Safe Non-toxic All Purpose Cleaner – ditch the cleaners filled with toxic chemicals!

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Look at this pin that I saw on Pinterest!

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I know I keep harping on the fact that is it just as important to eliminate as many toxins in your environment as it is to watch what you eat, but seriously – it’s IMPORTANT!!!  We spend a majority of our time inside, and we need to make sure that we are keeping that area as toxin free as possible!  Don’t wait to get sick to make a change – make a change now, and just watch how much healthier you feel!  Okay, let me step off my soapbox now.

I’m going to share my safe and effective homemade all purpose cleaner with you in this post.  It’s toxin free, safe, effective, saves money, and best of all, it’s SO easy!  It only has three ingredients with one of them being optional – easy peasy, for real!

  1. Vinegar
  2. Water
  3. Essential Oil (optional)
  4. That’s it!  Post done.
  5. Just kidding. 🙂

Some great reasons to make your own cleaners are

  • it’s easy
  • it saves money
  • it reduces toxic chemicals in your environment
  • better for your health
  • better for your environment
  • there’s no chance of death when using this cleaner like there is with some common all purpose cleaners!

So, let’s talk a little about the third reason up there – reducing toxic chemicals!  Many all purpose cleaners are filled with harsh chemicals that are terrible for our health.  Here’s some of them!

Ammonia

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Ammonia is caustic and irritating.  It can cause disturbing health symptoms such as burns to the nose, mouth or throat when inhaled which can result in bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction resulting in respiratory distress or failure.  It can also cause coughing, eye and skin irritation, and severe injury and burns.

2-butoxyethanol

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2-butoxyethanol is a solvent that soaks through the skin and damages red blood cells, and can cause irritation of mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat.  It is listed in the U.S. state of California as a hazardous substance, and heavy exposure via respiratory, skin absorption or oral routes can lead to hypotension, metabolic acidosis, hemolysis, pulmonary edema and coma.

nonylphenol ethoxylate

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Yes, this pin is about men’s shorts that contain nonylphenol ethoxylate, but none the less, we see that this chemical is BAD!  Many all purpose cleaners and other household cleaners contain it.  Exposure to nonylphenol ethoxylates through inhalation or through dermal contact may cause irritation of the lungs, digestive system, skin and eyes.  This chemical is also thought to interfere with hormones and may therefore interfere with the development and reproductive system.  They are listed as endocrine disrupting chemicals on the EU list.

Sodium hypochlorite

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Sodium hypochlorite can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. Exposure to high levels can result in severe corrosive damage to the eyes, skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal tissues and can be fatal. Sodium hypochlorite has been found 6 times in the 1,585 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There are quite a few more, but these are just some of them to give you an idea of how damaging these chemicals can be to our health and quality of life!  Okay, now for the good news – there is an alternative that works just as well in cleaning many surfaces, and is a gazillion times safer!  Like I mentioned above, the recipe is incredibly easy, and will DEFINITELY save you money!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • essential oils of your choice (I use tea tree, lemon, and lime)

Directions:

Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake to mix.  Spray on surface to be cleaned and wipe with a clean rag.

So easy and so much better for you!  Enjoy! 🙂

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HOMEMADE NON-TOXIC TOILET BOWL CLEANER

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I just ran out of toilet bowl cleaner, so I had to make some more which gave me a chance to take some pictures and write a post on my “recipe” for this stuff!  This stuff WORKS!!!  Not only that, but it smells amazing!  This is SO much better than the toxic stuff that can seriously affect our health!  Most store bought toilet bowl cleaners contain chemicals that can cause skin burns, respiratory distress from inhaled fumes, and eye irritation.  These are just the acute affects.  Some of the chemicals found in toilet bowl cleaners can cause long term health issues such as cancer and hormone disruption as well.

EWG has a “cleaner’s database hall of shame” that I came across when I clicked on the following pin that I found on Pinterest.

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Both of the toilet bowl cleaners on this pin are on this list as major offenders when it comes to toxic chemicals. I also came across an article at organicconsumers.org that states the following:

The most acutely dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners, according to Philip Dickey of the Washington Toxics Coalition. Corrosive chemicals can cause severe burns on eyes, skin and, if ingested, on the throat and esophagus. Ingredients with high acute toxicity include chlorine bleach and ammonia, which produce fumes that are highly irritating to eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and should not be used by people with asthma or lung or heart problems. These two chemicals pose an added threat in that they can react with each other or other chemicals to form lung-damaging gases. Combining products that contain chlorine and ammonia or ammonia and lye (in some oven cleaners) produces chloramine gases, while chlorine combined with acids (commonly used in toilet bowl cleaners) forms toxic chlorine gas.”

