Reader Request: How To Keep The Crotch Area Smelling Fresh





I'm not sure whether you are asking about crotch sweat or vaginal odours here, so I'll write about both.
A healthy vagina has a musky smell -- this is perfectly normal! However it should not smelly rotten or fishy -- in this case you might have an infection in light cases a probiotic supplement might help, but if you feel a lot of discomfort you should definitely see a doctor. 
I already wrote about how internal cleaning is harmful, however the vulva (external bits) should be cleaned thoroughly, usually twice a day. A pH-neutral cleanser is best, however a mild (SLS-free) soap is fine too. It's best to avoid any products with fragrance.

On to the crotch now. The groin area has apocrine sweat glands  (the same type as the armpits), which smells pungent when decomposed by bacteria. So it might be the culprit if things aren't exactly smelling fresh.

Exfoliating the area regularly is the best way to keep things smelling fresh. Dead skin that has not yet shed can trap sweat and bacteria. An exfoliating glove or brush is usually better than a scrub. Gently scour the outer vulva, butt, and especially the crease where the thighs are connected to the torso. 

A light dusting of powder soaks up any moisture.
To keep the air circulation going, cotton underwear is best, especially if you are going for more coverage. Avoid trousers out of synthetic materials that don't allow for air circulation.

Finally, water and soap will clean things a hundred times better than toilet paper will. I mean, would you be satisfied with cleaning your hands with only dry paper? There are many ways of going the water route, but bidet attachments are cheap and can be installed easily (without professional help) on most toilets.

If you haven't tried a menstrual cup yet, the lack of smell is another good reason to take the plunge. In short the blood doesn't get into contact with oxygen, so there is no smell.

Finally, remember that we aren't flower bouquets, it is biologically impossible to smell like one all the time. Especially at the end of a well-lived day. While it's a good idea to keep baby wipes around to freshen up at the end of such a the day, there is no need to get paranoid about normal body scents. While you might be attuned to your own smell, chances are nobody else around you can smell anything at all.

Do you have any favourite ways of dealing with such issues? Let me know!


Photo credit: Viliman Viliman

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DIY Foot Peel Recipe For Calloused Feet


DIY Foot Peel with AHAs Masks



I was complaining to a friend that I couldn't find any of those Asian peel-off masks for feet in any store in Germany. She reminded me that I could probably make my own. So I did. After a couple of experiments I'm ready to present a small tutorial.

I feel that scrubbing and scraping cracked heels with all those scrubbing devices doesn't really help in the long terms because it leaves the skin rough. Skin on the feet has all these layers and when they are unevenly sanded down they continue peeling and cracking. Chemical exfoliants make the skin peel of layer per layer, this leaves behind smooth skin that is not prone to further cracking.

Warning:
Do not use hydroxy acids on heels that are so cracked that wounds appear. Also, be very careful and don't get them on the skin on your face, hands, your eyes. The skin around the heels is very thick and tough, the skin on the rest of your body is not.


DIY Foot Peel Tutorial:

I tried out both alpha and beta hydroxy acids and I found that they work very differently on the feet.

AHA feet mask for mildly dried heels

On heels that are lightly damaged you can just apply straight-up AHA. I used lactic acid which I happened to have and applied it undiluted with a cotton pad on my heels. The result is quite gentle and you get nicely smooth heels. However if you are at the hoof stage, you will not notice much of a difference.

BHA feet mask for moderately cracked heels

If your heels are in worse shape like mine were, you need to get out the heavy guns. After reading a lot about it I decided to start with 30% strength Salicylic Acid just on the heels. This means you use 30% Salicylic acid and 70% somethings else -- I used isopropyl alcohol because SA doesn't dissolve well in water. It dissolves really well in Ethanol, but I didn't have any.
If you want to use the mixture on your entire foot I'd recommend making two batches -- one 30% or more for the heels, and 10% or less for the rest of the foot.

Well, the Salicylic acid didn't dissolve too well in alcohol either, so I applied the paste on my entire heel area and hoped for the best. I waited for it to dry and put on socks over it. The peeling started after two days and went on for a couple more. In the end I got smooth baby skin.

