Shopping Guide – Clean air, dishes, dust, laundry, water

Air & Dust

Unfortunately today we even have to clean the air!  The indoor air of our home is full of toxins – from formaldehyde being released from adhesive man-made woods like plywood or MDF cabinetry or furniture, to formaldehyde and other chemicals off gassing from carpeting, area rugs, paint, etc.  And toxic dust particles from flame-retardants applied to electronics, furniture and mattresses float around and live in the dust of the home.  Read the Branch Basics blog and Green Science Policy blog to learn more about what is in the dust of your home.

Air Purifier

  • Austin Air Healthmate+,  $815.  14.5″L x 14.5″W x 23″H, 250 CFM, HEPA removes 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns and 99% of all particles larger than 0.1 microns, Has 15 pounds of activated granulated carbon/zeolite blend (ratio is 90:10 carbon to zeolite) = 13.5 pounds carbon, 1.5 pounds zeolite. It’s also impregnated with potassium iodide (exact amount?)  The large particle pre-filter removes particles easily seen by the naked eye (e.g., dust, hair and pet dander).  The medium particle pre-filter removes small to medium size particles (e.g., molds, spores and pollen).  Contains 60 sq. ft. of Medical Grade HEPA – removes up to 99% of all airborne contaminants as small as 0.1 microns.  The “Bedroom” filter has an additional 5th stage filter: Military Carbon Cloth (HEGA carbon cloth).
  • AllerAir Air Medic Pro 5 or 6 series  $700.  23.5″ (height) x 15″ (diameter), 45-62 dB, 560 CFM, Activated carbon filter, 2.5″ depth, Medical-grade HEPA, pre-filter, HEPA removes 99.97% of all airborne particles 0.3 microns in size
  • Pure Air Systems HPS 500, $ ?,  13” x 13” x 21” Long, 500 CFM.  HEPA removes 99.99% at 0.3 microns.  Can be used as a true portable unit or attached to any HVAC system in the partial by-pass configuration.

You can purchase HEPA air cabin filters for your CAR as well.  Bosch sells these for most models:

Vacuums & steam mops

A legit vacuum will be designed so that the canister or barrel, is sealed with a gasket  (sealed system).  The gasket ensures that nothing is escaping the canister (releasing the dust back into your air), and any air being sucked into the canister is being forced to go through the filters.

Both CFM and Water Lift are required for an efficient vacuum. The key is finding the perfect balance between the two. Efficient Water Lift is also an important factor in Dust Extraction Equipment or Vacuums with HEPA filters because that will determine its ability to effectively function at higher resistance, due to the HEPA filter. (More resistance is result of more layers in the HEPA filter) Additionally, efficient Water Lift will ensure that your piece of equipment will continue to perform at high levels, even as the filter begins to fill up with fine particles.  Read more here.

  • Home vacuum

    • Miele vacuum that has a certified AirClean Sealed System.  All C2s and C3s have a sealed system.  Only the compact C1s have the sealed system (classic C1s do not).  If you have carpet, choose a vacuum that comes with a “powered head” instead of a “turbo head”.  The turbo head is powered by air only instead of electricity, and thus will only work well on low-pile carpets and hard floors.
      • Miele Compact C2 Electro+ (or ElectroPlus) HEPA, $700 – watch for a sale as low as $480
        weight 12.9 pounds, CFM ?, capacity .925 gallon, dB ?, hose length ?, cord length ?
      • Miele S8590 Marin C3 HEPA $1,100
        weight 13-16 pounds?, CFM 158, capacity 1.19 gallon, dB ?, hose length ?, cord length 22′
        The benefit of the C3 canister is that the small attachments are hidden in a compartment on the canister. On the lower priced C2 the attachments are stored on the outside of the canister.
        Authorized dealers have 2 better Miele C3 models than the Marin that are not sold online, and may have different warranty: ex: “Homecare” C3 is the same price as the Marin but comes with several hundred dollars worth of additional tools/attachments, including a 2 foot flexible crevice tool that will change your life. You can buy this tool separately to use on the Marin, but it’s included on the Homecare. With a dealer, purchase only the features you want, which will get you a lower price.  Ex: motorized Miele brush head – the top of the line with LED lights and electronic height controls invites more repairs than the level down with manual pedal controls and no lights. The top of the line brushed has a slightly lower profile but not so much that it matters.  The other standard feature on the Marin that you probably don’t need/want and is optional on the Homecare are the electronic off/on, and suction level controls on the handle, but the standard Miele way is with buttons on the canister itself and with a switch on the handle which activates the motor on the brush head. You use your foot or even the wand to hit them.  The controls on the handle are relatively new and like the electronic brush head they can break and take longer to fix.
        There are less expensive Miele C3’s such as the Calima is that Miele, for whatever reason, has not made its C3 vacuums streamlined. This means that although all C3’s are the same, you cannot – say- buy the lower priced Calima C3 which does not come with a motorized brush head and then buy the motorized brush head separately. It will not attach to the wand and hose that comes with the Calima. You’ll need to buy a new wand and hose too. Which will cost you the difference in price between the Calima and more expensive C3’s such as the Marin.
    • Nilfisk GM 80 – this is an abatement level vacuum used to abate mold, lead, and asbestos and is a highly recommended vacuum $1,370, weight 13 pounds, CFM 87, capacity 3.25 gallon, 61 dB, hose length 6.5′, cord length 30′.  This vacuum is officially abatement rated to abate mold, lead, and asbestos.  Miele will not submit to this test.  GM-80 wins from independent air testers as well.  You don’t have to have that abatement rating.  6′ is a little short for a hose, but is of course workable.
    • Nilfisk GD 930 – another highly recommended abatement level vacuum; if you have carpet, add the Nilfisk Power Nozzle M70032, $590, weight 16.5 pounds, dB 53, hose length 6′. cord length 32′
    • Shark Apex Powered Lift Away – if unable to invest in one of the more expensive systems, this offers a more economical option with a sealed system
  •  Shop vac (wet/dry)
    A Dust Extractor System can have amazing Water Lift but without a high enough CFM there won’t be strong enough air flow pulling the debris up the hose and through the filter. Having said that, if you’re picking up heavier debris like sand or other soils or stone, you’ll want to make sure you have a high enough Water Lift so it can handle heavier particles.