There is a lot of information out there stating that toilet bowl cleaners contain chemicals that are terrible for our health.  This is just another reason why I make all of my cleaners myself using safe and non-toxic ingredients.  It’s also much cheaper which really helps the pocketbook of a neat freak like myself.

Here is my recipe for toilet bowl cleaner.

TOILET BOWL CLEANER

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup liquid castille soap (I use peppermint scented dr. Bronners for this recipe)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. baking soda
  • Essential oils:  I use tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, orange, and lime (smells SO good)

Directions:

Pour all the ingredients into a squirt bottle (you can use any bottle that squirts – I used an empty hydrogen peroxide bottle.  You could also use an empty dish soap bottle, ketchup bottle…anything that squirts – you get the picture.  Shake to combine well.  Squirt into the toilet and use a toilet brush to clean then flush!  Sparkly clean!

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Safe, effective, and smells great without putting your health at risk!  Perfect!  Enjoy! 🙂

 

How to clean your washing machine without bleach

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have been making my own cleaning products for quite a while now.  When I started doing this, I was having a hard time finding a way to clean our washing machine using natural products. The problem is that when you look up “how to clean a washing machine”, a majority of the instructions tell you to use bleach!  NO!  Don’t do it!!!  There are many dangers of using chlorine bleach as a cleaning agent.  I even found a pin on Pinterest regarding the dangers of using chlorine bleach.

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This will link you to an article explaining some of the reasons not to use bleach.  This article mainly concentrates on the cleaning facts of bleach.  Namely, the following three facts.

  • Bleach is not an all-purpose cleaner.  The oxidizing effect of the bleach can be tied up with soils. This means that in order to use bleach to kill germs, it has to be used on a surface that has already been cleaned, otherwise the dirt and grime on the surface blocks the disinfecting properties of the bleach.
  • Bleach isn’t as effective for mold removal as you thought it was.  Chlorine bleach kills surface mold only. Mold can grow deep roots within porous surfaces, so bleach will not work in this case to remove mold. The chlorine actually stays on the surface, while the water component seeps in further.  This can actually contribute to mold growth!
  • Bleach expires quickly. Chlorine bleach loses it’s effectiveness rapidly, and if it’s been sitting in your cupboard or on a store shelf for a while, then it’s cleaning properties are greatly diminished.

Already, we see that bleach is not as effective as a cleaner as we may have thought.  Now for the more serious reasons not to use it – it is extremely toxic and can produce fumes in the air that are harmful to our health. Chlorine bleach also generates a by-product called dioxin, which is linked to cancer. Use over time builds up these pollutants in the environment.

Workers handling bleach in their workplace are required to use a mask and gloves to handle the chemical in order to protect themselves according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Chlorine Bleach is a strong corrosive material.  It will irritate the eyes, skin and the respiratory tract by merely inhaling the gasses.  Also, it can even be fatal to someone who is exposed to large quantities. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) recorded many exposures to household cleaning products that were serious enough to require hospitalization and physician care.  This is no joke, guys – this stuff is NOT GOOD for you, and can even result in death!

Some symptoms that can be caused by exposure to chlorine bleach are as follows.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Bloody noses
  • Nausea
  • Irritation to the throat, nose, and eyes
  • Neurological disorder
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest Pain
  • Serious skin burns
  • And sometimes even death

These toxic effects become even more deadly when you mix chlorine bleach with ammonia, vinegar, or any other acid type cleaning material.  Most people are unaware of this fact, and that makes this chemical even more dangerous!

Yes, I realize I keep harping on the fact that this stuff can kill us, but seriously???  So basically, what we see is that 1.) bleach isn’t as effective as we thought is was in cleaning, and 2.) It can severely impact our health to the point of killing us!  Bottom line is that chlorine bleach is TOXIC to people, animals, and our environment, so finding an alternative is of upmost importance!

