Many people (previously myself included) think that products are safe just because they’re sold at Target or Wal-Mart. The problem with that logic, according to the Environmental Working Group, is that in the U.S. no health studies or tests have to be done on cosmetics before they’re put on the shelves.

Also, according to the American Lung Association, some cleaning products release dangerous chemicals or are harmful themselves, like bleach and ammonia. Plus, think about the residue that’s left on surfaces after you use them. We prepare food on kitchen counters and small children have their mouths on almost everything…think about what you and your family are ingesting – it’s scary!

Over the last year and a half, I’ve been doing research and at the same time ditching the chemical-laden cosmetics and home cleaning products. Instead, I’m using and/or making healthier alternatives. And although it might be a little more work than just buying everything in a bottle, it helps me sleep better at night knowing that I’m in control of what’s going onto my skin and into my blood stream…not to mention the frugal part of me is happy that I’m saving money at the same time.

Household cleaner

Dawn and vinegar are my new best friends. I use 1 part Dawn (just regular, old blue Dawn dish soap) and 1 part generic white vinegar in a spray bottle. Use this on your bathtub/shower, sink, and toilet. Plain white vinegar also is great for cleaning your countertops, microwave, windows, and dishwasher. I also add it to the washer instead of fabric softener to get rid of musty smelling clothes. Vinegar and baking soda work great for carpet stains, cleaning your kitchen sink and drain, and the oven/stove top.

Laundry detergent

Make your own laundry detergent. If you search online, there are a lot of different recipes and usually there are about 4-5 ingredients, tops. Just look for the borax-free ones…and don’t add in brand-name ‘crystals’ for the smell because then you’re defeating the purpose of getting rid of chemicals. I made a batch for around $25.00 and it lasted me over 6 months. Plus, my clothes got so clean!

Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets coat your clothes so that they are “softer” and prevent static. However, you’re likely absorbing the chemicals and perfumes into your body 24 hours a day from your clothes and sheets/blankets. Try wool dryer balls instead. You can even add essential oils if you miss smells. However, the first time I washed my sheets with filler/chemical-free detergent and dryer balls was the best night sleep I ever had…plus my clothes and sheets actually felt softer and had a really fresh smell to them. I challenge you to try it!

Moisturizer/lotion

I’m just starting to use organic coconut oil as a replacement for my brand name moisturizer and lotion. Plus, it’s a little cheaper than my previous moisturizer and lasts longer. A Go Green Nowspoonful is enough for my entire body! Not to mention I don’t have that greasy feeling after applying the usual moisturizer and lotion. I haven’t tried it yet, but unrefined shea butter is also a great lotion alternative.

Deodorant/anti-perspirant

This is a big one because of where you’re applying the product, especially for women, if you catch my drift. Aluminum and parabens are found in a lot of deodorants (parabens are in many lotions as well). You can make your own or find natural/organic versions online. The organic deodorant I buy is more expensive; however, it smells really, really good and lasts about a month or so longer compared to my old deodorant.

I’m gaining peace of mind from using healthier products and maybe it’s psychosomatic, but I really do feel better after making these changes. Plus, I’m actually saving money. My Target trips have been reduced dramatically and the items I purchase are overall cheaper and last longer than the more expensive alternatives.

This is just the tip of the iceberg because there are many items I didn’t cover. I didn’t go into details on all of the bad ingredients in each category. So I encourage you to research the products you use. For cosmetics information, check out the EWG Skin Database.

I will be the first person to tell you that going green can be very intimidating. Start small with simple changes. You may have to spend more money in some areas but you will save in other areas. And also, food plays a major factor in our health, too, so check out how to eat healthier on a budget. Visit our website at www.ConquerYourDebt.org to learn other ways to save money in your every day life.

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Financial Counseling Supervisor at LSS Financial Counseling.

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