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Borax: Friend or Foe?

BoraxBorax is used frequently in homemade laundry soap, dishwashing powders, and personal care products. The question often arises: Is borax safe to use?

Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is a naturally occurring mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. (The scientific name for borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate.) It is a white powder consisting of soft, colorless crystals that dissolve quickly in water.

Borax can be found in most grocery stores under the label 20 Mule Team (pictured here). Mountain Rose Herbs offers a version without the surfactants and detergents commonly found in commercial products.

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Guidelines for Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning dates back to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime memorial feast of Passover.Spring Lilacs

In Persia, the new year falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of khooneh tekouni, which means "shaking the house." Everything is cleaned, from drapes to furniture.

People have long understood the connection between cleanliness and health. When we do a thorough cleaning of our home, we improve the air quality and therefore our health. By investing time and energy in this time-honored custom, we offer a much-needed boost to our own and our family's immune systems.

Spring is the ideal time to do a deep cleaning, as the windows can be open without intrusion from bugs and heat. Here are ten suggestions for making this year's spring cleaning a resounding success!

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Twelve Treats for the Toxic Trainee

Have a friend or family member trying to detoxify their life? Here are 12 gift-giving ideas designed to encourage and enrich their efforts.

Toxic Trainee Gifts

  1. Books. There’s nothing better than reading how others have created a less toxic environment. Options include:
    • Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living by Annie Berthold-Bond. This is one of the most comprehensive books on the market. From personal care products to cleaning supplies to non-toxic art supplies, the author offers an abundance of recipes and explanations.

    • The Naturally Clean Home focuses exclusively on cleaning your home environment. Karyn Siegel-Maier creatively incorporates herbs and essential oils into her unique recipes.

    • Super Natural Home. Beth Greer explains how small lifestyle shifts make a big difference in your health and well-being. Her explanations are thorough and concise!

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Holiday Awareness Tips

Awareness plus creativity can go a long way toward a healthier holiday! Here are a few tips and suggestions for making your home both beautifully festive and safely toxic-free this holiday season.


Poinsettias are officially a non-toxic plant, contrary to popular myth. They are, however, commonly sprayed with chemicals as part of the growers' height control program. Organically grown poinsettias are the best option and worth a call to your local greenhouse. (New York City, for example, boasts this greenhouse offering poinsettias and many other indoor plants that are organically grown.)

In addition, poinsettia plants contain a latex protein. People with a latex allergy can quickly become ill, and often don’t know exactly what they are reacting to when walking into a room containing poinsettias.

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"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

" age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

This site is dedicated to a true friend and mother — Barbara Dell Kessel (1929-2009)