Adventures in Living a Natural Lifestyle

Sharing my adventures in living a more natural lifestyle, information about essential oils and natural home, health, and beauty recipes!

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I haven’t poo’d in 18 months, but it’s not what you think!!! The low-down on my no-poo journey!

Yup! The last time I poo’d was in December 2013!!! Used shampoo that is! And I think my hair looks pretty damn good!

So what’s all this no-poo buzz about anyway? Basically, consumers have started to realize that there are lots of questionable ingredients in shampoo and conditioners, some of which are downright toxic, and can actually cause damage to your hair over time.  No-poo means that you’ve gotten so fed up with chemicals that you’ve given up using shampoo at all.  It’s quite the commitment and generally not the first course of action for most people.  I was so tired of my hair breaking and excessive hair loss that I first chose to go low-poo before I went no poo.  Low-poo means avoiding sulfates, silicones, and parabens (more about these ingredients below) in your hair care products. There was also some unfounded rumors a couple years ago that sulfates were causing cancer.  These rumors helped lead consumers to seek out alternatives to traditional shampoo and thus shampoo companies have responded with the recent sulfate-free shampoo movement. The end result is there are a lot more options available to people who want to avoid using harsh chemicals in their beauty products but creative marketing has made it so that consumers have to be educated to know what to avoid.

So here’s a run down of all the common shampoo and conditioner ingredients you will want to avoid on your adventures in living a natural lifestyle:

Sulfates – Sulfates are harsh detergents that are often added as lathering agents.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are probably the most common sulfates and have gotten the most attention recently. They are powerful cleaners but work so well that overtime they can strip the hair of it’s natural oils (called sebum) causing damage (split ends and hair loss) and halting healthy hair growth. They are especially bad for color treated hair, as they can strip all that expensive dye off, as well as naturally curly hair, because they can make it extra frizzy.  If you have allergies, eczema, or find your shampoo irritates your scalp but aren’t ready to give up shampoo just yet try switching to a sulfate-free shampoo.

Is your shampoo low-poo? Here’s a list of ingredients that sulfates can masquerade as so you can be on the look out: Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate; Sodium Laureth, Myreth, or Lauryl Sulfate; Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, and TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate.

**Be aware of SLS or SLES “from coconut” as this is a marketing ploy to make consumers believe it is a safer product.  While the raw materials, or lauryl alcohol may be obtained from coconuts it is still combined with other chemicals to form the SLS or SLES and is a long way away from coconut oil!

Sodium Chloride – Also known as table salt, sodium chloride is often added as a thickener to shampoos that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.  While not a toxic chemical it can cause a dry, itchy scalp and should especially be avoided if you use keratin treatments on your hair as it can reduce the effectiveness.

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) – DEA and TEA are foaming agents often added to shampoos as sulfate alternatives to help create the lather consumers have come to expect in their shampoo.  In addition, these ingredients are also found as thickening agents in mascara, foundation, facial cleansers, and body washes.  But DEA and TEA can cause skin irritation and, when combined with nitrosating agents (nitrites), can cause a toxic chemical reaction. Currently cosmetic manufacturers are not required to list nitrites on their ingredient labels so it is next to impossible to know if a product contains them so it’s best just to avoid anything containing these ingredients.

Is your shampoo low-poo? Other names DEA and TEA can be listed as include:  Cocamide DEA or Cocamide Diethanolimine, Lauramide DEA or Lauramide Diethanolimine, DEA Lauryl Suphate or Diethanolimine Sulfate, Linoleaide DEA or Linoleaide Diethanolimine, and Oleamide DEA or Oleamide Diethanolimine.    

Silicones – Silicones, like Dimethicone, are often added to shampoos and conditioners because they make your hair appear shiny, soft, and easy to comb but can cause unwanted build up that can weigh your hair down.  Pretty much you want to avoid anything that ends in “cone,” “conol,” “col,” or “xane,” unless it has the abbreviations “PEG” or “PPG” in front of them as these are silicones that are designed to be water soluable and do not cause the same kind of buildup over time as traditional silicones. I prefer to avoid silicones all together though.

Are your shampoo and conditioner low-poo? Here’s a list of ingredients that silicones hide behind: Cetearyl Methicone, Cetyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, and Stearyl Dimethicone are common silicones.  Amodimethicone, Cyclomethicone/Cyclopentasiloxane, and Trimethylsilyamodimethicone are gentler silicones that will slow down the buildup that traditional silicones leave behind but are still technically silicones.  And lastly, Behenoxy Dimethicone and Stearoxy Dimethicone are still technically silicones but are somewhat soluable in water.

Polyethelyne Glycol – Also referred to as PEG/Polyethelyne or Polyoxyethelyne, polyethelyne glycol is a water soluable silicone often added as a thickening agent to shampooos that can strip the hair and skin of its natural moisture.

Parabens – Parabens are used to kill bacteria and prolong shelf life in cosmetics including shampoo, conditioners, sunscreen, moisturizers, anti-aging serums, mascara, etc. They are the most commonly used preservative and unless your skin or beauty product specifically says “paraben-free” it probably has parabens in it.  Despite their common usage, parabens can cause skin irritation, including dermatitis, rosacia, and other allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.  There’s even some rumors that they may be carcinogenic or have an estrogenic effect with continued exposure.

Are your shampoo and coditioner low-poo? Look for parabens listed as methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, and polyparaben.

Other Ingredients to Avoid: 

Lanolin, Petroleum, and Mineral Oil – These ingredients are often added to shampoos and conditioners marketed for ethnic hair.   However, they offer no additional moisturizing benefit and can actually weigh the hair down and prevent the natural oils (sebum) from being absorbed by the hair shaft, thus actually having a long-term drying effect making hair more brittle.

