On today’s episode, I’m chatting with one of the owners of Branch Basics, Marilee Nelson about how to transition your home over to safer cleaning products.

Fed and Fit podcast graphic, episode 155 safer home cleaning with branch basics with Cassy Joy

We’re back with our 155th episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

Find us HERE on iTunes and be sure to “subscribe.”


Episode 155 Links

  • Click HERE to learn more and use the code FedandFit15 for 15% off through May 22nd, 2018

Episode 155 Sponsors

  • Wine Fellas – use the code “fedandfit” for $10-off your first wine club shipment!
  • Fab Fit Fun – use coupon code “FEDFIT ” at fabfitfun.com for $10 off your first box!

Episode 155 Transcription

Today’s show is brought to you by my friends at Wine Fellas! Wine Fellas is your wine club for small allocation, hard to find, natural wines from around the world. They specialize in organic and biodynamic wines that are made using traditional wine making methods, but with minimal interventions. They’re free of added sugar and chemical additives. They’re low in sulfites. They’re bottling the wine world describes as “natural wines.” These are wines as they were meant to be enjoyed, with nothing standing between you and pure, expressive fruit.

What I love most about Wine Fellas, aside from the fact that they only source the best, natural wines in the world, but they also go the extra mile by giving you a fact sheet on each bottle that contains authentic alcohol content, residual sugars, sulfur dioxide in parts per million, pH, and acidity. Learn more about Wine Fellas by visiting them at www.WineFellas.com. Be sure to use the code Fed and Fit for $10 off your first wine club shipment.

Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. I am your host, Cassy Joy Garcia. And today is part 2 of the Branch Basics story. We are hearing from Merilee Nelson again. Last week we heard about her incredible story, and if you missed it, I highly recommend you go look up episode number 154 of the Fed and Fit Project to check it out. Today we’re hearing from her about how to create a healthier home using safer cleaning products.

Cassy Joy: Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about Branch Basics? What y’all do? And what you offer?

Merilee Nelson: Yes. We are a company that is completely driven by our mission. The three founders; Allison Evans, my niece; her best friend Kelly, and myself. We all have what I would call a raging passion to inspire. To motivate. And empower people with information that can transform their lives.

So it’s our intent, and it’s our core information that sets us apart from other companies that might be selling cleaning products. We do features a nontoxic, versatile, powerful, economic cleaning concentrate that can replace virtually all the harmful products in the home. And I know that sounds, maybe, what?

Cassy Joy: It’s the real deal. I will tell you guys; I use it, and she is not joking. You need a bottle of this concentrate, and it pretty much replaces, like you said, virtually everything that we were using.

Merilee Nelson: Yep. But this product is only a vehicle, or a platform for our message. If people get our message, they have the power to go out and buy the safe products they want. If they choose ours, that’s a bonus to us. But our desire is to create an army of people that eat real food and create healthy homes. Driven not by fear, but empowered by knowledge. And our goal is to make information that impacts health available and simple to implement.

So we are redefining clean. Cleaning your home is one of the most important things you can do for your family. Because, what you clean with, how you clean, and what you have in your home affects the air quality. And that, in turn, affects family health.

So we start with our focus; how you define clean impacts your decision-making process. For example; if your idea of a clean house is based on how your home smells; the smell of bleach, vinegar, synthetic fragrances. That is going to drive your purchase of cleaning products, and that can have direct repercussions on your family’s health.

To most people, cleaning means removing trash and clutter. Wiping and mopping away visible dirt and dust. And getting rid of unpleasant odors and germs. However; the dirtiest place in your home may be the invisible air you’re breathing. So conventional cleaning methods often fail to address the indoor air pollutants that could be making you sick. In fact, using products with synthetic fragrance and other harmful chemicals, and an unsealed vacuum cleaner leaves your indoor air quality in your home much worse than when you started cleaning.

