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What's in Your Cleaning Products?

Two common ingredients found in household cleaners are bleach and ammonia.  Not only can their fumes cause lung problems, but when combined together, they form a new gas called "chloramine," which releases free radicals in the lungs.

Currently, 90% of all shampoos, soaps, conditioners, and body creams contain one of the following four harmful chemicals:  diethanolamine (DEA), sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), sodium laureth sulphate (SLES), and propylene glycol (PG).

The dangers of DEA, a potential carcinogen even in small doses, were reported by Dr. Samuel Epstein, a well-known expert in environmental medicine at the University of Illinois - Chicago.

SLS and SLES are used as inexpensive detergents that produce a lot of foam and bubbles (misconception:  healthy soaps that clean well do not need to lather, although some do).  They have not been proven to be toxic, but they can irritate both the skin and eyes.

PG is used as a humectant ingredient to keep the product from drying out.  Research at the American Academy of Dermatologists connects PG with rashes and dermatitis.

Read labels carefully and avoid unnatural products with these ingredients or other ingredients you don't understand.  Try to locate more natural, home-made soaps with herbal extract bases that use aromatic oils as fragrances.  You can also of course make your own. 

If you don't have the time, please visit your local health store, farm market, or order your natural and organic personal and household products online.  There are a wide variety of products available today with aromatherapy scents, skin conditioning ingredients like olive oil and oatmeal, and healing properties, and the prices are coming down as consumer demand increases.



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Do It Yourself -- Make Your Own Healthy Cleaning, Household, and Personal Products

Indoor air has been estimated to be 100 times more polluted than outdoor air.  You can not only become more self-sufficient, but transform your home into a healthier and more healing place by making your own safe and inexpensive alternatives to toxic chemical household and personal products.  Any of the natural ingredients listed below can be safely mixed together.  Store mixtures in spray bottles and clearly label them for future use.  If you don't have the time, ingredients, or the initiative to make your own products, we recommend and sell online a variety of affordable and healthy cleaning products, along with other natural personal care, home, and garden products

Abrasive for Scrubbing Pots & Pans -- Add salt when cleaning.

Air Freshener -- The simplest air fresheners are baking soda and vinegar.  Baking soda neutralizes acid odors and vinegar neutralizes alkaline odors.  You can make a more fragrant antibacterial air freshener by combining one cup of water and 20 drops of an essential oil, such as lavender in a spray bottle.  Another option is to simmer spices in a pan on your stove such as a few cinnamon sticks and cloves in water or apple cider to release the aromatic oils and fill your home with a wonderful scent (remember to replace the liquid as it evaporates -- about 1 cup every hour).  You can also strain out the spices and enjoy a healthy beverage with the leftover liquid.   

All-Purpose Cleaner -- Combine 1/2 tsp. washing soda, 2 tsp. borax, and 1/2 tsp. of natural liquid soap in a spray bottle.  Pour in 2 cups of hot water to dissolve the minerals.  Shake to completely blend and during use, spray surfaces, and wipe clean.  For tough dirt, leave the cleanser on for several minutes before wiping it off.

Aluminum Polish -- Use a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar, and rinse with warm water.  For harsh stains, apply and let paste sit overnight before rinsing.

Ant Repellent -- Find where ants are entering the home and spread cream of tartar, cinnamon, red chili pepper, or perfume to block the trail.  Water your yard more -- ants come in when they are thirsty.  Spray cayenne powder in holes or cracks in areas where ants are seen.  Also, potted mint plants discourage ants from entering the house (Although mint is a great food and medicinal herb, if you intend to plant mint in the ground around the outside of your home, be aware that it is a quick spreading ground cover plant, can overcome other plants, and can be difficult to control).

Bleach -- Use 1/2 cup of lemon as a bleach in the laundry rinse cycle and to bleach kitchen surfaces.  Also, you can wash white clothing in borax and lemon juice, and then lay flat out on the dewy lawn on a sunny morning or hang on a clothesline and let the sun help naturally dry and bleach your garments. The minerals in hard water can gray clothes. If you have very hard water, add Ĺ cup of vinegar to your rinse water.

Brass Polish -- Rub with Worcestershire sauce.  Also, can make a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar. Most commonly used kitchen ingredients that contain a natural acid, such as vinegar, Tabasco Sauce, ketchup, tomatoes, milk, and lemon or lime juice, will remove tarnish. Let sit first.  The tarnish washes away with an acid rub or soak. You might have to remove the lacquer cover if the brass is new. Do this by submerging the brass in boiling water with a few teaspoons each of baking soda and washing soda (available in the laundry section of the supermarket). Once the lacquer has peeled off, polish dry.  Wear gloves when using washing soda because it is caustic, and don't use it on fiberglass, aluminum, or waxed floors unless you want to remove the wax. 

