Changes In Our Home to a More Natural, Simple & Frugal Way of Living

I have been on a journey since mid-2015 to transform my home to a cleaner, more natural environment free of chemicals. This also eventually led to me doing the same for my family’s beauty products. What we put on our skin (the largest organ of our body) is absorbed into our bloodstream and makes a great impact on our health. The beauty industry is not regulated by the FDA, so any number of toxins is allowed in our products, which has a detrimental affect on us. The rise in infertility and asthma is just some examples of the many things that are caused by constant exposure to the toxins and chemicals in our products that we put on us and breathe in our air.
In this same time frame, I have been on a journey of simplifying my life and making things easier and less hectic as a mom of young children. I am a perfectionist by nature, and when I started staying home with my daughter Harmony, my perfectionism went through the roof. Being home all day, surrounded by things and clutter was getting to me. I had very organized clutter, but clutter none the less. My stress level and anxiety over it was increasing every day, and I was desperate to change something. That’s when I started googling and discovered minimalism! It has drastically changed my family’s life. I wish everyone would know the huge freedom and impact minimalism has on your life if you just jump in to it! It is a lifestyle change… just like everything else that I talk about here. 
I knew that this way of a cleaner, more natural way of life that I was wanting to switch to could either be extremely expensive, or frugal and time-consuming. The frugal way would consist of me having to make everything from scratch myself all the time. I did not want to do that unless it was super simple. As I said before, minimalism and simplicity was my goal in mind, in all areas of my life (including how I clean and my daily beauty routine)! I have tirelessly researched and tested many different recipes of the DIY products that I do make. The natural products that I use to make my DIY products are extremely concentrated and go a very long way if used in certain ways. Also, not everything pre-made that I buy “off-the-shelf” is 100% natural, but it is pretty close and a lot cleaner ingredients. I will explain more with each product as you read on.

Here is everything I have switched to for my home and beauty products, as well as resources I look to consistently in regards to a more simple, minimalistic, and natural way of living. Enjoy!

***Word of encouragement for you: Do not get overwhelmed when thinking of all the changes to your health you are having to make!! This is a steady and slow process! It took me 4 years to officially make all the changes I needed to for our health. Concentrate on swapping out one thing at a time as you run out of the items in your home with a healthier-choice item! Simple swaps is what will get you to eventually where your whole lifestyle is centered around the health you desire! YOU CAN DO THIS!


HOME CARE & CLEANING:

Scent/Air Freshening: diffuse quality essential oils! Buy from Plant Therapy and get $10 off your first order of at least $25 at this link!They are some of the highest quality essential oils at a more affordable price with free shipping/returns. They are also personally approved by the essential oil safety “guru” and aromatherapist Robert Tisserand.

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Norwex microfiber cloths and Mop: you can use a natural cleaner or use only water if you want to, to clean and disinfect with these cloths! Clean absolutely everything in your house with them. Spills, dirty baby faces after eating, scrubbing surfaces, wiping down mirrors/windows, etc. Use the cloth dry to dust your house— dust is attracted to and trapped on the cloth through static. The mop- I am able to use with only water on any flooring and it cleans and disinfects everything (Buy here).img_0197


Cloth napkins to use while eating (saves a lot of money and the earth by not using paper towels).


Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap: There are 18 uses listed on the bottle. It is a multi-purpose all natural soap that can clean anything. Check out uses here. img_0218Order off of Amazon or even pick it up at Walmart in the health and beauty department where the “natural” products are sold. You will see all the ways I use it listed in this blog.


Thieves cleaner: Essential oil company Young Living makes this concentrated cleaner from essential oils (and all natural ingredients) that disinfects and cleans amazingly and smells like cinnamon.

In explaining the backstory of the Theives product, Young Living states, “In France during the 15th century, thieves would sneak into graveyards to rob from the dead and dying. Legend says they protected themselves by creating a special aromatic combination composed of clove, rosemary, and other botanicals. Today, Thieves essential oil blend is inspired by those tales of old. Combining Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Lemon, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary essential oils, this blend is one of our popular products.”

