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Your nose knows: create a naturally beautiful home with nutritionist Elizabeth Pavka, PhD, LN.

Beware of indoor air. Do you walk faster down the grocery store aisle that has the cleaning products? I do. In that aisle, I feel overwhelmed by the smells that permeate that part of the store. As a result, I've learned to use my nose to sniff out chemicals of all kinds, especially those smelly ones that create so much of our indoor pollution.

How pervasive is indoor pollution? A recent study with 350 people in New Jersey showed that indoor air pollution was sometimes 100 times higher than that found in outdoor air. Why? Over the past two decades, we have sealed up our homes to make them more energy efficient. And we have been filling them with more and more products containing chemicals that smell. Here's a partial list of cleaning products that add to home air pollution: drain cleaners, oven cleaners, furniture and floor cleaners, ammonia, basin/tub/tile cleaner, mold and mildew cleaners, disinfectants, rug/carpet/upholstery shampoos, spot removers, dry cleaning, chlorine bleach, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, spray starch, dishwasher detergents, glass cleaner, scouring powders, air fresheners, dishwashing liquids. Whew, that's a long list!

And that list does not include plastics, lead, formaldehyde, candles, combustion by-products produced by gas appliances, kerosene heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves. And then there's household insecticides, insect repellents, mothballs, lice shampoo, deodorant sprays and douches, hair spray, styling mousse, shampoos, mouthwashes, toothpaste, nail polish, nail polish remover, perfumes, aftershaves, soaps, cosmetics talcum powder, toilet paper. Are you beginning to understand the scope of the problem?

If you find your home is full of things that create pollution, you may feel compelled to change everything all at once. I suggest you begin with just one change. Find a laundry detergent without fragrance and use that for a while. Then make another change for a month, and so on. In our eagerness sometimes to get rid of all the problems at one time, we get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything. Better to begin very slowly and be consistent with it.

What can you do to protect your own health from the hazards that surround you in your own home? One of the easier ways is to replace all the commercial cleaners, ammonia, oven cleaners, furniture polish, scouring powder, disinfectant, glass cleaners. You can do this in two ways. First, you can buy safe home cleaning products in many health food stores or at conventional grocery stores (if they don't carry these, nag the manager) or on-line.

Second, you can make some cleaners at home with a few basic, easily available ingredients. Here are four specific recipes that work well. All the recipes below are taken from Natural Home & Garden magazine (March/April, 2005, pp. 88-89).

1 quart warm water
1 teaspoon liquid soap
1 teaspoon borax
1/4 cup undiluted white vinegar

Mix ingredients and store in a spray bottle. Use
for cleaning countertops, floors, walls, carpets,
and upholstery.


4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 gallon water

On lightly soiled windows--think greasy handprints--this
recipe came out ahead of all the commercial products tested
by Consumer Reports January 1992. If you're out of lemon
juice, mix 1/4 cup white vinegar in 1
quart of water.


1 quart water
2 teaspoons borax
2 tablespoons liquid soap

Mix ingredients. Spray on, wait 20 minutes, then clean.


1/4 cup borax

Pour borax into toilet bowl and let sit overnight. Then scrub.

Back to the nose. Please understand that many people smell nothing." They've developed what's known as "olfactory fatigue," where after a certain exposure they cannot smell it. Here's one example. The first time I visited my daughter and her family, I went to do some laundry. I opened the detergent box--I don't remember which brand--and was overwhelmed by the smell. You see, at home, I use a detergent without fragrances, so my nose was very sensitive to the smell. But because my daughter was constantly exposed to the smell, she could not smell it.

I asked her to take me to the grocery store to buy some fragrance-free detergent so I could wash my bedding, which, though rinsed and dried, still carried the lingering traces of the smell. I know she thought I was crazy. But several years later, I found out that she had switched to fragrance-free detergent because her younger daughter developed a cheek rash from physical contact with sheets washed with the detergent containing fragrance.

Make a few changes in your shopping and cleaning habits and your home will be a safer and healthier place to live.


1. The Natural Nursery: The Parent's Guide to Ecologically Sound, Nontoxic, Safe, and Healthy Baby Care by Louis Pottkotter, MD 2. The Detox Solution: The Missing Link to Radiant Health, Abundant Energy, Ideal Weight, and Peace of Mind by Patricia Fitzgerald, MD 3. Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan 4. Nontoxic Home and Office: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Everyday Taxies and Health Hazards by Debra Lynn Dadd 5. Warning: Your Home May be Hazardous to your Health by Carolyn Rueben 6. Healthy by Design by David Rousseau and James Wasley 7. The Healthy House: How to Buy One, How to Cure a Sick One, How to Build One by John Bower 8. Clean & Green: The Complete Guide to Nontoxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping by Annie Berthold-Bond 9. Creating a Healthy Household by Lynn Marie Bower 10. Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson 11. Housecleaner's Guide to Eco-friendly Cleaning; 510-432-5465 12. A Housekeeper is Cheaper Than a Divorce by Kathy Firzgerald Sherman

Elizabeth Pavka, PhD, LN, is a wholistic nutritionist with 25 years' experience, including extensive work with people with Environmental Illness. She provides nutritional counseling, teaches classes, and speaks before professional and lay audiences. Contact her at or 828-252-1406.
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Title Annotation:natural beauty
Author:Pavka, Elizabeth
Publication:New Life Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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