Organic Reaction

So the other day, my dear friend MJ put up a post on her blog about natural, homemade cleaning products, as a response to the pseudo “environmentally friendly” products on the market, which really aren’t. This is something that has been on my mind a great deal, as it probably has for many people. I am tired of wearing one of the white masks over my nose and mouth to spray on the shower ‘n tub cleaner, first making sure that all windows and doors in the house are open to provide adequate ventilation, only to run out of the bathroom coughing anyway from the fumes. MJ’s recipe for an all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner (1/2 borax, ½ baking soda, mixed with a natural soap like Murphy’s Oil Soap, or other castile soap-based liquids until it’s the consistency of frosting) worked like a charm, taking off the soap scum and water spots even from the glass shower doors. Now I’m mixing up white vinegar and water to clean the kitchen, and adding a smidge of dish soap for an effective veggie cleaner.

But my biggest concern for some time now has been bath products, and shampoos. The commercially available chemical-laden shampoos should come with a skull and crossbones on the label. We dump an amazing amount of dangerous, carcinogenic chemicals over our heads every day in the shower. Here’s a disturbing article from a few years back in the New York Times, republished on the Organic Consumer Association’s Web site. Things that claim to be “organic” and “natural” are not, and no one oversees or regulates the use of those terms. Here’s a short excerpt of the article:

“Most people don’t monitor their hair products as vigorously as they do their pasta sauce, of course, for the obvious reason that they don’t eat their
styling gel. But the skin, scalp and hair are remarkably efficient at
absorbing toxins and carcinogens. A group of researchers at Stanford
University in 1999 found they could deliver a DNA vaccine to laboratory mice
as effectively by rubbing it on their skin as injecting it into muscle.
In fact, some toxins can do more harm absorbed through the skin than through
the digestive system because they lodge directly in fat cells, bypassing the
liver, said Dr. Rangan”

I read on another site a long time ago (and have no idea now what the site was) that if you wouldn’t eat the product, you shouldn’t be using it on your body. We all know that if we get certain chemicals on our skin, such as many herbicides and lawn care products, we need to wash it off immediately as it can be absorbed into the body. Why then do we blithely pour things like cocamide DEA (a hormone-disrupting, potential carcinogen according to Green Living Now) over our heads? Bleah. Time to make my own shampoo. I found this recipe on, and it sounds wonderful but I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. There’s also an herb known as soap wort that can be used in place of the castile soap to get the sudsing action.

So, I think it’s time to try something a little easier on my head. Sorry for all the links, but I like to give credit where it’s due and don’t want anyone to think the information contained in the articles is my own research or recipes.


About D. D. Syrdal

Writer of vampire stories and science fiction. First novel, "Revenants Abroad", available now at Amazon,,, Smashwords. If you like a vampire you can go out drinking with and still respect yourself in the morning, I think you'd like Andrej.
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