Okay, now that I’ve probably given you nightmares about the effects that bleach has on our health (sorry!), let’s talk about some good news!  I have a GREAT way to clean your washing machine without the use of this terrible chemical!  I let our washing machine collect a bit of grime – ew!  I know, but I wanted to be able to show you before and after pictures so you can see how well this works!  The only two ingredients you need are white vinegar and baking soda.  The vinegar is fantastic for killing germs and getting rid of mold and soap scum, while the baking soda is excellent for getting rid of any odors caused by those yuckies!  My secret is that after you’ve gone through the first couple of steps, you use a stiff bristled brush of some sort to scrub the soap scum.  It works like a charm.  I use whatever brush I have on hand that is new.  This time, I used a brush used for scrubbing dishes, and it worked great.  You can even use an unused toilet bowl brush (emphasis on UNUSED! 🙂 ) – I’ve done that in the past too, and it works perfectly!

Okay, so here we go!  First, I will show you the before picture – gross, but it needed to be done so you can see how well this process works!  You can see the soap scum and grime on the center pole of the washer and at the water lines – Yuck!

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Materials you’ll need:

  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • A stiff bristled brush
  • A washcloth

Directions:

1.) Start a wash cycle with your setting on as large a load as possible and your water temperature as hot as possible.  As the machine is filling with water, dump in your vinegar and baking soda.

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2.) When the machine has filled with water, let it agitate for about a minute to really mix in the vinegar and baking soda.  Turn the machine off and let it sit for 45 minutes like this. While the machine is sitting,  wipe down the outside of the machine to get it clean.  At the end of the 45 minutes, turn it back on and let it finish it’s cycle.

3.) Now comes the stiff bristle brush.  Use the brush to wipe over the areas that need attention (the water lines of soap scum and the center pole in my case).  After soaking in the hot water, vinegar and baking soda for those 45 minutes, you will be surprised at how easily it comes off with the brush – you don’t even have to scrub, just run the brush over it, and you will see the soap scum and mildew come right off.

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4.) Fill the washer with a small amount of hot water and use your washcloth to wipe off the sides and get rid of any specs of mildew that are there after brushing it off.  Drain the machine, and you are done!

Here is my after picture.

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Sparkly clean without the use of any harsh chemicals or any backbreaking scrubbing!  Enjoy! 🙂

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Homemade non-toxic glass cleaner that WORKS and why you should NOT be using chemical glass cleaning products

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I’ve been making my own cleaning products for a long time now.  When I run out of something, I can make more giving me an excuse to snap some pictures and blog about it!  I recently ran out of glass cleaner so had to make some more – hence, this post on homemade glass cleaner.  Check out this pin from Pinterest.

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It links to an article about why it is better to use homemade cleaning products rather than the chemical laden store bought cleaners or the extremely expensive “safer” store bought cleaning products.  That in itself explains two very good reasons for making the switch to homemade: 1.) non-toxic and 2.) MUCH cheaper!

My reason for making the switch a while back was to get as many toxins out of my environment as possible.  A lot of people don’t think about the fact that their environment is just as responsible for their health as the things they put in and on their body is.  Since this post is specific to glass cleaner, I’m going to list some of the chemicals that are commonly found in store bought glass cleaners along with the ill effects they have on our health.

  • Ammonium Hydroxide – Ammonium hydroxide is a caustic inorganic base.  Ammonium hydroxide may produce tissue damage on mucous membranes, particularly the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.  Repeated or prolonged exposure to ammonium hydroxide can lead to health deterioration through accumulation within human organs.  Inhalation of the spray mist may produce severe irritation of respiratory tract, characterized by coughing, choking, or shortness of breath. Inflammation of the eye is characterized by redness, watering, and itching. Skin inflammation is characterized by itching, scaling, reddening, or, occasionally, blistering.  Severe over-exposure can result in death.
  • Hexoxyethanol – Ethoxyethanol is an ether alcohol.  It is a known human toxicant.  Animal studies have shown it to be toxic at low doses.  There has been evidence of hexoxyethanol causing gastrointestinal, liver, kidney, cardiovascular,  and blood toxicity.
  • Fragrance – This ingredient that is in so  many glass cleaners is a known skin irritant.  It can cause allergies, nervous system effects, respiratory effects, and organ toxicity.  A problem with the ingredient “fragrance” is that you don’t know what ingredients are in that fragrance, and most of them are extremely toxic and damaging to our health.
  • Butyl cellulose – This ingredient is neurotoxic.  It can cause such symptoms as cough, confusion, dizziness, headache, nausea, skin and eye irritation, and fatigue.

These are some of the worst ingredients that are commonly found in glass cleaners.  There are other harmful ingredients lurking in these glass cleaners as well.  All of which can cause disturbing and yes, sometimes even fatal symptoms!  Wouldn’t you rather use something that is safe and effective that you don’t have to worry about poisoning you?

