Tag Archives | baking soda

Why Conventional Deodorants Stink

Why Conventional Deodorants Stink {The Greening Of Westford}
Ah puberty.  That magical age where your body grows hair in weird places, your hormones rage and you start to stink!  Lovely!   In comes deodorant.  Probably one of the first personal care products you start using as a tween. 
But how safe are the typical deodorants/antiperspirants on store shelves?   There has been much about deodorant and the chemicals within, links to Alzheimer’s, breast cancer and the like.
The Problem
As with all other personal care products, they do not need to be tested before they go on the shelves nor do all the ingredients have to be disclosed.  Some of the chemicals found in  deodorant/antiperspirant are:
Triclosan:   Used as an antibacterial in many products.  It is thought to accumulate in our bodies and has been associated with hormone disruption.
Aluminum:  suspected to be linked to Alzheimer’s.
Parabens:  Mimic estrogen which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancer.
Once again, there is no conclusive evidence stating that deodorants/antiperspirants definitely cause problems.  But there isn’t conclusive evidence to the contrary either.  I’d rather be safe than sorry.
Sweating is Natural
We wear deodorant to stop the stink.  An antiperspirant to stop the sweat by blocking the sweat glands under your arm.  They are 2 separate things.
Your body is supposed to sweat.  That is one way we release toxins.  Ingredients such as aluminum block the pores to stop you from sweating.   Your underarms are home to a lymph node location.  If your body cannot release toxins from your underarms, your lymph nodes are right there to suck up the toxins.   This is one thing that can be difficult for people to get used to – that wet feeling under your arms.  Honestly, I don’t like it.  And on special occasions, I admit to wearing an antiperspirant. 
Changing The Routine
Personally, I think our bodies become dependent on deodorant.  Years ago, I found myself increasing my deodorant use and gradually moving toward the clinical strength deodorants because nothing seemed to work.  While using the clinical strength, I finally read the directions and it stated that I should put it on at night to be absorbed into my skin.  Something about that struck me as wrong.
I backed off and used a regular deodorant/antiperspirant, occasionally not wearing any at all if I wasn’t going anywhere.  Little by little I think my body adjusted.  A few years ago, I gave up the antiperspirant all together and went with just a plain deodorant.  It worked OK, but I found myself reapplying at the end of the days.
Finding a Natural Alternative
What I find difficult about deodorants is that each person’s needs are unique.  What works for one person may not work for another.  Some natural deodorants are downright expensive.  I really don’t want to be paying over $20 to try one then have it not work only to go spend another small fortune on something else that may not work.  All the while wondering if I am stinking out my friends!
About a year ago, Cheryl of The Whole Body Spa was experimenting with deodorant.  I had the pleasure of being a tester!!!!   I started using her version – cornstarch, baking soda, coconut oil and lemongrass essential oil.  It worked!  This is what I use all the time.  Now, it did take a little bit of getting used to because it comes in a jar and you rub it on with your fingers.  Honestly, not a big deal.  I think of it like lotion.  
You can buy this from Cheryl or look up recipes and make your own.  It is quite simple and inexpensive.
If you are not ready to take the plunge just yet, try these steps:
  1. Buy JUST deodorant, not an antiperspirant.   At least this way you are still allowing your body to sweat and release toxins.  And no Aluminum.
  2. Go scent free – fragrances usually contain phthalates.
  3. Avoid Triclosan and Parabens.
  4. You can check Skin Deep and Good Guide for health ratings on deodorants. 
For The Tweens In Your life
I gave some of the Whole Body Spa deodorant to my daughter recently as she is just starting to wear deodorant.  She has no preconceived notions about deodorant so she didn’t think twice about applying with her fingers.  My plan is to start all of my children off with natural products.  They won’t know the difference.
Have you made the switch to more natural personal care products?  What are your favorites or ones you find difficult to replace?
Top Photo By Don DeBold used under Creative Commons license

This post has been shared at Natural Living Monday, Small Footprint Friday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways


Pit Stain Remover That Actually Works!

