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Home remedies in your pantry

Summer is great. Who doesn’t like going outside in the summer sun? Here are some home remedies that could help make this summer the best ever.

Bugs

Nothing can dampen a great party like bugs. But the smell of bug sprays can be just as bad. With the rising concerns of DEET, the active ingredient in many bug repellents, many are wondering if there are safer, more cost-effective ways to avoid the itchy bites. 

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READ THE STORY IN JUNE’S ISSUE

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Turns out there are, with the added bonus of smelling great! Before heading outside, rub lavender flowers or vanilla extract on your pulse points (behind ears, on your wrists and neck). These, along with various other essential oils, can work alone or in combination with one another: citronella, cinnamon, peppermint, tea tree, rosemary, and/or clove essential oils. Putting mint mouthwash in a squirt bottle will also steer the little buggers away. 

Weeds

Nobody likes weeds. But using harsh chemicals isn’t the only option. One approach is to stop weeds before they start – use cornmeal gluten as a fertilizer to help break down the nitrogen which then feeds your plants. Or sprinkle a barrier of rock salt left over from the winter around your edging or where there are no other plants (it will prevent anything it touches from growing). A common solution when landscaping is to put plastic down and top it with a thick layer of mulch to block weeds from sprouting. 

Some household remedies are executed with the simple use of a squirt bottle. Fill it with five  tablespoons of liquid dish soap and four cups of water or just fill it with a straight shot of vinegar. If you notice the vinegar stops working, a more powerful weapon is pickling vinegar because of its acetic acid. Unfortunately, you want to be careful with the vinegar around plants as it can kill them as well. Looking for something cheaper and more natural? Water. Pouring boiling water directly over weeds can scald them, killing them in just a few days.  

Sunburns

How to remedy the sunburn?  The most obvious is to use sunscreen to prevent the harmful rays from penetrating that much, but if your skin burns, you might as well be more comfortable as it heals. 

Aloe vera is a standby, but head to your pantry and find baking soda, oatmeal, potatoes, yogurt, or cornstarch. Soaking in a cool bathtub with a few tablespoons of baking soda or ½-1 cup of oatmeal helps soothe skin. In either case, try to air-dry instead of using a towel so the starches aren’t wiped off.  As for the potatoes, cut them in half and carefully rub them on your burn.

 Or, puree them in a blender until they are smooth and pat a layer over the burned area. The same can be done with yogurt. The juices help provide moisture and bring back pH balance. 

Sunburns have a tendency to be most severe where your clothing and skin meet, so it can be easily irritated. 

To alleviate chaffing, dust the area with cornstarch. And always be sure to take the free route and drink up. You’ve dehydrated your skin so it’s important to drink plenty of water to help the burn heal faster. 

Allergies

 Possibly one of the easiest ways to avoid an outbreak is to be aware of the pollen count and to make sure you wash thoroughly when you come inside. One pretty sweet solution (pun intended) is eating a spoonful of local honey to help your body build immunity to certain pollens. 

You could also swap your morning coffee for peppermint tea as peppermint has an anti-inflammatory essential oil. Be cautious, however, giving this to kids as high amounts of menthol can cause them to choke. 

Use your allergies as an excuse to get some “me” time — pour boiling water into a large bowl and lean over it 5-10 minutes and breathe in the steam. Try a double-whammy with throwing some mint leaves in the water.  

Damaged hair

Many envision summer with floating in a pool or lake. But all the chemicals in the water can wreak havoc on your hair. Buying a professional treatment to remove rust and hard water build up can be costly, too. 

Try mixing a little water with 1-2 packets of lemonade or 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda to make a paste. Massage either into your hair, letting it sit before shampooing like normal to remove buildup. 

Or when you are taking your spoonful of honey for your allergies, massage a half cup of it into clean, wet hair and let it sit before rinsing with warm water. 

Americans are trending towards more natural and pure ways to live their lives, including eating cleaner and being more sustainable. Let’s take that to a different level and use ordinary household items for common summertime problems.

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by Gina Keilen

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