Non-toxic room scents

Non-toxic Ways to Make Your Home Smell Amazing (and Two DIYs)

Picture this. You come home from work and the house smells funky. Hopefully you find the source of the offending odor, but even if you do, it might still be lingering. Why not light a scented candle? Why not spray a shot of air freshener? Why not use a plug-in room freshener? I thought you’d never ask. Let me tell you why.

Most air fresheners (sprays or not) that are sold at the drug store, grocery store, and even that cute little boutique, contain phthalates (thal-ates). Phthalates can wreak havoc with your hormones, especially testosterone (which we all need, although in varying levels). These lovely chemicals are known to cause reproductive problems and birth defects as well. I love a good smell as much as the next gal, but that is not a risk I am willing to take, especially with two growing children in the home.

Okay, so air fresheners are out. How about lighting a scented candle? The ingredients in the typical candle can also wreak havoc with your body. Most candles are made from petroleum-based paraffin wax. When paraffin is burned it can emit benzene and toluene, both of which are highly toxic and known carcinogens. Even if you buy a soy candle (make sure it is 100% soy, most are not), you still have some toxins emitted when it is burned because they have to be processed with paraffin. If all this wasn’t enough, you have fragrances to worry about as well. While some fragrances may smell amazing, most synthetic fragrances are also petroleum based and contain a whole battery of toxins that are linked to cancer, birth defects, allergies, and more.  (This likely goes for your favorite perfume and other beauty products as well. Sorry.)

What’s a girl to do? We have a house that is soon to turn 100 years old and no matter how clean it is (not that it is always sparkling clean, mind you), it sometimes smells musty. We also have a dog who can get a bit smelly in between baths. Since living with stinky is not an option, let me tell you what we do.

Non-Toxic alternatives to Air Fresheners, Sprays, and Scented Candles:

  • Beeswax candles: These do not emit toxins, and you can get them scented with essential oils so that you avoid the toxins in synthetic fragrances. There is a local (Seattle) company called Big Dipper Wax Works that has beeswax candles made with essential oil blends that smell heavenly. You can buy them on Amazon if you’re not local. They are long lasting and clean burning.
  • Essential oil diffusers: We love these! I have one in the living room, the kids’ room, and our bedroom. These are great for not only scenting a room, but also for using targeted health blends like Immune Boom or Germ Destroyer when there are sicknesses going around. Or you can use a blend like Worry-free with relaxing scents like Lavender, Ylang-ylang, Sandalwood, and Vanilla to create a calm environment.
  • Homemade oil diffusers: These are great for small areas like bathrooms and are super simple to make. See below for instructions.
  • Homemade Room/Linen spray: Homemade room spray/linen spray is a non-toxic way to make your house, car and linens smell lovely. It is another super simple project. You just need two ingredients and a glass bottle to store it in. See below for instructions.

How make your own room Spray (or linen spray):

Homemade Room/Linen Spray

  • Distilled water
  • Essential oil(s): I like combinations like Lavender and Geranium, but you could use a synergy blend such as Relax Synergy, Worry-Free, or a any combination of your choosing.
  • Glass spray bottle (It is important not to store essential oils in plastic as they break down the plastic and get plastic particles in your products.)

I use 4 ounce spray bottles for this. I first add 1/2 teaspoon (50 drops) of essential oils and then fill it up the rest of the way with distilled water. Give a little shake, and spray!

Homemade Oil Diffusers

Homemade Oil Diffuser

Combine 70% carrier oil with 30% essential oil(s). Example: 7 teaspoons of carrier oil with 3 teaspoons of essential oils. Put reeds in, allow them to soak up the oil for a few hours and then flip them. Repeat this a few times for the first week or so. After that, flip them any time you want to refresh the scent.

 

Have you ever made homemade room spray? Oil diffusers? Are you going to try it out?

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both tea tree lavender cleaners

Tea Tree Oil Cleaner with Lavender: Antiviral and Antibacterial

Why make your own Tea tree oil cleaner?

Tea Tree Lavender Cleaner All Purpose

There are a few reason why I chose to make my own tea tree oil cleaner. First, tea tree oil is non-toxic (unless you drink  a bunch of it undiluted). Second, I wanted to harness the amazing antibacterial and antiviral powers of tea tree essential oil and making my own allowed me to control the quality of the essential oils in my cleaners. Essential oils can break down plastic if they are stored in it, so I chose dark glass bottles. Essential oils retain their potency longer when not exposed to light. (If you are storing your cleaners in a dark cupboard, a clear glass bottle is fine.) These bottles look so pretty compared to the plastic bottles that purchased cleaners come in, and it takes only a couple of minutes to mix up a bottle! A bonus is that it is super cheap as well.

All Purpose Tea Tree oil cleaner with Lavender

This cleaner is safe to be sprayed on just about anything. I use it to clean my counters, my dining table, my stove, my cupboards, etc. You will still smell the vinegar, but it isn’t so bad since the tea tree and lavender mask it a bit.

Disinfectant with Tea Tree Oil cleaner with Lavender

tea tree lavender disinfectant

In our house we consider out microbiome and avoid over-cleaning. This is the “big dog” of cleaners. We mostly use it for bathrooms. We also break this out when someone in the house gets a bad “bug” and we want to try to stop the spread!

A note on tea tree oil: It is amazing! It is great for blemishes. Apply morning and night to the area after cleansing and before putting on your moisturizer. Also, if you know anyone who is plagued by cold sores, shingles, or any other herpes virus, applying a dab of tea tree oil on the affected area a few times a day can really speed up healing. Some people are sensitive to straight tea tree oil on their skin, however, so you can either buy it diluted or dilute it yourself and put it into an easy to apply roll-on by following this tutorial.