 Pit Stain Remover That Actually Works!  Amazing natural stain remover with only 3 common ingredients.  {thegreeningofwestford.com}

If you own any white shirt you know those awful disgusting yellow armpit stains that develop over time.  Especially on T-shirts. 
Well, we have some of those shirts in our house.  Eventually, they get too disgusting and must be used for something else.  I had just accepted that this was part of the life cycle of a white T-shirt.  Until now….
I saw a post in Glamour magazine for “The Only Spot Remover You’ll Ever Need” so I decided give it a go.  The original post calls for 1 part Dawn dish washing liquid and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide.  I altered it slightly as this original recipe didn’t seem to work as well as claimed.  Based on another bloggers experience, I added baking soda to the mix.
1 part Dawn Dishwashing liquid
2 parts hydrogen peroxide
½ part baking soda
  1.  Mix everything together.  I wasn’t too scientific on the quantities, I eyeballed it. 
  2.  Using a brush (an old toothbrush works great) brush the mixture on the stains.
  3. Then let it sit.  I had intended on checking every half hour or so to figure out how long it took, but I got busy and forgot!  Somewhere between 1 and 3 hours does the trick. Probably depends on the stain.

Note:  You should mix this recipe fresh each time you use it.  Hydrogen Peroxide looses some of it’s power when exposed to light.  Guess you could trying storing it in an opaque container…

OMG!  It works.  Why am I not surprised that baking soda boosted the cleaning power!  This stuff is awesome.
before and after eco-friendly stain remover
These pictures do NOT do it justice.  Please take my word for it!
I also tried some other random stains.  It worked!  Ring around the collar – gone!  I have only tried white shirts so far, but based on both sources above it should work on colored fabrics as well.
For the first test, I specifically bought Dawn.  I couldn’t find just plain old Dawn rated in Good Guide so I don’t know what the health score is.  But I was happy to see that some of the other Dawn products had a score of 8 out of a possible 10.
Still I would rather use something a little more natural.  I had some Kirkland Environmentally Friendly Dish Soap that I am trying out.  Honestly, I have no real clue as to how environmentally friendly this really is.  The claims on the bottle seem nice, but may not mean anything.  I’m still researching how “green” it is.  But for now, I just wanted to see if you REALLY needed Dawn.  The results:  I don’t think so.  It seemed to work just as well with my Kirkland dish soap.
So, armed with dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and a toothbrush you can rid some of those stubborn stains.  I’d be really interested to see how this works on baby spit up!
You can do so much with simple household ingredients.  You really don’t need all those fancy cleaners.  TO find out how to use my old friend’s baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and a few others to clean the rest of your house, take a look here.

Update 4/23/12:  Many people have tried this and commented on how well it has worked.  Here are a few examples:
  • cooking oil from a cotton, lavender sweatshirt
  • chocolate milk from a cream colored, cotton, blouse
  • some pretty nasty ring around the collar from a yellow, cotton t-shirt.
  • white carpet freshly stained with V8 strawberry/banana juice

What are your favorite stain removers?

This post is part of Frugal Ways Sustainable DaysYour Green Resource, Healthy 2Day Wednesday.


My Favorite Uses for Baking Soda

baking soda cleaners
My grandma used baking soda for everything. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t get it. Now, I think baking soda is amazing! You can cook with it. It’s an unbelievable degreaser. Makes a mean, but gentle, scrub. It deodorizes just about anything. It’s totally safe and it’s cheap! Here is a small list of my favorites.

  • Refrigerator/freezer deodorizer – Keep your refrigerator and freezer smelling fresh with a good old box of baking soda.
  • Carpet Freshener – Sprinkle on carpets, let sit 15 minutes, then vacuum. You can mix essential oils with the baking soda to add a beautiful scent. I added lemon and orange to mine for a citrus smell.
  • Oven cleaner – Sprinkle your oven with baking soda, then mist with water. Let this mixture sit overnight, occasionally misting with more water to keep it moist. In the morning, wipe and scoop up the baking soda and the grime with it.
  • Dishes and pans – To make scrubbing easy, sprinkle with baking soda, let sit, then scrub clean. While baking soda is a very gentle scrub, test first on delicate surfaces.
  • Facial scrub – For years I have used a little baking soda mixed with a mild liquid cleanser as a facial scrub.
  • Drain Cleaner – Add ¼ cup baking soda, then vinegar, then hot water.

