We are all becoming more aware of the types of products we use everyday. Whether it’s a concern for the environmental impact, the effect they have on our health or the safety for our pets and children, we want to know we aren’t inadvertently introducing harmful things into our homes. Something I do to feel confident in the safety of cleaning products I use around my family is to make my own where possible. One such product is a simple all purpose cleaner I use for cleaning hard surfaces, such as kitchen and bathroom counters and walls. It only uses a few ingredients, all of which you probably already have on hand.
All Purpose Cleaner Recipe
Liquid soap, either dish soap or something like Dr. Bronner’s castile soap
Distilled white vinegar
Optional: Essential oil of your choice
Clean, empty spray bottle
Liquid measuring supplies if you aren’t comfortable just eyeballing it
Optional: A funnel might make it easier to fill the bottle.
How to make it:
Measure about 2 tablespoons of soap, one cup of vinegar and one cup of water into the spray bottle. It doesn’t have to be exact. I usually just eyeball it. If you would like to use an essential oil, add 3-5 drops as well. Do be aware of safety guidelines regarding any essential oils you use, especially around pregnant women, children and pets. Tea tree oil or lavender are nice for cleaning and generally safe for most people. If the soap you use is scented or if you or your family members are sensitive to scents, you may want to skip the essential oil.
Swirl the bottle to mix everything without making the soap foam up too much.
That’s it. Now you have an all purpose cleaner that works as well as any other I’ve tried, with the added benefit of being safe enough that kiddos can help with the cleaning.
If you like this cleaning recipe, you’ll also like my DIY soft scrub for tougher cleaning jobs. To make sure you don’t miss out on future posts, sign up for my newsletter.
No one wants to get sick. Whether it’s the flu going around or something more unknown like the coronavirus, everyone wants to avoid catching it. While nothing is 100%, there are a few things my family does to increase our chances at staying healthy when there’s something going around.
A few notes on supplements and essential oils
I am not a doctor. Everything we do may not work for you and your family. It’s important to consult with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you have other health concerns.
In addition to supplements, I also use essential oils to a degree. While I do think essential oils are beneficial, I don’t believe they are a cure-all or always appropriate. If you choose to use essential oils, I recommend researching contraindications and general usage guidelines for each essential oil before using. Two of my favorite sites for essential oil safety are the Tisserand Institute and AromaWeb, particularly AromaWeb’s essential oil profiles.
There are safety guidelines to using all essential oils, such as proper dilution and not ingesting, that are important to know. There are also safety guidelines to using specific oils, such as knowing that eucalyptus essential oil should not be used on or around young children. These safety guidelines apply to all essential oil brands, regardless of whether they are “therapeutic grade”.
With that out of the way, here are my family’s tips for staying healthy when there’s something going around.
Aside from proper hand washing, I think this is probably the most important tip of all. If you want your immune system to be able to do its job, you need to give it the proper fuel to work well. Sugars give you calories and energy but not much else. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and protein while limiting refined sugars gives your body energy and nutrients to keep everything working as it should.
With the coronavirus that’s going around, grocery stores are running out of some pantry staples like rice, beans and canned goods. Fresh produce and meat seem to still be readily available for the most part, though. With a little prep and planning, many fresh fruits and vegetables can be frozen to make them last longer. You can also make soups, stews and casseroles in bulk to freeze if you have the freezer room.
Fresh air and sunshine are good for you mentally and physically. Sunshine helps your body produce vitamin D. Vitamin D has many functions in the body. In addition to helping build strong bones, there is some evidence to suggest that vitamin D helps to inhibit viruses, like those that cause the flu. (Sources here and here.)
In normal flu seasons, while everyone is healthy we frequent outdoor playgrounds unless it’s ridiculously cold or rainy. With the current recommendations regarding COVID-19, we will probably stick to hanging out in our own yard or open green spaces.
If you can, though, try to get outside every day. Children especially need an opportunity to run and play outside. Even if it’s raining, as long as it’s not too cold and there’s no lightning, let them play in the rain and get muddy.
Exercise is important, but even just sitting outside reading a book gives you the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. If you can’t get outside, at the very least open the curtains and windows to let a little of the outside inside.
Vitamins and supplements
During cold and flu season, we all usually take extra vitamin C. While taking extra vitamin C may not be a miracle cure for colds, it is important for proper immune function. The best way to get vitamin C is through eating foods, such as citrus fruits, that are naturally high in vitamin C. Since it is important for immune function, I feel like a daily supplement is worthwhile on the off-chance we’re not getting enough from out diet.
Vitamin D is another supplement I take, particularly in winter months. As I cited earlier, there is some evidence that it helps to inhibit certain viruses. We all began taking vitamin D at our doctors’ recommendations. Unlike vitamin C, vitamin D is more dangerous if you take too much. It’s definitely a good idea to consult with your doctor before supplementing with it.