Plus, depending on what you’re using, you’re leaving toxic chemical residues around your house. So ideally, you want to remove the dust, dirt, and grime. Clean up your air quality. But you also don’t want to create a sterile environment. The overuse of disinfectants and sanitizers has been linked to the increasing problem of antibacterial resistance. And to be classified as a disinfectant or a sanitizer, the product must contain an EPA registered pesticide or a high percentage of alcohol.

Now, I’m going to focus on the pesticides right now. And these pesticides can cause hormonal disruption, wipe out the good bacteria in your gut intestines, and damage the immune system. Some exposure to germs is good, because that allows our immune systems to build up and get stronger.

We didn’t set out to sell a cleaning product, as I said before. We set our hearts on bringing a way to everyone; education, empowerment, and inspiration so people could take charge of their health, get back to basics. We call it the power of pure. Eating real food and creating a truly healthy home.

And the great thing about this is that this can actually be a critical and important part of proactive preventative health care.

Cassy Joy: I love it. And you’re really preaching to the choir here. A lot of Fed and Fit listeners; it’s interesting because what drew me into changing my diet first was health. That was what I needed to think outside the box. Embody my own positive rebellion. And I changed the way I was eating. And it changed my health. But it’s one of those things, you get to a plateau of healthy living, and you think, “I have arrived.”

Merilee Nelson: Right! That’s what I thought! {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Exactly! You get to that point, and then all of a sudden. After living there for a couple of years, my husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family. So all of a sudden, when the conversation shifted to me possibly getting pregnant, it changed my perspective a little bit and I started thinking more critically. I put other parts of my life under the microscope.

And just like you’re saying, and I know a lot of listeners here are going through this as well. They’ve changed the way that they eat, because that’s usually the; it’s not the easiest thing to swap out, but it’s probably the place where most folks start. And then we look at what we’re putting on and around our bodies. And just to your point, that has such a huge, if not great as impact on our health as what we’re putting in our bodies.

It was absolutely incredible to me. Because when I did start to make some changes, I rose to an entirely different plateau. Because there was another level of healthy living. And I felt even better, Merilee. Once we changed what was in our home; what I was putting on my body, I started to feel the difference all over again.

I had a wonderfully blessed healthy pregnancy. A very healthy baby girl. And we’re thriving. And I really do believe; I have this conversation with my parents all the time. Because I spent 15 years of my life being unwell. My dad, for example; maybe he doesn’t dig into the weeds of the literature as I do as kind of a geeky nutritionist, but he looks at the way that I live my life; what I eat, what we put in our house, what is in my makeup cabinet. He says that is why this little girl is thriving right now. And it’s just amazing.

Anyway, I wanted to sidebar. Because I wanted to offer another perspective. What you’re doing in the home; it’s actually an easier swap.

Merilee Nelson: Oh, absolutely.

Cassy Joy: Than maybe what shows up on the plate. It’s easier to swap out your cleaning products, necessarily, than overcoming a sugar addiction. But it can be just as profound.

Merilee Nelson: That’s right. It’s actually the first place I start with people.

Cassy Joy: I think that’s great.

Merilee Nelson: Because it’s easy.

Cassy Joy: It’s a win. It’s an empowering win.

Merilee Nelson: It’s a win-win.

Cassy Joy: It is! It’s a win. Oh my goodness. I would love it; if folks are listening and they’re thinking; “I can do this. I’m a little nervous about changing everything in my diet. And I’m a little nervous about changing all of my skincare products. But by golly, I can change my cleaning products!”

Are there certain ingredients that you really want folks to look out for? The pesticides, of course, is a really big one. But if they’re wanting to open up their cleaning cabinet and just start reading, is there something on there that you want them to look for first?

Merilee Nelson: Yes. And I just want to say; we don’t realize how toxic our homes are. The average American home can be up to 200 times more polluted than the outside. And what I want to say here, and what I’ve found. This is a really important part of this picture. People are now buying nontoxic products all over the place. And that’s great. But you can buy these products all day long, and yet have these products. These personal care products, these cleaning products under your sink and in your house. And as I’ve shown you through our family’s experience, and my nieces; that can really inhibit you.

