It’s March and I’ve got more spring in my step as we approach the end of winter. I’m even in the mood to, dare I say it… clean! Those of us dealing with food allergies know that sometimes even things like your average household cleaning product can contain hidden allergens. From walnut-shell cleaning sponges to ingredients in your dish detergent labeled with cryptic “all natural” scents and ingredients, it can be hard to know what’s inside our cleaning products.
To anyone reading this who is new to dealing with food allergies, non-food products are not required to be labeled to the same standards as food products, since they aren’t meant to be ingested. Sometimes this can make finding out what’s inside of a product tricky.
For many, an all-purpose spray or laundry detergent is just a household item you buy every so often as it runs out, but it can suddenly become much more when you have an allergy. Here are some points to consider:
- Learn your allergen’s latin name- Did you know things such as peanut oil and almond oil often aren’t listed this same way in non-food products? They typically are listed as their latin term instead. Peanut is known as groundnut oil or arachis oil, while the latin words for almond include amygdalum and amygdale, with sweet almond oil being prunus amygdalus. I have a notepad page of the various terms for my allergen, and I suggest jotting those down and keeping it someplace handy to reference.
- Cleaning products & detergents with heavy fragrance – These ‘fragrances’ can often set off someone’s asthma and/or cause varying allergic responses. I suggest using fragrance-free & dye-free products if possible to eliminate a potential allergic reaction.
- Check the label, even on non-food products – Many cleaning products contain natural ingredients which are listed right in the ingredients label, but we may not think to look there since we aren’t eating it. Natural ingredients can be great for the environment, but potentially deadly for those of us with allergies to natural ingredients such as: almond oil in wood cleaners, cleaning sprays, and fabric softeners, or crushed walnut shells, which can be found in exfoliant products like scrubbing soaps and sponges.
Because of this more lax labeling, I believe less is more when it comes to the household products and cleaning supplies I use at home. I also don’t shop around very often, if I find a product that I don’t have a reaction to, I become a tried and true buyer and will try to stick to it forever. That’s not to say I don’t read the ingredients each time, I still do in case they’ve changed the recipe.
I’ve found that not only is it easier to know what is inside a product when you can pronounce and identify the ingredients, but making my own household supplies is a lot cheaper and just as effective! Using simple ingredients around my house to do chores feels satisfying, and I love being able to clean worry-free. I’ve even found sometimes the more basic the cleaning product, the better it cleans! That’s the case with my 3 favorite allergen-free cleaning products below! Cheers to some good old fashioned spring cleaning! Happy spring!
1. Baking Soda & Vinegar Scrub
Baking soda and white vinegar are the only ingredients you need! Depending on how much cleaning you’re doing, mix a cup or two of baking soda in a bowl, and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar bit by bit, stirring with a spoon until it forms a thick paste! Use this mixture with a sponge, rag, or old toothbrush, and give your tub, toilet, sinks, counters, any surface a rub to a sparkling clean finish! An added tip: I throw 1/2 a cup of baking soda down our kitchen drain every other month followed by a 1/2 cup of white vinegar. This will help unclog the sink & keep things smelling fresh. Let it sizzle for about 5 minutes as it breaks down and foams, and then run cold water down the drain for about 15 seconds, and you’re all done! If white vinegar isn’t your thing, you can use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar instead.
2. Bed Linen Spray
Sometimes I sit and wonder what I did before I spritzed all my linens with this magical spray! Clean out an old spray bottle or mist bottle and add in: 4 tbsp rubbing alcohol, 3 tbsp plain witch hazel, 20 drops of lavender essential oil, and top the rest of the bottle off with distilled water or filtered water. If you don’t have it, you can use tap water as well, just boil it first and let it come to room temperature, then add it into your bottle. (Boiling your water will decrease the amount of calcium build up around the spray nozzle overtime.)
I spray this on my throw blankets, in my dog’s bed (when he’s not in it), and spray our bed linens with it each morning before making the bed to keep them fresh for longer. Lavender is naturally antimicrobial, insecticidal and antifungal! If you can’t use lavender or don’t have it, there are other essential oils that could be used instead, such as: peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, and more. I’ve never used it, but instead of rubbing alcohol you can also use everclear or vodka, as long as it’s 120 proof alcohol. If it’s 80 proof, that’s too low, so just keep that in mind!
3. Carpet Deodorizer
I love using this on our carpet in our bedroom and on area rugs throughout the house. Grab any blender you have and whiz up a combination of: 1 cup baking soda, 3-5 whole cloves, and 1-2 bay leaves. The product will be dry in consistency, and you can lightly sprinkle it evenly onto your carpets, trying to get a thin layer. I usually will start at the far end of one room, sprinkle it down, then lightly massage it into the surface with my fingers (you can use gloves or not, your preference!) Then I keep walking backwards across the room while sprinkling it, so that I can exit the room without walking on the treated surface. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and vacuum it up afterwards! The clove and bay leaf provide a lovely smell in addition to their natural anti-microbial properties. I personally can’t get enough of this comforting scent & it will leave my carpets smelling fresh for weeks! If you wanted you could do this every 2 weeks, monthly, or every 6 months – it’s up to you and how often you use the spaces you’re deodorizing.
[This blog post was written by me and published in the Free-From Magazine released by the non-profit, Food Equality Initiative (FEI) – go follow them if you don’t already!]