Carpet Deodorizer -- Sprinkle a little baking soda or cornstarch.  To make an aromatic carpet freshener, mix 25 drops of any pure essential oil with a scent you enjoy into two cups of borax and give the carpet a dusting of the powder.

Carpet Spot Remover -- Sprinkle spot with cornflour and let sit, then wash with natural soapy water and vacuum.

Chrome Cleaner -- Rub with white vinegar, or with wet newspapers, or rub with baby oil or mineral oil and a soft cloth.

Copper Cleaner -- Lemon juice.  To polish copper, use a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar, or lemon juice and salt.  Ketchup is also a good copper cleaner.

Crayon on Wallpaper or Vinyl Paint -- Blow dry until the wax melts, and wipe with a paper towel or dry sponge.

Deodorizer for Drains/Garbage Disposals -- Salt

Dishwashing Liquid -- Sea salt, lemon juice, hot water, and a few drops of orange essential oil.  You can also add a tablespoon of baking soda to your soapy dishwater  -- it will softens hands while cutting through grease!

Disinfectant -- Use a compound of 3% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar for disinfecting areas where there is a concern about bacteria.  Also use to clean areas of suspected mold, fungus, and mildew instead of unhealthy chlorine bleach.

Drain Opener -- First try tossing a bar of soap into the standing water and let it sit for 15 minutes to a couple of hours depending on the severity of the clog, and frequently this will clear out the clog.  It may need to be repeated a couple of times.  If water hasn't yet backed up in your drain, you can pour 1 cup of baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar, cover until stops fizzing, and then flush with 3 cups of boiling water. The boiling water will change the chemical composition of baking soda, making it more alkaline. Repeat a few times if necessary until the drain is clear.  For clogs where the water isn't going down the drain, you can also try pouring a cup of washing soda (don't use washing soda if you recently used a commercial acid drain cleaner -- they will react strongly with each other, and wear gloves while working with washing soda) over the drain area and let it set for a while to work its way down to the clog. Once the clog is loosened, use the baking soda method, above.  You also shouldn't overuse washing soda if you have PVC pipes, as the high pH of 11 and caustic nature of washing soda can slowly damage the plastic.  Another method is using a flexible metal snake if you have one, a plunger, and salt.

Fabric Softener -- Add baking soda during the rinse cycle.  According to an Anderson Labs study of airborne emissions published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health in May of 2000, commercial fabric softeners emit toluene, styrene, phenol, thymol, xylene, and trimethylbenzene, among other chemicals. 

Flea, Fly, and Insect Repellents -- Plant several pots with basil to repel insects. Apply rubbing alcohol to the skin to repel mosquitos and other insects. Add chopped garlic or brewer's yeast to pet's food for fleas.  Make an aromatic insect repellent by mixing 1 cup of water with a tablespoon of pure vanilla (not extract) and apply to skin.  Vacuum area and make flea traps by putting water on plates mixed with dish soap, and sitting the plates on the floor under lights.   (You can also order a natural insect repellent formula, or non-toxic Bug Arrest to kill fleas, lice, and other insects using natural enzymes.  Can spray directly on plants, humans, or pets)

Floor Cleaner -- Combine white vinegar and a few drops of  eucalyptus oil, or add 1/2 cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water for an effective floor cleaner.

Furniture Polish -- Mix a tablespoon of olive oil into every 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar (use white distilled vinegar if risk of staining a light wood), shake well in a spray bottle and apply.  The vinegar pulls the dirt out of the wood and the oil lubricates it, which is also healthy for the wood because indoor air is often dry and damaging.  You can substitute lemon juice for the vinegar, which leaves behind a refreshing and pleasing aroma.  An old recycled flannel piece of cloth is great for polishing. Also, rub in olive or almond oil.

Glass Cleaner -- Shake 2 cups of water with 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of natural liquid soap or detergent in a spray bottle.  Unfortunately, plain vinegar with water doesn't usually work well anymore.  It often leaves streaks because it can't remove the waxy residue left behind from commercial cleaners.  You can also use the mixture on porcelain, countertops, and tile. 

Glass Coffee Pot Stains -- Use lots of salt, ice cubes, and a little water.  Swirl around in coffee pot until marks are gone.

Gum Removal -- Rub with ice.  The gum will flake off.

Insect Repellent -- Plant several pots of plants that repels different insects such as basil, marigolds, coriander, thyme, yarrow, rue, and tansy.  Introduce natural predators such as ladybugs. Spray garden plants with a natural soap and water solution that can be washed off later.  