After this I used AHA once a week to prevent the thick skin from building up.

Urea is another product used in heel masks, as it  works very similarly to hydroxy acids. I'd suggest starting with 15% Urea and 85% water or alcohol (for example 15ml Urea and 85ml water).

Do let me know if you try this method. If you use ready-made baby foot masks, which one is your favourite?

Photo credit: Juja Han

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Simple Cosmetic DIY: Rice Water Toner



Simple Cosmetic DIY: Rice Water Toner


Today I was making Risotto (from the book The Everlasting Meal, which is just amazing) and as usual I poured away some rice liquid for my cosmetic needs. At that moment I realised that I have never written about it even though I have been using rice water since years.

To make rice water you first rinse out your rice (you should rinse all grains before cooking them). The rice should preferably be organic, as most non-organic rice contains arsenic and other pesticides. For those in central Europe, last month's Öko Test showed Oryza rice as the only one that was acceptable out of all the rice tested.
Then you add water again and swirl the rice and let it sit for 15 minutes, and you pour away a cup of that water. Cook the rice and eat it or whatever. The rice water now has very fine rice particles in it. I let mine stand in the kitchen for a few days till it starts to ferment, then I use it as a toner or a mild morning cleanser in the next few days. You can also use it as a base for home-made masks, mix it with clays, or as an essence for a sheet mask.

Rice water has vitamins B and E, as well as lots of minerals. Also the rice powder in the water leaves the skin lightly matte and smooth. Rice powder is sold by mineral makeup brands as a base or a finishing veil that absorbs oils and smooths out pores, this kind of does the same.

The rice kind of ferments over the next few days and the pH level rises to a mild acidic value, which is great for the skin. It smells a bit sour but is fine to use for a week or so.

Have you ever tried rice water? Let me know in the comments if it works for you.



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Non-smelly Alternative To Vinegar For Restoring The Hair's Acid Mantle



Non-smelly Alternative To Vinegar For Acidifying Hair


This post should be tagged "duh". For a long time I wished for something that would be as acidic as apple cider vinegar but without the smell. I use diluted cider vinegar as the last rinse or to clarify the hair. The water in my town is pretty hard and an acidic last rinse is the key to smooth shiny hair. Anyway, it does take some time for the vinegar smell to dissipate, so I avoid using it before going out.
So as I was cleaning my kitchen I suddenly realised that I could easily substitute vinegar with soap nuts! They are just as acidic, and my hair loves them. They have a neutral smell. The only downside is the extra preparation time: you need to cover a couple of nuts with hot water and by the time the water cools down it's ready. You can reuse the nuts a couple of times.

Of course soap nuts are not exactly the same as vinegar, for one they do not contain living bacteria cultures. Both work well for my hair but yours may prefer one or another. Soap nuts are more cleansing and can be used on their own to wash the hair.

PS I have read that we shouldn't use soap nuts because the people in India can't afford them any more -- I have almost never seen anyone in India actually using them for their hair or their laundry, apart from a small alternative community (who actually learned about them from an organic store in Germany). Soap nuts are often an ingredient in hair care products though.

Do you use soap nuts or cider vinegar for your hair?




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Lets Talk About Feminine Hygiene And Health




Today I realised that my 7-year-old menstruation cup needs to be replaced immediately and I rushed to the DM to get a new one. While standing in line I realised that ever since I've been using the cup, I haven't had a vaginal infection, not even a it-could-be-one kind. It's because the cup doesn't interfere with the pH balance and the beneficial bacteria (unlike tampons), and it doesn't create a wet environment where germs could breed (unlike pads), and doesn't leach chemicals (unlike both).

Anyway, today I wanted to share a couple of tips related to feminine care and hygiene. But first I just want to say that I'm going to be using the anatomically correct words here, vulva means the outer parts, and vagina means vulva + the canal till the cervix. 

The vagina is self-cleaning, the vulva is not.

