Monday, March 17, 2008

avoid migraine triggers with healthier cleaning products

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Many migraineurs are sensitive to strong chemical smells, such as those generated by traditional household cleaning products. Not only is this an avoidable migraine trigger, these chemicals can be detrimental to other aspects of your and your family's health.

As you may have noticed, I have some treehugger tendencies, but the coolest thing about using eco-friendly cleaning products is that they're also infinitely more tolerable for our migraine-related sensitivities. If you make some of your own products they're much cheaper, too.


To get started using healthier cleaning products in your home you need just a few key items. You probably already have some of them in your pantry. To set up your starter kit you will need:
  • baking soda (look for a large container at your favorite bulk warehouse store)
  • white vinegar
  • high quality essential oils (tea tree, lavender, orange and peppermint are all popular choices)
  • a gentle liquid detergent, such as Dr. Bronner's Organic Castile Soap
  • washing soda (not baking soda)
  • empty spray bottles
  • empty canning jars with screw on lids
  • sticky labels & an indelible marker
  • old towels, t-shirts or other similar items to cut up and clean with (instead of paper towels or other disposable options)
With these basic items you can make the excellent cleaning recipes on Care's How to Make a Nontoxic Cleaning Kit page and the extensive options on the Guide to Less Toxic Living list.

If you prefer you can get started by ordering a ready-to-go kit from:


To introduce you to the ways these simple products can be used to clean in your home, here is a list of the ways my husband and I use them in ours. There are many other options and lots of good recipes for homemade cleaning products available online, which I will share below.

baking soda
  • mix with vinegar & liquid detergent to make a surface scrub
  • deodorizing carpets
  • eliminating & preventing odors in refrigerators & freezers
  • brightening whites in the laundry
  • treating pet odors & accidents
  • freshening the litter box
white vinegar
  • dishwasher rinse agent
  • after-shower spray to prevent build up
  • streak-free windows & mirrors
  • eliminating static in the laundry
  • cutting grease in the kitchen & laundry room
Dr. Bronner's
  • all-purpose spray cleaner
  • hand soap
  • dishwashing liquid
  • laundry detergent
We buy a few commercials products to round out our arsenal. We like Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day and Biokleen laundry detergents and Ecover Dishwasher Tablets. We also purchase OxiClean Free for the laundry and removing stains from various fabrics and Biokleen Bac-Out for treating organic stains, such as blood, and breaking through the mildew that builds up in the shower.

You can make your own laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid if you like. I think it's a good idea to ease yourself into this process, but if you're ready and willing (or especially eager to save money), check out the recipes section below for suggestions on how to make these items.

I can't honestly say that moving away from traditional household cleaners has made a huge improvement in my migraines, but every little thing I can do to reduce my exposure to known triggers is well worth the effort. Although he sometimes grows annoyed with all these changes, even my husband agrees that they are worthwhile in helping me have a better quality of life. I hope they will do the same for you.

Cut to the Chase Cleaning
Green Bathroom Germ Cleaning Kit
Guide to Less Toxic Living
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
Making Homemade Laundry Soap

Other sources:
How to Make a Nontoxic Cleaning Kit
Vinegar Tips - Guide to Cleaning with Vinegar

Related posts:
Blog Action Day - Cleaning Products & Your Health

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