    • Nilfisk Aero 21 (model# 107418440)
    • Aero 26 (model# 107419097) – make sure you get the models that include HEPA filters
    • Get a drill shroud or bubble to capture dust when drilling holes into walls that might have layers of lead paint from Dustless Tools
  • Steam “mop”
    When using a high powered steamer on any materials that are made with hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), one should protect themselves from the release of HAPs by wearing a mask with filters appropriate to filter the HAPs being released.  Start with a half mask respirator from 3M, model 7501.  I use a size small.  Then choose the correct filter to put on this mask respirator:

      •  for mold: filter 60923.  does filter out acid gases. 
      • + formaldehyde: filter 60925
      • + methaline chloride, methanol or certain things in paint stripper: filter 60926 is the best filter consumers can really get to filter out things from burning buildings and cars.
      • any more you would be getting into the masks firefighters use
    • Dry steam cleaner.  Uses very high heat and dries quickly Advanced Vapor Technologies
      The reason it is called dry steam is because the high temperature is reached by way of an on-board boiler reducing the steam to only around 5% humidity. This results in surfaces needing only minutes to dry. For instance, regular steam cleaned carpet can take a couple of days to dry whereas a dry steam cleaned carpet takes only a few minutes to dry. The heat reaches deep into the pores of the surface being treated, destroying mold, mildew, bacteria, and viruses when using TANCS (Thermal Accelerated Nano Crystal Sanitation), while at the same time removing dirt/grime, smoke, previously used cleaning chemicals, and outgassing odors from that surface.  Originally TANCS was designed to pretreat the water so that it would not build up scale if using hard water. But during the process of obtaining a patent for the device it was found that it had a high microbial kill rate.Using industrial strength bleach on a biofilm can take 20 minutes or more to work, while a TANCS-equipped steam vapor system takes only 3 seconds.* * (

      The Ladybug dry steam vapor system with TANCS has an EPA establishment number, which means it is accepted by the EPA as a disinfecting device. It can be used as a disinfectant at schools, hospitals, and commercial establishments such as restaurants instead of harsh EPA-registered chemicals that are normally required.

      •  Ladybug TEKNO 2350 – has LED readout; available with a trolley.  Water tank capacity 3 quarts $2,400
      • Ladybug 2300 – less expensive; offers the same cleaning power. The 2300 is lighter than the TEKNO, does not have the LED readout, and the cold-water reservoir has half the capacity of the 2350.  No trolley available. $2,200
      • Ladybug 2200 – least expensive; has less power and psi $1,900
    • Sargent steam cleaner – you might find it cheaper on their website, compared with Amazon
  • Another way to clean the air of your home is via plants.  Branch Basics recommends you have 10-20 house plants for the average size home.

Find more information about recommended items here.