A word of caution: If you have cats, be careful about when/where you spray your tea tree cleaners. Essential oils can build up in a cat’s system over time and cause health problems.

Have you ever made your own cleaner? What ingredients did you choose?

Tea Tree Cleaners

completed food wrap

Homemade Reusable Food Wrap

food bowl with reusable food wrap

Making this non-plastic reusable food wrap seems like a fabulous idea to me on so many levels. First, there is the benefit to the environment. Second, you cut down on the amount of plastic that comes into contact with your food. Third, you can cut down on the amount of plastic wrap you buy. Fourth and probably most important, you get to pick out pretty fabric to make it out of. What’s to lose?

Should I just buy Reusable food wrap?

If you don’t have the time or desire to make your own reusable food wrap, there is one the market called Bees Wrap. It is made with organic cotton, organic beeswax, pine rosin gum and Jojoba oil and uses the heat of your hands to mold to your container. It is awesome, but it is a bit pricey. You get just three pieces for about $19. When you think of how much food wrap you could make for that, and what cute fabric you could choose, why not?

Once I decided that I wanted to make my own reusable food wrap, I scoured the internet looking for a good tutorial on making my own reusable food wrap. There are MANY tutorials! Most only use beeswax, however. The problem with this method is that the wrap doesn’t cling to your container and must be fastened with a rubber band or string. I want my wrap to be easy to use and to be pretty to look at. No rubber bands! The best tutorial I found online was from one of my favorite bloggers, Mommypotamus. She uses the same ingredients as Bees Wrap uses in her tutorial, so that fact combined with the fact that everything she posts on her site is awesome, I tried hers out.  My needs were a bit different then hers, however, so I tweaked her method to suit my needs. I was very happy with the results, and I think you will be too.

 

A couple of things to keep in mind before you make your food wrap:

completed food wrap

1. You want organic ingredients because this will be touching your food. Even the cotton should be organic. “But, Chelsea, can’t I just wash regular cotton a bunch to get the pesticides out?” This is a valid question. I wondered the same and researched it. First, cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops. Second, it is not just the fabric, but also the dyes that contain harmful chemicals. So, it’s your choice, of course, but I opted for organic. I found a large variety of Mommypotomus gives specific amounts of ingredients for certain sizes of food wrap. I wanted many different shapes and sizes of fabric because I was not only making these for myself, but also friends and family. Although I have taught math in the past, it still is not one of my favorite subjects. I didn’t want to do the calculations for each separate size and shape, so I created a work around. I actually did it two different ways. Both are listed below and both worked equally well. I prefer method 2, but it uses a couple more supplies to get the job done. Choose whatever seems easiest to you.

3. Because this wrap is cared for care for with warm water and mild soap, you won’t want to wrap a hunk of raw meat in it. It is excellent for most other food uses though! 

What you will need:

  1. Organic Beeswax (I used pellets)
  2. Pine Rosin Gum
  3. Organic Jojoba Oil
  4. Organic cotton fabric
  5. Scissors (preferably pinking shears to avoid fraying)
  6. Unused paintbrush
  7. Parchment paper
  8. Somewhere to dry your food wrap
  9. It is helpful, but not necessary to have a Mister Misto Sprayer for method 2.

To begin you should wash and dry your fabric. You will want to iron and cut it as well. Once you have your fabric prepped, cover your baking sheets with parchment. Preheat your oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and lay out your first piece of fabric on your baking sheet.

reusable food wrap on drying rack

Method 1: In a bowl that you do not love (it might get ruined from the pine rosin), mix your bees wax pellets, (or shavings if you grated a bar) pine rosin, and Jojoba oil. For my first round, I used 1/4 cup beeswax pellets, 1/4 cup pine rosin gum, and 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon jojoba oil. (I ended up doing a few more rounds because I did a ton of these for Christmas gifts.)  Spread this mixture over your fabric. Be sure to get the edges! Pop your baking try into the oven. Melting everything well took about 10 minutes in my oven, but for the first few, keep checking on them from time to time to see how they are doing. Once everything has melted, take your tray out of the oven and use the paint brush to spread it all around. Again, get those edges! Pop your tray back into the oven for another minute or two. Next, pull your tray out of the oven. Use tongs to lift your wrap from the baking sheet and set on a drying rack, a clothes line, or even a towel rack to dry. It only takes a few minutes. Repeat to make as many sheets of reusable food wrap as you like!  

completed food wrap

Method 2: This method uses a spray bottle and a shaker. I used the Mister Misto, but you could reuse an old spray bottle. For the shaker, I used a kitchen shaker that I have for powdered sugar. If you don’t have one, take a jar and put foil on the lid. Then poke holes in the foil with a scewer or safely pin. This works as a great shaker!  Once you have your prepped fabric on your parchment lined baking tray, spray your fabric with the Jojoba oil. Make sure you get the corners! The Jojoba oil keeps the wrap flexible, so you don’t want to miss the edges. Next, use your fingers to sprinkle the bees wax over your fabric, being sure to get it into the corners. Then, use your shaker of pine rosin gum to shake a nice layer all over the fabric. See photo. Next, pop your baking try into the oven. Melting everything well took about 10 minutes in my oven, but for the first few, keep checking on them from time to time to see how they are doing. Once everything has melted, take your tray out of the oven and use the paint brush to spread it all around. Again, get those edges! Pop your tray back into the oven for another minute or two. Next, pull your tray out of the oven. Use tongs to lift your wrap from the baking sheet and set on a drying rack, a clothes line, or even a towel rack to dry. It only takes a few minutes. Now you are ready to make as many sheets of reusable food wrap as you like!  

 

So, what do you think? Are you going to try it? If you do, let me know how it goes!