Formaldehyde –  Formaldehyde is often added as a preservative in cosmetics.  However, it is a known carcinogen and can damage the skin’s natural oils causing dryness, flaking, dermatitis, and other allergic reactions.  Excessive exposure to formaldehyde can actually cause hair loss. **Formaldehyde was an ingredient in the original J&J No More Tears Baby Shampoo, which has recently been reformulated as a result of an outcry by concerned parents.

Propylene Glycol – Also known as antifreeze, propylene glycol is often added to shampoo and other cosmetics to prevent them from freezing during shipping and storage. However, it can cause skin irritations, allergic reactions and even alter the structure of the skin which may allow other chemicals to be more readily absorbed into your bloodstream.

Alcohol – Almost all hair products contain alcohol of some sort but it can be drying in high concentrations.  Stay away from products that list alcohol as one of the first four ingredients on the label.

Synthetic Fragrance or Parfum – Synthetic fragrance can be a complex combination of thousands of chemicals that don’t have to be listed individually on ingredient labels.  Many of these can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.  Best to just avoid products with fragrance or find products that use essential oils to add natural fragrance instead.

Artificial Color – There is no reason other than aesthetics to add artificial coloring to cosmetics.  Yet artificial colorants can cause skin sensitivity or scalp irritation.

My Journey:

So now that you know why you want to avoid these ingredients, here is a little bit about my journey into the low- and no-poo realm.

I first became interested in the low-poo movement after learning about how harsh SLS and SLES was on the skin.  I had thrown out my facial cleansers and switched to castile soap as a body wash alternative so naturally looking into my shampoo and conditioning routine would be the next logical step.  My hair had been dry, brittle, and damaged for years on end.  I had chalked it up to my own laziness and the fact that I only tend to get my hair trimmed every 1-2 years (yes, you read that correctly…).  In addition to dry, damaged hair I had been losing excessive amounts of hair for the last year or so before I started my journey.  It was bad enough that I had even switched to really expensive, department store shampoos, like Aveda, in a desperate attempt to improve the condition of my hair and help prevent breakage and loss (and I’ve mentioned before how cheap frugal I am so you know this was huge!).


After being incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get better results spending ridiculous amounts of money on what I thought was a natural line of department store shampoo and conditioner I swore I’d never spend that much again. So when I went on my quest to find a sulfate free shampoo I started looking for brands that I could buy at a drug or grocery store for half (or less) the price of what I had been spending. My quest led to me to discover the Organix line of hair and beauty products. I started using Organix Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil Shampoo and Conditioner because I liked that it didn’t contain SLS or SLES and had the keratin added as a natural hair strengthening ingredient to help prevent breakage.  Overall, I really liked this product.  However, it claims to be sulfate free but does contain Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, which is technically a Sulfate. So in hindsight, it’s not actually Low Poo, hence my classification of Low(er) Poo.  I felt duped upon this discovery, so I continued to my quest and traveled further down the no poo rabbit hole.

**I’ve since learned that a better bet for drug-store low-poo brand is Shea Moisture. They have several formulations for different hair types all of which do not contain parabens, phthalates, paraffin, formaldehyde, popylene glycol, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, petrolatum, sythetic color, or DEA and (bonus!) NO Animal Testing!  In fact, we use the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Chamomile & Argon Oil Baby Head-To-Toe Wash & Shampoo with my daughter and love the way it lathers (makes a great bubble bath) and smells!

Oh Poo:

I was already using Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap as my body wash and in my research I had discovered that lots of people used castille soap as a no poo alternative to traditional shampoo so thought I would give it a try.  While my hair certainly felt clean, the Dr. Bronner’s sadly left my hair flat and kinda dry.  (I still use it as my daily body wash and have even converted my not-so-crunchy husband as well!) But, my favorite all natural blogger Crunchy Betty suggests combining Coconut Milk with Castille Soap to get the nice lather your used to with traditional shampoos and the extra moisturizing effect of the coconut milk. I personally haven’t tried it but if you’re up for it, check out her Sorta Poo recipe!

* I’ve listed this as Oh Poo because since my journey started castille soap, as well as shampoo bars, have been reclassified from No-Poo because technically any kind of soap is well… soap.  Just like you will learn below about other cleansing methods, soaps are very alkaline washing methods (some even more than baking soda) and still need to be followed up with an acidic rinse of some kind.  

**I cannot take credit for this witty renaming… The phrase Oh Poo came from here

No Poo:

When you finally get fed up enough and decide to take the plunge and go full on no poo you will see a lot of people recommend using a clarifying shampoo first.  I didn’t use clarifying shampoo, although this is a step commonly recommended.  Clarifying shampoo will help strip the excess silicones and other chemicals that have built up on the hair over time from using traditional shampoo and conditioning products.  This is also supposed to help decrease the amount of time you go through the transition period.  Since I started with low(er)-poo methods I felt I could skip this step.

So what is the transition period? Basically it is a period of detox for your hair as it releases all the toxic chemicals and allows the buildup of silicones and other ingredients to fade away.  The idea is you want the natural pH balance to return to your hair, a sort of homeostasis as it begins to produce just the right amount of natural oils, or sebum.  We’ve done so much damage to our hair by constantly stripping away the oils that our hair compensates by over-producing oil to try to maintain it’s health.  So it makes sense that when you stop stripping the natural oils that you would go through a period where your hair gets greasier.  This is why many people give up on the no poo methods of hair care.  But I promise, IT WILL GET BETTER! The trick is to give it time.  My transition was about 3 months overall, which is a bit longer than normal and probably couldn’t been shortened had I known more about my hair type and found my ideal routine sooner.

It may take several approaches before you find the right no poo method for you.  Do the research, learn about your hair and what it needs (take the porosity test here), and most importantly don’t give up!