Mold, Fungus, and Mildew Cleaner -- Use a compound of 3% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, and use borax to inhibit future growth.

Mosquito Repellent -- Spray pure vanilla (not extract - often available at health stores) around areas where mosquitos breed and on your skin.  After raining, repellent may need to be re-applied to mosquito breeding grounds.  You can also apply rubbing alcohol to your skin to deter mosquitos.  Brewer's yeast taken daily repels mosquitoes (and this is also very healthy!)

Moths -- Use cedar chips, cedar spray, or bay leaves.

Oil or Grease on Driveways -- Sprinkle with cat litter, allow the oil or grease to absorb, and then shovel or sweep away.

Oven Cleaner -- Sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda (1/4") and salt on the areas of the oven that need cleaned (if walls, spray water first and shake on as much baking soda as will stick), then spray the baking soda on the flat surfaces and walls with water until it is thoroughly dampened, but not flooded.  Let it sit overnight, occasionally re-damping the surfaces if it starts to dry out, then remove the baking soda with the grime on it using a sponge the following day.  Scour if necessary with steel wool pads for heavy buildup/tough spots. 

Paint Brush Softener -- Hot vinegar will soften up a stiff paint brush.  If you are painting with a latex paint and need to take a break, but don't want your roller or brush to dry out, wrap the paint-covered part in a plastic baggy and it will stay moist for a long time.

Pests Indoors -- Grind or blend one garlic clove and one onion.  Add 1 Tablespoon of cayenne paper and 1 quart of water.  Add 1 Tablespoon of liquid natural soap.  Spray into cracks or around areas where pests enter or frequent.

Scouring Cleanser -- Mix baking soda with water and use for scouring sinks and tubs.

Scratches on Wood Furniture -- Mix 1 teaspoon of instant coffee with 2 teaspoons of water to make a paste.  Apply with a cotton ball.

Shoe Polish -- Rub shoes with a banana peel.

Silver Polish -- Polish with a paste of baking soda, water, and sea salt.  Scoop the paste onto a sponge and rub the paste into the silver.  Rinse with hot water and polish with a soft, clean clother.  For badly tarnished silver, let the paste sit on the silver for about an hour before rinsing and polishing. 

Skid Marks on Linoleum Floor -- Scrub with toothpaste.

Stainless Steel Cleaner -- White vinegar to remove spots.  Baking soda or mineral oil for shining, or rub with olive oil or club soda. 

Stain Remover -- Borax and water.  For grass stains use 1 tsp. of digestive enzymes from the health store (powder or ground up pill) with enough water to make a paste.  Apply and let it sit for an hour before laundering.

Starch for Laundry -- Mix cornstarch with water and use a spray bottle.

Tooth Whitener -- Lemon juice whitens teeth. Cut a sliver of fresh lemon and rub it on your teeth for 5 minutes three times a day until whitened to the desired level.  Brushing your teeth with sage also helps whiten teeth. (You may also wish to order a  Naturally Whitening Dental Gel)

Upholstery Cleaner -- Clean stains with club soda.

Washing machine cleaner -- Add vinegar to the final rinse in your washing machine to eliminate residues (don't use if bleach in washer or bleach in detergent).

Weed killer -- To safely get rid of weeds, spray them directly with a mixture of one small bottle of orange oil extract and vinegar.  Preferably is should be applied when rain is not in the forecast and it is going to get a full day of warm sunshine.  If you accidentally spray surrounding grass, it may also die, but after the brown spot where you sprayed appears, dark lush healthier green grass usually regrows in the place where this natural weed killer was applied.

Window Cleaner -- Shake 2 cups of water with 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of natural liquid soap or detergent in a spray bottle.  Unfortunately, plain vinegar with water doesn't usually work well anymore.  It often leaves streaks because it can't remove the waxy residue left behind from commercial cleaners.  You can also use the mixture on porcelain, countertops, and tile. 


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Required Disclaimer: The information provided within these pages is designed to help you make informed decisions about your health. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice or treatment of your healthcare practitioner. Please remember that true health involves addressing all the systems of the body, and not just using one particular product as a "quick fix" -- there is no such thing. Much of the information presented on the NatureGem web site is based on personal research, experience, and resulting opinion.  Products recommended by, or contained in, this web site have not been evaluated by the FDA, and therefore are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Before adhering to any recommendations, especially where you may be combining natural treatments with prescribed synthetic drugs, you may want to consult with your personal health care professional. Understand that you are solely responsible for the way that this information is perceived and utilized, and do so at your own risk. In no way will NatureGem, its officers, or affiliates be responsible for any actions taken, injuries, adverse reactions, or other difficulties that might arise due to the use or misuse of this web site or the advice contained within.  IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, PLEASE ASK YOUR HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER

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