Ditch the Dryer Sheets and Fabric Softener: Use Dryer Balls!

We used to use dryer sheets like they were going out of style. I liked how they left my clothes feeling soft and smelling great. Then I learned a bit more about them. In case you weren’t aware, as dryer sheets tumble around with your clean laundry in the dryer, they coat everything with what I can only describe as a chemical-filled film. This film helps to soften the laundry and leaves it smelling pretty.

But what’s in this “film”? The sheets themselves are coated in a fabric softening chemical and (usually) various fragrance chemicals. Some of these chemicals are toxic, and at the least, many of them are known allergens. Plus, dryer sheets aren’t even essential to our laundry. That means it’s just an added expense and exposure to something potentially toxic for no reason.

When we first ditched dryer sheets, I’ll admit my laundry struggled. I didn’t care about or even miss the nice fragrance, but we had some major issues with static. Plus, it was the dead of the winter when it was dry and cold–that didn’t help my cause. I headed to the internet to do some research on how to reduce static.

Reducing Static Cling

The first thing I discovered was that I needed to be air drying certain fabrics rather than letting them tumble around in the dryer. These particular fabrics are the biggest culprits for creating extra static. For us, that meant (and continues to mean of course) air drying fleece and polyester especially:

  • Fleece–blankets, pullovers
  • Polyester–mesh shorts, most other workout clothes, most of our polo shirts

When it’s nice outside (or when my indoor drying rack has the space), I also like to air dry much of our other laundry as well. It saves energy from running the dryer and helps clothing and other things to last longer.

I also read that dryer balls were an excellent way to reduce static AND reduce drying time! You can certainly make your own (do a quick Google search, and you’ll find directions everywhere), but I found these on Amazon and ordered them in a jiffy. Dryer balls are simple to use. I keep all six of them in the dryer and let them tumble with each load. They last for thousands of loads and contain no toxic chemicals!

Some folks recommend adding a few drops of essential oil to each ball before each load if you like a fragrance boost out of your dryer. Personally, I’ve found the fragrance to be faint, so I don’t bother. However, if you want to freshen your sheets before making your bed, for example, 3-4 drops of lavender on each ball is nice.

Fabric Softening

The other thing you might be wondering about is how to soften your fabric without dryer sheets. Sure, you could go to the store and buy liquid fabric softener for your washing machine, but then, that would defeat the whole purpose of ditching the dryer sheets, right? Well, I have a solution for you!

A simple, nontoxic alternative to fabric softener is distilled white vinegar! It’s inexpensive (especially when you buy it in the huge jugs at Costco like I do), and it works great. And I promise it won’t leave your laundry smelling like vinegar. I keep a quart-size glass bottle (originally a Heinz vinegar bottle) in our laundry room and refill it as needed. I find it easier to pour from than the big gallon+ jug.

To each quart, I also add 15-20 drops of lemon essential oil (optional). You’ll want to shake it gently before each use, as the essential oil will separate from the vinegar. Simply add it to your fabric softener compartment before each wash, and your laundry will be softened–just like that. As an added bonus, vinegar is a great stain and odor remover, so you’ll get a nice boost with each load on that front as well.

Oh, and if you’re looking to remove even more toxic chemicals from your laundry room, check out my post on homemade laundry soap! You’ll not only be happy with the natural ingredients, but your pocket book will thank you as well!

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Easy Homemade Hair & Body Wash

Ya know what I love most about homemade hair and body wash? I can customize it in any way to suit my needs. Plus, since I know what’s going into it, I know it’s all-natural and free of artificial additives, chemicals, and preservatives. That means it’s better for my skin and hair. It’s a win-win!

What’s in It?

The recipe calls for just five ingredients–and one of them is water! The other ingredients include Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile liquid soap, carrier oil, essential oils, and xantham gum (a thickening agent).

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile liquid soap is organic and vegan. It is a wonderful moisturizing soap, and since I use the unscented one, it’s gentle enough for babies, kids, and folks with sensitive skin. Carrier oils have various benefits depending on your needs. Certain carrier oils are ideal for things like dry skin, oily skin, acne-prone skin, dandruff, and more. Check out this post for more information on choosing the right carrier oil for your skin type and this one on choosing the right carrier for your hair type. Like carrier oils, various essential oils can also have benefits for different needs. Choose the best ones for you by visiting the links above.

Remember also that not all essential oils are created equal. The FDA only requires 5% purity for an essential oil bottle to be labeled 100% pure. I know, right?! Just because the label says it’s pure doesn’t mean it is. Do your homework on the companies and their testing practices to ensure you’re getting pure oils. I only use and recommend doTERRA oils. If you’d like to order doTERRA oils, click here for more information.