No Poo methods I’ve tried, what worked for me and what didn’t:

  1. Honey – I had read so many scary things about the baking soda/vinegar combo (probably the most common no poo method) damaging people’s hair that I was too afraid to try it initially.  So I scoured the interwebz for other options.  I had already started washing my face with honey at the point that I stumbled across the Empowered Sustenance blog about her DIY Honey Shampoo. I was initially concerned that the honey would make my hair super sticky but if it’s mixed right it doesn’t.  The big turn off for me was having to mix up my “shampoo” before each wash because it can, and will, grow mold (which in hindsight isn’t a super big deal and I have to do that now anyway).  My hair was super soft and shiny using honey but it got super greasy really fast.  There is a big possibility that the grease factor was just my transition period.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried it again since then (because raw honey is expensive), but it would probably work just fine now that I’m out of transition.
  2. Bentonite Clay – A friend had given me some Bentonite Clay to use to make a face mask to help with my crazy hormonal acne that I had when I went off birth control so when I decided honey wasn’t the right choice for me I figured I’d give the clay a shot.  Mommypotamus has a good blog on using clay for a mud wash and I used her technique.  I honestly wasn’t impressed and only used the mud wash a few times.  I felt like the clay was harder to get out of my hair and felt that it was pretty drying.  My hair wasn’t as soft, shiny, or as easy to run my fingers through as normal.  if you choose to go the mud wash route, try Rhassoul clay instead.
  3. BS/V – After several incredibly frustrating weeks of trying out the honey and the Bentonite clay I finally gave in and tried the baking soda/vinegar combo and eventually found the routine that works for me.  I originally tried the method I’ve listed below and didn’t feel like it worked well while I was in transition.  I then discovered the “paste method” where I would take 1 tbsp of baking soda and mix with just a touch of water until it formed a paste and would massage the paste into my roots.  I found this much more effective at getting me through my transition but I’ve since learned that this can be really damaging to your hair.  When I got pregnant my paste routine didn’t seem to be working as well and I switched to the method I describe below and it worked so much better! In hindsight, I wouldn’t do the paste method again, I would simply try to wait out my transition period. The key to any no poo wash is making sure that you restore the pH balance of your hair.  Wash methods are mainly alkaline in nature so its important that you use some sort of acidic rinse to return your hair to its slightly acidic baseline. This seals the cuticle of the hair, so to speak, and helps the keratin lay flat on your hair resulting in soft, silky, and smooth hair! The most common acid rinse is vinegar.  But I’ve also tried coffee and beer with some success.  If you want to lighten your hair, lemon juice is also a good alternative.  (See link at bottom of blog for more details on different wash routines and acid rinses).
    1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – This is generally recommended for people with dryer hair.  My hair actually tends to be a bit oilier so I’m not sure why I originally started with ACV (it may have been because the smell is ever so slightly less offensive to my hubby) but I did and it seems to work well for me.  But if you try it and you feel like it weighs your hair down, a switch to DWV may do the trick. *Some people will tell you to use the ACV “with the mother” (like Bragg’s) which basically means that the raw enzymes used to ferment the vinegar haven’t been removed.  If I was drinking vinegar for health purposes I would totally make sure that I was using vinegar with the mother because it is full of gut friendly bacteria that help promote overall health but to rinse my hair that stuff is just way to expensive and seemed largely unnecessary. 
    2. Distilled White Vinegar (DWV) – Often recommended for people with oilier hair.

BS-ACV routine

Celia’s BS/ACV “No Poo” Routine:

Baking Soda Hair Wash: 1 tbsp baking soda to 1 cup of water.  One trick I learned is that if you have hard water, boil your water first.    The baking soda will fizz a bit when the boiling water mixes in.  I take a spoon and make sure that it completely mixes.  Let cool then use to wash the roots of your hair, scrinching and massaging the scalp. I mix this up a few minutes before my shower and wash dishes or pump while it cools off. *If your head gets a little itchy or you feel like your scalp is too dry, try decreasing the amount of baking soda until you find a ratio that works for you. 

ACV Hair Rinse: I use a 22 oz spray bottle from the Dollar Tree.  Fill 1/3 of the way with ACV and fill the rest up with water.  I don’t boil this water, but I’ve seen some people recommend boiling it for this step too.  Then I add 20 drops each of my essential oils (you can use less if you have a smaller spray bottle).  Currently I’m using Lavender, Cedarwood, and Ylang Ylang.  The Ylang Ylang completely covers up the vinegar smell (and my hubby has a nose like a bloodhound where vinegar is concerned so this is awesome)!  *Check out my list below for details on which essential oils are good for your hair and pick your favorites based on your hair needs! I only use my hair rinse on the hair from my ears down.  All the no poo fanatics will tell you this is wrong and that you should make sure to spray it on the top of your head too in order to restore the pH balance of your hair but I find that if I do this my hair gets greasier quicker, but be warned, my routine is technically “wrong.”  Try spraying your whole head first and make the decision that works best for your hair.  I leave my hair rinse spray bottle in the shower and use it until it’s gone and have never had any problem with mold growing in it.  But I have seen people recommend only mixing up the amount that you will use at a time.

Essential Oils for Hair Care:

* You can use any of these oils as part of a no-poo, low-poo, oh-poo, or poo-poo routine! Just add a few drops to your preferred rinse or conditioner!

  • Cedarwood – Great for a dry scalp or thinning hair, helps prevent hair loss (I chose this for my current rinse because I was battling the postpartum hair loss and wanted an oil to help combat that)
  • Frankincense – Maintains healthy hair and stimulates regrowth
  • Lavender – Helps control hair loss, improves hair growth, and helps get rid of an itchy scalp and dry flakes.
  • Peppermint – Great for an oily scalp.
  • Rosemary – Encourages hair growth.
  • Sandalwood – Helps restore moisture to hair and gives it a nice shine. Also supposedly helps combat premature greying of your hair!
  • Tea Tree – Helps minimize flakes and prevents lice.
  • Ylang Ylang – A natural hair conditioner that stimulates hair growth. Plus it smells lovely!