All the ingredients on these cleaning products do not have to be listed. Skincare products, yes. It’s a requirement. So there’s no federal regulation. There’s no safety standard. There’s no requirement for listing of ingredients. However; a quick scan of a bottle of most conventional cleaners will reveal what’s called signal words. You’ll have CAUTION, WARNING, or DANGER. Some will even say, “This is hazardous waste.” You’ve got to get rid of it in a safe way.

Well these signal words are toxic red flags that the product is made with hazardous ingredients. And they don’t belong in your house. They should be removed. You don’t always have to get tangled up in these big words and go, “What is that? Should I get that out of my house?” If you see those red flags, you know that’s out of here.

Cassy Joy: That’s great insight.

Merilee Nelson: Right now, I’m giving you big picture. The biggest heads up is our sense of smell. Our sense of smell is one of our keenest senses for warning us of danger. Your nose says, “Stop! Get out of here now! This smells terrible!” but we have learned to ignore this natural alarm. We want a house and laundry that smells clean. In other words, smells like chemicals.

So as a general rule, products are toxic if there are signal words on the label. That’s the caution, warning, or danger. If they have a strong smell. Or there are ingredients that you can’t pronounce. And you can always look them up now on the internet. So now I’m going to give you a few ones to zero in on.

The first is synthetic fragrances. Now, like I said, there’s no law that states that you have to have the ingredients on a cleaning product. But, if it doesn’t say fragrance, and it smells, you pretty well know it has some sort of fragrance. And if the fragrance is not coming from an organic essential oil, or a scent oil, then this ingredient could be made up of a secret fragrance recipe that might not just contain one or two chemicals. It could contain hundreds of synthetic chemicals that are not disclosed.

These fragrances can cause skin irritation, allergies, damage to the nervous system, the respiratory system, and they can have endocrine disrupting effects. And in fact, it’s estimated that 72% of the products with the ingredient “fragrance” contain endocrine disruptors that are called phthalates. And phthalates have been linked to diabetes, obesity, liver, breast cancer, hormone disruption, fertility. And of course, there may be cancer causing chemicals in fragrance recipes. But because of secrecy and a lack of transparency in labeling, there’s just really no way for a consumer to make informed decisions on fragranced products.

So all products with synthetic fragrances should be removed from the home. And to make matters worse on that; for the unsuspecting public, many products labeled “unscented” now are actually the fragranced product with the addition of another masking chemical. So buyer beware of this green-washing. You should not use those.

Cassy Joy: I think this is a great spot to stop and hear from one of our sponsors.

Fab, Fit, Fun is a seasonal subscription box with full-sized beauty, fitness, fashion, and lifestyle products. Four times a year, you have the ability to customize the products or choose to be surprised. This is a great way to indulge in some of the very best products that are hot right now. I really feel like these boxes help keep me current. They retail for $49.99, but are packed with premium products valued at over $200. I’m always genuinely blown away by the quality of the products.

You can use the coupon code FedFit, one word, for $10 off your first box at www.FabFitFun.com. Again, use the coupon code FedFit for $10 off your first box at www.FabFitFun.com.

Merilee Nelson: So the next ingredient that kind of comes in with a tie for fragrances as a red flag are products that claim to be a sanitizer or disinfectant. Because these contain an ingredient that is designed to kill; EPA registered pesticides. And we are a germophobic society. We are over-practicing hygiene, and we’re paying a really high price for this.

The CDC; the Center for Disease Control is now recommending that we do not use sanitizers or disinfectants in our homes, because we have created a rampant spread of resistant superbugs. So, in other words, if you are a germ Nazi; these smart germs mutate when they’re attacked with chemicals into a stronger, more dangerous germ. And we have a nationwide emergency. Actually it’s world-wide. Because of MRSA in hospitals. And it’s been created from this.

