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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DIY Antimicrobial Fabric Refresher with Only Essential Oils

I have to apologize for anyone coming to this post for the lack of images.  Somehow, all my blog images from June of 2014 onward were deleted, despite multiple backups and cloud storage through Google and Picasa.  I am still researching this and hoping to find them, but I will likely have to take new photos and re-upload them to this blog post.  Please be patient with me until I do so.  Again, I am very sorry. -Ashley

So, I really used to like Febreze, especially the antimicrobial type. Killing germs and good smells?  I'll take it! That is, until I realized that if I'm using all these chemicals on my furniture around my pets,  shouldn't I research the safety of said products?

I really intended for this blog post to be a simple recipe and that's about it, but after I researched everything further, I couldn't help but post my findings here.  I love using natural products whenever possible, but I also wanted to show that just because something is natural, doesn't mean that it's necessarily safe.  This is why I have a huge problem with people who use essential oils for everything under the sun.  I'm a fan of moderation.  If I have a natural remedy for an ailment, I'll use it--but, if I have pneumonia, you bet that I'm going to use the physician prescribed inhaler and antibiotics, because at that point, garlic and echinacea only go so far, and I prefer to live.  Medicine in itself is not evil.  Just because pharmaceuticals have largely become a business doesn't mean that, at some point, someone didn't invent them with the intention of saving lives.

Upon doing some research, I found a great website called the Environmental Working Group.  They rate cleaning products on a scale from A to F based on the safety of the ingredients. Well, surprise, surprise:  Febreze Antimicrobial got a big fat F.

Now, I want to point out the fact that, just because my recipe uses essential oils, doesn't mean that it isn't unhealthy at high levels or to certain people.  I use lavender oil around my house because I have no children and I am not planning to become pregnant at this time.  However, I will definitely change my habits once that time comes, because lavender and tea tree oils can mimic estrogen and suppress testosterone, and have both been proven to cause breast growth in young boys.  Personally, I'm very against using lavender baby products period (e.g. bubble bath for "bedtime," etc.), because of these findings.  Therefore, I must insist that those with children or who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant please study the research and make an informed decision whether to use these oils--not just regarding this particular recipe, but in everyday life as well.  My advice is to abstain from using such products, or to use them very sparingly.

Now, if you looked at both articles, I still prefer to use the essential oils over the Febreze.  Febreze also has a lot of hormone disruptors and can cause reproductive issues, and can cause developmental delays, etc.  My goal is that you become informed about what you are using in your houses and putting on/around your children and pets.  If you look up Lavender and Tea Tree oils on the EWG website, they both get a grade of C.  Now, the Tea Tree oil gets a C because there is some concern for respiratory reactions and skin allergies, and some concern for cancer, but I still will take those odds over Febreze's F!  Lavender oil gets a C because of some cancer concern, but other than the previously mentioned hormone concerns, it's relatively safe.  Cedarwood oil also gets a C, but it just says that's due to general concerns of systemic/organ effects, however, there is no data showing proof of anything, so there's only concern.

Now that you are aware of the risks and associated literature, I'm happy to share my recipe with you.  Hopefully I haven't been too much of a Debbie Downer!  When it comes to chemical of any sort, I really want people to be aware. Just because you're using natural oils that come from a plant doesn't mean they can't hurt you.  Remember, opium is a naturally-occurring chemical that comes from a flower!

Tea tree oil is proven to be a natural anti-microbial agent.  I doubt it is as effective as the storebought chemicals, but I think it is much safer than them, and I'll take a little less efficacy for a safer product.

Now that I've shoved all that information in your face, the recipe itself is actually quite simple. Here's the list of supplies:

Lavender essential oil
Tea Tree essential oil
Cedarwood essential oil
12 ounce spray bottle in a dark color

The recipe is simple:  Add 10 drops each of tea tree oil, cedarwood oil, and lavender oil.  Fill the bottle the rest of the way with water (distilled if you prefer, but I just use tap water, it works fine).  Leave about an inch of space at the top of the bottle so it doesn't overflow when you screw on the lid.

When using, shake the bottle well to mix all the oils, then spray onto fabric surfaces in your home, such as pillows, furniture, rugs, curtains, etc.  Please be sure to test this solution on an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn't effect the dye.  I have never had a problem with it, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Oh, and the reason I recommend using a tinted bottle is because the essential oils are often light-sensitive and therefore light can cause them to break down. It's the same reason beer comes in brown bottles.

The purpose of the three oils are as follows:  Tea  tree oil is a natural antimicrobial/antibacterial agent.  Lavender oil is simply for the pleasant scent.  Cedarwood oil is also mainly for the scent, but it is also proven to repel ticks and fleas, so if you have pets that like to bring them inside on occasion, this makes it less likely that the critters will want to stick around on your furniture.

If you like this recipe, see also my recipe for DIY Flea and Tick Repellent, which I've been using on my doggies for 2 years.  Ever since we had a serious flea infestation of my house after I had been using the store-bought flea treatments and pesticides, I've been using this stuff instead, and we have not had problems ever since. Plus, my dogs smell awesome. 

I hope you enjoyed this post!

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