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount. Message me for more details or join today here!

Other considerations and helpful tips for your no poo journey:

  • Learn to love wearing your hair in a ponytail or braids – it will save your sanity while you are going through transition! You need to go as long as possible between washing to help your hair through transition.  Especially with the BS/V routine you don’t want to wash your hair any more often than every 4 days.  It was seriously painful going this long between washes and seeing how greasy and gross my hair looked in the beginning.  Eventually I got to where I could make it 6-7 days between washes.  Now that I’ve cut my hair and have a difficult time putting it in a ponytail I admit that I can no longer go that long between washes.  I generally wash every 4 days now.  My hair looks great for the first three days, the fourth it starts to get a little flat but is still totally presentable. I can go 5 days but my hair is looking pretty rough by that 5th day.
  • Dry shampoo – another trick that saved my sanity during transition. When your hair starts to get greasy on day 2 or 3 but you need to go longer between washes, use an old makeup brush to apply dry shampoo to your roots.  I made my own using a recipe I found on the Wellness Mama blog (find it here).  I used arrowroot and cocoa powder since I have dark hair.  Blonds can get away with just arrowroot. And redheads can use cinnamon or red clay.
  • Boar Bristle Brush (BBB) – A BBB is a natural bristle brush that is used to help distribute the natural oils (sebum) along the length of your hair. This is technically the best type of hair brush to use, but I find that it makes my hair really staticky so I don’t really use it much anymore. But when in transition this is really important because it can keep the shaft of your hair moisturized and keep the sebum buildup from being quite so noticeable.  The Morocco Method is what is frequently recommended for brushing with a BBB.  Check out a how to video here.

Notes and References: 

I found a great deal of information and support on my no-poo journey from the No Poo (no shampoo) & Low Poo Hair Care Group Forum on Facebook.  It’s a public group so you can peruse the files without joining but must join as a group member to comment and ask questions.   Here are links to some of their files:

  • Getting Started With No Poo
  • No Poo Wash Methods – a pretty comprehensive list of the no poo wash methods out there.
  • Oh Poo – a list of soaps that can be used to wash the hair without the damaging effects of sulfates, silicones, and parabens found in commercial shampoos.  Note: Soaps are alkaline and you WILL still need an acid rinse of some kind to balance the pH of your hair
  • Acidic Rinses & herbal Rinses/Teas/Infusions – a pretty comprehensive list of rinses that help restore the pH balance of your hair when using alkaline washing methods and provide a conditioning effect

Want to take it even further, check out Water Only (WO) and Sebum Only (SO) methods of hair care!

Another great, non-Facebook, resource is the No Poo Method website.  It has a great list of FAQ’s and describes a variety of methods and problem solving approaches to common pitfalls with the no poo method.

Do you no poo? Share your method below to keep the conversation going!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


An All Natural Cleaner Experiment: Do My DIY Cleaners Measure up?

Part 6 of my Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) series: An All Natural Cleaner Experiment

So I’ve been using my DIY Theives Cleaner for everything around the house lately! (Find my recipe here) So far it has worked beautifully for cleaning bathroom counters, the walls and outside of the toilet, kitchen counter tops, glass top stove, mirrors, and even glass.  Seriously, there isn’t much that this won’t clean! But after a recent online essential oils class I learned that Lemon essential oil is supposed to be able to remove crayon from walls.  While I have a child, she is only 4 1/2 months old as of the writing of this post and as of yet has not created artwork on any walls.  However, I do have one small wall next to the dog beds in the living room that has turned an unsightly shade of brown due to the amount of dirt that the dogs rub up against it daily. It’s in a dark corner and I generally just try my hardest to ignore it, which means it goes entirely too long between cleanings.  What this has afforded me, however, is an opportunity to really put my cleaners to the test.  After learning about the cleaning power of Lemon eo I wanted to see if it would tackle things other than crayon and figured dirty dog stains would be a good test.  But I also figured since this was a big enough surface area this would allow me to do a direct comparison of some of my other natural cleaning products.  Naturally I wanted to compare my DIY Thieves Cleaner and had a bit of Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner left that I hadn’t thrown out yet so thought I’d throw that in too.  I had also recently made an All Natural Dust Repellent that included vinegar and Lemon eo and thought “what the hell?” and decided to include that as well just out of curiosity.  The picture below (while embarrassing to show just how dirty this wall had become) provides you will a good visual of the before and after.

cleaner experiment 1

And the results are:

  • Lemon eo – By itself I was less than impressed with Lemon eo as a cleaner for dirty walls (it does a great job removing sticky gunk and I’m sure crayon) but was not as effective as I’d hoped.  It did clean a bit of the dirt off but it took 2 tries with 5-6 drops each on a microfiber cloth to even get it as clean as you see pictured above.  It did remove some dirt but really isn’t a cost effective solution.
  • DIY Dust Repellent – I was most surprised by how well this recipe cleaned the dirt off the wall since it was designed as a dust repellent and not a cleaner.  Especially because I didn’t remember until after I had used it to clean that it also contains a bit of olive oil (to shine your surfaces and help repel dust)… Bonus: Not only did it actually clean the dirt off the wall, it smelled great!!! This one was my favorite considering it was just as effective as the DIY Thieves Cleaner and the Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner.
  • DIY Thieves Cleaner – Cleaned every bit as well as, if not a bit better than, the Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner with none of the chemicals! I expected no less! This really is my go to all purpose cleaner now.  Seriously, this stuff cleans everything!!!
  • Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner – This cleaned the dirt and grime off pretty well but honestly seemed to struggle some with some of the harder to clean stains when compared to my DIY Thieves Cleaner