You only use a capful for a large 32 oz spray bottle to clean EVERYTHING in your house. Windows/mirrors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, toilets, showers/tubs, floors, tables, furniture, EVERYTHING. I bought PET, BPA-free spray bottles off of Amazon that are tinted amber and cobalt blue to keep light from weakening the product. Put one capful of Thieves cleaner in the spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Shake well and use on everything and never have to buy a separate cleaner for anything again. I wipe everything down with my Norwex microfiber cloths after spraying the surface. Click to buy here. When you checkout, you can enter in My Sponsor ID: 15241729.


Dishwasher soap: So far I like this recipe from Dr. Axe’s website: “Just mix 8 ounces of castile soap with 1 cup of water and 3 teaspoons of lemon juice and shake gently. To use, add 1 tablespoon of the above mixture into the “open” compartment of your dishwasher and add 1 cup of white vinegar to the “closed” compartment. If you have hard water, add a little more vinegar.”  ***UPDATE:  after many trials of this recipe and other recipes, I was not able to find one that I was completely happy with that left my dishes residue free and clean looking. I have resorted back to buying Seventh Generation Free & Clear  dishwasher detergent powder.  My local Walmart does not carry it so I do you have to order on Amazon, but I have been happy with this in the past. I have decided that at least for now there is not a frugal way of making my own dishwasher detergent that I’m happy with. BA574490-1094-44CC-B3BB-16C241B204A1


Dishwasher Rinse Aid: hydrogen peroxide with lemon essential oil (10-15 drops per cup of peroxide). ***Update: I have found I like a newer recipe more than just the hydrogen peroxide recipe because it wasn’t drying my dishes as well. The new recipe is 1 cup white vinegar, ¼ cup rubbing alcohol, ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide (3%), and 2 tablespoons citric acid (ordered from Amazon) in a squeeze bottle with a long spout that I got at Walmart for an easier way to squirt it in my dishwasher rinse aid spout. I also have been really liking this Ecover rinse aid I found on Amazon!img_3166126A93A4-05E6-4C07-9819-1C3E360B1755


Shower Spray: spray hydrogen peroxide after taking your shower each time to help ward off soap scum and mildew in your shower/tub. I bought a cheap plastic bottle from Walmart in the cleaning section and took the spray top, and it screws on perfectly onto a regular size hydrogen peroxide bottle. ***For  hard to scrub stains, I use Castile soap diluted in some water in a spray bottle and scrub after it has sat for a little while!


Neato Robotic Vacuum (Buy here)– Speaking of simplicity in life, I could not live without my Neato robotic vacuum cleaner that was given to me as a Christmas gift two years ago! I have so much more time on my hands because I never have to vacuum myself! I researched for weeks on the top robotic vacuum cleaners on the market, and I came to the conclusion that Neato was the best one for the price and the features that it has.  It cleans effortlessly on all floor types, and it’s one of the only vacuum cleaners on the market that has a square front to reach corners easily, and it can completely vacuum in the dark because of it special lasers. It is also the only one so far on the market that thourougly plots out your floor plan and vacuums a 15 x 15 perimeter, then will vacuum within that 15 x 15 perimeter, then move on to another 15 x 15 perimeter until the whole job is finished. If it gets low on battery in the middle of it cleaning job, it will stop and return back to it’s charging base and then resume back to where it left off. I have my vacuum clean every other night at midnight while we are sleeping in all the main living areas. It gets the whole job done in one hour and 10 minutes, including one charge cycle in between. The app connects to the robot through Wi-Fi and that is where you can easily schedule when you want the img_0221Neato vacuum to clean, have it manually turn on from there, set additional settings, set ”no-go” lines where you don’t want it to clean (like near your Christmas tree skirt), and also see a map after every cleaning of where it cleaned in your house.  About once a week we set Neato in each of the bedrooms and shut the door and have it clean in there. The only times I ever have to pull out a vacuum cleaner myself is for quick spot cleaning after eating in the kitchen or any other little messes—and for that I use my awesome Dyson v7 handheld (also a Christmas gift)!img_0220