  • Scraper – made of wood by an Etsy seller/woodworker named SummerBeeWoodworks.  Ask for them without the logo – they are amazing!!
  • Scraper – made of metal: Dexter-Russel Mini Turner (2 x 2.5″)
  • Bottle Brush – made of wood and plant Tampico fibers: Iris Hantverk Tampico Dishbrush, item#: 1102-03, or Curved Dish Brush 10.25″ or Curved Dish Brush 9.25″.  I also recently tried a  silicone bottle brush from Sur La Table.  There are a few times when plastic can be the most effective, but let’s not ALWAYS go to plastic when there are better alternatives.  I find spatulas and this bottle brush to be the few exceptions where plastic is really effective.
  • Sink Brush – hard bristles – made of wood and plant Union fibers: Redecker/Burstenhaus 2.25″ diameter
  • Pot Scrubber for tough spots – this one made of broomcorn by Little John of Plant-Based services gets tough spots out
  • Baking soda – used for washing any stubborn bits of food on dishes, stovetop, table, floor, or anywhere!
  • Washing Soda – see above.  What is washing soda?  How is washing soda made?  Read a full explanation and report from Meliora here.  You will find the cheapest prices for sodium carbonate at Walmart, Blaine’s Farm and Fleet, Ace Hardware, and Walgreens.
  • Shaker for Baking Soda/Washing Soda $7 w/ handle // or $8.80 without handle
  • Hydrogen Peroxide for disinfecting counters after preparing meat.  I put a spray bottle top in the brown bottle – keep peroxide in the brown bottle it comes in to preserve its action.
  • Soap
    • Fit Organic Dish & Hand Soap – this, at 18oz, is a small bottle.  Fit Organic also offers a 42oz dishwasher gel – could this be used as a ‘concentrate’ and diluted 50% to be used under the sink in a soap dispenser?  Could diluting to 50% cause bacteria to grow or do you think the denatured alcohol in the gel would cover this issue? 
    • Earthview (made for those with MCS)
    • Meliora dish soap bar or Big Block French Kitchen Soap, made by Bee Alchemy of Milwaukee, WI
    • Clean ingredients but problematic for use: MADE OF Organic Foaming Dish Soap – nice but only sells in small bottles; Dr. Bronner’s – clogs dispensers;
    • Less pure products: Honest Dish Soap – Free & Clear, BioKleen (contains Citrus Grandis – recommends that companies should either test GSE or not use it, due to independent studies showing that “Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract may be contaminated with the chemical substances.  For instance, they are benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, triclosan, and methylparaben, and they act as preservatives (source and source). While grapefruit itself has some preserving properties, it is not powerful enough to act as a preservative without the help of other preservatives in the formulation of citrus paradise (source).  For instance, the company that makes WaterWipes has started disclosing that their wipes contain benzalkonium chloride.”
  • Disinfect – team Branch Basics all-purpose solution with Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide.  Research studies show Vinegar and 3% Hydrogen Peroxide used in combination (in separate bottles) are more effective at killing germs than chlorine bleach or any commercially available kitchen cleaner. Find instructions and more info in our blog post: How to Clean and Disinfect Cutting Boards Naturally

  • Dishcloths – this 100% hemp fabric – 10oz from works well for making dish cloths.
  • 1. Dust frequently – dusting at least once a week using the suggestions below will significantly reduce dust levels in your home. 2. Change your return air filters regularly. We aim for once every 1-3 months depending on the season. We highly recommend filtrete air filters because they have no antibacterial or chemical treatments.3. Consider a home air purifier, especially in your bedrooms. To learn more, check out How to Choose the Best Home Air Purifier.

    You can also try making your own inexpensive air purifier using a 20 inch box fan and a 20 x 20 x 1 Filtrete air filter for dust and/or a fine particle removal. Turn the fan on, just drop the filter on the back of the fan, and the suction from the fan will hold the filter without tape or mechanical fasteners. For those who would like a more complicated DIY project that filters even very fine particles called PM2.5, as good or better than some of the most expensive units, check out these three links for instruction.

    – A Variation on the “Box Fan with MERV 13 Filter” Air Cleaner,
    – How to Improve the Efficiency of the “Box Fan and MERV 13 Filter” Air Cleaner
    – It’s All About the Air Flow Through the Filter

    4. Declutter. The less “stuff” you have in your home, the less dust you’ll have and the less dust can accumulate on hard-to-clean surfaces (like hundreds of knick knacks!).

    5. To reduce dust-borne contaminants, consider adopting a no-shoes-indoor policy.

    6. If you have a choice, choose non-toxic hard floors over carpet. This won’t be practical for everyone, but carpet is a dust-magnet and a dust-creator, thus hard floors are preferable. If you already have carpet, don’t fret! We’ll talk about the best way to keep that clean next.

