Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Favorites

Today I read a post on my friends facebook page that listed all of her favorite household products. I thought that was such a great idea, because you get a real sense of what truly works for people and what doesn't.

I also have to point out that everyone has their reasons for buying what they do. Some people value time, others think about safety and health, etc. So every recommendation must go through your "filter," if you will, that helps you decide if the product is right for your family. Things that work for me may not work for you for whatever reason, and vice versa.

At this point, you may be wondering what my "filter" is--what do I look for in household products? Well, I want to be a good steward of my life (and my family) with the products I buy. For my husband and me, we are concerned about the harsh, manmade chemicals that are in a lot of products. A lot of the cleaners on the market today are made up of neurotoxins and other very unhealthy chemicals that entered the scene as a result of weapons research during WWII. So it's like you have to choose to expose yourself and your family to neurotoxins, carcinogens, and endocrine disruptors (like the ever-present parabens) to have a squeaky clean house. These chemicals may do a decent job at cutting grime, but all the research I have read seems to point to the fact that they are nasty for our bodies (especially young developing children), and they are nasty for the earth (the one we have been charged with taking care of.)

The question I typically get is, "well what about money. You're supposed to be a good steward of that, too." Yes, I agree. We're supposed to be good stewards of our money, but just because safe and natural products cost more doesn't mean that they are a bad use of my money. More expensive is not equal to bad stewardship. My husband entrusts me with his hard earned money, and I feel that the products I buy are a good use of money. I do try to find good deals when I can, too, though.

So without further ado, here are my favorite products around the house. It's not an exhaustive list, but these are the products that make our family a little happier! :)


Counter cleaner--Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. At our old house, we had tile counters, so I used the counter spray. But at our new house, the counter spray leaves streaks on the solid surface counter tops, so I use the window cleaner for the counter tops.

Cutting boards/sanitation -- Good, old fashioned tea tree oil. It smells great, and sanitizes well. I have used this for quite some time in place of lysol and am happy to report that we have never gotten sick from food borne bacteria! This stuff is also great for keeping dish sponges sanitary--just keep your sponges in a bath of water with a few drops of the tea tree oil.

Old rags--we rarely use paper towels. A while back we bought some cloth diapers for Isabella, and it came with a set of microfiber bottom wipes that we didn't need. So, they became our kitchen rags. We just use them as we would use a paper towel, and when we're done with them, instead of tossing them in the trash, I just put them in a bowl on top of our dryer. I toss them in the wash when the bowl gets full enough. No problems, no hassle--contrary to what Bounty would like you to believe.

Swiffer--My house has a ton of tile floors, so I have to say that I LOVE my swiffer sweeper. I bought a package of cheap microfiber cloths at Sam's. I attach them to the swiffer just like the swiffer cloths, and they work just as well. Again, I can just pull them off and toss them in the wash.

Coconut oil--My kids are allergic to milk and milk products, so we use coconut oil in place of butter or margarine in recipes. It tastes great, plus it has a multitude of great health benefits. This is a highly underrated oil!

Spectrum Non-Hydrogenated Shortening--this is made from palm oil, and it's really quite a fantastic shortening. Again, we sometimes use this in baking in the place of butter. But I use this primarily to oil down by bread pans (since I make all of my own bread). I pretty much use this as a replacement for non-stick sprays (to avoid all the propellants, etc.) and I have had a 100% success rate using it. The breads always come out perfect on bottom.

Cloth shopping bags--My husband's company sells the big rectangular, flat bottomed cloth bags for $1 each, so I got a bunch of them. Yes, they are better than using up plastic or paper bags. But they are also great for carrying things to and from the car. They're terrific for grocery shopping because so much more can fit so much more in each make. That translates into much faster loading and unloading!

Dish Washing Soap--I usually use either Ivory soap or Biokleen's dishwashing soap (whichever I can find cheaper per ounce.) Biokleen's is much more concentrated and comes in bigger bottles. It costs more usually, but you get so much more out of it. But at the same time, I really like the smell of Ivory soap.


Counters, Sinks, Showers, Tubs--I use the shower and tube and tile sprays from 7th Generation. They smell decently okay, and they do a good job cleaning.

I also use a mop to clean the walls and floors of my shower, and the bottom of my tub. My tubs at my new house are very deep, so using the mop saves a lot of back breaking work. It's effective and time saving!

Odor Eliminator-- I'm a huge fan of Biokleen's Bac-Out. It has natural enzymes and bacteria in it that "eat" away stains and smells. It's perfect for getting rid of stinky odors that can happen in the bathroom. (Have your little boys ever made a mess all around the toilet, and the bathroom smelled like urine for days?! Put a little Bac-Out on it, and it will be much better!) I also use it for soaking soiled clothes until I can get around to washing.

Beauty--Coconut Oil! That's our biggest secret around here (not a secret anymore, really.) My kids are bi-racial and have dark skin and curly hair that is always dry. We use coconut oil in the place of lotion. (We have a separate jar we keep in the bathroom, so don't think we coat our skin with the same stuff we cook with!) The oil is great for dry skin, and has really improved the condition of my kid's skin! It's loaded with vitamins and healthy fat that are great for skin. We also use it in place of hair oil for my daughter's super curly hair. Her hair stays soft and moisturized, and it smells great to boot!

Makeup--I use mineral makeup. I try not to use the mineral makeup they sell at Wal Mart because it's still loaded with unhealthy chemicals. Although, I have used it in a pinch. I use the real mineral makeup, and it is fabulous. I've never met anyone who wasn't in love with it once they switched. My skin, which has been prone to breakouts since I was 10 or 11 cleared up dramatically. It's a little pricier at the front end, but it lasts for a rediculously long time! Not to mention, you are not exposing yourself to those endocrine disruptors that are oh so common in makeup. Check out the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database for more info! It was a huge help to me!

Sunscreen--Last year I read up on sun screen, and I have to say it was quite the eye opening experience. There is quite a debate over whether or not we even need sunscreen, but I won't get into that. For my fair skin and my daughter (who is also fair skinned, yet able to get an awesome tan), we use the Jason Naturals Mineral Block sunscreen. It's just minerals--that's it. Minerals like mica are natural sunblocks and they don't have the nasty side effects of regular sunblock. We love this sunscreen!

Soap--Guess what we use...soap! We don't use store bought detergent body soaps. We use good old fashioned real homemade soap. We actually use lye soap. Although it does contain lye, it is balanced out by the lard in the soap, which makes for an incredibly gentle soap. Everyone in our family uses this soap in the shower, and the kids wash their hair with it, too. I'm hoping to learn how to make my own soon, so I can keep our family stocked up! As an added bonus, lye soap has the ability to cut through the scent of natural skin oils, leaving you invisible to bugs. I haven't had a single mosquito bite since I started using lye soap!


Detergent/Softener--if you've read my previous blog posts, you'll already know the answer to this one! We no longer use detergents or fabric softeners. We use Soap Nuts. You can read my previous posts to find out more info. We LOVE soap nuts. They do a fantastic job cleaning and leaving clothes fresh with no residue!

Bleach--I'm not a fan of chlorine bleach for many reasons, so we use oxygen bleach. You can buy many different brands of oxygen bleach. I've found that OxyClean does work but it has so many additives. I use other brands that are about the same price, but are just plain oxygen bleach without the additives, and it works so much better in my opinion.

Okay, so what do you think? Do you use any of these products? Do you have some you'd like to recommend? Let me know!