When the vagina is healthy, it has a light vagina smell which is normal. Douches and internal cleaning just disrupts the delicate ecosystem. 
However the vulva can get swampy and smelly if not kept clean. The outer lips should be washed thoroughly with a mild cleanser or soap that is pH neutral.

Probiotics against recurring vaginal infections:

If you keep on getting infections down there, you might want to try out taking probiotics to reestablish a healthy bacteria culture. These are available without a prescription. There are hundreds of different strains of bacteria out there, as well as different type of vaginal infections, so it might take you a bit of trial and error to see what works best for you. Try to look for ones that have the strains L. rhamnosus and L. reuterii, L. acidophilus and L. casei. Also remember to not take these at the same time as antibiotics, as the latter will just neutralise the former.

Magnesium for easier periods

Most people in the west are magnesium deficient, so you probably should be supplementing this anyway. Magnesium makes cramps lighter.

Air circulation

Cotton underwear is healthiest since it allows air to circulate. Bacteria breed in moist environments! For the same reason it's a good idea to sleep sans underwear or to wear loose boxers that allow air circulation.

Avoid perfume and other irritants:

Switching to natural laundry detergents is always a good idea because there is almost always some of it left on our clothes. Also never use scented toilet paper -- most synthetic perfumes are highly irritating.


Let me know if you can recommend something or if this post was useful. Or maybe you have some questions?

Photo credit: Kira Ikonnikova

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My Experinces With Laser Hair Removal + Tips






They bad thing about having strong and fast-growing hair is having strong and fast-growing hair everywhere. I have been getting is lasered off in the past couple of years. It was a bit different than what I expected, yet I'm really satisfied.


I got my armpits and the bikini line done. The pain is similar to someone snapping an elastic band against your skin.

Body image disclaimer:

I'm not saying everyone has to go and remove all body hair. If you prefer to keep body hair, that's fine. If you prefer to remove (some of) your body hair, that's fine too. This post is intended to provide some useful tips for those considering laser hair removal.

So, did it work?

Yes, but. I was expecting the hair to be completely gone after a couple of sessions, but that didn't happen. After four sessions of bikini lasering there is a bit of fine hair left, but it doesn't come grow out stubbly and doesn't show much. Also, NO INGROWNS. I had to write that in capitals because that is the best part. Also the skin on my underarms used to be permanently bumpy, now it's smooth like a baby's.
Already after the first session the remaining hair was much easier to shave off and I stopped getting irritated skin and those bumpy follicles, so it was totally worth it. 
Of course I could also invest in a couple sessions more, but it seems to be a Zeno's arrow thing. The laser zaps only the hair which are in a specific stage of their life cycle, which is probably like one-third to half of the hair at any given time. Interestingly one beautician told me that women who have always shaved have hair that is more in sync, while those who have waxed / epilated have hair all over the place when it comes to the growth cycle.

Also the hair tends to grow back a bit, one or two sessions each year are necessary for maintenance -- I'm not sure if I'll be doing that because I'm cheap.
Another tip: one beautician told me that lasering the upper lip is usually not worth the money as the hair is comparatively fine and hard to zap.

How to get the best out of your laser hair removal:

First, check exactly what kind of laser the studio has, as they are not equally effective. The studio website usually mentions the laser type, you can google that. You'll need less session with a strong laser than a weak one. On this note, IPL is no real laser and it's not even permanent.
You need to stop waxing or depilating and only shave for at least three months in advance. Cream hair removal should be avoided a couple of weeks before laser.
If you'll be getting any sun at all, invest in a good SPF50 cream, and keep the area covered. 
 You need to plan your appointments around days when you won't be a) sweating, b) going out in the sun, c) taking antibiotics d) swimming / sauna. All these things can cause your skin to either get discoloured or inflamed.
If you're getting your underarms done, remember that you can't use deodorant that day. Baby powder can help keep things fresh.

Don't pick on the scabs that form after the hair removal session.

