Spring Cleaning and Wellness Tips in the Home

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The last vestiges of winter are still hanging on – and so are colds, flus, and other illnesses. Two weeks ago, there were record numbers of kids out sick at my son’s school. Of course, even though we all know children are not known for their sanitary or careful habits, I also know the food they are eating plays a big part in all this.

I’m disappointed to see a lot of processed, packaged foods in children’s lunches at our school. Over the course of the years, our lunch committee has made concerted efforts to try to educate parents about healthier, real, and homemade alternatives for lunch meals.  I’m certainly not criticizing, I’d just love to see parents more motivated to send nourishing foods with their kids every day, especially since it has such a profound effect on their ability to stay well. But, I know habits are hard to break, so we’ll just have to keep on gently pushing things in the right direction.

Aside from eating well, there are other easy and natural things you can do around your house to keep yourself and your family well. This guest post today from Barb Schuetz from Whole and Then Some demonstrates some easy, natural things you can do in your own home to prevent illness from spreading from person-to-person. I hope these tips are helpful and easy to implement in your busy life. Thanks Barb!
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Cleaning while ill is usually one of the last things on my mind, but I do try to make certain exceptions to help prevent the rest of my family catching my bug, or visa-versa. Honestly, it’s sometimes hard to remember because I haven’t really been sick for a few years. This year, however; has been downright ridiculous. I’ve been down and out with
one thing or another this whole season, I like to think that it’s a reboot to my immune system and I’ll have another few years sick free ahead of me.

These are also some good things to keep in mind when spring cleaning after a sickly winter. I want to quickly touch on one thing that bothers me: the use of chemical antibacterial petroleum products, and in excess. I do not condone this practice and I do not believe it to be a healthy one. That being said, there are other antibacterial type products one can use, while ill or in special situations and we’ll talk about those products.

Obviously, your best get-well buddy will be nutrition. Aside from real, whole, nutrient-dense foods, when you’re sick, a good-quality probiotic comes in handy and plays an important role in instances when you happen to be doing a lot of hand washing, and possibly using a lot of essential oils.

O.K., so get on with it you say. Here are some products, recipes and tips from my home to yours:

Sol-U-Guard is an amazing (and oh so wonderful smelling) cleaner made from thyme oil. I’ve gotten it from a friend that’s part of some sort of buying club but a Google shopping search turns up some leads. Here are some links :
Safety for Your Home
Melaleuca Products
RM Barry

BioKleen Bac-Out is one of my favorite not homemade products that I actually keep on hand year round. I do have dogs and it’s natural enzyme power is great for odors. It’s also great for freshening up upholstery, say, on a sick couch….. and I use it on pillows while sick- they take so long to wash and dry it just doesn’t make sense to do that umpteen times so in between changing pillow cases, I give the pillow a good spritz with Bac-Out.

Vinegar. I can’t say enough about vinegar but I’ll try to control myself. When I’m ill, I keep my toothbrush in a cup of white vinegar and then replace my toothbrush once I’m well. No sense trying to get better while putting the sickies right back in your mouth from the last time you brushed. A newly discovered vinegar love: citrus vinegar. We’ve been going through a lot of citrus this winter so the peels have been going into big jars and topped off with white vinegar and left for a couple of weeks. The results make for a fabulous wood cleaner but also a nice base for my homemade antibacterial spray and wipes. Recipes to follow.

Thieves oil is something new to me this year. It’s a revamped version of a combination of herbal oils used by thieves in the times of the bubonic plague to keep themselves plague-free. I’ve made my own to use because, well…let’s face it: frequent hand-washing gets tired and if you’re constantly blowing your nose, coughing into a tissue, etc., you can’t possibly be washing your hands as frequently as you’d need to for it to be effective. And if you did, I pity your hands. So here’s the version of an anti-bacterial product that I feel o.k. about using when I’m sick. Especially when I’m sick and visiting someone in a hospital or hanging out in a public place where a lot of sickies are very present. I feel like I should be clear though that if my immune system was in tip top function, I wouldn’t use any antibacterial, even when visiting such places:

To make my thieves oil :I added 10-15 drops of each cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils to a reused 2oz amber bottle and topped it off with grapeseed oil (you can use any carrier oil you like, even olive). I take this everywhere with me, even throughout the house.

Surface cleaning is important when you think of everything you touch; doorknobs, faucets, light switches, phone, remote controls, refrigerator handles, milk jug/jar and other food containers, tincture bottles, steering wheel, mouse and keyboard, etc.

To make my homemade disinfectant spray I filled a spray bottle half and half with citrus vinegar and water and added 10-20 drops each of the thieves oils. I give it a good shake before I spray because the oils will float to the surface. I don’t always wipe this away, sometimes I’ll just go through at the end of the day and spray knobs, handles (don’t forget the toilet flusher!), faucets and anything else that can just be sprayed. Remotes and phones can usually tolerate a light spritz on fine mist. Otherwise I’ll use a wipe, which are also great for when you’re away from home.

To make my wipes I poured some of my spray into a baggie, added just a drop of mild dish soap and mixed it up a bit. Then I added folded paper towels and sealed up the bag.

Air quality is important to me. I’ve never cared for literally sealing up a house in winter (which is just what happens in WI). I was so thrilled once we switched to wood heat exclusivley because it allows us to stay warm AND open a window if we’d like because we can achieve a high heat that lingers. On days that it’s not bitterly cold and windy and I have to woodstove cranked, I’ll crack a window or two for some fresh air exchange. I understand this isn’t as easy for everyone. Thankfully, some are able to get air purifiers but also having a bunch of houseplants is nice.

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Want more information?

My home medicine cabinet – what I use to remedy ailments

Embrace and perfect your home-keeping skills

Natural housecleaning carnival – Passionate Homemaking

Baby steps: going more natural, one cleaner at a time – Keeper of the Home

Food for thought: why is bleach bad for me?  – Kitchen Stewardship

How to clean legally (SCD) – Kat’s food blog

My home medicine cabinet – what I use to remedy ailments

2 Comments

  • March 29, 2011 - 4:49 PM | Permalink

    Thanks so much for these priceless wellness tips. Would you recommend any certain air purifier for a Garden Apartment in the heart of a City?

  • April 19, 2011 - 10:11 AM | Permalink

    Hello M.E. – I don’t know much about air purifiers, but here is a link from Consumer Reports about recommended air purifiers from people who have bought them:

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/heating-cooling-and-air/air-purifiers/index.htm

    I hope that is helpful! :)

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