LAUNDRY: 

DYI liquid laundry soap that uses only 4 or 5 easy ingredients (Recipe here). I put it in an old vinegar gallon bottle I had, which works perfect. The washing soda does clump together some after sitting a while, so you want to shake the bottle before each use. There will still be some clumps when you pour it into your measuring cup, but it all dissolves in the laundry while washing. The recipe says you can optionally put a tablespoon of thieves cleaner into the soap, which I did not do because I wanted to test the effectiveness of the ingredients without the thieves. I did add 40 to 50 drops of lemon oil just to add a fresh scent to the soap. My clothes come out smelling clean! ***Update: I now use Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Castile Soap (from Amazon) in the recipe which leaves my clothes smelling so good without having to add the essential oil! Highly recommend you trying this particular scented soap.


Stain remover: Liquid castile soap lightly scrubbed in with a toothbrush on any stains before washing clothes. Because the soap is oil based, I have found it takes out almost every single stain. If you did not pre-treat a stain before washing it, and it did not come out on its own in the wash, I will always pre-treat the stain again with the soap and let it sit 24 hours on the stain before washing it a second time. If it still has not come out all the way, I pour lemon juice on the stain and have it sit in the sunlight by a window throughout the day, then pre-treat the stain again with soap, and wash it again. I have always had luck getting out any of my stains that I forgot to pretreat after doing this with lemon juice.


Clothes softener: 1/2 cup of vinegar in a Downy ball acts as a clothes softener and freshener (it only releases the vinegar during the rinse cycle, and leaves no vinegar smell on clothes). I marked a line in permanent marker on the downy ball, so I know how much 1/2 a cup is every time I pour vinegar in it.


Wool dryer balls (bought mine off Amazon) in dryer to help clothes be softer, static free, and dry faster (you can also put a few drops of essential oils on each dryer ball to add a nice smell to your clothes). I personally use six dryer balls every time I dry a load, but you can use three dryer balls for smaller loads.


BEAUTY & GROOMING:

Hand soap: Dr. Bronner’s Castile liquid soap diluted in a foam pump. Mine pictured here is from Walmart.


Burt’s Bees makeup and chapstick (sold at Walmart). I love this make up and have no complaints! Most of Burt’s Bees products are 98% natural (or more)! They even go as far as telling you on each individual product what the exact percentage of the ingredients is naturally derived. They have come out with a huge variety of products for their makeup line recently, including highlighting and contouring products. The only tip I would give for their makeup is for their foundation. Make sure your face has been freshly washed and moisturized or spray your make up sponge with your makeup setting spray (recipe down below) and dab it on your face before putting on your foundation. This will make your foundation go on more evenly and not look cakey.


DIY makeup setting sprayRecipe here. ***I use witch hazel in place of the water in this recipe and I also add some aloe Vera in it for moisturizing!


Body wash and Shaving: Dr. Bronner’s Castile liquid soap (I love Lavender and Peppermint scent) in a clear foam soap pump you can buy on Amazon here. Foam soap pumps make your soap go a long way! I also bought PET, BPA-free foam pumps off of Amazon that are cobalt blue to block light from weakening any essential oils I might add to the soap for scent and other benefits. As far as shaving goes, you can also use coconut oil, but it clogs your razor easily. I have read olive oil is the best for shaving, but I personally do well with just the foam castile soap. Rub in the soap on the area you’re about to shave and let it sit for at least 30 seconds before shaving. This allows the hot water and soap to soften and moisten your hair and skin which makes shaving easier.