For the final part of my experiment I wanted to see how well the natural cleaners tackled old dried blood spots on my painted wall.  As any dog owner knows, dogs get injured from rough housing with one another and when they’ve got a spot on their ears or tail they love to shake which results in splattered blood spots all over your walls and furniture until the wound heals.  Since I have a pack the other dogs often “help” by cleaning the wound which can reopen the scabs and the process starts all over again.  Above my dirty wall was some remaining old dried blood splatter so I thought I’d give it a whirl!  I knew my DIY Thieves Cleaner was up for the challenge but wanted to really give the Natural Dust Repellent a go to see how the lemon and vinegar would work at cleaning this challenging task.

cleaner experiment 2

As you can see from the above picture, the results were every bit as good as I hoped for!!! The Dust Repellent removed all the old dried blood stains with only a little bit of scrubbing for some of the harder to remove spots.  I’m super pleased with how well this recipe worked for a task it wasn’t really designed for!  My hubby hates the smell of vinegar but the Lemon eo is way better at masking the scent than my Thieves it’s nice to have another cleaning recipe on hand. But honestly I’ll probably just add Lemon eo to my Thieves cleaner in future batches to get the most bang for my buck.  This also avoids the olive oil in the Natural Dust Repellent, which I will reserve for dusting!


Have you done any all natural cleaning experiments in your home? Share the results below to keep the conversation going!!!


Did you miss Parts 1-5 of my Clean Your Home Naturally Series? Find them below:

Intro: Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) this Summer!

Part 1: How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally

Part 2: How To Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances Naturally

Part 3: How To Clean Your Toilet Naturally

Part 4: How To Keep The Dust Away: A DIY All Natural Dust Repellent 

Part 5: How To Deodorize Your Carpet Naturally + BONUS DIY Spot Cleaning Recipe!


How To Deodorize Your Carpet Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) + BONUS DIY Spot Cleaning Recipe!

Part 5 of my Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) series – How To Deodorize Your Carpet Naturally + BONUS DIY Spot Cleaning Recipe!

I’ve mentioned before that I have 5 dogs… 5 mostly inside, spoiled, rotten dogs. In addition to breeding mutant size dust bunnies, having this many dogs in the house means my area rug gets dirty… really, really dirty.  And quite frankly, it smells like dog. Not only is there enough dog hair shed that I could stitch together a sixth dog, but dogs are gross and eat things they shouldn’t which frequently results in upset tummies and try as I might I cannot convince them to hoark it up on the hardwood where it would be much, much easier to clean.  Hence the inspiration for today’s post.

Several years ago I spent my tax return on a Dyson DC25 Animal Upright Vacuum Cleaner (that’s when I knew I was officially an “adult” spending my tax return on responsible things) because I knew that I would always be accompanied by a dog pack (back then it was only 3).  And I absolutely LOVE my vacuum cleaner.  But as anyone with a lot of dogs knows that even with the best vacuum cleaner starts to smell like dog eventually.  So when I was researching all natural cleaning tricks and recipes and stumbled upon Life As Mom’s All Natural Carpet Deodorizer I knew I had to give it a shot!  I was quite pleased with the results.  Not only did it freshen my carpet but made the house smell good while I cleaned and my vacuum smells much better too!   (For another bonus recipe head on over to Life As Mom’s original blog, linked below, to get an air freshener variation!)

carpet 2

All Natural Carpet Deodorizer


  • Glass jar with lid
  • 1 cup Baking Soda
  • 10-20 drops of Lemon essential oil


Combine Baking Soda and essential oil in glass jar.  Screw lid on and shake well to evenly distribute the oils.  Gently shake, liberally covering your carpet or area rug.  Let sit for 30 minutes or more before vacuuming up.

* The original recipe called for 1/2 cup Baking Soda and she said it would cover a 5×8′ area rug.  I doubled the recipe and honestly could have added a bit more to better cover my 8×12′ rug.



Shortly after I got my rug all cleaned and I was sitting back enjoying my hard work, one of my lovely dogs decided that they would hoark up the grass they had eaten earlier that day… Yummy! Historically we had just used Woolite Carpet Stain and Odor Remover, Pet + Oxygen (which I’m sad to say scored an F on EWG for containing surfactants, hexoxyethanol, acrylates copolymer, and artificial fragrance – yuck!) but since I had been keep with an all natural cleaning routine I figured I could find a better way to clean this spot up without the toxic chemicals.  After a brief search I stumbled upon The Prairie Homestead’s blog and recipe for an all natural carpet cleaner.  The author also had dogs with similarly disgusting behaviors so I thought it would be the best place to start.  It worked surprisingly well.  What I can tell you is though, make sure to start with LESS baking soda than I picture below.  I used way too much and it took several tries of spraying the vinegar:water solution to get it all out.  If you use too much, you’ll know because it will make a white spot on your carpet (which by all accounts is better than dog vomit but still irritating).

DIY Spot Cleaner


  • Baking Soda
  • Lemon essential oil (optional)
  • Distilled White Vinegar (DWV)
  • Water
  • Towel or rag


  1. Combine Baking Soda and a couple drops of your Lemon essential oil (you can use some of what you mixed up for the carpet deodorizer) and shake well to distribute the oils.
  2. Sprinkle* Baking Soda mixture on spot and let sit for at least 1 hour to overnight.                                                                                                                          spot cleaner 1 *Sprinkle being the operative word – I used WAY too much in this pic! (you want just enough to absorb any liquid)
  3. Mix a 1:1 ratio of DWV to Water in a spray bottle.
  4. Generously spray Vinegar:Water mixture on Baking Soda allowing it to fizz                                                                                                                                     spot cleaner 2
  5. Cover the spot with your towel or rag and press to absorb moisture.   As the original author points out it is not advised that you scrub the carpet as this could damage the fibers.  I’ll be honest, I scrubbed it… a lot! It didn’t seem to damage my carpet. But proceed with caution.
  6. Repeat if necessary (or if you didn’t heed my wisdom and used too much Baking Soda, repeat the spray mixture until it stops fizzing.  I promise you will eventually get all the Baking Soda out!)



