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Grandma’s Spring Cleaning: Dirty Secrets of the Clean Modern Home

The thought of spring cleaning brings back memories of a top to bottom, labor intensive, white glove worthy house cleaning marathon. My grandmother-in-law, who bless her soul is independent at 94 years of age, still takes down the drapes every spring to be cleaned and changed. Up until a few years ago all of her windows inside and out got a top to bottom washing (frames, glass, screens and all) shiny enough to make most auto-detailers blush. Blooming daffodils, buds on trees, the return of the song birds are all components of spring that I welcome every year. Allergies and spring cleaning are not.
I will admit that I am the type of mom who prides myself on spending quality time with my kids over my mop, but let’s face it grandma may have something to emulate. Those spiders making webs in the corner behind the sofa and dust mites sleeping on the ceiling fan blades really should find their way out, and spring is as good a time as any to do it. But what I truly emulate about great-grandma’s spring cleaning isn’t the white glove results she gets, but the way that she gets her house that way.

You see when grandma was young and took on the chore of cleaning her house, she didn’t have the chemical detergent concoctions that most of us clean with today. Her cleaning products were not only effective, but they were naturally derived, eco-friendly, non-toxic substances; that this “green hip organic mom” emulates. So as I am doing my share of spring cleaning before summer officially arrives, I decided to take a closer look at the difference between the products my grandmother used and the ones my mother introduced me to growing up.

One reason that I have grown to appreciate the products my grandmothers used is the simple fact that all of my grandmothers out lived my mothers. You see, in my life, my mom, my father’s second wife, and mother-in-law were all out lived by their mothers. I have watched my grandmothers persevere through the final years of their lives with the pain of loosing their daughters too early to cancer. Through taking a closer look at the differences in products used by these generations, I hope to shine a light on some of the links to cancer in our current household environment.

Before doing this, it is important to highlight a big unknown in this comparison. Since the explosion of the petro-chemical industry after WWII, tens of thousands of chemicals have been developed and are used every year in household products. Many of these chemicals have not had substantial testing before coming to market. Many of the same cleaners now used in industry can be found in household products. But unlike industrial cleaners, American household cleaners have no legal requirement to label products with ingredient lists. As a result, consumers have limited access to information on exactly what is in their household cleaning products.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at what we are able to uncover about the cleaning products used across these generations.

Task: Cleaning the windows
Grandma’s cleaner: Vinegar and water are a great solution for streak free windows from a nontoxic edible formula.
Mom’s cleaner: Ammonia, the base of modern glass cleaners, is considered a high health hazard by the US Department of Labor because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs. It is highly flammable and creates a toxic gas when mixed with chlorine. Since manufacturers are not required to include all of the ingredients on labels, consumers can unknowingly be in contact with a multitude of undisclosed chemicals.

Task: Souring sinks, tubs, pots & pans
Grandma’s cleaners: Bon Ami For 120 years, Bon Ami has claimed that they are the cleaner that “Hasn’t Scratched Yet”. This gentle abrasive uses a soft mineral, feldspor in combination with basic soap to sour effectively. Baking Soda, a.k.a Sodium Bicarbonate has been used for years to clean everything from teeth to pots and pans.
Mom’s cleaner: Comet Active Ingredient: Sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione dihydrate 1.2% Toxicity: very strong irritant; corrosive to mucous membranes; allergic contact dermatitis. 98.8% undisclosed ingredients

Task: Washing clothes
Grandma’s cleaner: Soap is made by a fairly simple process called saponification, in which oils and lye mix and become soap. Soap has been used safely for centuries dating back to the Romans. Borax is made of a naturally occurring mineral comprised of sodium, boron, oxygen and water. 20 Mule Team® Borax has been used for decades and does not contain phosphates or chorine.
Mom’s cleaner: Laundry Detergent was first developed in Germany during WWII due to a shortage of oil needed to make soap. The development of petrochemicals allowed synthetic chemical surfactants to be combined with penetration builders creating a laundry detergent free of soap. The ingredients in modern laundry detergents are mostly unknown to consumers due to slack labeling requirements. You will find many warning and caution statements required by law. Concerns include cancer causing contaminants and hormone disrupting phthalates.
This is a short list which simply skims the surface of choices we make on a daily basis inside our own homes.

