Cleaning Out My Closet…and cabinets…and shelves

A few weeks ago, I came across an app called Think Dirty. You enter the barcode or UCP number of any beauty or household product and the app tells you just how “dirty” it is. That means listing all of its ingredients and informing you on those that are carcinogenic and overall, just not great for you to be constantly putting in and on your body. I’m not a fear monger, but I was curious just how bad my cabinets could be. People say that “everything is going to kill us”, and there may be some truth in that, but I like to try to take control over what I actually can. I’ll leave the LA smog for another day.

Most things didn’t shock me, per se: Lysol cleaner, air fresheners, Windex, but then some of my supposedly cherished products made me second guess everything. Things like sensitive Dove deodorant and fragrance free Dove body wash. All in all, most of what we were using around the house was bad for us in the long run. And in all honesty, on top of it being bad, it’s also expensive. Think about how much money you spend on household necessities per month. I know we were spending at least a couple hundred dollars every couple of months on cleaners and products for our body, hair, etc. So now, with my frugal cap on, I decided to take the reins on some of these choices and make our lives a little cheaper, healthier, and greener, all with a few substitutions.

The original offenders

The original offenders

I started this transition a few months back by purging my cleaning supplies and switching over to using a dilution of Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap for a general purpose cleaner. I use the unscented one and mix in some of my favorite essential oils for cleaning (Orange, lavender, and peppermint. All of which have antibacterial properties and smell divine). I also use this combo to mop our floors. And the great thing is, I never have to worry about my RJ breathing in any nasty fumes from chemically laced products like I was using before. I’m still on the hunt for a natural product that cuts grease and oil like you might find on the stove or in a bathtub from washing the LA air off of your body and hair (I know, gross), but hubs rides a motorcycle so he’s constantly in the elements. I have tried baking soda mixed with a little water to form a paste on the stove and gotten positive results, so maybe that’s my new weapon for those tasks. (And I answered my own question)

My man stocked up on DBs because he knows I love it so much!

My man stocked up on DBs because he knows I love it so much!

After making those changes and being generally more happy and less intoxicated, if you will, I decided that it was time to make the switch elsewhere in our lives. I’m also always trying to find ways to reduce my carbon footprint, so by making some of the changes I have, I know I’m eliminating some of our waste as well.
First off, everything from body wash, to bar soap, lotion, to shampoo, deodorant, to facial cleanser, had to go. Check the pics below for a full layout of everything we eliminated. Most, if not all of these products, ranked at a 10 on the Think Dirty app. 10 IS NOT good. That means after all of the ingredients are assessed for how carcinogenic and rated on ascale of 1-10 they are and averaged, you get a 10!! This didn’t sit well with me. Maybe because I’m a new mom, but more llikely because I have hippie tendencies and believe world peace and protecting our planet are 2 of the most important things we as human beings should focus on.
One of my goals with the blog is to create a conversation of change from what some of us may have been used to growing up. I know for me growing up, we cleaned with bleach, Ajax, and Windex. We used any lotion that kept the ash at bay, and back then, I got chemical relaxers on my hair to straighten it, and Johnson & Johnson was the only baby brand anyone paid attention to. But, with a family of my own now, I just feel like it’s important to educate ourselves on alternatives that could be better in the long run, not filled with chemicals and ingredients you can’t pronounce and not harmful to our bodies or environment.
This weekend, I took the next step in my family’s transition. I still have some areas to focus on (makeup and nail polish are up next), but I’m already feeling 10 pounds lighter with this change up, and I didn’t break my pockets. It is important to note that I’ve already been using natural hair products since I transitioned my natural hair. I’ll list those below, too, in case anyone wants recommendations (But, all you curly girls out there know that we can spend a small fortune on our hair products so disregard those when it comes to “not breaking my pockets”) Ultimately though, this change is going to save us money and our health so I do encourage all of you to at least assess the products you are using and see where you can cut back and eliminate. You don’t have to make the same choices as me, but I guarantee you, you might be happier with some of the natural products that are out there. Read on to find out what I’ve traded all my old products for and if you have any suggestions on natural beauty products, healthcare, or household items, please let me know in the comments.

*Quick tip: Buy resusable plastic/glass containers to store your DIY products. Below you’ll see my coconut oil in the clear bottle, the blue bottle in the back holds my lavender castile soap mixture for face wash, and I use the glass dropper in front to drop breast milk into ears and eyes.

