DIY Cleaning: Using Essential Oils

By Susan Hilton RN, MSN and Certified Aromatherapist

Nearly everyone has heard about the virtues of common items such as baking soda and vinegar for scouring and absorbing grease. Adding essential oils enhances a formula’s cleaning value and leaves behind a soothing, natural scent. It’s not just an advertising gimmick that many commercial products contain citrus oils such as lemon or lime—they are natural degreasers and have antimicrobial properties. Using natural products instead of chemical-laden commercial ones makes household tasks almost a pleasure to tackle. I know it’s hard to get excited about cleaning a bathroom, but when you realize that the surfaces are germ-and toxin-free, and the soothing aroma of cedar or lavender lingers, you won’t be able to suppress a smile of satisfaction. And that enthusiasm is contagious—even the kids will want to pitch in!

cleanersMaking your own natural cleaning recipes is not time-consuming or expensive. In fact, quite the opposite is true. It only takes a minute or two to fill a spray bottle with vinegar and water and add a few drops of essential oil. Bingo—instant glass and appliance cleaner! Having done that, there’s one less aisle to visit in the supermarket. Most commercial cleaners are quite expensive. You will save a lot making your own cleaners, plus it’s better for you and the environment. Other all-natural ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, water, and liquid soap are also inexpensive.

Let’s look at some easy recipes that you can make yourself to clean your home.

2 c. white vinegar
2 c. water
1 teaspoon natural dish soap (NOT castile soap)
30 drops lemon essential oil
20 drops tea tree essential oil
Mix all ingredients in a quart-sized spray bottle. Shake to combine. Spray and wipe on counters, cabinets, sinks, toilets, and anywhere else.

3 c. distilled water
1/4 c. rubbing alcohol or vodka
1/4 c. vinegar
20 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a quart-sized spray bottle. Shake to combine, and then spray on mirrors, windows, or stainless steel. Wipe off with paper towels or old newspaper for streak-free shine.

1 c. baking soda
1/4 c. unscented liquid soap
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops lime essential oil
10 drops orange essential oil
Mix ingredients together to form a paste (add more liquid soap if needed). Apply with rag or sponge, and then rinse with clean water. I especially like to use this on my stovetop and on grimy sinks.

1/2 c. baking soda
1/3 c. liquid dishwashing soap
1/4 c. hydrogen peroxide
30 drops eucalyptus essential oil
3/4 c. water
Mix together in a squeeze-type bottle, and then squirt into toilet. Scrub and let stand 20 minutes.


½ c. baking soda

½ c. 3% hydrogen peroxide
10 drops tea tree essential oil
Combine all ingredients to make a paste. Use a cloth or sponge to scrub the tile and grout. Rinse thoroughly. You might leave it on the grout for 5 – 10 minutes if it needs extra attention.

It is easy and less expensive to make your own cleaning supplies. You’ll also have more room under your cabinets. I like what Sharon had to say about this, “I started making my own cleaning products recently. I love the money I save, and I love that I’m helping the planet by reusing containers instead of buying new ones. But most of all I love that I know what is in the cleaners and that I’m saving money on such an easy and fun task.”

You can find your essential oils for these products at The Nature Cottage at 21 S. Main Street in Lexington. Contact us if you have questions or need other supplies. 336-843-4297.


Clean Up Your Eating

By Regan Abele

The food you put in your body is fuel. The nutrients inside each thing we eat are on a mission to give our body something it needs. As we work on making sure our body is getting what it needs on a daily basis to keep us living, you might come across many different diet plans. Maybe you have even tried one or two plans yourself.

??There is a never-ending flow of fad diets and healthy eating tips swirling around our world today. High fat or low fat, carbs or no carbs, lots of protein or a little protein. How are you supposed to know what will work for you?

Clean eating is a term you may hear floating around with all these other ideas. When working with my clients, I find that clean eating can be the easiest place to start when making diet changes.

Clean eating is more of a guideline to help you make healthy food choices versus an elimination style program such as no carbs or low calories. With clean eating, the mission is to eat foods that have gone through the smallest amount of processing from their natural state to your plate.

Fruits like apples and oranges are easy to see as not processed and are, therefore, “clean.” Not all processing is equal or simple. Healthy foods like yogurt, frozen vegetables, tomato sauce, granola, and even veggie burgers have been processed at some level. Do not let this make you concerned that you won’t be able to tell good from bad. You can do this!

Commonly given advice is to look for words in the ingredients label that you cannot pronounce. When shopping for food, travel only along the outside aisles of a grocery store which is typically where foods are the freshest.

hen you are shopping for groceries, there are lots of other things to be on the lookout for. Phrases including words such as “less sodium,” “low-fat,” or even “vitamin enriched” should serve as warning flags. Often, food must be processed to make it contain less sodium or lower fat than it has in its natural state. Choose a whole grain product over a multigrain. Watch out for added sugars as they can appear in unexpected places.

Many people turn to clean eating for help losing weight. Clean eating can have a positive effect on your body in many ways. Clean eating often leads to more energy and even better mental health. A healthy diet of clean eating will help your cardiovascular health and has been tied to cancer prevention.

It makes sense that the eating of more natural foods, fruits and vegetables and limiting processed foods full of added sugar and salt is going to make you feel better. Who couldn’t use more energy, feeling better and lowering your risk of certain illnesses?

The important thing is finding a balanced diet that makes you feel the best. If you are eating minimally processed foods (natural whenever possible) with a balance of protein, fats, and carbs, you will be off to a great start to healthy eating!