The fact is that we do have the freedom to make choices about what products we use. New products are emerging as safe, effective alternatives utilizing green chemistry. One such product is a probiotic household cleaner, which utilizes good bacteria similar to those in our digestive track to kill bad bacteria and eat away soap scum, mildew and stains. This is a wonderful alternative to antibacterial solutions which kill both good and bad bacteria contributing to the rise in resistant bacteria. As we look more closely at nature for our solutions, more exciting developments such as this are sure to transform the choices the next generation makes to handle spring cleaning.

For more information on probiotic household cleaners go to:

Bio Pure Probiotic Household Cleaner


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What we can learn from lead.

While you were ignoring the elephant in the room, a zoo moved in.

Just this month the CDC has decided that the current acceptable level for lead in children is too high. This conclusion comes 40 years after the lead reduction to gasoline and paint.  While lead is regulated in many consumer products, it is still unregulated and widely used in lipstick.  The Environmental Working Group found that 1/3 of the lipstick they tested had lead levels above the FDA limit for candy.  This year’s Healthy Child Healthy World’s “Mom on a Mission” has pioneered a feature length documentary highlighting the continuing problem with lead poisoning in children across America.  Watch a trailer of her film, America’s Secret Epidemic, at the following link: America’s Secret Epidemic

If lead is the big grey elephant in the room that has taken over 40 years to establish child safe levels, then we need to open our eyes to the entire zoo which has walking into our homes in the past 40 years without any similar safety levels for children.  Lead is a widely known and studied neurotoxin which has been around since 4000 BC.  Modern chemistry has created a whopping 80,000 chemicals in use here in the US, and the number is continuing to grow.  The EPA’s has had limited ability regulating even the most studied modern chemical toxins, such as Dioxane, Asbestos, or Formaldehyde.

We can not continue to live under the assumption that chemical ingredients are safe until proven harmful.  During the time period that we have let lead go unregulated, countless children and adults have been harmed.  When we are faced now with 80,000 chemicals untested for safety in children, we are not only living with an elephant, but with the entire zoo.  And even though there are a few animals which will prove to be totally harmless and even possibly friendly, don’t close your eyes to the lions, tigers and bears.  For some of these animals can cause fatal harm with only one chance encounter.

The Safe Chemical Act is currently before congress.  This legislation will help keep the zoo animals out of our kitchens and family rooms until they are proven safe.  It aims to place the burden of proof back on manufacturers and strengthen the backbone of government regulators.  I urge you to share this with everyone you know and contact your local representatives to let them know that you want them to support safer chemical regulation starting with The Safe Chemical Act.  To ask your representative for their support of The Safe Chemical Act go to  For information on protecting your family from lead visit:

To find lead free lipstick visit

For more on the Healthy Child Healthy World Mom on a Mission visit

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Miessence holiday gift ideas

Great gift ideas from Miessence

Support organic agriculture, negative carbon business practices, petroleum free products, and help bring the world closer to a sustainable future.  Your gift of Miessence is a gift that reflects your values and standards.  Share your love of organics.

ONEgroup Gift Certificates

 Teachers –  Give teachers a gift that will fit them perfectly, a Miessence Gift Certificate.  With values ranging from $25 to $200 you know they will be able to choose something they really want.

certified organic botanical perfumes

Tweens and Teens – Make the teen on your list feel extra special with hand crafted botanical perfumes.  For just $12.80 a trail size Miessence Botanical Perfume is personal and luxurious.  A little goes a long way and with the handy roller applicator, and it is easy to bring in your bag where ever you go.  USDA certified organic mean no hormone disrupting phthalates or other synthetics to disrupt their health and happiness.

Rejuvenessence Serum

Moms – Rejuvenessence Facial Serum was developed by Narelle Chenery as a gift for her own mom.  What better gift to give yours than this award-winning age defying serum.

Husbands and Fathers

Miessence Shave Essentials

The cold weather can dry men’s faces as well.  Give the men in your life Miessence After Shave Balm to hydrate and soothe their skin along with the moisture protection of the Rejuvenating Moisturizer.



 Little niece and nephew – Protect little hands arms and legs with the Miessence Baby Lotion (and it is not just for babies).  Certified to food grade standards with organic raw coconut oil and organic vanilla extract, it makes little skin soft and almost edible.

Miessence Baby Lotion



Best friend

Darling Salt Glow Body Scrub

What better way to treat your closest friend with than this limited edition hand and body scrub. Miessence Darling Salt Glow is specially formulated for the holidays with salt sourced from Australia’s troubled Murray-Darling Basin, organic coconut oil and delicious organic citrus and spice essential oils.