During Moon’s vet visit a few weeks ago, the doctor and I discussed his allergies and how his symptoms have either improved or diminished over the last few months. Less sneezing. His bald spots are filling in, and no more thrown up food. I told her about all the food changes and the housekeeping hygiene changes we had also made over those many months. She just looked at Moon and said, “Wow. Your parents really love you.”
We do, and so we didn’t see the point in baby-stepping the process, which would have only dragged things out and left him uncomfortable for longer while we treated him like a lab animal. That was the logic behind my decision to change as many things as we could all at once versus eliminating one thing for 8 weeks at a time.
The food thing was probably the easiest: we just eliminated the beef, fish, poultry, and by-products. We always used grain free food to begin with, and LID diets are known to work very well. The vomiting stopped immediately. The itchy skin and ears took much longer to resolve and were probably a combination of food intolerances and environmental issues.
We’ve always been a “No Pesticide or Chemical Fertilizer Garden” and a “Buy Cruelty Free” household when we can because companies who practice cruelty-free just tend to be more environmentally responsible anyway, but even those products often contain synthetic ingredients and fragrances. I admit that I love scented laundry products, and I am guilty of using bleach for cleaning the litter boxes and whitening my clothes. Well, was guilty. In trying to deal with Moon’s dermatitis, I decided to go one step further and eliminate as many premade cleaning products as I could. Even the green ones. Noxious floor cleaner was first on my list. I used to use an Enzyme cleaner: Nature’s Miracle, but they seem to have markedly increased the scent in the product, and it’s more than my husband can stand, so I ended up going with Rescue because it is a stabilized Hydrogen Peroxide made for the Veterinary Practice, and it’s unscented and kills even parvo in 30 seconds. Peroxide is awesome stuff. Strong and safe, which is what I need for Rupert’s FIV. I need to be able to kill anything I bring in from the garden without the toxic side effects of bleach. The smell of bleach makes me nauseous anyway. I also use Rescue to disinfect the litter boxes; though, I did have to hack my Swiffer wetjet so that I can use it with the disposable pads for floor cleaning. Washing doesn’t always kill everything, so I need to mop and throw the microbe-loaded pad away. Sometimes you can’t be totally green.
For every other cleaning product except Laundry Detergent, I decided that I would make my own. I have made my own soap and salves for almost 20 years, so, much to my surprise, I already had all the ingredients in the house to make my own cleaning supplies too:
- Washing Soda
- Baking Soda
- Coarse Kosher Salt
- Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s is my favorite.)
- Rubbing Alcohol, Witch hazel, and/or Vodka (I do not use vinegar; it’s not surface safe.)
- Citric Acid
- Veggie Glycerin
- Various Essential Oils (I like Now Foods, Majestic Mountain Sage, or Aura Cacia.)
- Almond Oil
What I found during the process is that you really don’t need a lot to keep your house clean and sanitized, and there are tons of natural websites out there with tons of free recipes. I decided to buy this book from Clean Mamma because I liked her recipes the best, although, I did alter most of them. Here’s what I made in 1 hour.
- Disinfecting Surface Cleaner for Kitchen (Basil and Lemongrass)
- Disinfecting Surface Cleaner for Bathroom (Mint and Eucalyptus)
- Dishwasher Detergent (dry no scent) Also works as Toilet Cleaner and Bathroom Scrub.
- Dusting Spray (Lemon, Basil, and Lemongrass. Smells better than Lemon Pledge.)
- Glass Cleaner (Basil and Mint)
- I’m going to try making a Poo Pourri spray this weekend.
I only use liquid Laundry Detergent because I have a front load machine and oversudsing is bad for the machine. Making liquid laundry detergent is a pain in the ass, so I buy free and clear from Method or Sun & Earth or whatever other eco company is available at my local store. I found that Borax whitens the whites way better and safer than Bleach too, and combined with Citric Acid and Baking Soda (the dishwasher detergent,) it does a fantastic job on the toilet bowl and the shower pan. We’ve also switched to aluminum foil balls in the dryer to eliminate static sling. Seriously, it works. If we want to scent something, like the bath towels that do not have contact with the cats, we use the Wool Dryer balls with a few drops of essential oil. No more dryer sheets.
Now, a word of caution. Natural doesn’t necessarily mean completely safe. You don’t want to inhale or ingest washing soda or borax obviously, or drink Hydrogen Peroxide, and many essential oils are toxic to animals, especially cats, so you want to dilute, dilute, dilute, and never ever diffuse into the air or let essential oils come into contact with the animals, their food, or their bedding unless you are absolutely certain they do not contain Phenols, Ketones, D-Limonene, and or Alpha-Pinene. Spray into a micro-fiber cloth instead of spraying the surface; it reduces overspray into the air. That said, you’ll find that these DIY recipes actually work better than their store-bought counterparts work and are often cheaper. My dishes sparkle even after dried on cat food.
But the real benefit is the reduction and or the elimination of synthetic chemical residues and fragrances around the house thus reducing indoor air pollution. Not only is it good for Moon kitteh as our experiment has proven, but it’s good for us too.
I could kick myself for not doing it sooner.
Note: Yes, you could buy fancy glass bottles for all your new cleaning products, but it’s even more eco friendly to save the sprayers from your old bottles and re-use glass condiment bottles instead. I use an old Worcestershire sauce bottle for my peroxide because it’s brown glass, and I use cooking wine bottles for my other stuff. If you need extra sprayers sans the bottles, you can find them anywhere including Amazon.
Note on the Dishwasher Detergent: I use the cup of borax, cup of baking soda, cup of washing soda mix, but I also add 1/2 cup of citric acid, and you will need to shake and mix this for about 4 days or so until it becomes granular and dry. If you try to use DIY dishwasher detergent as soon as you make it, you will not be happy. It’s too powdery, and it will leave a residue on everything. The citric acid reacts with the baking soda to change it from a powder to a nice scrubby granule that washes the dishes sparkling clean. It’s worth the wait and the shaking and stirring.