When (not) to get laser hair removal:

You need to pick a period where you won't be on the beach as the sun can cause a lot of damage to freshly lasered skin. Apparently if you travel to somewhere tropical, not even clothes and sunscreen can protect lasered skin.
You also need top wait a couple of weeks after using depilatory creams, fake tan, or getting a real tan.
Wait till your tan has completely faded, the paler your skin the better the laser will work. The best time is late autumn or winter, as you don't have to worry about sun damage. The exception here are the armpits, they can be lasered even in the summer because you don't walk around with your arms lifted up.
If you are a woman and plan to have kids any time soon, wait till you are done unless you have money to burn. Pregnancy hormones often causes the hair to grow back.

You can't do laser hair removal if you are taking antibiotics, as they make the skin very susceptible to damage. If you do fall sick and have to pop some, you need to postphone your next session by at least 2 weeks.
Medications such as certain antibiotics, iron supplements, St John's Wort or sleeping pills can make you susceptible to a phytotoxic reaction. If you have been taking any, you need to wait before  your laser appointment.
Here is an exhaustive list of the contraindications, including skin issues, birth control and medicaments.

Groupon makes lasering affordable:

Around spring Groupon usually has deals on laser hair removal. Around here it came down to ca 20€ per session (doesn't matter which body part). Do you get what you pay for with Groupon? One of the studios I went to was really amazing with a really modern laser machine, they were on Groupon because they just opened and were looking to attract customers. The other one wasn't that great, they didn't give me all the information about contraindications and after-care (thankfully I had researched online), also their laser was a tad weaker. The place where I lasered my underarms was much weaker, so even after 8 sessions there is a bit of hair left.
It makes sense to buy at least 4 sessions on Groupon, that is the minimum it takes to clean up an area.
Apparently the laser patent will be expiring really soon, which should make lasering much more affordable.

 So, you can let me know if you have any questions. Or maybe you've had a laser hair removal and would like to share your experiences? Comment below!
Photo credit: Stas Kules

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Magnesium Oil Is An Amazing Natural Deodorant + Why I Supplement Magnesium



Magnesium Oil Is An Amazing Natural Deodorant + Why I Supplement Magnesium


Guys, I discovered a really really good purely natural deodorant -- magnesium oil! Firstly, it is very important: I mean magnesium chloride and nor magnesium sulfate. (I tried both).

Magnesium oil is simply Magnesium chloride dissolved in water and is not actually an oil. Apart from working as a deodorant, it can help bring your magnesium levels up (most people are deficient due to high estrogen levels, stress,  bottled water coffee and other factors). Interestingly it seems that magnesium is absorbed through the skin better than it is orally.

As a deodorant magnesium oil is surprisingly good. With all natural deodorants I tried so far I need to reapply within 24 hours, but with magnesium oil I smell absolutely clean on the next day. I haven't tested it yet for longer periods of time because showering is one of my favourite things in the world. It does get me through sweaty workouts, my sweat is odourless.

After applying the magnesium oil stings a bit. This usually goes away after a week of use. It also takes a bit to absorb, and I usually wipe away the rest after 10 minutes. You can also apply magnesium oil on the feet or any area that you have smell issues with. Of course you can also spray it on areas that feel tense.

Magnesium oil can be bough in health food stores. To DIY your own magnesium oil, mix magnesium chloride flakes with distilled water in a ration of 1:2. Pour into a spray bottle. Often magnesium chloride flakes are much cheaper than magnesium oil.

    I discovered this use of magnesium oil by accident, while reading up on transdermal vs oral supplementation. I first started occasionally supplementing magnesium when my gyn told me to take a couple of pills at the onset of periods to cut down on cramping; but when I told my holistic doctor about my recurring tension headaches and the pain and tightness in my shoulders and neck, he recommended that I take up to 900mg Magnesium a day. I read up on it and it seems that lots of people are heavily magnesium-depleted, especially women -- which is one of the reasons for chocolate cravings. Anyway, after a few weeks of taking three magnesium pills a day I haven't had any shoulder aches since. What is even more interesting is that the magnesium really calmed me and cut down on the anxiety --  it's like my body doesn't respond to the anxious thoughts, which in turn calms my mind. Again, I read up about this and I found forum discussions about how supplementing magnesium helped people with social anxiety to leave their house to go shopping.
Interestingly I have read that supplementing magnesium also can cut down on body odour.