The other things you’ll need to make your own hair and body wash are a blender and a 16-ounce dark glass (amber or cobalt) pump bottle. I like these bottles from Amazon. Why dark glass you’re wondering? Essential oils can degrade over time when exposed to light. Storing them in a cool, dark place prolongs their potency. They also have the ability (citrus oils especially) to eat through plastic over time. Plus, glass bottles can be washed, sanitized, and used again and again! Plastic bottles would need to be replaced with each new batch.

Ready to make it? Click the links in the ingredient list for purchase info if you don’t have them on hand.

Ingredients:

Make It:

  1. Blend water, carrier oil, and essential oils in a blender on low for 3-5 seconds.
  2. Add xantham gum, and blend on low for 5-7 seconds or until thickened slightly.
  3. Add liquid castile soap, and pulse (do NOT blend) 2-4 times to incorporate.
  4. Pour into pump bottle.

You’ll likely notice this recipe doesn’t get as sudsy as your typical shampoo or body wash. Without the artificial ingredients that produce the bubbles, that’s completely normal! Rest assured, though, it’s still doing its job.

Don’t want to make it yourself? Buy it now!

De-stink Your Dogs, Naturally!

One of our dogs is a German shepherd mix, which means she has a medium-length, thick coat with an even thicker undercoat. She also LOVES to swim! One dip in the lake, and her smell will send you running for days! That coat just traps everything in. It takes a long time to dry, and the lovely lake smell just lingers in there.

Dog groomers recommend you bathe your dog no more than once every 6-8 weeks. Why not? Over-bathing can quickly lead to dry, dandruffy skin and excess shedding. So how do you manage the stink between baths? Use this great deodorizing spray! Simply spray into coat, work in with your hands, and allow it to air dry. For heavier, thicker coats, two or three applications may be required to fully deodorize.

Now I know you can buy all sorts of waterless shampoos and deodorizing sprays at the pet store, but I would encourage you to read through the ingredient list. Most of them include all sorts of artificial ingredients and harsh chemicals. Those ingredients typically just mask the smell, and they often dry out the dog’s skin and coat as well.

This recipe uses only filtered water and certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils. Essential oils are unique because they can actually alter the chemical compound of other things. That means they can change what’s causing the stink and get rid of it completely. Now, be sure to use only pure oils–I ONLY use and recommend doTERRA oils (get yours here). Certainly don’t use the oils available at your grocery and box stores; most of them aren’t pure…even if they claim to be.

If your dog has dry, itchy skin to begin with, you can also replace half the water in the recipe with pure aloe juice (get it here). Aloe is widely known for its soothing qualities and can be quite beneficial for dogs with dry, irritated, or itchy skin.

Additionally, you’ll need a glass spray bottle for storage. Pure essential oils are quite potent and can eat through plastic bottles over time. Cobalt or amber glass also maintain the purity of the oils for longer periods of time than clear glass. Get them here. Store your spray in a cool, dark area when not in use.

The recipe below is for a four-ounce bottle. You can of course adjust quantities as needed for smaller or larger bottles. If your dog has especially dry, irritated, or itchy skin, you can also add 2 drops frankincense to the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Filtered water
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil

To make it, simply add essential oils to your bottle, fill with water, cap, and shake. Shake before each use. Then, spray over the dog’s coat, work in with your hands, and allow to air dry.

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DIY, All-natural Shower Melts

A while back, I posted my bath bomb recipe. If you read it, you know I’m not a bath person. Well, it turns out lots of you aren’t either! I got several questions about an equivalent “shower bomb.” The idea is the same, really. Call them what you want, but I like the name “shower melts.”

In any case, you just drop one on the bottom of your shower, just at the edge of the water. As you shower, the melt will slowly dissolve, providing the same benefits of bath bombs–essential oils for relaxing, energizing, or whatever benefit you’d like; and a great aroma. They also can of course be used as bath bombs; they’re just smaller than your typical bath bomb.

I make these in a great silicone mold (see the picture below) that I also use to make my dishwasher detergent tabs. The nice thing about this mold vs. the steel molds used for bath bombs is that the release is perfect! No fighting to get them out. If you need a mold, I highly recommend this one from Amazon.

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The recipe I use for these is the same as my bath bomb recipe. I highly recommend the use of a digital scale to measure the dry ingredients, but I’ve also provided approximate measurements if you don’t have one.