Like I said, I started making my own cleaners quite a while ago, so that means, I’ve tried quite a few different concoctions.  I am a proud neat freak, so whatever I use, it has to work really well, and when it comes to glass cleaner, streaks are unacceptable!  Some different things I’ve tried are as follows:

  1. Vinegar and water: The white vinegar in this is great for killing germs, but didn’t work so well as a glass cleaner as it left streaks and cloudiness, and if there were any spots on the glass, I really had to scrub to get them off.
  2. Rubbing alcohol:  This was a little better in terms of getting rid of spots, but again, the glass didn’t look completely clean when I used rubbing alcohol alone.  It still had a bit of cloudiness to it.
  3. Water, Vinegar, and Lemon juice: Just no.  This one didn’t work well at all for glass, and it even left a little bit of a sticky residue behind that I had to use another cleaner to get rid of.
  4. Hydrogen peroxide:  This works okay in a bind.  But I did notice some cloudiness left behind.  If this is all you have on hand, it will do, but you can do much better.
  5. Water, Vinegar, and rubbing alcohol:  This worked pretty well, and is great if you only have these three ingredients on hand.
  6. THE WINNER: After trying MANY different mixtures, the one I found to work the best is the ingredients from #5 with some cornstarch added in!  Isn’t that so weird?  I read that cornstarch is a good ingredient in window cleaner, and was incredibly skeptical at first, but once I added this magical ingredient to my recipe, my glass has never looked better – and that includes when I used to use the bad chemical laden cleaners!  Seriously, you have to try this recipe for glass cleaner – I was mesmerized with the result!  It also works great as an oven surface cleaner – it will make your oven sparkly clean!

Before I go into the recipe, a quick note about the smell of this cleaner.  I absolutely HATE the smell of vinegar.  I use it in so many different cleaning concoctions that I normally add essential oils not only for their cleaning ability, but also to cover up the smell of vinegar.  However, when it comes to the glass cleaner, I have to advise not to use any essential oils as it can cause streaks and cloudiness.  This particular recipe doesn’t smell too terribly.  I think the rubbing alcohol and corn starch somehow even out the odor of the vinegar, especially since there is only a very small amount of vinegar in it.  If there is a little bit of a smell to it, I promise it goes away shortly after you use it, so your house won’t smell like a pickle.

Alright, here we go!

HOMEMADE NON-TOXIC GLASS CLEANER

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cups warm water

Okay this is the really hard part (insert sarcasm here).  Just pour each of these ingredients into a spray bottle, label the spray bottle if desired, shake to mix well, and you’re ready to go!

It takes about 5 minutes to throw this together, and this will last you a while (unless you live in a glass house, then it might not last as long 😉 ).  The ingredients are cheap, cheap, cheap, and best of all, this is so much better than the toxin filled glass cleaners.  At least give it a try – if you’re like me, you will be extremely surprised at how well this stuff works!!!  Enjoy! 🙂

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DIY WOOL DRYER BALLS…and why to never use dryer sheets again

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I stopped using fabric softener quite a while ago after learning about all the toxic effects it has on the body.  Since then, I’ve been using wool dryer balls that I had been buying online.  It recently occurred to me that there was probably a way for me to make these dryer balls myself, and after lurking around on Pinterest, sure enough – there is! 🙂 Here is the pin that showed me how to make these babies!

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Before getting into how to make these wool dryer balls, I first want to talk a little bit about WHY I use these instead of fabric softener.

After getting seriously ill three years ago (described in my post JOEL 2:25), I started doing MAJOR research on natural ways of healing.  Through my research, not only did I learn all about healing foods, etc. to incorporate into my life, I also learned about many things that have a toxic effect on the body that I needed to take out of my life.  The worst offender of toxicity was fabric softener dryer sheets.  After learning how incredibly toxic these are, I seriously even want to hold my breath anytime that I can even smell it on someone else’s clothes!

Fabric softeners are LOADED with toxic chemicals that can harm our health and the health of our children.  Children are even more susceptible to absorbing these toxic chemicals because their skin is thinner than ours is as adults.  The toxins in dryer sheets are intense and can enter your body in two ways: One – through your skin when you wear the clothes you dried using dryer sheets, and Two – through your brain by entering through your olfactory system.  So, why does this matter?  Well, let’s look at some of the toxic chemicals that these dryer sheets contain and the effect of those chemicals on the body.