Shampoo: Dr. Bronner’s Castile BAR soap in Peppermint (which you can find on the exact same shelf at Walmart that has the liquid castile soap in the beauty section). Peppermint wards off dandruff, itchy scalp, and lice. The bar soap as opposed to liquid soap works best on hair. When you first transition from conventional shampoos to natural soap, your hair goes through a 3-4 week time period of adjustment, allowing your scalp to produce it’s own oils that conventional shampoo strips constantly from it. Your hair will feel greasier than usual during this adjustment period, so you need to have some patience with it. Here is an article that really helped me during this time. I now only have to wash my hair twice a week. 🙂 ***UPDATE: I gave the castile bar soap 3 months.  In the first month it worked great, but shortly after it started making my hair feel really greasy, heavy, and stringy. I couldn’t style my hair anymore the way I liked it. I kept trying different things in my hair routine like rinsing my hair with diluted apple cider vinegar, which would make my hair ends looks so much cleaner, but I couldn’t stand the smell while putting it in.  So then I switched to diluted lemon juice and it did the same thing as the Apple cider vinegar but smelled better. The problem was even though my ends were looking nicer, my scalp was still feeling very heavy. I would clarify it with baking soda the next time I washed my hair with the soap and that would help so much, but it would never reach a point to where it was consistently nice texture. I decided it was time to try something completely different. I got on Amazon and looked for a very inexpensive, natural shampoo that still had peppermint oil in it to help protect my scalp from dryness and lice (since my daughter is starting preschool soon). I can say I have been very happy with the Acure Peppermint & Echinacea shampoo. It was only $6 for a 12 ounce bottle.  That could be a little less frugal for someone who washes their hair every day, but since I trained my hair and I only wash it twice a week it works perfectly for me. It leaves my hair clean like regular conventional shampoo, but gives me the benefits of natural shampoo! It also leaves my hair so soft that I do not even have to use any conditioner!! Extra plus!C17B6795-42DB-419D-8914-02D6FE0E3AE9


Facial toner: Diluted 2 parts water, 1 part organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother” in a little spray bottle in the shower— use for a facial toner after washing your face! Apple cider vinegar is so healthy for your skin – nourishing it and it also fades scars and spots. Don’t worry… the strong smell goes away after a few minutes!


Acne treatment: roller bottle of diluted tea tree oil. I bought the roller bottle off of Amazon. Tea Tree oil is one of the most effective antimicrobial and antibacterial essential oils! ***Side note: this has been working wonderfully on my daughter’s toenail that has been “dead” looking since she has been six months old. Fungus had set in on the toenail and it had stopped growing for years until I started rolling this diluted tea tree oil on it every night. The toenail is starting to grow again and look more normal every day. You can find dilution information at Dr. Eric Z’s website. His website is one of the very few websites that I trust of the correct information on diluting essential oils! There are so many websites and companies out there that promote putting essential oil straight onto your body without diluting, and that is not only dangerous, but also wasteful! You can also check out Dr. Z‘s essential oil book that has all the basic information and DYI of essential oil recipes you need (Buy here). Burt’s Bees also has great Acne products like Acne Toner & Acne Face Scrub you can find at Walmart!052919C9-B79A-44C7-BF97-A8114C467E3B


Facial mask: coconut oil, raw honey, and lemon essential oil— Recipe here. You can even just put raw honey on your face which has antibiotic properties to it. It clears up acne very well!


Moisturizer, Hair Conditioner, Hair Styling Gel, Skin soother, After shave— organic Aloe Vera Gel: You can get this on Amazon. It’s important that you get organic Aloe Vera gel that only has natural preservative ingredients in it (like the one I linked above) or you can buy 100% organic Aloe Vera Juice that has to be refrigerated. For face moisturizer, you can try 1:1 of Aloe Vera & Almond Oil (which is full of Vitamin E great for the skin). If noticing it is breaking you out, use less ratio of almond oil. I have found that this combination is the best facial moisturizer I have ever tried on my skin!!! You could also use it as an all over body lotion/moisturizer, but I also like to use Burts Bees lotion as well!

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Honest Company free & clear hand sanitizer or Purell Naturals hand sanitizer gel, or you can make your own hand sanitizer spray from this recipe here (which is going to be the cleaner, more natural option).