Ingredients:

  • Dry:
    • 2 ounces baking soda (approx. 1/4 cup)
    • 1 ounces citric acid (approx. 2 tbsp.)
    • 1 ounces salt of choice (approx. 2 tbsp.)
    • 1 ounces arrowroot flour (approx. 1/4 cup)
    • 1/8 tsp mineral mica powder color of choice (or more if you want the colors to be more vibrant; can also be omitted for plain white melts)
  • Wet:
    • 1/2 tbsp liquid oil of choice
    • 1/2 tsp witch hazel (or water)
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or water)
    • 10-15 drops essential oils of choice

Make Them:

  1. Place a medium plastic bowl on your digital scale, and zero it out.
  2. Add the dry ingredients, watching the weight as you go.
  3. When all dry ingredients are in the bowl, remove it from the scale, and stir the ingredients together; I just use my hands. Be sure to break up any clumps with your fingers.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate small bowl. I like to use a small Pyrex glass measuring cup. It makes for easy pouring when you’re ready to add the liquids to the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir wet ingredients thoroughly.
  6. SLOWLY pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Do small amounts at a time, or the dry ingredients will start to fizz up. I like to pour little bits in with my left hand and use my right hand to mix it in.
  7. Using your hand(s), mix the wet ingredients into the dry. In the end, it should be the consistency of lightly damp sand. If you squeeze some together in your hand, it should hold its form but not be hard.
  8. Transfer the mixture into your molds. Press firmly to ensure the mixture will hold together when it’s dry.
  9. Allow the molds to sit for several hours until the melts are dry and hard. In a dryer environment, they should be dry in 6-8 hours (or even sooner). In a more humid environment, drying may take 24 or more hours.
  10. Pop the melts out of the molds when they’re dry.
  11. Store in an airtight container or bag until ready to use.

If you’re using the molds I referenced above, this recipe will yield approximately 15 melts. You can certainly double or triple the batch to make more at one time.

Don’t want to make them yourself? Buy them now!

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Why I Love doTERRA Shampoo & Conditioner

doTERRAShampooConditionerFor as long as I can remember, I have had greasy hair. I mean…I could wash it right before bed and wake up with greasy hair. I was always so envious of my college roommate, who only had to wash her hair every few days. People kept telling me I was simply washing it too often. You mean you want me to wash it less often? Gross, no way!

After years of trying countless different brands, from the cheap ones available at the drug and box stores to the expensive salon-exclusive brands, I settled on Crew. Somebody once said to me, “Ya know, guys tend to have greasier hair in general. Maybe try a men’s product?” I did, and I actually had pretty good luck with it. I still couldn’t go more than a day between washes, but it at least got my hair feeling clean.

For several years, I used Crew. Then I joined doTERRA. I knew they had a shampoo and conditioner but didn’t try it for several months. Then one of my doTERRA friends told me how the shampoo and conditioner made a HUGE difference for her. She could now go a day or two between washing with no problems! I was intrigued, so I ordered some for myself.

My honest first impression was the awesome smell! I know that has no bearing on anything, but man, does it smell good! After a few days of use, though, I had some different realizations. One, my hair felt pretty darn soft. Two, it was easy to comb through right out of the shower–no tangles. Three, and most importantly, it often still felt fairly clean 24 hours after washing. For me, that last one was unbelievable!

This is when I started to incorporate my dry shampoo even more. On days when I was in a hurry (or just lazy), a few dabs of the dry shampoo on my roots made my hair good to go for another 24 or more hours.

What was happening?? Here’s doTERRA’s product description:

doTERRA Salon Essentials Protecting Shampoo is a professional formula with an invigorating complex of CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®essential oils, gentle cleansers, and botanical ingredients that keep the hair looking clean and healthy. A unique combination of plant extracts, along with Wild Orange and Lime essential oils provide gentle lathering and cleansing to remove impurities collected on the hair and scalp. Light moisturizers leave hair salon soft, shiny, and touchable.

doTERRA Salon Essentials Protecting Conditioner is a professional formula of conditioning emollients, botanical extracts, and natural proteins that leave hair looking luminous and healthy. It also includes a proprietary blend of CPTG® essential oils specifically selected to bring hair to life. Other natural ingredients keep hair looking strong and healthy. Nanotechnology smoothes hair and provides an antistatic effect that keeps hair shafts aligned during styling for a smooth, finished look.

Nearly every shampoo and conditioner on the market contains synthetic ingredients, designed to do something–smooth, straighten, protect color, etc. While those ingredients may have their benefits, for most of us, they’re the culprits behind many or all of our hair problems. Unfortunately, our body just doesn’t know what to do with artificial ingredients, so it often reacts in negative ways.

When we switch to all-natural products, our body understands the chemistry and instead of needing to react to the ingredients, it can interact with them. The results, then, tend to be much more positive. This was certainly the case for me with doTERRA shampoo and conditioner!

Want to give it a try? Contact me for a FREE sample! Ready to buy it yourself? Enroll as a wholesale member with doTERRA to get the best pricing available!