  • Hardwood floors – only very diluted solutions of Branch Basics should be used on sealed wood floors because a more concentrated solution may break down the finish. Use 3/4 teaspoons of the Concentrate per 2 cups of water.  Minimize use of water on wood floor by spraying the solution onto a slightly damp mop to clean the floor.
  • Other floors – for entire floor, mop using a mixture of 1-2 oz (1⁄4 cup) of the Branch Basics Concentrate with a gallon of water.
  • Wood dusting – spray the All-Purpose Branch Basics solution on a cloth or microfiber and wipe to dust off furniture. For our homemade dusting spray, see below.
    •  1 cup distilled water
    • 1/2 teaspoon Branch Basics
    • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil or jojoba oil, optional • 3 drops organic lemon essential oil – optional
  • All purpose – 1 part Branch Basics to 11 parts water
  • Bathroom – 1 part Branch Basics to 5 parts water
  • Streak-free – 1 drop Branch Basics to 24oz distilled water
  • Once a year, do a deep clean of everything, starting with ceiling, then walls, then floors.  Vacuum first, wipe down second with microfiber cloths and sponge or microfiber mops that can squeeze out water, dipping it into a water bucket, squeezing out the water, then dipping it into a bucket of 1 tsp Branch Basics to 1 gallon water, and wiping down the walls, then dry with rags towels. Once you’re done, wash the microfiber cloths in a Guppy Friend bag to prevent micro plastics from going into drains.


  • consider searching for a safe Wall-Mounted Rotating French Soap Holder – the ones I’ve found at Amazon have ingredients in the soaps that are not safe, but I like the concept.
  • Handsoap: if using a foaming soap dispenser.  I find that Dr. Bronner’s soap ruins every foaming soap dispenser eventually (although you can try cleaning the dispenser with vinegar), so go with a different foaming soap brand like Earthview (made for those with MCS) or Soapply (more expensive) or Branch Basics (1 part Branch Basics Concentrate to 4 parts water).  If you don’t need foaming soap, this Pottery Barn soap dispenser is good quality.
  • If you like bar soaps, try MelioraDr. Bronner’s, Porcupine Soaps, or others listed on the Debra Lynn Dad website
    • DIY options.  If you don’t or can’t make yourself, buy Meliora or Humble Suds
    • Earthview
    • Branch Basics – 1 part Branch Basics Concentrate to 2 parts water.  Use 3⁄4-1 capful of Laundry solution.  For delicates: add 1⁄2 teaspoon of the Concentrate to a bucket, pail or sink of cool water; Soak for 15 – 30 minutes; Gently agitate (this does the cleaning!); rinse by hand or run in the gentle cycle; hang to dry or lie flat as needed. $0.24/load
    • My Green Fills Laundry Wash – 50 loads-worth costs $12.95 to start, and $18 for refill packet.  Find out more about why I choose My Green Fills. $0.28/load
    • check the Debra Lynn Dadd website for updates

To brighten white and colors: sodium percarbonate with a little sodium carbonate (soda ash).  Presoak garments or bedding in ROOM TEMPERATURE water for up to 24 hours — 2 T sodium percarbonate per gallon of water.  Mix in a little washing soda (soda ash aka sodium carbonate).  I already had these two ingredients around for use as brighteners for porcelain sinks, tubs and toilets. You will find the cheapest prices for sodium carbonate at Walmart, Blaine’s Farm and Fleet, Ace Hardware, and Walgreens.

For oil stains, keep a container of diatomaceous earth, cornstarch or arrowroot powder to  soak up the oil on the garment.  Lemon essential oil also works really well – dab on a drop, toss in the wash, and see what happens.


I like the following idea for parents with kids…Hey, maybe even for myself! 😉

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 12.06.15 AM

  • Some drink Mountain Valley Spring water, but it has potentially 300 ppm solids, so that may not work well for some bodies.  I see in their water quality report that the “solids dissolved” is 220 mg/L.
  • Pristine Hydro –
  • Ophora – Absent access to a tested and clean natural spring, water should be purified, re-mineralized, put through a crystal vortex and “structured.”   Ophora system cleans the water of all testable impurities, including microplastics and pharmaceutical drugs. The water is re-mineralized, passed continuously over a rose quartz vortex and delivered to the water dispenser.  Their bottled drinking water also is hyper-oxygenated.   Use their bio-quantum dispenser in the kitchen and bio-shower unit for showering and bathing.In the garden, use a simple house carbon-based filter, and then attach a showerhead at the point of use, for toxin-free, structured water for our animals and garden plants.You could add a final step to this process based on the work of Dolf Zantinge and his company. They came up with a water wand that, when stirred in any water for 10-15 seconds, helps create  long-lasting coherence.  
Water wands – do they work?