Nuts About Soap Nuts!

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With a family of four  I find that I do a LOT of laundry!  Since we’ve taken on cloth diapers and since our newest addition was born, I do at least a couple of loads per day.  Really, I don’t mind it too much.  It’s part of the routine.  However, when you are doing that much laundry, you really start to consider how much you are spending on laundry detergent.

Because I had severe eczema my whole life, we found out when I was young that plain ol’ Tide was the only detergent we could use that wouldn’t break me out.  I believe that my skin got used to it, not so much that it was the best solution for my sensitive skin.  When I started getting into a greener  lifestyle, I realized how many chemicals are in laundry detergents and thought maybe that was part of the reason that I had so much trouble with my eczema.  Since my son has shown the same symptoms of eczema that I used to have, we decided to go for an all natural approach.

I made my own batch of all natural laundry detergent, which made me feel wonderful because I wasn’t putting any harsh chemicals onto our clothes to soak into our bodies.  I found, however, that my messy 2 year old and newborn baby girl’s clothes were not getting as squeaky clean as Tide had done for us before, so I began looking for another natural alternative.

If I thought I was doing something right by making an “all natural detergent” before, I was wrong!  While the ingredients that I used in my homemade detergent were natural and safe, I found that it didn’t have much stain fighting power.  Enter Soap Nuts.

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Natural Cloth Wipe Solution

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When I started thinking about using cloth diapers, I immediately knew that I was going to use cloth wipes as well.  I ordered a few from Charlie Banana, but most of my wipes are old baby wash cloths that I had laying around.

When we first started using them, we would just walk to the sink and wet them with warm water.  It wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t too much trouble either.  My son gets extreme diaper rash, and I was hopeful that when we started using cloth diapers and I began making his baby powder and using an all natural diaper cream the issue would be solved.  Unfortunately, he still got diaper rash after the switch, so I started thinking about making a recipe for a cloth wipe solution that would soothe his sensitive bottom.

It has been a success!  He hasn’t had a diaper rash breakout since I first made this solution!

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DIY Natural Deodorant

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There have been a lot of rumors swirling around about how deodorants and antiperspirants can be a cause of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, so I did some research to find out why…

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no solid scientific proof that deodorants and antiperspirants are a cause of breast cancer; however, parabens (used as a preservative in deodorants) have been proven to mimic estrogen, which can promote the growth of breast cancer cells.  That’s enough to make me worry.  Breastcancer.org states that 1 in 8 women (that reach the age of 70) will develop an invasive form of breast cancer.

Antiperspirants contain aluminum that is engineered to plug up the sweat ducts.  Alzheimer’s patients have a much higher content of aluminum in the brain making the correlation seem pretty suspicious.  The Alzheimer’s Association predict a 44% increase in the disease growth by 2025!

While there is no concrete evidence that deodorants and antiperspirants cause these incredibly devastating diseases, the rise in people contracting these diseases is eerie.  Clearly, we’re doing something wrong!

Why we don’t need antiperspirants and deodorants

Our bodies are made to sweat.  Other than keeping our bodies cool in warm climates, sweating is a natural detox.  Antiperspirants clog up our sweat ducts, preventing the toxins from being released and putting aluminum on your skin to be absorbed into your system.

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The Stinky Truth…Cleaning Cloth Diapers

When people find out that I cloth diaper, their immediate reaction is always the same– “Eww.”  So let me clear some things up right away.

No, changing a dirty diaper is not my favorite thing to do.

No, I do not touch poo more often than anyone who uses disposables does.

No, I do not have little poo particles swimming around in my washing machine.

And, no, it’s really not that big of a deal.

Cloth diapering is no more disgusting than picking up after your dog on a walk.  And if you don’t pick up after your dog on a walk, you’re just a bad neighbor!  In many ways, I find that using cloth is significantly LESS disgusting than disposables for several reasons:

  1. I’m not contributing an enormous amount of hazardous waste to landfills.
  2. I NEVER have to deal with poo-splosions…in turn…
  3. I never have to deal with poo stains on clothes.
  4. Cloth diapers absorb the stinky smell, unlike disposables.

I thought I would share my method of cleaning cloth diapers for those that are thinking about making the switch to show how easy it can be.

The Stash

This is my set-up…

ez change

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Natural Soothing Baby Cream and Powder

I’ve had sensitive skin and severe eczema my whole life.  No amount of creams, ointments, tar, or oatmeal baths ever completely relieved me of the dry, itchy, scarred skin that made people always look twice at me when I wore shorts or short sleeve shirts.  My biggest fear was that I would pass that onto my babies.  Sure enough, my little boy was born with super sensitive skin just like me, and he has since had it rough on his teeny tiny behind!

When he was only two months old we were prescribed a steroid cream to help with his eczema.  I found that with fewer baths with no soap, he was able to produce more of his natural oils to protect his skin and prevent the splotchy, red rashes.  We cloth diaper now, but for the first two years of his life, he was in disposables which are full of dyes and chemicals.  Also, the harsh chemicals and drying alcohol in standard baby wipes always irritated his skin, and from the time he was only a few months old, we were trying out all kinds of different powders and ointments, but nothing ever helped for too long.  Putting breastmilk on the rash was the best cure that I could find.  But I quit breastfeeding when he was a year old, so after that, we were left again with nothing.

