February 23, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

Simple Steps to a Toxin-Free Homes

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Sometimes it may seem overwhelming. We are bombarded daily with chemicals that pose health risks to us and our families—in our foods, in our cleaning products, in skin care products, even in the air we breathe. What are they trying to do—poison us? No. They’ve just been giving us what we want. If we didn’t buy it, they wouldn’t sell it.

In fact, maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I’m beginning to see small glimmers of hope here and there. As I’ve noticed an increased availability of organic foods and natural cleaning products; healthier foods being integrated into the regular shelves at the grocery store; and even dye-free Icees at the movie theater, I have to wonder whether or not some companies are finally beginning to “get it!” I almost fell over recently when I saw a bottle of a popular brand of ketchup that advertised right on its label, “No High Fructose Corn Syrup”!

But, we have a long way to go. If you’re like me, for too long, you’ve “hoped” that the mystery ingredients on the labels of most of your foods, cleaners, and skin care products are safe. You ignore articles and reports that warn you about what’s in your favorite fast foods and think to yourself, “Maybe if I close my eyes it won’t hurt me.” But, as Christians, we know better than to think this way. And we need to pay attention! Take some time to look up ingredients and find out what legitimate studies have been done on them. While some chemicals may be harmless, others may be slow-acting poisons. Here are just a few common red flag ingredients (there are many more!):

  • DEA (Diethanolamine) – Found in more than 600 home and personal care products, such as shampoos, conditioners, bubble baths, lotions, cosmetics, soaps, laundry, and dishwashing detergents. Suspected of carcinogenic activity (causing or contributing to cancer) or of being potentially dangerous or hazardous to your health.
  • Propylene Glycol – The main ingredient found in anti-freeze; also common in shampoos, deodorants, cosmetics, lotions, toothpastes, processed foods, baby wipes, and many more personal care items. Implicated in contact dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver abnormalities; can inhibit skin cell growth in human tests and can damage cell membranes causing rashes, dry skin, and surface damage.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Industrial uses include concrete floor cleaners, engine degreasers, and car wash detergents. Also found in shampoos, liquid soaps, conditioners, cleansers, and children’s bubble baths. SLS is found in nearly all toothpastes (it is what causes your toothpaste to foam see here), and is absorbed through skin contact and retained for up to five days. Click HERE to read more.
  • Talc—Chemically similar to asbestos, talc has been linked to ovarian cancer. It’s found in many body and baby powders, as well as many cosmetics. Try making your own Dusting Powder instead!


Do perfumed cleaners, soaps, and harsh chemicals ever give you a headache or irritate your skin? Some people tend to be more sensitive than others, but we are all affected to some degree by what we put on our skin and inhale into our bodies.

It may not be possible or cost effective to avoid all of these chemicals in your cleaning and personal care products (I know I’m not there yet!), but my goal is to at least reduce my family’s exposure to them. I have found using therapeutic-grade essential oils to be a safe, effective alternative to many store-bought cleaning and skin care products—and I love the way they smell!

Essential Oils Suggested for Cleaning:

Singles: Cinnamon, Orange, Clove, Eucalyptus, Thyme, Spruce, Lemon, Lemongrass, Grapefruit

Blends: Thieves, Purification, Citrus Fresh

Making your own household cleaners and air fresheners is easy! Check out the following simple recipes…

Household Cleaner:

  • Fill a spray bottle with 1 cup white vinegar and 10 drops each of lavender, lemon, and pine essential oils. Allow oils to blend, then add 2 cups of purified water.
  • Shake before each use.

Young Living’s Thieves® Household Cleaner is also an excellent choice. It can be mixed 1 part cleaner to 30 parts water and smells fantastic! A great choice during cold and flu season!

Floor Cleaner:

  • Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to a bucket of water. Add 10-15 drops lemon, pine, or spruce essential oils. Or 10-15 drops of the essential oil blends Thieves or Purification.

Bathroom Spray:

1 quart spray bottle
4 drops Rosemary
4 drops Lemon
6 drops Eucalyptus
8 drops Lavender
4 C. purified water

Put water into spray bottle and add each of the essential oils. Shake before using. This spray can be used to clean surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. I leave a small squirt bottle in each bathroom as a fresh smelling natural air freshener.

Window cleaner:

  • 1 quart spray bottle
  • 1 C. White Vinegar
  • 10-15 drops of Lemon, Orange, Tangerine, Geranium, Lavender (or your favorite) Essential Oil
  • 1 C. water

Add vinegar and water to the spray bottle. Add essential oils, shake, and use.

Natural cleaners like these are great for little housewives in training. No need to worry about breathing fumes, or harsh chemicals touching their little hands!

Stain Removal:

  • Rub a drop or two of Lemon essential oil into stain, wait a few minutes, and launder.
  • Another option is Thieves Household Cleaner. Try putting a dab of the concentrate on the stain (this may work on old grease stains too), rub in, let sit for a minute, and launder. (Do do not let the Thieves Cleaner stay full strength on a stain for more than a couple minutes before laundering).

In the Dryer:

  • Instead of using dryer sheets, add 5-10 drops of lavender, lemon, bergamot, sandalwood, geranium, or other YL essential oil to a dampened washcloth and toss into the dryer.

Tiny Ant Repellent:

1 quart spray bottle
15 drops Purification essential oil blend
10 drops Peppermint essential oil

Fill spray bottle with water, add essential oils, shake, and spray.

Put several drops of both Purification and Peppermint on a cotton ball and place the cotton ball in a corner of your pantry shelf or cabinet to deter insects and rodents. Cedar oil is also a very good insect repellent.

Shopping List

  • Water bottles (different sizes)
  • Purified Water
  • White Vinegar
  • High Proof Grain Alcohol (Vodka)
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Clove essential oil
  • Rosemary essential oil
  • Orange essential oil
  • Pine essential oil
  • Eucalyptus essential oil
  • Cinnamon essential oil
  • Thieves® essential oil blend
  • Purification™ essential oil blend
  • Citrus Fresh essential oil blend
  • Thyme essential oil

So, now you know! Making your own cleaning products is easy and extremely cost efficient! Most of the recipes above use water or other inexpensive kitchen ingredients mixed with the essential oils. A 15ml bottle of Young Living essential oils contains about 250 drops of essential oil which means you can make your own natural cleaning products for a fraction of what it would cost in the stores.

Visit me at The Common Scents Mom to learn more about therapeutic grade essential oils!

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4 Responses to “Simple Steps to a Toxin-Free Homes”

  1. sarah says:

    This was such an informative post. Thank you for writing it. This past Christmas I was given an essential oils starter kit, and I love them! In fact, I used up my bottle of Thieves and Lavender within one month.

  2. Amy says:

    Stacy – This is part of the reason I have changed my candle making to just essential oil candles -even candles pollute the air we breathe. Most conventional candles have lead wicks and are made of parafin (made from petroleum), then are scented with chemical laden fragrances. Palm and Soy essential oil candles are the best – I joke that if you want your house to smell like apple pie, bake an apple pie…:-)

  3. Colleen G. says:

    All those essential oils can be quite pricey. In my current circumstances I have found that baking soda, vinegar and dish soap clean with less chemicals exposure than the standard fare. I just want to say even if you can’t afford all the alternatives make use of what you can. Poverty does not mean a life full of junk and chemicals.

  4. Kim M. says:

    I just bought several essential oils and some spray bottles. I made the window cleaner and the bathroom cleaner. The window cleaner works great and the bathroom cleaner seems to also. Just a question about the bathroom cleaner…Does it kill germs?? I love the smell, but that’s not really what it’s all about…Thanks!

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