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It has been found that we are exposed to more toxins in the home then through air pollution. Here are some DIY cleaning alternatives to reduce your chemical exposure while keeping your house clean and fresh.

Mildew Prevention

Use this formula on shower stalls and curtains, the track between sliding glass doors, and other moist areas.

2 cups water

8-10 drops citrus seed extract

2 teaspoons tea tree essential oil

4 drops juniper essential oil

  • Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray areas and surfaces well but do not rinse. Note: If you already have a buildup of mold or mildew, allow the spray to “rest” on the surface areas for a few hours. Wipe with a soft cloth, then re-spray the areas and let dry without rinsing.


Mold Deterrent

If you already have a buildup of mold or mildew, allow the spray to “rest” on the surface areas for a few hours. Wipe with a soft cloth, then re-spray the areas and let dry without rinsing.

1  ¼ cups white vinegar

¾ cup water

4 drops cinnamon essential oil

6 drops patchouli essential oil

2 teaspoons tea tree essential oil

  • Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray surfaces well but do not rinse.


Whitening Scouring Powder

The combination of borax and citrus peel will kill germs and remove stains.

1 cup baking soda

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/8 cup borax

¼ cup grated lemon, orange, or grapefruit peel

  • Combine all ingredients in a plastic container, preferably one with a shaker top. Shake well. Sprinkle a small amount of the powder into sink and scrub with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse well with plain water.


Fizzy Bathroom Sink Cleaner

Kids love to watch the “volcanic” action that occurs after pouring the vinegar over the baking soda. Who knows? You might even get your kids to clean the bathroom!

1/2 cup baking soda

6 drops lemon or lime essential oil

1/2 cup vinegar

  • Combine the baking soda and essential oil. Sprinkle into the sink; pour the vinegar on top. After the fizz settles, scrub clean with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse clean.


Soap Scum Remover

This is a formula to remove that annoying buildup that forms on soap dishes and toothbrush holders. The vinegar will produce a “fizzing” action.

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 drops essential oil of choice


  • Combine baking soda, salt, and essential oil in a small cup. Add just enough vinegar to make a paste. Apply to surface and scrub with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse well.


Toilet Cleaner

This is an antibacterial spray cleaner especially formulated for cleaning the general surface area of the toilet and under and behind the seat.

2 cups water

1/4 cup liquid castile soap

1 tablespoon tea tree essential oil

10 drops eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil

  • Combine all ingredients in a plastic spray bottle and shake well. Spray on toilet surfaces and wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge.


No-Scrub Toilet Bowl Cleaner

This is for toilet bowls that have an everlasting ring around them. You can employ this recipe just before going to bed; by morning, even the toughest of stains will have disappeared.

1 cup borax

1 cup vinegar

10 drops pine or lavender essential oil

5 drops lemon or lime essential oil

  • Combine all ingredients in a plastic bowl or bottle and pour all at once into the toilet bowl. Allow to sit overnight. In the morning, just flush!


Basic Laundry Soap Liquid

The addition of glycerin and essential oil gives extra cleaning power while still being gentle on clothing.

1 ounce liquid castile soap

2 tablespoons glycerin

1 cup washing soda

1 cup baking soda

2 cups warm water

10 drops essential oil of choice

  • Combine all ingredients in a heavy plastic con­tainer (don’t use plastic milk containers — they’re not heavy enough) and shake well before using. Use ¼ to ½ cup, depending on the size of the load and how dirty the clothes are.


As a Naturopathic doctor, patients routinely request information on a “cleanse” or “detox” without a complete understanding of what these words or concepts mean. Often patients assume that by taking a pill they will somehow purge themselves of “toxins”, and in the process lose weight. My concern with the misuse of these terms is that often these “cleanse” or “detox” kits can negatively interfere with medications, and they generally operate as laxatives, which are habit forming and can also be dangerous.  They can also be expensive and wrought with false advertising.


To truly cleanse one must first understand how they come into contact with these toxins: the fact remains that we are exposed to more toxins in the home than outdoors, specifically through the food we eat, the cleaning supplies we use and the beauty care products we apply. It is well known that substances such as PCBs, plasticizers, pesticides, phthalates and flame retardants bio-accumulate in the body and contribute to ill health. Bisphenol A (BPA), for example, is a well-known endocrine disruptor. Today, a great deal of research exists and indicates that even in doses as small as parts per billion these chemicals have the ability to alter our physiology. Our bodies are designed to remove the waste that we don’t need, however, if this were being done efficiently in all people we would not commonly find evidence of bio-accumulation of many known toxic substances in samples of blood, urine and adipose tissue.


Detoxification is necessary for a healthy state. Our cells are constantly forming toxins as normal waste products of metabolism. Our cells release these toxins into the blood. While they are in our bloodstream, circulating antioxidants latch onto them, neutralize their oxidizing capacity, and escort them to the liver. Once there, the liver’s job is to render these toxins harmless through a process known as Phase 1 and Phase 2.  In Phase 1, chemical reactions within the liver breakdown and attempt to eliminate toxins by sending them into the bile, which allows them to be excreted through our stools. The toxin may also get converted into an intermediate compound where it needs the help of Phase 2 to neutralize it.


Due to the overload of chemicals our body encounters on a daily basis, the liver is not always able to filter the blood of these toxins easily. Liver detoxification relies on the induction or inhibition of the P450 system, a group of enzymes which is largely affected by nutrient intake, exposures to other toxic chemicals, medication, and the genetic polymorphisms of these enzymes. Modern life has added thousands of toxins to our daily life. Foods today are loaded with chemicals and are heavily processed. Instead of eating nutrients, we digest food-like molecules that trick the body into absorbing them. Once inside, they can’t be used and can cause irritation, inflammation and interfere with our body’s normal signalling. This, in addition to the many chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we wash with and drink, the cosmetics we  use, and the chemicals we clean our house all bombard our system.