You can't really overdose on magnesium because the body can easily get rid of the excess -- through diarrhea. So if you are prone to loose stools you need up your magnesium intake gradually.

Have you ever tried magnesium oil ? let me know whether this works for you, especially if you live in a hot place.




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DIY: Versatile Makeup Setting Mist




  Today I want to show you how to make a super-simple spray that can make your makeup look less powdery and more natural. This spray is no unitasker, It can be used as a toner, refreshing mist or to foil powder makeup (wet application).


Since a long time I have been using water to set my makeup. This makes the powder nicely sink into the foundation and gives me a smooth, dewy finish. It makes foundation look much more natural, with mineral foundation you can hardly tell that there is a product on the skin. After a while I switched from plain water to hydrolates like rose and orange water and thermal water.

Then I found out that you can buy ready-made products especially meant to set and fix makeup. What is the difference, you ask? Setting sprays help the various layers of makeup blend together into one layer, and get rid of the powdery look. Fixing sprays make your makeup last longer -- you can tell them apart by the fact that alcohol is one of the top ingredients (regardless whether the label says fixing or setting). Anyway, I went through the ingredients. Most setting sprays are based on oils or glycerin.  The problem is of course other ingredients like perfume, alcohol and silicones as well as problematic preservatives.

  So here is a simple makeup setting spray that you can make yourself. It's a super easy recipe and the ingredients can be easily found. Of course I have added variations and tweaks for those of you whole love to tinker with ingredients. However I suggest that you try the basic version first, because if you add everything you can get your hands on and the mist doesn't work for you, you won't know which ingredient is the culprit.

  This makeup fixing mist is also very versatile: you can use it to foil makeup (mix it with powder eyeshadows, blushes, or mineral makeup for a deeper colour). It also works as a simple toner or a refreshing spray during the day for the face and hair.

DIY Makeup Setting Spray

Ingredients:

Water: distilled water is best, or boiled water. You can also use a hydrolate like rose water or your favourite toner (alcohol-free).
Vegetable glycerin or Aloe Vera gel: this makes the product thicker and fixes the makeup. Either one should be 100% pure with nothing added to it. I recommend Aloe Vera over glycerin since it doesn't expire and it doesn't block pores.
 Atomizer / Spritzer bottle: Do disinfect it with alcohol if you are using an old one. Try to find one that releases a fine mist and not a jet spray.
How to: Mix 1 part aloe-vera / glycerine to 4 parts water. If you find this is too thin, you can add more more aloe-vera / glycerine. If it is too thick, add more water. Mix really well, and transfer into your clean bottle.

   If you have used glycerine, the shelf life of your spray should be around two weeks (three weeks in the fridge). To extend the life of the product you can add a preservative, like alum (I break off pieces of my crystal deo for this). DIY cosmetic stores usually store non-toxic preservatives, I use these.

Other ingredients you could add:

Vitamin E oil from a capsule: is a natural preservative. Soothes the skin, moisturises, minimises lines. Avoid it if you have really oily skin or are prone to breakouts.
Essential oils: do look up in which dilution you should use them, and avoid photosensitive ones.
Oils a couple of drops are great for dry skin, or in the winter as an extra layer to protect the skin against cold air (especially if you are prone to broken capillaries). I especially recommend jojoba oil since it is very stable and light.
Alum is a natural preservative. It tightens pores and is antibacterial. If you have been using crystal deos, you probably have pieces lying around.

The ingredients below will shorten the shelf life of the makeup fixing spray, so either make a fresh batch after 2 weeks or add a preservative:
Fresh cucumber juice (squeeze out a chunk of cucumber). This will shorten the shelf life).
Green tea instead of some / all of the water.
Aloe vera distillate instead of some of the water is great for an extra dose of moisture.
Other extracts / vitamins available in stores with cosmetic ingredients.