Colic Relief with Essential Oils

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Being a parent is tough; there are no ifs, ands, or buts, or about it. Newborns bring with them a whole set of unique challenges. Between middle-of-the-night feedings, constant diaper changes, and all the other struggles that come with newborns, parents are just plain tired. We’re told to “sleep when they sleep,” which in theory is great, but who has time for that?

The time when they’re sleeping is when you finally have a few minutes to clean up the kitchen, throw in some laundry, or just grab the mail. Or if you’re like me, you’re working from home, so those precious minutes when they’re sleeping are when you’re trying to get some work done. Throw colic into the mix, and your stress level doubles. No matter what we do, we just can’t seem to console the poor little one.

Our son was less than a week old when the colic started in. As a first-time parent, I didn’t even know what was going on. I knew he was fussy almost all the time, but I didn’t know why. Then I learned about colic. I had of course heard the word but had no idea what it really was. I still don’t. What I do know, though, is it’s no fun, and it’s often digestion- or gas-related.

Our first phone call was to the chiropractor. My chiropractor has two (now grown) boys of his own, and he has tons of experience with chiropractic care for people of all ages–including babies and young kids. When I called to make the appointment, I was nearly in tears just explaining what was happening. I was ecstatic to get in that same afternoon. By the time we arrived at the appointment, I was desperate for anything that would just calm him for more than a few minutes.

After a brief discussion of the delivery and a Q&A about his current health and behavior, I handed the little man over to our doctor. He made a couple tiny adjustments and passed him back, and we were on our way. It was like a light switch! He went from seemingly nonstop fussy to happy and chill almost immediately. My husband, who had previously been a bit unsure of chiropractic care, was SOLD.

To help our little guy going forward, I also mixed up a roller bottle with essential oils and fractionated coconut oil. For babies under a year, you only need about 4 drops of essential oils in a 10-mL roller bottle. Be sure to use only certified pure therapeutic grade oils–especially on babies and kids. I use and recommend doTERRA oils. Sign up as a wholesale member today, and order doTERRA oils for 25% off retail price!

Ok, enough talk. Ready for the roller bottle recipe?

Ingredients:

Make It:

  1. Add essential oils to your roller bottle.
  2. Fill with fractionated coconut oil.
  3. Cap and shake.
  4. To use it, apply after feeding or as needed to baby’s tummy in clockwise circles around the belly button.

*Lavender and wild orange worked great for us, but you may find other oils are more successful for you and your little one. Other good options to consider are cardamom, ginger, and chamomile. What other natural remedies have you found success with for colic?

Simple Sugar Scrub Recipe

 

SugarScrubSugar scrubs are awesome for exfoliating and deep cleansing. They’re also super easy and inexpensive to make yourself!

You can customize it however you’d like using white or brown sugar (or a combination of both) and essential oils of your choosing. Different essential oils can add not only a great fragrance but also various benefits including relaxation (lavender, cedarwood, and vetiver are great options), invigoration (peppermint or wild orange), acne and blemish fighting (melaleuca, lemon, grapefruit, and lavender), and more.

You can even add coffee grounds, vanilla extract, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice…the options really are endless.

Sugar scrubs are also great for your whole body! I especially love them for my feet during the summer months to smooth and get rid of dry skin, but they’re awesome everywhere including your arms, legs, elbows, and face! The most basic recipe is:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (white or light brown)
  • 1/2 cup light oil (I personally use coconut oil, melted but not hot; but avocado and sweet almond are great options as well)
  • 10-20 drops essential oils of choice

Make It:

  1. If using coconut oil, melt in 30-second intervals in a glass bowl or pitcher in the microwave OR in a double boiler over low heat. Allow to cool slightly before adding essential oils and sugar.
  2. For other oils already in liquid form, skip step 1.
  3. Stir together liquid oil and essential oils.
  4. Stir in sugar.
  5. Transfer to a glass jar for storage.

That’s it! Super easy, inexpensive, and full of benefits.

Variations:

  • The sugar simply acts as an exfoliant. Lots of other things can be used in place of the sugar and serve the same purpose such as salt (epsom salt, sea salt, and kosher salt work well), baking soda, coffee grounds (you can even use used coffee grounds), ground oatmeal, and ground rice.
  • Other liquids can also be used in place of the oil. Try raw, unfiltered honey or whole milk or cream (keep in mind if you use milk, you’ll want to store your scrub in the fridge and use it within a week or so). Milk alternatives like coconut milk are also good options. If you use honey, I recommend doing half honey and half oil to keep it from getting too thick.
  • Fresh citrus juices like lemon and grapefruit are great cleansers. You can also use zest from the peel.

What do you like to use in your homemade scrubs? Share your ideas in the comments!