  • Toothpaste – I remember grandma brushing her teeth with a paste of baking soda and water. At the time I thought it was weird. I was about 8. What did I know!

  • Clean fruits and vegetables –let fruits and veggies soak in water with some baking soda.
  • Boost Laundry detergent – Add to laundry powder in the washer to boost the power of your detergent.
  • Insect bites or bee stings – Make a paste with water and place on bites to soothe.
  • Deodorant – Mix equal parts baking soda and cornstarch and apply.
  • Tub and Tile scrub – Mix 1 2/3 c baking soda, ½ cup liquid soap, then ½ cup water and 2 TBSP vinegar into a 16oz bottle. If baking soda residue is left, try rinsing with vinegar.
  • Scrubbing the inside of a stainless steel mug – This is my latest discovery. The inside of my stainless steel travel mug was looking pretty stained. I scrubbed it with baking soda and water and voila – clean mug! Next is my coffee pot! Updated 3/25/11 – Forget the scrubbing! Fill a microwave safe container with enough water to fill your mug, mix in a good amount of baking soda, heat, pour into mug and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub gently – CLEAN!
  • Cleaning a coffee bean grinder – Fill the bean grinder with baking soda, let sit, occasionally swirling the bean grinder to move the baking soda around. It dislodges particles stuck under the blades and freshens it at the same time.
  • Clean the grease-dust-gunk from above your cabinets – Sprinkle the tops of your cabinets with baking soda, mist with water, wipe clean.


The uses are limitless. I didn’t even touch the fun stuff like making volcanoes or clay. I buy baking soda in a huge package and have it stashed everywhere – under the kitchen sink, in the laundry room, and bathrooms. An old parmesan cheese shaker works great!

Have you discovered the awesomeness of baking soda yet?

baking soda to clean coffee potUpdated 3/25/2010 – I tried using baking soda to clean the inside of my stainless steel coffee pot. Didn’t work as well as with my mug, but it was a lot harder to scrub the inside of the pot. While researching for this post, I heard that people use baking soda to clean their coffee makers. Why not! So I dissolved about a 1/4 cup of baking soda in water, filled the machine and let it run. OMG! the black that was covering the inside of my coffee pot came flying right out! It is sparkling clean now. Look! I left that little bit of black so you could see what the entire inside USED to look like. Then scrubbed that out too! I’m not sure if the initial scrubbing I did loosened anything or maybe it was just the combo of hot water and baking soda, but try this!

This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways,  Seasonal Celebration SundaySimple Lives ThursdaySimply Natural Saturdays, Thank Goodness It’s Monday


Homemade Green Cleaners Made Easy

Chemicals are everywhere! In our furniture, flooring, cleaning products, toys, clothes… This list goes on. The more I read, the fact I keep coming back to is that even if a specific chemical hasn’t been linked with some detrimental effect, yet, it’s safety hasn’t been proven either.

Most of the “new” chemicals used today are not tested before they are put on the market. This is something that Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Healthy child Healthy World are trying to change. Until they succeed, I wanted to rid my family of as many of these chemicals as I could. Again, I started with the easy, inexpensive things – our cleaning products. So many can be made from safe ingredients you have around the house – edible ingredients that people have been using for years! And so cheap! Each of these cleaners costs less than $1, after the initial expense of the spray bottle ($1). And that’s including the essential oils. Skip those and you are talking $ 0.30. If you choose to reuse an old spray bottle, just make sure you clean it very well.

I started at the library with a few books on homemade cleaners. The one I really liked is Easy Green Living by Renee Loux. It was a great introduction. She organized the book according to the rooms in your house. First she explains the possible toxins in cleaners or other things. She then gives you alternatives – homemade and store bought.

All of the ingredients were very easy to get. I did order some essential oils, but you don’t need these. And if you decide you want them, try GNC at the Pheasant Lane Mall. They carry most of the popular ones – who knew! I then bought some spray bottles from the Dollar Store and made up my own labels using Microsoft Word and some clip art. So here is my list of non-toxic cleaners I use in the 2 messiest rooms.