Regan is a health and fitness enthusiast.  She is also an Herbalife Wellness Coach and the owner of BAM Nutrition in Lexington.


When is Sore Serious

By Stacy Vanzant

There are a lot of variables on how your body can respond when you push yourself to new fitness limits. Many of you may have experienced discomfort and soreness due to your new 2018 resolutions or fitness goals. Some of these reactions from your body can make you believe that you’ve suffered an injury by pushing yourself to new areas in the gym, but how do you know if your body is actually injured, or just extremely sore?

As fitness professionals, we are always looking for new ways to get our clients or group classes to enjoy new exercises. Sometimes, though, that new exercise can create sore muscles because you’re not used to working a specific muscle or working the muscle for longer periods of time than what you’re accustomed to. Often times, it can create doubt and make you question if the pain or discomfort you’re experiencing is just a sore or tender muscle or an actual injury.

fitnessI recently had a personal training client experience extreme soreness. We had been working together on both strength training and cardio for about seven months. We had incorporated a few new exercises on a different piece of exercise equipment. Her leg soreness was so severe that even lying on her stomach at night was painful. When she returned to work the day after we had our training session several of her co-workers asked if she would go to her next personal training session, or if she was going to quit. Her response was perfect, “I’m just sore! I’m not going to quit! How can I get stronger if I’m not pushing myself?” Not only was I proud of her response, but she was determined to push through the soreness, although it was extremely uncomfortable.

When you exercise a muscle you are creating small (safe) tears in the muscle fiber called Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness (DOMS). The tenderness and soreness you feel can set in anywhere from 24-72 hours. DOMS can make you feel tight and achy and the area can be tender to touch. Movement can be uncomfortable, but continuing to move and gently stretch your muscles will help reduce soreness.

Discomfort from muscle soreness can increase in intensity by sitting still. The rule of thumb is “the more you move, the more you improve!” Being still because of the discomfort will only make it worse, causing the soreness to last longer. Although it might be uncomfortable for a short period of time, exercising again with some light cardio or easy exercises working the area of discomfort will actually help you feel better faster. If your legs are sore, try a good 30 minute walk to loosen the muscles and reduce the lactic acid build up.

waterbottlesIncreasing your water intake will also improve sore muscles. Giving your muscles plenty of fluids will help them heal faster, hydrate muscle mass, and remove impurities/lactic acid from the body.

On the contrary, if you’ve suffered an injury you will likely feel pain and discomfort immediately or up to 24 hours after the injury occurs. It typically does not improve with time and is painful when using the muscle or area of the body that has been injured. Ice and heat can be common ways to help lessen the pain and discomfort, but with severe injuries you should always see a medical professional if you don’t see improvement within 7-10 days.

Soreness is part of growing in fitness and improving your health. Although it can sometimes be unpleasant, just remember that soreness is a way of your body telling you good job and keep going!


Faithful Living

(or whatever you want to call it)

By Donna Tobin Smith

Scrubbing, mopping, spraying disinfectant. Scrubbing, mopping, spraying disinfectant…

Our house had been hit with the flu bug and it seemed that I was the last man standing. Well, our youngest son was still standing, too, but for the most part he was holed up in his room, trying to avoid the invisible germs that were hovering in our house. I had taken the flu shot in the early fall, but from the reports on the nightly news, I knew that I was only approximately 36% protected from one of the nasty influenza strains that was lurking around every corner.

I hoped that I hadn’t been the carrier of the flu that settled in our home, but working in a high school lab every day sure wasn’t a neutral zone, either. The absentee list was long and the students that were coming to school often brought their sneezes and lingering coughs with them.

The teachers that I worked with were armed with cans of disinfectant spray, too, wiping tables and chairs after every class. The ladies who supervise the lab constantly carried plastic containers of disinfectant wipes, cleaning computer keyboards, light switches, and door handles throughout the day. Huge containers of hand sanitizer emptied as teachers and students alike pumped every time they passed them.

Yet the sickness remained. No matter how much we cleaned, scrubbed, mopped, and sprayed, the sickness remained.

After cleaning and scrubbing for two solid weeks at home, the sickness didn’t go away, either. Finally, I coaxed and carried our sick one to the doctor. The doctor prescribed powerful medicine and hopefully, our sick one is now well on his way to recovery.

There is no doubt that clean living is necessary to keep the bad germs away. But sometimes no matter how clean we live, no matter how faithfully we serve, no matter how dedicated our lives are to the Lord, we are knocked to our knees by sickness that wracks our bodies or our minds and we can’t recover on our own. Sometimes we are knocked so hard that, without the Lord’s divine intervention, we will never recover. And sometimes, yes, sometimes, it is His perfect will to take some of us on to our heavenly home for His eternal heavenly healing that we could never experience on earth.

But don’t think of that as failure if you are a Christian. In the ninth chapter of John, the Bible tells the story of a man whose eyes were “sick.” It is about the encounter that Jesus’ disciples had with a man blind from birth and the question that they asked Jesus about his condition. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” (John 9:2-3)

I love these words of Jesus and I believe them with all my heart. I have also dealt with a sickness for the past 26 years and it is only with the Lord’s mighty power in my life that I see my affliction from a heavenly perspective.

Are you sick today? Are you suffering from a temporary setback or an incurable disease that no amount of clean living can cure?

Then pray with all your might that the works of God might be displayed in you. Even from your sick bed, people see your strength. They see your faithfulness. This may be the season that God is calling you to be His most faithful prayer warrior as you intervene in the lives of others for His glory.

As the old saying goes, cleanliness may very well be next to Godliness. But in sickness and in health, there is no doubt that faithfulness will win out every time.