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Rude Wonders

Ask Away: Independent health store advice on eco cleaning

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health store can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue Olive Finn, manager at The Olive Branch in Clonakilty, Co Cork talks about natural cleaning in the home

Here at The Olive Branch we are undergoing major upheaval with a new extension being added on to our shop. We thought the clever way to do this without too much disruption would be to build the new part of the extension before knocking into the shop, while continuing to stay open and trading.

Would I do it differently if I was starting over again? I don’t think so. No matter what way you approach building work, there is no way to avoid the three Ds – Dirt, Dust and Disruption – and if that’s not enough stress to keep us occupied, we are also renovating our home at the same time. 2016 is a year of change for us both at work and at home. Spring cleaning – bring it on!

One thing I am aware of during this whole process is the risk of being exposed to multiple substances such as phthalates, ammonia, chlorine and sodium hydroxide found in domestic cleaning products. Fortunately, nowadays there is a much bigger range of chemical-free cleaning products made from natural plant- and mineral-based ingredients and essential oils to choose from in independent health stores.

My all-time favourite old fashioned and very effective remedy for cleaning is lemon myrtle, an anti-bacterial with a beautiful scent. Put a few drops on a damp cloth and use to wipe down counter tops, tiles and shelves. Grapefruit seed extract can be used in the same way as lemon myrtle and is great for dealing with mould and fungus. It is non-toxic and very effective. In addition, many of the wonderful aromatherapy oils available in your local independent health store are reasonable in price and last quite a long time – try dropping some lavender or lemongrass oil into your laundry to keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

I’ve noticed a big switch over in recent years to using apple cider vinegar, baking soda and so on by people who have chosen to make their own cleaning products. For those people with less time on their hands I would highly recommend using a lemon myrtle spray that makes a lovely air freshener, in a bucket of hot water to wash floors, drop on a carpet before hoovering and use in the bathroom to remove unpleasant odours. There is also a multi-purpose liquid soap which I always have near the sink at work and at home. Other eco cleaning products are available for every part of your home – from toilet cleaner to washing-up liquid using citrus, tea tree and eucalyptus oils.

You can buy a furniture polish certified by the Vegan Society that is free from petrochemicals, phosphates and all the yucky toxic stuff found in mainstream products on supermarket shelves and a glass and mirror cleaner which contains coconut oil to give shine and glow to our windows.

So drop into your local health store and choose from a wide range of products including washing-up liquid, cream cleanser, floor soap, window cleaner and oven cleaner; dishwasher tablets and rinse aid; laundry liquid and conditioner; and toilet and bathroom cleaners. Many stores offer a refill service too.

Try to find a good natural soap or body wash for the shower with few ingredients or more natural organic ingredients. By doing this you are cutting a lot of the nasty chemicals out. Remember your skin absorbs 60% of what you put on it, so the less chemicals the better.

Another product is shampoo. Your local health food store will have plenty of options to choose from – some are made with essential oils and there are plenty of different formulations for your hair type too. There is also a wide range of children’s and baby shampoos to start the next generation off the more natural way.

Oral care is so important but do we realise the chemicals that are in toothpaste? There are plenty of fluoride-free options available and more natural toothpastes are made from ingredients such as mint, silica, neem, plant gels and salt.

Increasing numbers of health stores are stocking more natural make-up, hair dyes and nail varnish. Choosing natural cosmetics is a great way to avoid putting nasty chemicals on your skin.

Tampons and sanitary pads can contain a lot of chemicals and now you can choose from organic brands with no added chemicals.

Who's who and what's what at The Olive Branch, Clonakilty

The Olive Branch opened in July 2004. “Two thirds of our customers are regulars, the rest are passers-by,” says manager Olive Finn. “We have customers from all walks of life. Lots and lots of very aware teenagers visit us, plus women interested in their health, people with food intolerance issues and people looking for sports products. Clonakilty is a busy tourist town so we benefit from that also.

“We practise what we preach – eat well, take good care of your body, know what you’re eating. Our main suppliers are independent – we get as much produce as we can from local growers. The rest of our fruit and veg is from France and certified organic. We have a lovely array of locally-produced artisan foods, chocolates, lush energy fruit and nut snacks. We have all the superfoods, beautiful organic wines, the fridges are bursting with all the usual cheese, tofu, butters, yogurts, veggie goods and a freezer full of dairy-free ice creams, frozen vegetables and frozen fruits.

“We have a wide full range of eco-cleaning products and a refill service for washing-up liquid, laundry liquids and fabric softener. Our skincare area is extensive with products for body and hair. We stock all the big brands in natural medicine.”

Visit: The Olive Branch, Spiller’s Lane, Clonakilty, West Cork
Speak to: Nutritional therapist Karen Ward two days a week, naturopath Rhoda Kingston part-time, massage therapist Grace O’Riordan, in-house foodie Niamh O’Reilly, new member of staff Janine Murphy whose area is fermentation, plus managers Olive Finn and Andy Beattie.

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