You can get the ingredients in these places.

How to use your makeup setting spray

   Spray your face with it after you have finished doing your makeup. If you want you can press a paper tissue onto your face. Alternatively spray a bit of the setting spray onto a cotton pad and press (press! Not rub!) it into your face. No, your makeup will not come off. It's like magic!
  Alternatively you can also try misting your face before applying makeup: often makeup goes on better on moist skin.

Store bought makeup setters and fixers I recommend:

   If you need something natural for every day, I'd recommend something with a skin-friendly ingredient list. The one from Alverde is nice and inexpensive. The one from Caudalie has a very nice ingredient list. You can also use thermal water or a hydrolate.

   For special occasions like weddings where you really need your makeup to stay on for a long time no matter what, you might want to invest some money in a good fixer spray, like Kryolan Fixer Spray or Ben Nye, both theater-quality. Other options are Art Deco Fixing Powder, Urban Decay Makeup Setting Spray (All Nighter or Dew Me), NYX Makeup Setting Spray and the ones from Skindinavia. Fixing spray should be used at the end, after a setting spray. As it contains alcohol, it should not be used every day.

Do you use a spray to fix your makeup? Or maybe you have even tried the "diving method"? Let me know.



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My Best Laundry Tips -- How To Keep Your Clothes Looking (Almost) Like New Longer




Ever since I have been paying much more attention to the quality instead of quantity in my wardrobe, it is important to me that the pieces last longer. I think that nothing ruins your look as run-down pieces.

Learning how to do laundry right is simple, but learning about it took ages. There is hardly any resource with a simple overview of things such as detergent ingredients and temperature. Labels on the clothing are misleading. And did you know that the pH of the detergent is really important?

I sort my laundry into:
White
Coloureds
Woolens and silk
Delicates* and viscose*
Household linens and heavy fabrics 

The basics:

Fabrics and detergents:
Plant based fibers need a basic pH and animal fibers (wool, silk) need acidic pH level detergents.
Animal fibers cannot withstand higher temperatures.
Energy saving washing machines (European ones) don't actually go up to the temperatures on the buttons. So it you are running a 60° program, it will not actually heat the water up to 60°, but it will mimic a 60° cycle through longer washing times etc. This is one reason why detergents like wash-nuts often "don't work" if you just add them straight into the machine.
Wash nuts are only effective if the actual water temperature is at least 40°c, moreover they are very acidic so they are not suitable for plant-based fabrics. Chestnut detergent is pretty good, ivy detergent made my skin itch slightly.
Powder detergent has been shown by many tests to be more effective than liquid ones because they contain ingredients that would deteriorate in a liquid product. Also they are much more environmentally friendly -- less packaging, and you aren't transporting water over long distances.
Perfumes and harsh detergents cause a lot of skin issues, from acne to dryness, so I really would advise you to switch to ecological detergents.
I don't use bleach, it's really not healthy for you or the environment.You don't actually need to disinfect anything you have been wearing on sleeping in, it has bacteria that you already have on your skin. For whitening I use oxygen bleach and the sun.
Newly bought fabric items are literally doused in chemicals, wash at least once before wearing.
Wool naturally resists dirt, and can be worn several times without washing. Wearing a tank top below protects it from sweat. Same goes for woollen socks: wear a cotton one below.

Clothing care labels:
These are misleading, for example you can safely machine-wash most hand-wash-only and dry-clean-only items. I do this all the time and have never destroyed an item. The labels list the most conservative washing method, and have more to do with legal regulations that the actual item.

How I launder my stuff:

My goals:
Keep my clothes nice-looking longer
Be kind to the environment
I own a Miele washing machine, very stable but not very modern and not very fast. There is a clothesline outside and one inside in the cellar (it is illegal to dry clothes indoors due to danger of fungus as the apartments are really well isolated). I don't own a dryer. I have kids so I usually do several loads of laundry per week.

