Posts Tagged ‘REAL Clean’

I’ve spent most of this week just observing myself–seeing what I use, what my family uses, and remembering the several years, when the kids were small, that I only used “natural” products. I felt like the house was never clean.

Which made me (Xan) think– how clean does the house need to be?

I grew up in the 50s and 60s, reared by parents who bought the post war suburban lifestyle lock, stock and spic’n’span. Pearls at dinner, mom at home, perfectly ironed shirts. The whole nine yards. Mothers didn’t work, even college-educated, brilliant mothers didn’t work. Mothers who worked were suspect. Someone else, or no one else, cleaned their houses, which were consequently never quite as clean as ours was. Shelves were always dusted, sinks were always empty, floorboards always swept.

It’s important to remember that the degree of clean demanded by the makers of cleaning products and their tools at Madison Avenue is several degrees beyond where clean needs to be for healthy living. Yes, their level of clean has eradicated water and soil-born diseases, and mitigated the ones transmitted through human interaction. But REAL clean delivers the same benefits, and without the whole new set of insidiously life threatening illnesses from cancer to liver disease to hyperactivity.

Get REAL clean. Spotless is not the goal.


Like Xan, I, Jennifer, have spent a lot of the week considering how much of the products I still use are necessary. I’ve stood in my bathroom staring at what seems like a multitude of products, both body care and cleaning, that rarely get used any more. Cringing only seems natural when you think of all the nasty chemicals that end up literally getting poured down the drain. We’re feeding our fish this stuff, we’re drinking the stuff, we’re keeping it within reach of our children, believing nothing bad will ever happen.

My mom actually tried to convince me to give up window cleaner about 6 years ago. She swore by vinegar, water, and newspapers. But I was hooked on the chemicals at the time. I believed I needed to keep the house sparkling because of the baby – and yet I wouldn’t allow pest control to spray inside the house. What was I thinking? While I didn’t cover my dishes, table, and floor with pesticides, I still used plenty of sprays, anti-bacterial soaps, harsh cleansers, carpet cleaners, bleaches, and detergents on the items my baby was crawling on and eating off of every day.

Ironically it took me running our well dry here at our house to realize the circle of chemicals in the environment. Having a drought and needing gray water for plants to survive makes one understand what harm those cleaners are doing in the waterways – to the water we’re drinking.

Our household has made mega-steps in the last year, thanks to several personal challenges and a few online. We’ve stopped using bottled bath soaps and use local, handmade bars from several different people we know; cut our paper towel consumption waaaay back, using old rags and torn up tee shirts instead; we’ve been making our laundry detergent since November, reducing our plastic consumption; and we’ve been making some of our own bathroom cleaners as well.

It’s taken a while, but we’re getting there one step at a time.


What are you doing to be REAL Clean?

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rosewater and glycerine

Being a gardener, a mother, a housekeeper, a homesteader, and if there’s time left over – an artist, I always have rough hands. On top of all that, I suffer from eczema from time to time and have dry skin. We joke about it at my house: that I have “manlier” hands than my husband. Admittedly I’m not always the best at donning gloves when I’m working outdoors.

In the winter time and early spring, my hands would chap so bad that they’d bleed. Switching from anti-bacterial soaps throughout the household helps tremendously. I also stopped using mineral oil-based lotions and switched to those made with beeswax and other healthy emollients.

With our focus this month on REAL clean items, I thought it’s time for me to work on making some of my own lotions, scrubs, and oils in an effort to save money and concoct some brews with my very own herbs and blossoms. I have to tell you that the process has made my house smell amazing – that in itself is worth the whole thing!

rose petals

Hand Oil

Start by making an infusion of your desired herbs or flowers. I used rose petals because they have a skin-softening effect and lavender because it’s my favorite aroma. You can also use violets and chamomile for a soothing blend. I wanted my infusion strong, so I used equal parts rose petals and distilled water, then tossed in several lavender stems and branches. Cover and heat on medium for about 1 hour, but do not boil. Allow to cool, pulling lid off every few minutes to gather evaporated goodness in an atomizer to spray on linens.

Strain liquid and store in a dark jar. I ended up with 6 cups of the infusion which will last a very, very long time. I’ll keep it in the refrigerator and use as a cooling spray during the summer, or to mix with iced tea, or to make more balms and lotions.

  • 1 cup herbal or floral infusion
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable glycerine
  • 2 tsp sweet almond oil
  • 2 tsp grapeseed oil

Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake vigorously. This will not emulsify completely, so you will need to pour into decorative jars quickly. Shake again before using.

My first impressions: My skin feels incredibly soft and not oily in the least. And the fragrance… not the least overpowering, although I may stay away from my beehives today.

rose & lavender hand oil

My feet, on the other hand…

Those have always been rough. I have to keep them constantly exfoliated to keep them smooth or they snag everything they touch. For the holidays I made my family and friends a foot soak and scrub that is a great exfoliator. Last summer I’d made some grape jelly from Concords, and saved the seeds for this purpose. They make an excellent scrub, but remember that you’ll want to strain them from the water as they may clog your drain. Add them to your compost pile instead.

foot scrub

Grape Seed Foot Scrub and Soak

  • 4 parts Epsom salt/Sea Salt
  • 1 part whole, clean grape seeds
  • several dashes Essential Oil like rose, geranium, or lemon grass

Combine all ingredients together in an airtight container and label. Allow to rest in a dark room for several days before using so that the oil infuses the salts.

As the month progresses I plan to experiment a little and actually use my own products. At the end of the month I’ll report my results to see if they’re any better than over the counter items.

You can find me at Unearthing this Life where I blarg about living in rural Tennessee. I’m also on Twitter as @unearthingthis1 .

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