Create a healthier home with these detoxing solutions from Austin-bred Branch Basics.
By Kasee Bailey
You likely don’t know how many cleaning products are in your home right now. Take inventory as you mentally raid your bathroom shelves, cupboards below the kitchen sink and the spaces in your laundry room and garage. How many bottles of cleanser, detergent and soap are you hoarding? It’s probably more than you can count.
The Environmental Protection Agency considers indoor air quality to be the fourth-most significant pollution threat to Americans, thanks to the chemicals inside everyday home products. That’s a lot of potential danger to your health and the health of your family from run-of-the-mill, everyday exposure.
This scary risk became a harmful reality for two University of Texas roommates experiencing a slew of health conditions resulting from one major initially unknown factor: a toxic environment. But a summer reset in the Texas Hill Country clued them in to an important lesson: Removing dangerous chemicals from their environments and diets led to immensely improved health.
“Our bodies were ushered in the most clean, pure, smells-like-outside-but-really-inside, post-rain, fresh environment,” says Allison Evans, co-founder of Branch Basics. “That’s really where our story began, where were started getting the idea of launching a website where people could have access to all these clean, pure products.”
As UT grads, Evans, her former roommate, Kelly Love, and Evans’ aunt Marilee Nelson created Branch Basics as they springboarded their passion project from a bungalow on West Sixth Street, embracing a receptive community of followers.
But it wasn’t just the support of a loyal local following that convinced Evans of the importance of their mission; it was her own experience.
“That is why I’m passionate, because I know it works,” Evans says. “It really stems from me experiencing it firsthand. The toxins have become so prolific in our diet and our environment. People don’t realize there are such simple things that we can do to drastically decrease our daily exposure to toxic chemicals. We need to educate ourselves so we know which products to choose wisely.”
But with the onslaught of information and products peddled to consumers, how can we find the truly healthy detoxing solutions?
“It’s easy to get overwhelmed today, especially because we’re marketed with all these new products,” says Carly Farmer, marketing director for Branch Basics. “Green cleaners have become the norm in so many people’s homes, but they’re not necessarily green or safe for your house. It’s so important for us to offer products that are truly safe, but we’re also trying to be an educational resource as a brand. We’re trying to open people’s eyes that it can be simple. You can remove these toxic cleaners and products from your household and make cleaning streamlined. The first step is that education.”
In addition to its resource-rich blog and social platforms, Branch Basics boasts a website teeming with educational info, including step-by-step “home cleanse” tutorial videos. The team also encourages the use of a few handy resources—the Think Dirty App, madesafe.org and Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database—for checking the toxicity of products, and earth911.com for locating proper chemical-disposal facilities.
In addition to doing your homework, the Branch Basics experts suggest conducting three main DIY detoxing tasks. The first: Toss toxins, meaning all pesticides and any “-icide” chemicals, the most toxic products in the home.
“By simply removing those products from your home, you’ll have an immediate shift in your air quality,” Farmer says.
Next, (re)do your laundry, paying special attention to what you clean your clothes with. After all, these products follow you around all day on your clothes and skin.
Then, ditch the synthetic scents, including candles and scented trash bags. Get used to checking labels. Words like “fragrance” or “parfum” on product labels are red flags indicating a cocktail of chemicals that can disrupt the human endocrine system.
But don’t think you have to go buy a cabinet full of pricey nontoxic products. With pure products, one size often fits all.
“It takes a little bit of a perspective shift that you can use one product for everything,” Farmer says. “We’re taught over and over again through marketing that there has to be cleaning products for everything. This is going to simplify your life in a way you never imagined.”
Branch Basics offers an all-in-one cleaning concentrate, allowing users to replace virtually every cleaner in the home with one liquid soap that tackles everything from removing laundry stains and cleaning dishes to gently cleansing produce, jewelry and the body.
“It’s really easy and it has simplified the entire cleaning process. It goes along with our message of going back to the basics,” Evans says.
But even with simple, back-to-the-fundamentals solutions, detoxifying can make a world’s amount of difference for your well-being.
“People don’t realize [the products in their homes] can be causing health issues that they’re suffering with every day, ones that maybe they’ve written off as something they have to deal with, like headaches or eczema,” Farmer says. “That doesn’t have to be normal. There’s a way to thrive, and that’s by creating a healthy home.”