DIY hairspray from this recipe here.


DIY dry shampoo: cornstarch and baking soda (can add cocoa powder for dark colored hair) in an empty glass salt shaker I bought from Walmart (Recipe here).


Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush— better and gentler on your gums and teeth then regular toothbrushes. You can buy generic replaceable toothbrush heads at Walmart that fit the toothbrush for very cheap!


Tom’s natural toothpaste at Walmart.  I recently read that you want to look for toothpaste that does not have glycerin in it because glycerin coats your teeth where your teeth cannot re-mineralize. The only toothpaste I have found that does not have glycerin is this one in the picture. There are DYI options on www.naturallivingfamily.com.


Everyone Natural spray deodorant or Tom’s natural deodorant (also in Women’s natural scents) at Walmart. There are DYI options on www.naturallivingfamily.com. *Note: With any products that I buy from the store like the toothpaste and deodorant, I take the “Think Dirty” app and scan each individual product I’m looking into buying, so I can see what the health rating is on it’s ingredients. Just because a product says it is natural, does not mean it is all natural. Some all natural brands still put ingredients in their products that aren’t the greatest for you. I try to pick the cleanest option available. My toothpaste and the Tom’s deodorant rate a three on a scale of 1 through 10 so it’s not bad. On the “Think Dirty” App, ratings 1-3 are still good.img_1229img_0210


Pacifica or Skylar perfume (Buy here for Skylar): Pacifica perfume you can get at Target in store, online or also on Amazon! It is super affordable and ALL natural and the smell lasts all day!!!! I personally will be buying it for now on. Another option: Skylar perfume is clean, hypoallergenic and mostly natural ingredients. They use some synthetic fragrances for the purpose of being hypoallergenic, but they leave out all the toxic chemicals that most perfumes do have in them. It lasts all day long and I prefer it over making my own perfume with essential oils. I highly recommend buying their $20 sample set to try out all their different scents, which then gives you a $20 credit towards your purchase of a full size bottle. My personal favorite scent is Arrow.

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FOOD:

Produce wash: Dr. Bronner‘s Castile liquid soap (listed on their bottle as one of their 18 uses).


Circulon Hard-Anodized nonstick pots and pans (Buy here). Healthier, nonstick option that doesn’t leach chemicals into your food. We have done stainless steel in the past, but we really do not like how food sticks to the bottom of the pans, even after spraying it with oil.


Silicone cooking utensils– doesn’t leach chemicals into your food and will not scratch your cookware. Got mine from Walmart. 


BABY & CHILD CARE:

Burt’s Bees shampoo and body wash (tear free) in a foam soap pump (to make it last longer). You can find all Burt’s Bees products at Walmart!  


Shampoo (for school-aged kiddos): Dr. Bronner’s Castile BAR soap in Peppermint. Peppermint wards off dandruff, itchy scalp, and lice. Again, bar soap works better in hair than liquid soap.


Hello Bello or Burt’s Bees baby diaper rash cream and baby body lotion!

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Parent’s Choice diapers and wipes from Walmart are hypo-allergenic, fragrance free, and affordable. Honest Company also has clean diaper options, but is a lot more expensive.


Medicinal:

Zarbee’s Naturals works so great and is all natural! If there is any medicine in this brand, I definitely buy it!


*Special Note:  this blog is in no way to come across as that I am an expert on all things natural or holistic living! I’m just an avid researcher and was encouraged by a friend of mine to put all of my knowledge and the things I have read up on into one blog post so that people who do not like to do the research have one place they can get information from.  As I continue to research and more knowledge comes around, I will continue to update my post! I just desired so much a simple, frugal, more natural way of living for my family, and so this is the result of my searching!


RESOURCES I TRUST & READ:

  • Simple & Minimalistic living: 
  1. Joshua Becker https://www.becomingminimalist.com/
  2. Marie Kondo (KonMari method) https://konmari.com/
  3. Allie Casazza (Minimalism for Moms) http://alliecasazza.com/start-here