Have you tried either of the above recipes or do you have another preferred all natural method of cleaning your carpet? I’d love to hear it! Comment below to keep the conversation going!


Did you miss Parts 1-4 of my Clean Your Home Naturally Series? Find them below:

Intro: Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) this Summer!

Part 1: How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally

Part 2: How To Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances Naturally

Part 3: How To Clean Your Toilet Naturally

Part 4: How To Keep The Dust Away: A DIY All Natural Dust Repellent 


How To Keep The Dust Away (without Toxic Chemicals): A DIY All Natural Dust Repellent

Part 4 of my Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) series – How To Keep The Dust Away (without Toxic Chemicals): A DIY All Natural Dust Repellent

I don’t know if it’s because we own an older home or because we have 5 mostly inside dogs (yes, you read that right!) or because we are lazy housekeepers – most likely a combination of all of the above – but we have a serious dust problem in our home. Often it feels like we can dust and 2 days later there is already a fine layer of dust building up… it’s a never ending battle. So naturally when the spring cleaning bug hit me one of my missions was to find an all natural dust repellent.

In the past I, like most consumers, used Pledge to dust my home and clean my wood. But upon closer inspection of the ingredients I learned that Pledge contains butane, propane, isobutane, (all three of which are GRAS by the FDA but who really wants to clean your home with gases?), dimethicone and silicone (both of which are persistent in the environment because they not anaerobically biodegradable and they can be toxic to aquatic life). Not to mention there is no telling what sort of nasty artificial fragrance they used to create their “lemon” or “pine” smells and we all know that artificial fragrances are known allergens and skin irritants. So needless to say, I ditched the Pledge years ago (but the hubby still uses it, much to my dismay – the conversion to green cleaning is taking a bit longer than the conversion to recycling, composting, gardening, farmer’s markets, and clean eating… if he cleaned with his stomach we might have more success! Lol).

I do most of the dusting in our home anyway and most recently I have been using the Clorox Green Works “naturally derived compostable cleaning wipes” to dust my furniture because as I’ve mentioned numerous times before I was a sucker for “natural” advertising and these are “compostable” so they must be good, right!?! Needless to say, I never actually put them in my compost so on some level I knew that it was a bit too good to be true. While certainly better than Pledge in terms of toxicity, Clorox Green Works wipes still contain some questionable ingredients, including formaldehyde (a known carcinogen that can cause skin irritation and is toxic to aquatic life), lauryl pyrrolidone (also a skin irritant and toxic to aquatic life – I was starting to feel like I’ve been killing all the fishes…), and artificial fragrance (which can be an allergen and skin irritant). And on top of that, they never did clean as well as Pledge…

I knew I could use a simple microfiber cloth to dust with. Hell, I grew up using those old school blue dish rags just dampened with water to dust as a child (one of my least favorite chores – perhaps this is why I’m terrible at dusting now… I blame Mom! Lol). But I wanted something with a bit more power to repel the dust that will inevitably settle back in as soon as I finish dusting. So I set out to find a natural dust repellent that would rival the old tried and true Lemon Pledge. I found what sounded like the perfect all natural alternative from another all natural blogger and set out to give it a try. (The first time I made this I had run out of Dollar Tree spray bottles so I simply mixed up half the following recipe in a measuring cup, stirred well to mix the oil up, dipped my microfiber towel in and wiped my surfaces with it. It worked just as well as in the spray bottle but I prefer the sprayer for ease of application.) It worked beautifully and smelled delicious!!! Couldn’t even smell the vinegar (which is a big deal since the hubby has a nose like a bloodhound where vinegar is concerned!). Check out my before and after pics to see a close up of how well my All Natural Dust Repellent worked and the shine it gave my wooden coffee table (ignore the scratches – while this DIY All Natural Dust Repellent is great at removing dust even it can’t repair the damage that years of wear and tear has put on my coffee table)!

dust - before and after

All Natural Dust Repellent

• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup vinegar
• 2 tsp olive oil (this helps shine and protect your wood)
• 10-15 drops of Lemon essential oil* (makes your home smell naturally fresh and clean!)
*Other citrus oils like grapefruit, wild orange, tangerine, or bergamot would work well too!

Combine ingredients in spray bottle. Shake well. Spray on surface and wipe with microfiber towel for natural shine!



Do you have another all natural method of removing dust and preventing buildup in your home? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below to keep the conversation going!


Did you miss Parts 1-3 of my Clean Your Home Naturally Series? Find them below:

Intro: Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) this Summer!

Part 1: How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally

Part 2: How To Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances Naturally

Part 3: How To Clean Your Toilet Naturally

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How To Clean Your Toilet Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals)!

Part 3 of my Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) series: How To Clean Your Toilet Naturally.

Let’s face, no one really enjoys cleaning the toilet. And when you factor in all the gross chemicals involved it makes the whole process even less desirable. When I caught the spring cleaning bug over the weekend I knew I had to find a way to clean my toilet naturally so that I could at least generate some excitement about the process. I was surprised at the number of natural cleaning methods I found so I’ll share them below as well as share what method I used (I’ll spare you the before and after pics this time!).

Let’s begin by looking at some common store-bought toilet cleaners and why you’ll want to avoid them!