I was sure that  switching to cloth would solve all of our tushy problems, but unfortunately, he still suffers from diaper rash, no matter how often we change him.  It isn’t as bad since making the switch, though.  Also, instead of the chemically filled creams and powders, I have opted to an all natural approach!

Diaper Rash Cream

At the local farmer’s market in my hometown, we stumbled upon a woman who made all natural baby products and bought a diaper cream from her that consisted of: organic olive oil, organic unrefined coconut oil, beeswax, organic cocoa butter, and vitamin E.  When I looked at the ingredients, I was sure that was something that I could make myself!  I was on a mission!  After lots of research, I found that much of what was in this natural cream that I had bought was just filler.  The beeswax and cocoa butter, while soothing, are primarily to keep the cream at a harder, more manageable consistency.  The olive oil, though it makes the skin soft, doesn’t have healing properties.  And the vitamin E is a natural preservative.  I came to my own conclusion:

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Natural All Purpose Cleaner

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If you’re looking to live a more chemical-free lifestyle, there are some big changes you’re going to have to make, but the hardest part is making the commitment to do so.  The easiest transition for me was switching to natural household cleaning products.  We learn to love the strong, chemical odor that our favorite cleaning products give off because it reassures us that the product is doing what it’s supposed to do…clean.

After my son was born, a different perspective worked it’s way around me.

Let’s face it, babies are gross.  They pick up anything they can get their tiny little fingers on and it goes directly into their mouths.  They lick the windows.  They eat off of the floor.  I knew this was going to happen.  So, I would clean and clean and clean to make sure that all the disgusting things my son was bound to do wouldn’t be as disgusting.  But all of those products are chemicals.  In fact, the labels TELL you that they are dangerous and that you need to seek medical attention if ingested.  So why would I be wiping these dangerous, hazardous chemicals around my house, when I know that they are going to end up in my son’s mouth?  I started looking into alternatives and found that not only do they work just as well as the chemicals I had been spraying everywhere, my homemade concoctions save me money, too!

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Why Go Cloth?

I started researching cloth diapers when I was pregnant with my son over two years ago. Knowing that I was going to contribute to the overflow of landfills with thousands of disposable diapers just didn’t sit well with me. Unfortunately, two moves in my third trimester (the last one being 10 days before my son was born) had me a little preoccupied. And as soon as my son was here, I was so overwhelmed with him and all of his perfection that I didn’t really think about it again other than the occasional “I wish we would have done cloth”…as if it were too late.

Almost a year ago, when I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I knew that I HAD to make it work! I began researching and found all kinds of websites, blogs, and forums on the benefits of cloth diapering, how to get started, and everything I could ever want to know about using cloth. I was blown away at how many people had the same frame of mind as me!  My husband (being just as environmentally conscious as me) was on board right away. Other people, though, didn’t seem as excited about the idea as I did. My response was simply, “why wouldn’t we use cloth?”

Here are a few key points to why I love cloth diapering so much:

Saves money

  • When you decide to make the leap to cloth, you should be prepared to invest a good amount of money into it. The high end, name brand cloth diapers can reach up to nearly $25 per dipe. Personally, I think that is CRAZY! I found hundreds of different YouTube channels and websites that reviewed every kind of cloth diaper brand and style out there and, based on what I researched, decided what was easiest and most cost-effective for my family. Trying to be as savvy as I could, I decided on three different brands of diaper that I got for as low as $4.50 per dipe that could be used from newborn all the way until potty trained.  And, as a general rule, I never paid more than $6 per dipe (for more info on which brands I chose, check out my blog Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper). There are several different online trading companies that buy, sell, and trade used diapers as well (clothdiapertrader.com and diaperswappers.com) so you could potentially get diapers for even less.  I would count on at least a couple hundred bucks to get started, though, depending on how many you want (I recommend at LEAST 20 as new babes go as many as ten times a day).
  • Disposable diapers are, on average, about $.20 per dipe (we used Pamper Swaddlers for my son which are closer to $.25/dipe). You’ll use about 10 diapers a day on your baby for the first three months before that number goes down to maybe six a day for the next two and a half years! That’s math I can’t even do! In all my research, I found that on average, every child uses about $2,000 worth of disposable diapers which creates over 6,000 diapers added to landfills..that’s PER CHILD! That alone should be enough to convince you, but don’t worry…I have more!

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Getting crunchy

It started with cloth diapers which quickly lead to cloth wipes.  Next was making an all natural laundry detergent. From there, I began questioning the chemically filled soaps and lotions I was using on my babies’ perfect skin, which lead to what I was using on my own skin…and hair…and armpits…and even teeth.  Slowly, an all natural lifestyle creeped it’s way into our home before my husband could say “coconut oil”.

After working as a manager at a major beauty store, and filling my vanity with expensive name-brand make-ups, moisturizers, hair serums, and several other different beauty products, I began to look at the labels.  I’d be lucky to find one ingredient that I could pronounce, let alone have any idea of the purpose for it.  Even the products I had been selling as “natural” weren’t what I had believed they were.

A quick Pinterest search lead me to many all natural alternatives.  And when I say all natural, I mean ALL NATURAL.  I began tossing the bottles of chemicals and replacing them with items I had kept in my kitchen!  I’m talking honey…olive oil…vinegar…cocoa…plain old water…and so much more!  Essential oils played a huge part in the transition, too.  After much research, I found that I trusted my own concoctions  more than anything I had ever bought, even compared to the higher end products.

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