The CDC has done testing that shows conclusively; please listen to this. This is so important if you aren’t aware of this. They have shown conclusively that cleaning with a soap or surfactant based cleaner, like Branch Basics, will remove all germs. Whereas cleaning the same area with a sanitizer or disinfectant leaves resistant germs on the surface. And what’s more, is most of these products have actually what’s called a dwell time. Which means, you really have to leave it on there for 10 minutes for it to its job.

So if someone sprays it, and wipes their cabinet clean and thinks; “Now my germs are gone.” Nope. That’s not true. The bottom line is, sanitizers and disinfectants add toxins and harmful chemicals to the air. And they encourage the spread of resistant superbugs. We want to get these products out of our homes.

So, the next category, or ingredient that we want to look at, are the preservatives. And these are also many times EPA registered pesticides. Because they’re designed to be cytotoxic, which means it will kill cells. So right now, a very popular controversial preservative that’s actually being used in many of the nontoxic cleaners is called MIT. And that stands for methylisothiazolinone. And that’s a chemical from the isothiazolinone family. And this is a red flag ingredient, because it is neurotoxic. It has been shown to increase seizure susceptibility, and it’s a skin irritant. So that is a red flag ingredient that you should get rid of that product.

Another one is called phenoxyethanol. And it used as a preservative in many cleaning products and also in skin care. And it is an endocrine disruptor; so it disrupts your hormones. It’s a skin and eye irritant. And it affects the brain and nervous system. So we want to get those out of the house.

The fifth that I’ll talk about is one that’s found in a lot of window cleaners. A lot of kitchen and multipurpose cleaners. And that is 2- butoxyethanol. This has been shown to cause sore throats when inhaled. It can also contribute to edema of the heart. Liver and kidney damage. Respiratory issues. So get this out of the house.

You don’t really have to get so concerned about knowing what every ingredient means. But if it’s listed on there, you can always look it up. And just use that simple screen; can I smell it? And are there red flags on the label? And if you’ve got ingredients, check them out. Look them up.

Cassy Joy: So helpful. And just as a reminder. If those of you are listening; maybe you’re driving to work right now and you’re thinking; oh my goodness, I’m not going to remember all of this! Just a quick reminder. We will have a full transcript of today’s show over on the blog. So we’ll have it all written out.

This is such powerful information. I cannot thank you enough for sharing all this, Merilee.

Merilee Nelson: I’m just privileged and happy to.

Cassy Joy: It is a true honor. I also want to just point out there really quickly; like Merilee said. What they’re interested in is education. Empowering healthy decisions through knowledge. And over on Branch Basics website, which is www.BranchBasics.com.com they actually have a really wonderful blog that has fabulous articles over there. For example, one of the blog articles up right now is Safe, Easy, and Effective Way to Get Rid of Roaches. So a safer roach bait, for example. Things like that. So if you’re curious, I really highly recommend you go digging a little further over there on the blog.

Merilee, can you tell folks a little bit about where to find you? Where to find the products? I almost want to turn this into a two-part episode. Is there just a little bit about where they can find a little bit more about you, about the products, and your mission?

Merilee Nelson: Yes. It’s at www.BranchBasics.com.com. And we have a newsletter. And you can order online. So it’s pretty simple.

Cassy Joy: It is. It’s wonderful.

Merilee Nelson: We’ve started a series on how to create a truly healthy home. And what we’re going to do is we’ll go through the whole house through the year. So we have that on our site, too, that people might want to look at.

Because people find this overwhelming sometimes. And it’s just so important to take a step back, see the big picture, change our perspective, shift focus. It’s a message of opportunity and freedom. We’re here to provide step by step, make it easy process.

Cassy Joy: You really do, and you really have. As, like I said, a user of your products, and the information you present. You present the information in an unintimidating, very empowering way. So if anybody wants to learn more about how they can clean up their clean up, I recommend you check out the website.

But you’ll notice; Merilee, correct me if I’m wrong. But two main products; the concentrate and the oxygen boost. Which you can use via your instructions to craft any number of home cleaning products.