Delicates:

Most of my personal clothes get the royal treatment since I buy them with great care and I don't grow out of them. I actually wash most of my personal clothes (except jeans) on a separate load -- on the delicate cycle. The delicate cycle doesn't spin dry, so the stuff takes longer to dry (3-4 days in the winter), but I don't care as long as it looks better longer. 
I use mesh bags to contain anything with lace or anything extra delicate. I also put anything with a zipper or hooks in mesh bags. Bras go into thicker bra bags. 
The detergent I use depends of the fabric. If there is no viscose I'll use the coloureds detergent, otherwise I'll use one meant for delicates and wool.
I always add one of these reusable colour-absorbing towels into the wash, they seem to catch quite a lot of dyes! It's basically a small white terrycloth towel, it's snow white when you buy it and it turns darker with every wash.
I also put a dash of white vinegar into the rinse cycle, I found that it cuts down on the lint!
I hang up most of my clothes in the shade.
If you want your bras to last forever, you should use a detergent-free lingerie wash, here are some recommendations. The only bra I hand-wash is the Parfait Affinitas Charlotte because I love it so I'm terrified that I won't be able to replace it with exactly the same model and colour.

 

Wool and Silk:

These absolutely have to be washed separately from other clothes. Both wool and silk are protein-based, and need a detergent with an acidic pH level. Moreover neither can stand much agitation or higher temperatures -- wool will felt if you are not careful. So you absolutely must use the wool program on the washing machine and a detergent especially for woollens. Add a bit of vinegar to the rinsing cycle to keep the wool soft and to prevent felting. Do not use a drier!
You can also use wash-nuts for wool and silk, as they are acidic. However the temperatures for the wool program are too low to activate the wash-nuts, so you need to first soak them in hot water for 15 minutes.
To soften wool you can try adding hair conditioner to the rinse. To soften really scratchy items, soak them in a mixture of  hair conditioner and glycerin, and don't rinse out.

Whites:

I use a detergent especially for whites for this, as it does not contain ingredients that prevent leaching of dyes. I usually add a bit more sodiumpercarbonate (oxygen bleach) and allow the clothes to soak (soaking program) for a couple of hours (most whites-only detergents contain this already, but I like to add more). The sodiumpercarbonate works instantly in temperatures over 40°, but it will also work in cooler water if you give it a few hours time (you can test this out with stained coffee cups!). I buy mine in the Müller or organic stores, it goes under Sauerstoffbleiche in Germany, you can also buy it dirt cheap online and it has so many household uses. For example I soak the horribly discoloured cooking stove knows in it and they look snow white.
I love to hang up white laundry on the line in the summer, preferably wearing a white dress and singing. The sun bleaches out a lot of the stains, especially baby underwear.

 

Coloureds:

Household linens, and most clothes of my family members come into this category. 
Again I let the clothes soak with sodiumpercarbonate, interestingly it takes out stains but doesn't affect the colour.  And soaking is always good, I think. I use a colour detergent, it contains ingredients that prevents dyes from bleeding. I use the generic 30-40°c wash cycle, with plenty of spinning at the end. I usually hang up the items outside in the shade, unless it's a really nice item that I don't want to fade.

Viscose:

You can't wash viscose with a regular detergents as they contain cellulase. Cellulase is an enzyme that removes the pills from cotton fabrics but will break up the cellulose in the viscose. That's the reason you see the weird pills on viscose if you don't wash it correctly.
Contrary to what people often say, viscose isn't particularly fragile and I find that as long as I wash it on the delicates cycle it doesn't get misshapen or anything. I usually wash viscose together with other delicates.

Here are two more slightly different methods of cleaning that I thought I'd include because they are really useful:

Sun washing:

The properties of the UV rays of the sun are so underestimated. You know how bedding gets all fresh and crisp when you hang it out in the sun?  The UV rays kill of mites, bacteria, fungus, they dry up moisture and leave everything smelling good. I put all my bedding (pillows, blankets etc) in the sun once a week, once a month I sun my cushions, small floor mattresses, carpets and the removable parts of the sofa. I find that doing this gets rid of the vague unfresh smell that often lingers in homes.
I usually use the weather forecast to play this ahead of time, I don't want to deal with wet stuff if the rain comes.