  • Benzyl Acetate:  This is linked to pancreatic cancer
  • Limonene:  This is a known carcinogen
  • Ethanol: This can cause central nervous system disorders
  • Ethyl Acetate: This is on the environmental protection agency’s hazardous waste list and is a narcotic.  It can cause headaches and narcosis (stupor).
  • A-Terpineol: This can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage.  It can also cause loss of muscular coordination, central nervous system depression, and headache.
  • Camphor:  This causes central nervous system disorders, including but not limited to dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles, and convulsions.
  • Linalool: This is a narcotic.  in studies, this chemical caused loss of muscle coordination, nervous system and brain disorders, and depression.
  • Chloroform:  This is neurotoxic (toxic to the brain and nervous system), anesthetic and carcinogenic.
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled (this is why I’m tempted to hold my breath whenever I even get a whiff of fabric softener on someone else’s clothing!) It causes headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness, and depression
  • Benzyl Alcohol:  This is an upper respiratory tract irritant, and is linked to headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, depression, as well as disorders of the brain and nervous system, and in severe cases, death

Read that last one again – in severe cases, DEATH.  It’s no joke, guys, the chemicals in these dryer sheets are SO SO toxic!  After finding all this out, I told some of my friends about it, and when they stopped using dryer sheets for a month, they actually noticed that they were feeling more clear headed and energetic, and that is the ONLY thing they changed during that month.  Hopefully this list will convince you to ditch the dryer sheets, but if you’re still not convinced, try it for a month yourself, and you will see yourself feeling better and healthier.

Now, you may be asking “Then how am I supposed to have soft clothes that smell nice out of the dryer”?  Well, I’ve told you the problem, now here is a solution – wool dryer balls!  While doing my research, I found these to work the best in terms of all the different options to dryer sheets (I didn’t have a clothesline – or a backyard for that matter – to have them air dry, and I tried some different concoctions with white vinegar, baking soda, etc., but those were time consuming to put together, and my clothes never smelled the way I wanted them to even when I used essential oils because they were always mixed with the other ingredients changing their smell).  These wool dryer balls work like a charm to have my clothes coming out soft and static free, and the best part is that when I make my own, I just put a few drops of my favorite essential oil on them before throwing them in the dryer, and my clothes come out smelling AMAZING!

These dryer balls are also SO much better for the environment than fabric softeners, and you will save a TON of money not having to buy fabric softener.  Your materials to make your own will run you less than $10 total, and they will last for a really long time!  Here’s how you make them!

Materials:

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  • 100% wool yarn
  • an old pair of nylons or tights
  • essential oil (optional)

That’s it!  I bought two things of yarn, but only used one to make four balls (plus one tiny ball that I turned into a cat toy for Ferm 🙂 – I put a little catnip in the center and wound the yarn around it, and he LOVED it – here is a little collage of him enjoying it!

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Ha!  But I digress!  Let’s get back to how to make these wool dryer balls.

Directions:

1.) Take the yarn and wrap it around your first two fingers about 30-50 times.

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2.) Slide the yarn off your fingers and wrap the yarn around the middle of this bunch about 30 times.

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3.) Now continue to wrap the yarn round and round forming a ball.

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4.) Continue this process until your ball is about 3 inches in diameter.  Tie off the end and tuck it under one of the loops.

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5.) Repeat steps 1-4 to make as many balls as you would like.  I made 4 total and a cat toy.

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6.) Now that you have made your balls, you will want to felt them.  To do this, cut off one of the legs of your old pair of nylons/tights.  Put the first ball into the toe of the nylon, then tie a knot in the nylon to secure it in place.  Put the second ball into the nylon and tie another knot over that one.  Continue until all the balls are in the nylons.

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7.) Now, just run your balls through the washer and dryer a couple of times.  I threw mine in with two different loads of laundry that I had to get done so I wasn’t wasting water.

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8.) After they’ve run through the washer and dryer a couple of times, just cut them out of the nylons, and they are ready to use!  If you want to add essential oil, just put a few drops on the ball itself before throwing it in the dryer with a load of clothes.  You may want to do this and then let the oil dry before putting it in the dryer to make sure there isn’t any oil splatter onto the clothes (unlikely, but it could happen).  The oil scent should last for quite a few loads, but when it starts to dwindle, just add a few more drops.

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Throw a couple of the balls into the dryer with your next load of laundry, and your clothes will come out smelling wonderful, feeling soft and static free, and best of all – they won’t have the potential to kill you! 😛  Enjoy!

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