Also, recycle those old spray bottles from your old cleaning supplies, rinse well with alcohol and water and you can refill them with your new and improved ones.


       The new lineup!

You will find that we replaced ALOT of products with good old fashioned Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap which is made with: water, coconut oil, Palm kernel oil, hemp oil, jojoba oil, citric acid, and tocopherol (vitamin E). Look ma, I can pronounce all of those, no problem! And an added bonus, many of the dilutions are listed on the bottle so you don’t have to experiment. I just add different essential oils based on what I’m using it for and there you go.

Minimized our shower products to just the pump bottle and bar, both DBs.

Minimized our shower products to just the pump bottle and bar, both DBs.

Dove sensitive body wash and men’s body wash —> Dr. Bronners Almond
Dial bar soap —> Dr. Bronners Almond
Soft soap antibacterial hand soap —> TBD
Dawn antibacterial dish soap —> TBD (note: I can also use Dr. Bronner’s for this, but haven’t made the switch yet)
Head and shoulders with almond oil—> Dr. Bronners Almond
Vaseline Cocoa Butter lotion —> Coconut Oil (I added a few drops of lavender oil for the scent)
St. Ives apricot scrub —> Earth Science Clarifying Facial Wash
Listerine—> TBD (What do you guys use instead?)
Sensodyne —> no trade. This landed at a 4 on the Think Dirty app and its a product we swear by, so we’re ok with the rating.
Dove Sensitive —> Tom’s of Maine (Soothing Calendula) **calendula is a great natural herb used to soothe irritated skin. I used it when my entire body broke out in a rash a few months back and it worked wonders.**
Seventh Generation free and clear (concentrated) —> no trade. Another solid product we have already been using.
Generic dryer sheets —> TBD, but going to purchase a set of dryer balls from a little shop I found on Etsy. (Do any of you have experience with dryer balls?)
409 – Dr. Bronners all purpose cleaner (1/4 cup of soap + 1 quart of water + 10 drops each of your favorite cleansing essential oils) I use orange, lavender, and peppermint
Lysol wipes – Dr. Bronner’s all-purpose cleaner
Lysol toilet bowl and tub cleaner—> going to try a combination of my Dr. Bronners all purpose cleaner and baking soda next time
Windex—> Distilled white vinegar diluted with water. Don’t worry, the smell goes away very quickly and this cleans a whole lot better than glass cleaner, no streaks!
Pine Sol —> Dr. Bronners diluted for mopping floors (1/2 cup soap + 3 gallons hot water + 15 drops of your favorite cleansing essential oils) I like my orange, lavender, peppermint combo for this too. Our house always smells amazing after this.
BABY – From the beginning, it was important that we use natural products with baby. The Man and I both have sensitive skin so we figured RJ might be predisposed to it as well, and why not give him a foot forward with keeping his carbon footprint small.

We use the She Moisture baby line for his soap, shampoo, and lotions. They leave him smelling so good, you just want to sniff his head and never let go. Dr. Bronner’s unscented is also perfect for baby!

I don’t use many other products on him. Desitin is our go-to diaper cream. Coconut Oil and breastmilk are the other go-to treatments for pretty much anything.

And as we near 6 months, I’ve also thought a lot about sunscreen. I switched the whole family from Coppertone Sun Babies to The Honest Co. Honest Sunscreen Spray.

*HAIR PRODUCTS (no trades here, just listing in case anyone is looking for recommendations)
I love love love Shea Moisture products! I use the full coconut and hibiscus line and have a fe wothers that I’ll use from time to time when my hair needs it. Tahitian Noni & Moinoi Conditioner and the Yucca & Baobab Anti-Breakage Masque were great for winter when my hair was extra dry. And I just got the Mongongo and hemp seed oil co-wash. I will update this after I’ve tried it to let you know if I love it or hate it.
Detangler – kinky Curly Knot Today

Sealant- Coconut Oil (+ tea tree and lavender oils)

Well, mamas, that’s it! I’ll be sharing the continuation of this journey as I transition my other products. I highly encourage you to at least take a look at what’s in your usual products. Some things may surprise you.

Let me know in the comments if you make the switch as well!


The Black Mama

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