Bleach – Sodium Hypochlorite is the main ingredient in bleach and is a known allergen and skin irritant. It can cause severe skin burns and eye damage and is toxic to aquatic life. (Not to mention that if you are clumsy like me you’ll wind up bleaching everything else in your home by accident…)
Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner – The main ingredient in Lysol’s Toilet Bowl Cleaner is Hydrochloric Acid which can not only cause severe skin burns and eye damage but also acts as an upper respiratory irritant and can contribute to asthma attacks and pulmonary edema.
Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Gel – Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Gel contains Polymers, which are not only toxic to aquatic life but also skin and eye irritants, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, another skin irritant, and artificial Fragrance which can be an allergen or skin irritant.
2000 Flushes Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner – 2000 Flushes Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, while convenient (IF it truly does “clean with every flush”) also contains several harmful ingredients, including Surfactants, which are toxic to aquatic life as well as being skin and respiratory irritants; 1,3-Dichloro-5-Ethyl-5-Methylhydantion, which is a known allergen and skin irritant; Chlorine Bleach (see above); and artificial Fragrance.

So now that you’re ready to throw out your toilet bowl cleaners, let’s look at some common household ingredients that you already have on hand that help clean naturally!

Baking Soda – Baking Soda is a natural abrasive that can help you scour your toilet bowl and act as a natural deodorizer. However it does not have any germ-fighting qualities. Pair it with Vinegar for the ultimate toilet bowl cleaning duo!
Borax – Not everyone has this on hand but it is easily found at your local grocery store. Borax is often mistaken as Boric Acid (which is toxic!) but it is NOT the same thing! Borax is actually Sodium Tetraborate which is non-toxic unless ingested in very large amounts. It’s a great, old-fashioned multi-purpose cleaner. It is commonly used as a natural laundry detergent but can also be used to clean, whiten (it doesn’t bleach, just removes stains) and deodorize your bathroom or kitchen and even used to rid your home of ants naturally!
Citric Acid (or Lemon Juice) – Citric acid is a natural, eco-friendly and cost-effective cleaning agent/ingredient, especially effective at removing stains and hard water buildup. Citric acid is also found in lemon juice and while we may not all have citric acid laying around our home, many of us have lemon juice in our fridge! (Note: Lemon essential oil does NOT contain citric acid) You can order citric acid through Mountain Rose Herbs here:…/citric-acid/profile
Essential Oils – I’ve already discussed how awesome I think essential oils are as additions to homemade cleaners (because of germ-fighting properties and ability to prohibit bacteria and fungal growth) and cleaning the toilet is no exception! Oils such as Tea Tree and Thieves are especially effective. But others oils, such as Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Rosemary, and Citrus oils, also have germ-fighting properties as well!
Vinegar – Vinegar is a natural acid that is mild enough to not irritate the skin but is effective at cleaning, disinfecting, and eliminating odors. Use in combination with Baking Soda or Borax for an especially effective toilet bowl cleaner!

Another wonderful way to help rid your toilet of those awful rings (especially if you get the hard ones around the rim of the toilet that never seem to come out no matter how much you scrub) is to invest in a natural Pumice Stone (just like the one your grandmother uses on her feet!). I found mine on Amazon for less than $5. Buy it here:…/…/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1…

I found several great methods of using the above ingredients to clean my toilet over at DIY Natural but opted for my own method, which I’ve included below.

How to Clean Your Toilet Naturally:

• Borax (or Baking Soda)
• Thieves cleaner (find my recipe here)
• Pumice Stone

• Pour ½ – ¾ cup of Borax (or Baking Soda) in toilet bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Use toilet brush to scrub inside of toilet then flush.
• Use Thieves cleaner to spray the inside and outside walls of the toilet bowl and clean with sponge.
• Use the Pumice stone on any hard surface stains or toilet bowl rings that did not come out with the above methods.

Keep the conversation going! What’s your favorite all natural method of cleaning the toilet? Comment below!

Did you miss Part 1 and 2 of my Clean Your Home Naturally Series? Find them below:

Intro: Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) this Summer!

Part 1: How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally

Part 2: How To Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances Naturally

Leave a comment

How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals)!

Part 1 of my Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) series: How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally.

When I catch the cleaning bug I always start in the kitchen because it seems like there is no end to stuff to clean.  I try to keep the dishes done and the counter tops clean on a daily basis but so much other kitchen cleaning just falls to the wayside because I simply don’t have time (or the baby decides I’m done cleaning even when Mommy still has some motivation left to clean!). I’m embarrassed to admit how long it has been since cleaning the inside of the microwave… it’s probably my least favorite cleaning activity (I’d rather clean the toilet). Part of why I hate it so much is that food splatters (because honestly, who uses those nifty little food covers for everything you microwave?) then gets cooked on by repeated microwave use and is super hard and crusty when it comes time to clean. I’d heard many times that you could use vinegar to clean the microwave so naturally with my love of all things vinegar I had to give it a try. I looked at many sources and they were pretty much all the same: Use a mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water, put in microwave for 5- 10 minutes so that it boils and makes steam (this is what moistens and loosens the caked on food), then wipe clean. The one variation I saw said to put a toothpick, or something wooden, in the water.

I chose to use a 1 cup glass measuring cup with ½ cup DWV and ½ cup water. I first microwaved for 5 minutes and still felt like the baked on food was a bit harder than I hoped it would be so I put it back in for 10 minutes, which was a bit too long. It never made it to 10 minutes before it scared the hell out of me by popping and actually blowing the door to my microwave open!!! Perhaps this is why that one author said to put a toothpick or something wooden in there, I don’t know… But next time I’ll start with like 7 minutes, then add 1-2 minute increments if I feel like it needs more time. Thankfully, nothing was hurt – the glass didn’t break and the microwave door still opens and closes just fine. It did mean that the vinegar/water solution sprayed all over the inside of the microwave, however. After I mopped up the excess solution I took my sponge and just wiped the inside of the microwave down and I’m pleased to report that there was NO scrubbing!!! Every little bit of baked on food wiped right off without the slightest resistance! Check out my before and after photo!

microwave inside - before and after

Do you have favorite non-toxic household cleaning tricks? Share them in the comments below to keep the conversation going! Also, make sure to check back daily this week for more DIY non-toxic cleaning recipes and household hacks!!!