Merilee Nelson: That’s right. We have the concentrate. And then we have our spray bottles. We have one that’s an all-purpose. And it’s refillable. We have a fill line; you fill it up with water, and then there’s another line that shows you how much concentrate to add. And then you top that off with water.

You do the same thing with our bathroom cleaner that’s more concentrated. And then our streak free, for windows, is very wonderful and the concentrate is so powerful that you only use one drop of it. And that sounds crazy, but it’s true. If you put too much, it might streak. And we do recommend you use distilled water for the windows in case you have really hard water, you won’t have any water marks.

And also, if you’re going to use your all-purpose for spraying your clothes for stain removal. Because it’s fantastic for laundry. We do recommend you use distilled water again, for that. Just so you won’t have a water mark on your clothes. We also have a foaming hand soap bottle that’s refillable.

And we have our laundry team product that’s called oxygen boost. Which can be used for stain removal. It can also be used in the bathroom to clean grout and your sinks and all.

Cassy Joy: And it works.

Merilee Nelson: Two products.

Cassy Joy: And it really, really works. With a little baby; any moms out there who have been through this. Sometimes you just have a blow out, and that cute little outfit, all of a sudden, I’m not sure how I’m going to get it clean. And it really, really works. It gives me such peace of mind when I pull our laundry out of the wash. There aren’t any strong smells. And I can put it in her room. Which we’ve very carefully sourced.

Merilee Nelson: I’m so glad you’ve been using it. Do I have a second; I’d love to give everyone a first step.

Cassy Joy: Yes, I would love that. Please do.

Merilee Nelson: We want to make this easy. So, just removing all the pesticides and harmful cleaning products in your house is a simple first step. So you simplify and minimize. You get a box, and go through your house. Look under your sinks, and remove all your toxic products entirely. That simple act dramatically cleans up your air quality.

And it’s so great, because it’s simple. Just like we said before; you’re not trying to get your child to eat green vegetables. You can do this with no pushback. And the great thing is your family is going to get an automatic liver detox without having to change their diet or anything else. So once you get these out, all of a sudden the body goes, “Oh, gosh this is so great. I don’t have mess with detoxifying any of that.”

And after removing them all, if you want to, you can try our product. And replace everything with ours that’s safe. Or find safe products that you choose. Just that step, I’ve had people wake up with no headaches. They’re going; “Oh my gosh! I usually have a low-grade headache, and I don’t have it today. I took all my stuff out. All those products out.” So it’s very powerful.

Cassy Joy: It is. It’s the unseen, almost, elephant in the room. Once it’s gone, it’s very, very noticeable. But until then, it’s kind of hidden. That is a wonderful first step. Merilee, I cannot thank you enough for doing the work that you’ve done. How you persevered through your entire health story. It’s really an inspiration. And then for you and your amazing team for doing the work that you’re putting out there. It really makes a huge difference. I know that it’s going to continue to impact lives, and I’m so grateful. As a consumer, also! I’m very grateful to have these safe products in my home. So thank you so much.

Merilee Nelson: You are welcome. Thank you for having this opportunity.

Cassy Joy: It is definitely my pleasure. Like I said, everybody, you can learn more about Branch Basics over at www.BranchBasics.com.com. Learn about the power of pure. And again, Merilee, thank you so much for joining me. Everybody else; thanks again for listening to the Fed and Fit podcast. In case you missed it; be sure to check out www.BranchBasics.com.com and use the code FEDANDFIT15 for 15% off your first purchase. As always, we’ll be back again next week.

About the Author

Cassy Joy Garcia, NC

Cassy Joy Garcia, a New York Times best-selling author, of Cook Once Dinner Fix, Cook Once Eat All Week, and Fed and Fit as well as the creative force behind the popular food blog Fed & Fit.

More Like This

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 Comment

  1. I love this episode so much! The mission of this company is incredible. I do have a question though. How do the products like the ones Branch Basics offers stack up to ones that require water only and vice versa? For example, companies like Norwex and H20athome. Which one truly cleans better? Is one better for some areas and the other better for some?