Another way I like to use essential oils is to diffuse a few drops in a diffuser. To be fair, I’m not sure how much, if any, antimicrobial benefit they have in that form, partly because of the high dilution and because I haven’t had much luck finding research on that specific method of use. I like the scents better than air fresheners, though. Also, if used properly, it won’t harm even if it does little, if anything to help. Proper usage in this case means keeping it away from pets, especially cats, only diffusing age and condition-appropriate essential oils for the people in the room it’s being used, and not adding more than a drop or two to the diffuser at a time.
I do usually keep a can of Lysol and some bleach around in case something really disgusting hits our household. For the rest of the time, though, I think they are overkill.
Wash your hands to stay healthy
One of the best ways to stay healthy, of course is to wash your hands. One study showed that hand washing-even without soap-was more effective at eliminating influenza A on hands than hand sanitizer. Washing with soap further increased the benefit. According to the CDC, hand sanitizer is not as effective at removing all types of germs, such as Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile, making handwashing all the more important.
With COVID-19, wearing a mask is recommended or even mandated in some areas. The main argument for them is that they help prevent the wearer from spreading the virus, especially before they have symptoms and know to self isolate. I’ve seen many arguments against wearing a mask. If you’re wondering about the effectiveness of homemade masks, this is a good site to review https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/diy-homemade-mask-protect-virus-coronavirus/. They did several tests, including filtration of particles smaller than the coronavirus, effectiveness of homemade masks in general, which fabric works best, and how effective a cloth mask is if worn for an extended period.
I do think mask wearing is beneficial for staying healthy if done properly. I wear them when I go grocery shopping or am in a similar situation where keeping a distance isn’t possible. A mask isn’t 100%, though, so it’s important to use them with other healthy practices.
Even if you do everything right, nothing is a 100% guarantee against viruses and other types of infection. Sometimes, despite our efforts a doctor’s visit and medication is required. By taking measures to support our immune system with proper nutrition, fresh air and exercise, and limiting exposure to germs through cleaning and hand washing, though, we can increase our odds at staying healthy.
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Frankincense and myrrh was one of my first customer requests years ago when I began soap making. Over time, there’s been a few variations in the recipe.
For the first time ever, this year’s Frankincense and Myrrh soap is 100% synthetic fragrance free. Instead, I used pure frankincense and myrrh essential oils. Then, I added a touch of orange Valencia essential oil to sweeten it. The end result is a warm, piney scent. It is a bit more subtle than what you get with synthetic fragrance oils, so the scent isn’t overwhelming. Plus, you get the benefits of true essential oils.
I also formulated this batch to lather up like my other shampoo bars. For travelling, shampoo bars are the way to go. With a bar, there’s no worries about leaking in your luggage or TSA liquid restrictions. No plastic bottles also means no BPA concerns and less environmental impact.
Everyone needs soap. Frankincense and Myrrh handmade soap makes a great stocking stuffer or small gift for teachers or coworkers. Right now, use coupon code “ShopSmall18” for 30% off your entire order at the SubEarthan Cottage shop.
When used properly, essential oils are a wonderful tool for health and well-being. After much research, I now offer seven essential oil blends at SubEarthan Cottage in convenient roll-on form. Each blend is able to be customized for dilution, which is very important if you intend to use them on children or sensitive individuals. You can also choose between coconut, sweet almond and olive oils for the carrier. If none of my blends work for your needs, there is the option to choose a single essential oil or your own custom blend.
I personally carry two blends with me at all times. They are “Peace” and “Balance”.
Balance is a blend of pure Clary Sage, Lavender, Frankincense and Myrrh essential oils. Those oils are thought to help with pms, mood swings and all the other fun that comes with monthly hormone shifts. Since the oils in Balance may effect hormones, this blend is not suitable for pregnant women.
Soothe is a blend of pure eucalyptus, frankincense and lemon essential oils. It’s basically a nicer, less goopy version of the chest rub your mom made you use when you were sick. Eucalyptus is one of the essential oils that should not be used on children, so if you are interested in a version for children, let me know and I can swap the eucalyptus for something kid-friendly.
Spring is a blend of pure lavender, peppermint and lemon essential oils. If you’re like me, spring and fall are torture due to all the pollen in the air. These oils are supposed to help ease seasonal allergy symptoms. I personally haven’t put it to the test yet, but I’m sure by October I’ll be able to give a full review.
I go into more usage safety in the product listings, so be sure to read and ask questions if needed. I am always happy to make adjustments to the blends to better fit your needs.
Right now, everything at SubEarthan Cottage is on sale for 30% off, including the essential oil rollers, so now is a great time to try them for yourself.
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