Did you miss my introduction to my Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) series? Find it here.


The Lysol vs Thieves Experiment (and a DIY Thieves Cleaner Recipe!)

Right around the time I started falling in love with Thieves oil and all it could do I stumbled upon an experiment that another YL member did comparing Thieves oil to Lysol spray and the results were astounding to me! It is too good not to share!!! This is not my experiment, it was conducted by Elisa Fantaci Collins from Cape Coral, FL and shared with her permission.

Lyso vs Thieves 

Lysol vs. Thieves Experiment

Elisa used a pre-packaged bacteria kit that you can buy online. This is what she said about the process (I added the step numbers to make it easier to follow):

1. Got the plates
2. Created the squares of paper towel
3. Used thieves oil 2 drops it pretty saturated the paper squares. Used Lysol spray. Saturated the squares
4. Put one square in each dish
5. Swabbed areas (long swabs came with kit, in sealed package)
6. Rubbed the contaminated swab around the dish. I kinda went up to and under the paper towel. Continued till I was done. Did bathroom floor around toilet, my laptop keyboard, my cell phone, and the front door handle. I then left one as control and swabbed the inside of my mouth for the extra Thieves one. I use thieves in my mouth for a gum issue and would not use Lysol!!!
7. Followed directions in kit
8. Turned taped dishes inside down covered with a sheet of paper
9. Observed and photographed

**I have to admit, I’m surprised by how much bacteria grew in the Lysol dishes! I’m feeling pretty good about my Thieves recipes now!

Want to do your own experiment? I found a bacteria growing kit like the one she used here:…/…

Now that you know how awesome Thieves oil is at preventing bacteria growth don’t you want to know how to clean with it!?! Of course you do!

One of the main reasons I was so excited to add Thieves oil to my collection was because of it’s ability to prohibit bacteria and fungal growth as well as its immune enhancing properties and the variety of ways it can be used to disinfect and clean! Our cleaning products is one of the biggest ways toxic chemicals enter into our home and I’m excited about being able to start ridding our home of some of these products.  Young Living makes a concentrated Thieves cleaner that many people swear by and I’m sure it’s an amazing product! But before I spent my money on a product that I wasn’t sure I’d love (or that the hubby would be willing to use) I figured I’d make my own to try it on for size.  There are dozens of DIY Thieves Cleaner recipes out there.  I wanted to create one that was “all purpose” and could be used in both the kitchen and bathroom so I modified several recipes to come up with my own.  Although Thieves oil and water would be sufficient to create a disinfecting spray cleaner, I chose to include vinegar and tea tree oil in my cleaner to provide additional mildew killing power for use in the bathroom.  This is my recipe.

DIY Thieves Cleaner:

  • 1 all-purpose empty spray bottle – I bought my at the Dollar Tree, they have 22 oz fill-lines or can be filled even further if you fill up into the neck of the bottle*
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar (DWV)
  • 2 cups distilled water – I actually used bottled water, although all recipes call for distilled**
  • 10 drops each of Thieves oil and Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) oil – buy them here

* Most essential oil recipes call for glass bottles because the essential oils can breakdown the plastic over time.  Also, amber glass protects the integrity of the essential oils.  I elected to use plastic because it was what I had on hand and was less likely to get broken if dropped.

** As near as I can tell the biggest issue with water in recipes is that tap water has bacteria in it that can create additional bacteria growth in your DIY products.  There doesn’t appear to be a great deal of difference between distilled and purified bottled water as both will reduce contaminants in your recipes.  And lets face it, most of us have bottled water on hand and very few of us keep distilled water.  I didn’t want to run to the store so I elected to use bottled water. For more on using water in DIY recipes, check out Crunchy Betty’s “DIY 101: Working with Water.”

One thing to consider about my recipe is that it does contain a fair amount of vinegar.  I’ll be honest, vinegar smell doesn’t really bother me but my husband hates it! After I cleaned the bathroom using my spray he came in to check it out and must have a nose like a bloodhound because all he said at first was “All I can smell is vinegar!” But my cleaner passed the bathroom test! He’s not convinced yet since “soap scum is easy to remove” so I’ll have to use the cleaner in the kitchen and see how it handles kitchen grease before he will be a true convert.  (Update: I have since used my cleaner in the kitchen and it passes muster with cleaning power but he still complains about the vinegar smell) Also, I may consider cutting down the amount of vinegar in future batches to see if it’s less offensive, because I know he won’t use it if he is offended by the smell.  Adding lemon or orange eo may be another option to make it smell better while also boosting cleaning power.  Play around with ratios and let me know what works best for you!

Virtually Vegan Mama has a great blog on DIY Thieves cleaners with three different variations that I used for inspiration when creating my recipe.  I like that she gave so many options of ways to modify the basic recipe. Her recipe variations are:


Basic Thieves Cleaner:

  • 1 drop of thieves essential oil for each ounce of water


  • 1 drop for every ½ ounce of water (for a stronger solution)

Variation 1: Makes 8 oz.

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 8-16 drops thieves essential oil

Variation 2: Makes 8 oz.

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons castile soap
  • 8-16 drops thieves essential oil


  1. Pour thieves essential oil into a dark glass spray bottle.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Shake well before use.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place.

Do you clean with Thieves or do you have another all natural DIY cleaner recipe that you love? Share your thoughts (or recipes) below!