Snow washing:

If you have a carpet, the snow can be a great (and free) way to clean it. It really works as long as you make sure that temperatures are actually below freezing, and that you let the carpet cool down first. Here is a good tutorial.


   Does this sound like a lot of work? It is and yet it isn't. I make my kids bring up and Konmari-fold and put away their own laundry, so at least that's something I don't have to do myself. I don't wash most of the stuff after just one wear, apart from underwear, socks and things work on very sweaty days. Bedding gets washed only once a week, and again I get the kids to help.
   Finally I wanted to say that I'm sick all week and when writing this I realised that being sick makes me forget how to grammar. So I'm sorry of the English in this post is weirder than usual.

Photo credit: Gratisography

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Tried And Tested Hangover Remedies From Me And My Friends





So probably at least some of you plant to be hungover this Sunday, so I thought I'd share some of my hangover remedies as well as ways to prevent getting hungover in the first place.

* Stay hydrated
This is a no-brainer, but in practice it's not always so easy. A friend of mine swears by following each glass of alcohol with a glass of water. In Germany you can usually only get soft drinks or sparkly water in bars at night, however in my city the tap water is one of the best in the world so everyone (or at least cheap frugal people like me) just drink out of the hand washing tap. I have also been known to hide a plastic water bottle near the entrance of the club or in my coat or bag. It's pretty common for women to pile their handbags in the middle of the floor and dance around them, it's kind of funny actually.

I usually pre-hydrate on the day before a big night out, so that I'm starting with a surplus. And then drink a lot of water when I come home. If I do it right, then I don't have a hangover at all the next day.

* Eat carbs + fat
Nausea happens when the stomach has to digest lots of alcohol and nothing else. Eat something absorbent carbs like crackers along with fat, and you won't get nauseous. Pizza is great, but peanuts also work. I usually stash a snickers bar into my bag when I go dancing, and when I get home I eat something before going to bed.

* Sauerkraut or pickled cucumber juice
Not sure where I picked this up, but it works. Funnily I don't like the taste very much normally, but after a night of partying I crave it in the morning. Sauerkrautsaft and pickled cucumbers (pickled, as in with live cultures, not those in vinegar) is full of electrolytes probiotics, minerals and vitamins. It's actually sold in most stores in Germany. Obviously actual Sauerkraut is good too, as well any other food or drinks with (live) probiotic cultures, like pickled cucumbers.

* Oil pulling
My friend swears on this. You swish oil around in your mouth for 5-10 minutes. It gets rid of the weird taste in the mouth and surprisingly made me feel much better.

* Milk Thistle supplement
Take one before you start drinking and one at the end of the night. Not only does it prevent hangovers, it protects the liver. 

* Ginger and peppermint tea
Best with honey. Soothes my stomach and peps me up.

* Tomato juice or banana.
For the potassium.

* Do not use paracetamol / acetaminophen / tylenol !

It is damaging to the liver, and it can be dangerous when the liver is already stressed with alcohol.

Obviously the best way is to drink with moderation. This can be difficult for some people. There is a saying "first you have a drink, then the drink has another drink, then the drink has you." I have never drunken more than I could handle because I have a weird little system: I count the levels of the effects of alcohol. 0 is completely sober, 1 is a slight buzz, 2 is I'm having trouble pronouncing the longer German words, etc. When I notice that I'm on level 4, which in my case is having problems with balance, I don't buy another drink until I'm back to level one. (To be fair, I have trouble walking straight when I'm sober, I usually bump my shoulder into the person I'm walking next to. So this scale is extremely subjective. I've seen people losing their capacity to talk without slurring but stay completely balanced.)

What are your hangover remedies? Have your tried Sauerkraut juice?  

Also, happy new year to all of you! The Germans have a very funny way to wish that, they say "guten Rutsch" which means something like "a good slip/slide (into the new year).

Photo credit: Naomi August via Unsplash

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