What you will need:

Spray bottles (Dollar Store)
White Distilled Vinegar (Grocery Store)
Castile soap (Bed, Bath and Beyond (great price!) Grocery Store, Target, GNC)
Baking Soda (Grocery Store, BJ’s, Costco)
3 % Hydrogen Peroxide (Drug Store)
Essential oils (optional, but are available locally at GNC)



kitchen cleaning products
From left to right:

Hydrogen Peroxide (3% solution found in most drugstores) – I put an extra spray top (from an old bottle of window cleaner) onto the hydrogen peroxide bottle. Keep it in the original brown bottle to keep it from breaking down.

Distilled White Vinegar – Kept in a spray bottle. For more uses for vinegar, check out a great post by Live Green Mom.

Baking Soda – an old parmesan cheese shaker bottle filled with baking soda.

All Purpose Cleaner
2 cups water, ½ cup distilled white vinegar, 1 tsp castile soap, 10 drops lavender, 10 drops lemongrass, 10 drops lemon
If you have granite counter tops, do not use this. The vinegar can damage it.

Update: I’ve since eliminated the castile soap in this recipe.  I found that it often clumped and recently discovered that vinegar and castile soap don’t really work well together and can clump!


To clean counters and table: All Purpose Cleaner

To disinfect: I spray some of the pure vinegar then spray the hydrogen peroxide. The mixture of the 2 creates a super disinfectant. Some sources claim this combination will kill Salmonella and E. Coli. Never combine the 2 into one bottle and store. This can create a bad combination to leave around your house. I use this on my counters on occasion, cutting boards, kids’ reusable bottles, anything I feel needs a little extra.

Unclog a drain:

Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain
Pour 1 cup vinegar
Let it fizz for a while
Follow with boiling water

I also like to so this in the summer when I am having fruit fly problems. I read somewhere that they like to breed in your drain. I swear it helps!

Scrubbing Anything: I sprinkle a little baking soda on anything that needs extra scrubbing – pots, pans, dishes, the counter. Add a little water and it makes a great paste. Think of it as a substitute for Soft Scrub.

Oven Cleaner: Sprinkle your oven with baking soda, spray with water to form a paste. Let it sit for 12 hours. Wipe off. If the baking soda residue remains, spray with your straight vinegar. Vinegar dissolves baking soda.

Clean the Greasy Tops of Cabinets: I have to tell you how great baking soda is. If you have ever looked at the tops of your cabinets, especially the ones near the stove, you will notice a disgusting mix of grease and dust. The first time I tried to clean this mess, I was up there with a mixture of ammonia and water. Ugh the smell gave me a headache and it still wasn’t easy to clean. The next time I tried I knew better than to use ammonia. So I got up on my counter with my trusty shaker bottle of baking soda and a spray bottle filled with water. I sprinkled the baking soda all over the top of the cabinet then sprayed with the water, just enough to make a paste. I then wiped the paste away with a rag – the baking soda and all the grease-dust ick came right off! I was amazed! And no fumes!



bathroom cleaning products
Yes, that says USED baking soda. When I change the baking soda from my fridg and freezer, I keep it to use to clean the toilet or the drain, above. I just need the baking soda to fizz, it doesn’t need to be completely fresh to clean the commode.

Vinegar – mine is mixed with lavender, but you don’t need this.

Castile Soap


To Clean Toilet:

Into the bowl – 1 TBSP of castile soap, 1/3 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup vinegar
Let it fizz for a few minutes
Scrub toilet

Anti-bacterial Hand Soap:

4 oz castile soap
10 drops of tea tree oil

All purpose cleaner: same as above.

I am still experimenting with homemade laundry detergents and dishwasher detergents. So far, I am not impressed with the results, but I’ll let you know if I come across anything worth passing along. Will you try these? Are you already using something similar?

Update 2/7/2011: Since this post I have tried Charlie’s Soap Powder and Soap Nuts
for laundry and Bi-O-Kleen Automatic Dish Powder with Grapefruilt Seed &; Orange Peel Extract. I LOVE them all! More on this to come.  Check here for a great deal on Bio-Kleen 8/2012.

If you purchase these products through this link, I will receive a little pocket money.

This post has been shared on Frugally Sustainable’s Wednesday Blog Hop, Teach Me Tuesdays, Printabelle, Your Green Resource, and Tiny Tip Tuesday

This post was featured at Tiny Tip Tuesday.


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