It is actually our diet that is an important determinate in our ability to detoxify, as it is the primary source of the vitamins and minerals required for efficient detoxification. More importantly, the quality of foods we choose to eat greatly affects our health by either supporting the elimination pathways in the body or by adding to our toxic load. I do not promote fasting and feel it is a detriment to human physiology as the P450 enzymes of the liver require products of the Kreb’s cycle in order to properly function. For optimal function, the P450 enzymes need nutrients such as Vitamin C, B vitamins, selenium, magnesium, sulphur and amino acids like methionine and cysteine. If we ate a whole food diet high in fresh, raw and alkalinizing plant foods, we would have the anti-oxidants needed to protect our bodies from oxidative damage caused by circulating toxins. We would also have an abundance of all the nutrients the liver needs to perform phase 1 and 2 detoxification efficiently.


During a healthy cleanse, where the emphasis should be on diet, certain foods are excluded, such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar because they stress the P450 mechanisms that the body requires for the bio-transformation of toxic chemicals. Non-organic meats and dairy are also excluded as they are a known source of PCBs and xenoestrogens.  Other excluded food items include processed and preserved foods and those that are difficult to digest and increase intestinal permeability of toxic substances.


I highly recommend doing the as it is based on relevant and current scientific data on the physiology of detoxification. It involves one week of consuming a healthy diet with a focus on fruits and vegetables, mostly plant protein, healthy fats and fibre.  It is known that a diet that supports detoxification is balanced in carbohydrates (60%), protein (30%) and healthy fats (30%).


It seems like today we are exposed to more toxins than our bodies are designed to handle. Until our systems can evolve to keep up, we need to be kind to ourselves and be as conscious as we can when we eat and drink.


The message is clear: there is no quick fix. The choices you make each day affect your health. Through information and awareness we can make wiser choices and pass that knowledge on.





There are currently over 80,000 chemicals used in North America. These chemicals and toxins accumulate in your body as a result of the food you eat, what you drink, the air you breathe, the products you use on our skin and in your home and garden.

Your environmental toxic load is affected by your exposure and your body’s ability to assimilate and excrete the toxins. Excretion is highly variable and determined by an individual’s genetics, nutritional status, antibiotic use, lifestyle and total toxic load. An environmental toxic burden is exhibited when the level of net retention exceeds physiological tolerance.

It has been stated that 90% of all chronic and serious illness could be prevented if we were able to eliminate 600 of the most dangerous environmental toxins. (World Health Organization)

Common Environmental Contaminants:

  • PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
  • Bisphenol-A
  • Phthalates (DEHP, DINP, DIDP, DBP, DnOP, DnHP)Dioxin
  • Furans
  • Brominated Fire Retartants (PBDEs)
  • Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl, and Ethyl Paraben)
  • Pesticides
  • Heavy Metals (most commonly , but not limited to Arsenic, Mercury, Cadmium, Aluminum and Lead)

Indicators of Toxic Burden:

It is possible that toxic chemicals and heavy metals are a concern for you if any of the following apply:

  • Progressive immune problems (allergies, infections or autoimmunity) followed by neurological problems
  • Symptoms that don’t seem to resolve; such as nausea, difficulty breathing, change in mental thinking or senses (hearing and smell) and ongoing joint and muscle pain and weakness.
  • Adverse physical or mental reactions from exposure to ambient levels of chemicals (headaches, brain fog, fatigue, shortness of breath, asthma, muscle weakness, collapse)
  • History of adverse reactions to medications
  • Inability to handle caffeine: “Can’t drink after noon without insomnia”
  • Inability to handle medications “I’m very sensitive to any medication I’ve taken”
  • History of chemical exposure or obvious occupational, hobby related or residential exposures prior to illness.



The ultimate beauty and personal care database. A comprehensive searchable database of almost every product you can think of, with complete ingredient lists and information about all ingredients.        

The environmental working group, a watchdog organization behind the Skindeep database, has a great site with frequently updated information about ongoing studies, research and lobbying efforts   

From the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia  Provides information about potential health risks of commonly used products, help identify less toxic alternatives for personal care, household cleaning, baby care, and household pest control, provide information to help you evaluate products not in this Guide in order to choose the safest ones for your needs   

David Suzuki Foundation website   

A comprehensive site to find out all you wanted to know about non chemical hair colouring , for purchase and getting the facts.   

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition effort launched in 2004 to protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the corporate regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.     

A beauty site with classy, boutique, and affordable options, and it has a strict list of criteria for what it’ll carry   

Website for Health Canada     

Inspires change by connecting people with environmental issues that affect their daily lives in their homes, workplaces, and neighbourhoods.        

Great printout for the” mean 15”

This site searches and explains over 300 labels and what products the label is used for and the steps producers and manufacturers must follow to obtain certification.   

Users search for information by label, product category, or certifying organization or program.Evaluates how meaningful the label is for each product type (for instance, the USDA Organic label is deemed highly meaningful for foods but not for cosmetics). The site also describes the elements of a “good” label and offers a glossary of terms used on labels


Ecoholic Body (Canadian sources) by Adria Vasil

No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt

A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients                       

by Ruth Winter M.S.

Clean Body- The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing Yourself by Michael DeJong

Green Beauty Recipes – Easy Homemade Recipes to make your own Skincare, Hair Care and Beauty Products by Julie Gabriel

The Complete Idiots Guide to Making Natural Beauty Products by Sally Trew


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