating them! Many of these are solvents that directly affect the nervous system and endocrine system and can contribute to the development of chronic illness. Since the term “fragrance” on a label is so very vague, the body is provided a cocktail of poison 24 hours a day, 7 days a week". Unfortunately, most people are unaware of this issue and don't realize the impact it makes on their health. So many scents, not just in dryer sheets and fabric softeners, but cosmetics, too, have dulled our sense of smell as a warning mechanism. Sometimes, even our ability to perceive a specific fragrance can be lost. Sometimes we actually get a high and crave the smell of the clothing. Weird, huh?
So what can make clothes or towels soft without chemicals? Friction. If you've ever hung things out on the line to dry, especially cloth diapers, then you know sometimes they can become stiff. I found that taking two cloth diapers and rubbing them together completely solved that problem. Why? It disturbs the fibers in the fabric and loosens them up, making them feel soft. You can do that two ways without dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or feeling up all your clothes!
For those of you like-minded individuals who like to DIY a whole big bunch, let me introduce you to two marvelous ideas.
First up, felted dryer balls.
These are super easy to make, and to scent with something that is NOT harmful to you in anyway. Since they bounce around your dryer, they beat up your fabrics gently, loosening the fibers and helping them feel soft.
What you need:
100% wool yarn
Your favorite essential oils or blends
What you do:
1. Take your yarn and wrap it around your middle and indezxfinger a few times. Then take it off and wrap around the middle a few times. Keep wrapping, making a ball, until you've got close to a tennis ball size. Then cut your yarn and tuck the end inside. You should probably be able to make a few balls from one skein of yarn.
2. Cut the leg off of your panty hose and tuck the first ball into the bottom, then tie a knot above it. Repeat this with the other balls so they are all secured. Then throw them in your washer with a load on the hottest setting. This will felt your wool yarn and keep your new dryer balls intact.
3. Add 2-3 drops of essential oils to your dryer balls and toss them in. The scent should last a few loads before you need to recharge.
Option number 2, homemade dryer sheets.
Also super easy to make, and again to scent with something that is NOT harmful to you in anyway. Since these contain vinegar, the small amount of acetic acid helps to get that soft feeling in your fabrics, and vinegar is a natural static reducer to boot!
What you need:
Sealable glass container
Fabric scraps (receiving blankets (look familiar Nealey ladies?), old t-shirts, any cotton fabric)
Your favorite essential oils or blends
What you do:
1. Cut some small squares of fabric. Use pinking shears to prevent fraying if you don't want to sew. If you do want to sew, zig zag the edges to prevent fraying. If you're not bothered because hey, they are just dryer sheets, then just cut them with any old scissors!
2. Mix up your fabric softening solution: white vinegar and essential oils. I would use 8-10 drops per 1/2 cup to mask the pickle smell, but you can add more or less to your liking. I am loving a cleansing blend in my laundry at the moment!
3. Place your squares in your container and pour the vinegar/essential mix on top. Seal and then shake to ensure the squares are nicely soaked.
4. When you're ready to dry a load of laundry, grab 4-5 squares for a large load, ring out the excess liquid and toss them in. Best part? When your clothes are dry, just place the dryer sheets back into your container to reuse! Refill with vinegar/essential oil solution as needed.
Interested in some of the science behind why NOT to use dryer sheets and fabric softeners? Check out:
The Brain Wash by Michelle Schoffro Cook. This looks to be an amazing book about preventing all kinds of diseases. Here's an excerpt
Also check out Branchbasics.com for the their full article and more great links!
Tried out one of these options? Let us know how it worked and what oils you liked best!
Boy, I feel like I'm at a Vikings game again. Or am underage.
Today is Monday and for me that means bathroom cleaning day. I've taken to following a cleaning schedule since we moved into the new house. It's worked out really well thus far. Each daily task only takes about 30 minutes or so. When I've got a little extra time, I try to check off one of the monthly or quarterly to-dos. I'll post about that at some point, but for now, Skol!
I've been slowly but surely getting rid of all purchase, chemical cleaners in our house and switching over to DIY organic cleaners. With the girls I just didn't want things around that they could accidently swallow or were just really not good for our bodies. With news about kids eating laundry pods because they looked like candy, I wanted to take a totally different approach and feel like I'd made our home a little more kiddo friendly. Also, when cleaners are classified by OSHA as "hazardous" causing skin corrosion or irritation and serious eye damage/eye irritation, well I want to think that there are better, non-corrosive, non-irritation options.
Now, a quick note. Do cleaners come with instructions for safe use? Of course they do. Do any major companies expect you to go squirting a bathroom cleaner in your eye? Nope. Do we keep our cleaners up high and away from the kids? You bet. Yet, according to the CDC,
"every day, over 300 children in the United States ages 0 to 19 are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned. It’s not just chemicals in your home marked with clear warning labels that can be dangerous to children. Chemicals in and around the home can poison people or pets and can cause long-term health effects. Every 13 seconds, a poison control center in the United States answers a call about a possible poisoning. More than 90% of these exposures occur in the home".
So, that's a little scary to think about, huh? The Environmental Working Group is a fantastic resource for finding out more about your current cleaning products and safer alternatives. They rate and review most over-the-counter brands and products. Their website states that "products with artificial fragrances can trigger allergies, and products can contain low levels of formaldehyde (a carcinogen) without disclosure, among others, which can lead to birth defects in pregnant women using the cleaners". Who needs that?!?!
Okay, enough soap box. The point is, I decided to do my best to go green and organic and get rid of the chemicals as much as possible in the house. So, here we are, back at bathroom cleaning day and in need of cheap vodka.
See, vodka is not just great for lemonade. The alcohol in vodka helps kill mildew, mold, germs and avert rusting.It also has antiseptic properties due to the alcohol. So basically, it disinfects, which is what we want to do in a bathroom when we clean, right? Apparently, it also aids in reducing stress and has anesthetic properties, but really, I think we all intuitively knew that...or learned it early on! For more interesting, fun vodka facts click here.
Today I present my favorite bathroom DIY cleaner recipes using vodka. I buy the cheap stuff (like Skol) because why waste good vodka on your shower?
When you clean with essential oils, and just use them in general, you'll want to purchase glass or stainless steel spray bottles. Some essential oils, especially citrus, can leach petrochemicals from plastic. Some great options are available on Amazon.
My big aha moment with cleaning? You gotta let it sit. This is important people! Even brand name cleaners need time to disinfect. You can't just spray it on and wipe it right off. I tend to spray down each bathroom, then go back to where I started to wipe everything down. I like using microfiber cloths (wash and reuse!), but paper towel works just as well.
1 part vodka
1 part white vinegar
1 1/2 parts distilled or boiled and cooled water
Essential oil if you like to scent it (10-20 drps)
** part can be 1/2 cup or cup depending on your container **
Daily shower spray
This I like because it makes me feel like the shower is clean all the time, and it smells great. Plus, it can keep soap scum from forming. Bonus! If you are a morning person, try using peppermint, grapefruit, or any citrus oil. It's a great wake up. Prefer a night time shower? Try something more grounding like Balance, cedar, or lavender.
1 part vodka
2 parts distilled or boiled and cooled water
Essential oil for scent (5-10 drops)
**There are lots of cheap vodkas out there, I just happened to choose Skol because it was the cheapest at my local liquor store and I buy the biggest bottle available :) **