A Fresh Start: Detox Your Bathroom and Laundry

A wise friend once said “awareness rocks!” I couldn’t agree more. When I started down the detox path myself, I realized that all of my researching, experimenting and learning about less toxic eating was coagulating into a new form of awareness. If I cared so much about how hard my poor liver was working, I reasoned, I should probably find a way to bring all of this glorious non-toxicity into the rest of my world as well. What we consume certainly plays a big role in how we bring toxins into our bodies, but the air we breathe and what touches our skin matters too. With this in mind, I started looking around my house for sources and solutions. Recently, I wrote about a number of quick and simple changes that you could make in your own kitchen. Regardless of your intentions, your body – along with your liver and other hardworking organs that sweep the body of the unnecessary toxins, chemicals and standard operating byproducts – will thank you for even baby steps.

Today's post is about the air quality in our homes and the stuff we put directly on our skin (another amazing organ with the thankless job of protecting us, and well, holding us together). You don’t have to do everything at once, and in some cases, it makes sense to stage your changes. Identifying an allergic reaction to something (let’s remember, even the most pure and natural stuff can irritate) is much easier when you can figure out what’s changed recently.

Here are some quick bathroom detox steps:

Make your own cleaning products
As in my previous post, I recommend getting away from harsh chemicals and toxic cleaners in the bathroom. Most of those hardcore sprays and scrubs simply aren’t necessary when there are many less toxic solutions available to deal with the dirty work. Consider making some of your own cleaning products (I get by in the bathroom with just baking soda, castile soap, white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide) – it may require some extra effort in the preparation but you’ll have no chemical reactions or fumes to breathe in while you’re cleaning.

  • Glass cleaner: mix 1c white vinegar + 1c water in a spray bottle and shake; add ½ t liquid dish soap and 4-5 drops of a favorite essential oil.
  • All purpose cleaner: 1 gal hot water + 1T baking soda + 2T liquid dish soap (add last). For disinfecting and/or mildew build up, add 1T Borax to this mix.
  • Scrub: 2T baking soda + liquid dish soap or castile soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s peppermint). Use this on the tub, sink and wherever else needs a good scrub. You can also use this to clean glass shower doors; spray with white vinegar after the final rinse.

Choose eco-friendly bath linens
It's great to know your towels came from a renewable resource and were produced in a responsible manner.

Use soy candles
And eco-friendly incense while hanging out in the tub or to make the room smell sweet.

Make a soothing bath
While you’re in the tub, try a simple, skin soothing bath of 2c baking soda (I swear, this stuff is like powdery gold) plus a few drops of a favorite essential oil. For a super detox-y bath, shake together 2c baking soda, 1c Epsom salts, ½ c yellow mustard powder, and 5-10 drops each wintergreen, rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils. I’d say you could split this amongst 6 or more baths, but if you’re looking for a good old fashioned sweat, add about a third of this mixture to a relatively hot bath and stay put for just 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and bundle up. You’ll feel like a noodle, but it’s worth it if you’re having cold symptoms, sore muscles or just can’t get warmed up!

Health and beauty products

I could write a book on the issues surrounding the maddening array of chemicals in our everyday body lotions, scents and cosmetic products. In fact, many people have. I’ll leave the details to the experts, but consider this: your skin is the largest organ in your body. It literally absorbs the products that you put on it and leaves your internal organs to sort out the good from the bad. That’s stress, and it’s something to ponder as you detox your bathroom cabinet.

  • Get educated – Our friends at have put together a smart list of things to watch out for on product labels. There are also some informative resources at the bottom of that page.
  • Again, start small – maybe your body lotion? – and watch how your skin, nose, eyes, etc react to a new product. As you run out of your “old school version,” give a less toxic version a try.

Clean up the clothing act

In addition to choosing energy efficient machines:

  • Go cold – Using cold water to wash most and rinse all loads makes good energy sense. And your clothes will thank you for the delicate treatment.
  • Buy better – Switch to non-toxic, biodegradable laundry detergent (there are tons of choices on the market) or – you guessed it! – make your own by combining 1c Ivory Flakes + ½ c washing soda + ½ c Borax. Use 1-2T per load.
  • Hang dry outside - you know, when stuff won’t freeze and break! (My favorite trick: remove your clothes from the dryer when slightly damp and avoid the dreaded iron.)

Choosing sustainably produced clothing and linens is a very (big) personal decision. The cost implications are real; and the quality, style and availability can be frustrating at best. But as your detox spreads through your home, you may find yourself saving money on cleaning products and bath additives and spending it instead on a delicious hemp little black dress! Like so many of our decisions regarding local, sustainable, organic and other good-all-around products, it’s all about making choices, going slowly, and never forgetting to enjoy the ride.

Tracy Morgan is a Twin Cities foodie and the owner of Segnavia Creative, a marketing services consulting company located in St. Paul, MN.