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The Natural Way For This Gal

Yes, it’s true, I have always been a natural type of gal. But it seems these days I find myself searching more and more for things I can make myself instead of buying things from the big box stores. Things that may be full of harmful chemicals. Being home during our lockdowns gave me the time and opportunity to explore different things. As well as stay away from busy places where germs could circulate. I wouldn’t want to be the cause of spreading any germs or catching anything funky.

I have watched the people I love over the years getting sicker and sicker and I wondered if any of the products and chemicals we use every day in our home contributed to their getting ill in any way. There are pots and pans that are so easy to cook with, but they eventually fall apart and those pieces end up in our bodies. It’s been said for a long time that aluminum is not healthy for us and is linked to Alzheimer's, yet many of our cookware is made from it and there are deodorants that have aluminum in them that we put on our bodies. Many soaps and shampoos also have SLS or sodium lauryl sulphate which can give us allergic reactions and can increase skin sensitivity and dryness. I have known people that have stopped using these types of soaps and shampoos as well as hair dyes and have noticed a considerable difference in their skin and hair texture. I too have noticed a positive difference with some of the changes I have made. And who knows if some of these products contribute to loss of hair or other problems.

Making the change can only benefit me, so I was willing to do some research and try different methods to keep my body healthier and my home safer. There is also a certain pride that comes with making your own things then, sitting back and watching your creation. It is not just making my own food or baked goods from scratch that I like. I’m used to that from my upbringing, but I also have looked at making cleaning products, soaps and creams for the body or hair and even want to start up my garden again and grow more than just a few items. And if anybody has any tips on growing plants in pots, please share because right now, I have a small area by a window, full of growing vegetables from kitchen scraps and banana peels. Hey, what can I say, I like to experiment!

As a kid, way back, we helped with the household chores, so if we had to clean things, we didn’t have any special gadgets to help us, like cleaning cloths with long handles that held on to the dust or rubber gloves to protect our hands from harsh chemicals. That dust went everywhere and it wasn’t fun washing the toilets. Yuk! Okay, let’s move on from that topic. When I became a mother, I didn’t want any harsh chemicals around and the smell bothered my entire family. So, I turned to the natural stuff on the market. I feel that lessening the harsh chemicals in our environment is healthier for us in the end.

Laundry - Today, I’m going one step further with a bunch of natural things I want to change in my home and the chemicals I put on my body. I have washed my laundry for the longest time using natural laundry detergent and even soap nuts and vinegar in the wash. I use a few drops of essential oils in the dryer that I add to a piece of cloth instead of using fabric softeners or sheets, which I think are filled with harmful chemicals I don’t want around me. Just add the oils to the cloth ahead of time so it has time to dry a little. I also use wool balls in the dryer. That’s something that I think would be fun to make by buying my own wool and colours I like. Then, I can make them as big or as small as I want and since I love colour, I can add in some pink or green or whatever other colour I like. I think this would be a fun project to do with younger kids. All you need is some wool and a big felting needle.

Vinegar and Citrus Peels for Cleaning - I found a few ways to make cleaning products and one of them is by using vinegar and citrus peels. Just fill a glass jar with vinegar and orange or lemon peels. Add in some rosemary herbs or essential oils for a different scent like lavender and let the jar sit for a couple of weeks. Longer if you can. Check the jar for the next several days and top up the vinegar so that the peels are under the vinegar. You don’t want mold. Stain the liquid and discard the scraps or throw them in your compost. You will have a nice smelling liquid you can put in a spray bottle and dilute with water to clean your home. Add in some baking soda and you can clean other things like your kitchen sink and other items that can use a good scrub. Of course, if you need something more heavy-duty you may have to resort to other stronger, commercial products, but the baking soda does a pretty good job of cleaning most of your everyday messes. You can also make a paste with the baking soda and the liquid for a more concentrated mix. I use a Mason jar, so to protect my metal lids from rusting I put a piece of plastic wrap and a paper towel over the jar, then add the lid and close it up. Maybe it’s overkill, but I don’t want the liquid to wet the paper towel and the plastic still gathers moisture, so I find the two works for me.

Soap Nuts - I have made different cleaning items with the soap nuts too, just by boiling about 20 of them with water and mashing them with a potato masher, to let the soapy substance release. I leave it to cool and strain it in the morning. Put a small amount in a spray bottle to clean things like your dishes or your sink as well as other light cleaning areas you would normally use soap with. You can even use the leftover pulp and blend it with some liquid and also add baking soda and or vinegar, to make a thicker paste and clean the sink, or bathrooms. The cleaning ideas are endless and there is a lot of information you can find on the net.

You can freeze the majority of the liquid in ice cube trays and take them out as you need them since the liquid doesn’t keep for too long outside of the fridge. I have found that I can keep it in the fridge for a few weeks and it seems to be fine, but I also have added salt or tea tree essential oil which may keep it longer. You can also put the leftover pulp in an old sock or soap nut bag and throw it in your laundry. There will be plenty of soapy substance left to clean your clothes. Let the pulp dry if you are not using it right away and as you use it, it will disintegrate since it is a natural product. You can discard what is left once you see the soapy stuff is no more.

Adding the tea tree oil to the mix removed the black guck and grime around the shower stall and showerhead. I just sprayed the liquid all around the area and left it for a few hours or overnight. Then rinsed the area and was amazed that the gucky, yucky stuff was gone. Add in some salt and or vinegar to the mix and use it to clean your floors. I heard it may even keep insects away. Eucalyptus is also great for keeping bugs at bay around the inside or outside of your home. I’ve tried it. It works! Be careful around plastic, however, as the tea tree oil is strong enough to damage it. You can even use soap nuts as a body soap or on your hair. Since it’s natural, it will be gentle. Your hair will have a different texture to it, without all the chemicals of regular shampoos weighing it down. If you have one, use an old squeeze bottle instead of buying other bottles to fill with the mixture. But remember that the liquid needs to be in the refrigerator or frozen if you are not going to use it for the next few days. When you are ready to use it for yourself, let the bottle sit in some warm water and make it the right temperature for you. Or take some cubes out of the freezer before you need them. They don’t take long to melt, especially if you put a bowl with some warm water underneath the container with your cubes.

Enzymes - I have found other ways to make cleaners with citrus fruit scraps, sugar and yeast. This method also takes some time to let the scraps sit in the mix, but add some salt and you don’t even have to put it in the fridge. I’m telling you; I’m having a hard time throwing away my citrus peels these days. I have a few more ideas I want to share like hair gel and hair and body creams, so if you want to learn more, you can stay on my, “” page. I will probably be adding more ideas there in my blog. I know it’s not easy to change over to new ways of doing things, but you can always begin with one thing and if it feels right, keep going. I’m still learning myself and I’m loving it!

True that some of these things take time to make but it’s not much different from the time it takes to get in your car and drive up to the store, find a parking spot, brave the crowds, the cold and snow or the hot muggy days and purchase what you need. You are saving dollars on purchasing products, cutting down on the gas (which has been crazy expensive lately), needed to get you to the store and keeping your home cleaner without all those dangerous chemicals around. Especially if you have younger children or pets you want to keep safe. And your body and home may thank you in the end for the changes. I’m sure your friends may find it interesting in making some changes too if they haven’t already.

Have fun and enjoy!

Writer/Author S R John

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