This is my story of what has brought us to the necessity of chemically clean living in our home. Sharing the changes we’ve had to make, helpful resources, and my favorite chemical alternatives.
*The following is simply my opinion and life experience. You are certainly entitled to your own 😉 . Affiliate links to products and services that I use and love are included. Thank you!
Before my 4th child, chemicals never seemed to bother me, or at least I didn’t notice if they were. I was never hesitant to find the products with the best smell, color, and results, without a second thought of what might be in it. Candles, lotions, cleaning products, beauty products, baby products . . . you name it. All that changed about 3 months after 4th baby.
I found myself with some inexplicable symptoms and a whole slew of Doctor Appointments. My face would go numb and tingly, almost daily. Head and eye pressure. Numb hands and fingers. Anxiety. Swelling. Nausea. Exhaustion. I felt like I was living in a cloud.
After months and months of every medical test you can imagine, the only diagnose we could get from doctors was a “complex migraine”.
I was relieved to confirm that there weren’t more severe issues obvious in the tests, but I still felt lousy daily. I was left on my own to determine what was causing the problems and how I could avoid my symptoms.
Long story short, and many many months/years later, I now know 3 things that inevitably start my flare ups.
1 – STRESS
Looking back now, I can see how stressful life was with the 4 kids, pumping exclusively, and lack of self care. What wasn’t obvious then, is clear to me now that my body was not in a good place, and trying to tell me so. Even now, if the stress of life gets to be too much – it all starts over. The numbness, pressure, nausea, all of it.
I still have 4 kids, a business, and a household to keep, so stress most definitely still gets the best of me. But I do my best to manage all that and give my body the rest, exercise, and rejuvenation in needs.
2 – SLEEP
I do miss the days when burning the midnight oil was no prob bob. But boy-oh-boy, my body can’t handle that anymore. It’s almost guaranteed that at 11:00 pm my face starts to numb and my body screams “GET TO BED”. But as a creative whose mind goes wild at night, I still have a hard time managing enough sleep, even though I do get to bed.
3 – CHEMICALS
This is the one that took some time to pinpoint, but once I noticed, I was so relieved to know that I had a little more control over my symptoms. All it took was one whiff of bleach, one load of laundry with the wrong detergent, one burning candle with artificial scents, one lather of peach mango sunshine lotion . . . game over. Numb. Headache. Itchy. Mess.
Myself aside, sensitivities have started popping up in my children. My son developed horrid eczema all over his lower body. I knew certain detergents weren’t helping, and dermatologists directed us to helpful, but very expensive cleaner soaps. Nothing with smell, color, or what seemed like more than just water could touch his skin.
My daughter was tested for allergies and came out positive to many. Her nose would numb and swell up, and even the most minimal soaps and cleaners would bother her nose significantly.
Faced with these complications in our family, I’ve been on a rigorous journey the past 2 years to find out how to cut harsh chemicals out of our home, and figure out what we can peaceably live with or without, and what changes we needed to make.
Besides the already mentioned awareness I need to have on my stress levels and sleep schedule, I needed to change the types of chemicals we were bringing into our home.
This has most certainly been trial and error, and I’m still weeding through products that we have to ditch and switch. Affordability is another matter.
Educating myself has been key in this process, and I’d like to share some of the resources that have been helpful to me, incase you are also wanting to decrease the amount of harsh chemicals in your life.
Without diving too deeply into specific chemicals that can be really harmful, I’m going to share the things that help me make wiser choices and help me understand the ins and outs of this complicated world of “products”, without going too fanatical. I try to keep my go-to resources at a minimum because it is so easy to get extremely overwhelmed and concerned if you find yourself with too much to sort through and learn.
Product Scanning Apps
I’ve come across 2 Apps that rate products based on their ingredients, in relation to chemicals that may have factors that contribute to allergies, toxicity, or are carcinogenic. While not every product can be found already in their systems, it has helped me to narrow down choices that are good, better, or best.
If you are interested in trying these out, I use the apps called “THINK DIRTY” and “EWG’s Healthy Living App”. Just search them in your App store on your device.
This website is fascinating to click around and rate the products you use or want to use, much like the app. It will help you find alternatives and understand ingredients on products and even chemicals in our foods. It’s probably easy to get carried away, but for me this is a tool used, again, to help me find good, better and best products.
FAVORITE HARSH CHEMICAL ALTERNATIVES
I’m still in the process of switching out a lot of chemicals to ones that my family can tolerate. I use the sources I mentioned above for a lot of my decision making and I’d like to share some of my favorite products and product suppliers that have made this journey a lot easier.
I struggled for a long time trying to weed out cleaning chemicals, but NORWEX made this process a thousand times easier! I fell so in love with their mission and products, I decided to become a consultant to make them available for my friends, family and blog readers.
I talked about my favorite NORWEX products in greater detail in THIS POST, but in a nutshell NORWEX high quality microfiber rags woven with silver allows me to clean most things in my home with just the rag and water. I don’t even have to try to figure out a chemical to use, because I don’t need it.
I’ve had to adapt to the idea that I don’t have to spray something to make something clean. The rags and water is sufficient for my bathroom surfaces, kitchen surfaces, all floors, appliances, windows and glass, and even deep cleaning around the house.
It might be lame to say, but I feel like NORWEX was an answer to my prayers when my daughters allergies became so bad. The silver in their rags acts as a natural antibacterial agent which kills germs inside the rag and lifts 99% off the surfaces. Major scrub power in these babies, and no chemicals needed!
Again, if you want to know more, read THIS POST or feel free to email me and ask me any questions you would like.
I love Grove Collaborative so so much! I can trust them to do a lot of the research to find the best products available that are less harsh and don’t contain a lot of the “dirty” stuff. I’m a proud VIP member and talk about them often.
I love the free goodies I get by buying often from them, and I’m thrilled to watch them continue to expand their product offers and provide more for us.
I’ll often check the EWG for the best products and then go and find them at Grove.
Vitacost is a great place for food or household products that are more environmentally healthy. My sister Marci buys food frequently from Vitacost, and I’ve found they have many highly rated EWG cleaning products.
At the beginning of this journey, I had a really hard time admitting to myself that I couldn’t buy so many of the yummy smelling products I loved so much. I just love things to smell good! How grateful I am to have essential oils as an option. I’m still learning and discovering their many many benefits, but overall, I have them diffusing in my home frequently. The citrus smells are my favorites.
I’m not dead set on any specific brand at this point, but loving what I’ve tried from Young Living and Doterra. I’ve even been known to buy the NOW brand at whole foods stores on occasion. In my experience, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a diffuser, but it is important that the oils are “pure therapeutic grade”. I have this inexpensive diffuser placed around our home and even in my husbands work office.
Essential oils don’t irritate my kids issues, and only help with my stress levels, sleep issues, and “complex migraine” symptoms. I’m also slowly beginning to try out some of Young Living and Doterra cleaning and beauty products, and have been very pleased with the results. I also find this recipe resource page on Doterra fun and helpful.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this read on my story and journey towards a chemically safer lifestyle. I would love to hear any story you might have on the matter, or helpful things you have done to live a healthier lifestyle. I briefly touched on many of these topics, so feel free to let me know if you would like me to dive deeper. I’m sure you know by now I have a passion to make my home pretty, but I also want it to be a safe haven for my family.
Be sure to visit my sister’s post on her journey to wholesome living and 6 things everyone needs to live healthy and happy.