I’m a little embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until I was pregnant with Bowie that I started to consider the products I used in our home and on my body. I found myself reading the back of product labels, a practice I typically reserved for food. I started small with products I put on my face, then swapped out products I used on my body and hair, and eventually moved on to the products we use in our home. It was a gradual process because life and convenience can get in the way but now that the overhaul is done, I can’t imagine going back to some of those products and the harmful ingredients they use, especially with two babies at home. One company that has made this significantly easier is Branch Basics. Branch Basics uses one concentrate for all cleaning tasks, one! The concentrate is human-safe and toxin-free and because the bottles are reusable, it makes cleaning simple, affordable and sustainable. We sat down with Kelly Love, one of three founders of the company to learn what inspired Branch Basics, how living a diet and environment free of toxic chemicals helped Alison reverse the effects of PCOS and best practices for tackling toddlers and germs, today on Love Child. Branch Basics is offering a promo code for Love Child readers. Use code LOVECHILD15 for 15% off Starter Kits. Photography by Kristen Kilpatrick

Tell us a little bit about each founder and their role in Branch Basics?

Allison, Marilee and I are extremely close since Allison and I have been best friends since college, and Marilee is Allison’s aunt. After the three of us spent the summer of 2008 together because Allison and I wanted to study natural health under Marilee and Allison wanted to heal her health issues, we knew we wanted to work together to change people’s lives like we had ours.

Thankfully, our strengths complement each other as business partners. We’ve worn many hats over the years and used to all three review every single decision, but since Allison and I became mothers, we’ve had to be super efficient with our time and roles. We take turns speaking at events, and Allison and Marilee frequently share their stories on podcasts. Marilee also focuses on product development and writing content for our blog while Allison I contribute to our social media. I also take on overseeing our visual assets creation as well as our packaging, because I’m the pickiest about that stuff. 🙂

What was the inspiration behind Branch Basics?

At the end of the day, it’s really to prevent as many people as possible from one day saying, “Why didn’t someone tell me?!”. Sadly, so many people are suffering because they simply don’t know that all the chemicals in our everyday products, food, furniture and building materials, as well as the electromagnetic frequencies from cell phones, Wifi and more, are affecting our health. Everything from menstrual cramps and headaches to severe, life-threatening chronic illnesses can be worsened – or even caused by – these exposures. We wanted to create a platform where we could educate and also provide a product that would help people get started on making healthier choices beyond exercise and diet.

Kelly and Allison, you both have toddlers who as we know, are germ-prone! How often do you recommend cleaning toys and what product do you recommend?

Keeping things clean and dust-free is definitely important, but we’re not scared of germs, as we’ve learned that it is actually beneficial to expose children to germs in order to stimulate and strengthen their immune system. Studies are showing that over sterilizing and using powerful sanitizers is actually detrimental to a child’s health. So, we like to spray often-used toys down with our Branch Basics All-Purpose cleaner every few months or after a flu or cold virus has gone around. Rinsing with plain hot water also does wonders! The important step is rinsing and wiping to remove germs, verses trying to kill them. The CDC recommends soap and water over disinfectants because of the huge increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

What positive benefits have you seen in the lives of your children from living a clean lifestyle?

While it’s so hard to make direct connections between overall lifestyle choices (dietary and environmental) and health benefits, we strongly believe that the things we’ve chosen to put in, on and around our children have contributed to their alert, strong, healthy and resilient demeanors. Reid (my daughter) hasn’t had more than a cough and runny nose and after Sloane (Allison’s daughter) picked up a few fevers (which sickness is often a good thing – again, exercising the immune system!), she recovered quickly without the need for any medication. Granted, both girls are at home with us, but they’re still always at the park, grocery store, with other children, at the church nursery, etc. They also both have a broad pallet and take down everything from sauerkraut and sardines to celery juice and cod liver oil. Benefits of starting them young!

How do you handle sending them to a daycare or school where you know toxic cleaning products are being used?

So far – at 18 and 20 months – they have stayed home with us. However, with work being increasingly demanding and Allison expecting her second baby in November, the girls will soon be attending school a few days per week. Allison toured several in Houston before settling with one that uses safer cleaning products, non-toxic (and very infrequent) pesticide treatments, does not use mosquito misters on the playground, and allows no refined sugar or food dyes at the school. I am currently looking into short-term options in Austin before we move to Mississippi that are open to using safe products as well. It’s not easy to find, but worth the effort in our opinion! If your kids are in school already, it’s never too late to talk to them about the benefits of switching to healthier products and practices. Allison recently got her church nursery to change cleaning products by politely and respectfully speaking up and providing reasons why the children – and caregivers! – would benefit from making the switch.

Allison, we loved reading about reversing effects of PCOS with clean living. For our readers who are currently struggling with infertility, can you offer any helpful hints for adapting this lifestyle, resources, and being your own advocate?

I can’t stress enough how powerful a diet and environment free of toxic chemicals really is for those who are facing fertility issues. Pesticides as well as most conventional – and many “non-toxic! – cleaning products contain chemicals that undermine our delicate endocrine system. When it comes to diet, it’s crucial to choose real food, free of processed preservatives and dyes as well as meat and dairy from clean sources. (Organic and non-GMO is always the best choice!). There is so much we cannot control about our everyday exposures at work, at the park, while shopping, etc. BUT we can control the place that matters most, and that’s our home. Having a home free of toxic pesticides and cleaners (including laundry!) and synthetic fragrances, using body care products with only clean ingredients, and eating a real-food diet is the absolute best choice in our efforts to heal from fertility struggles. It was these lifestyle factors that, within a few short months, helped my body overcome chronic pain… and within a year, rid of thousands of ovarian cysts… and within a few more years, enable me to get pregnant easily and naturally (twice!). I don’t view my lifestyle as restrictive or stressful, but as freeing and empowering. For so long I was a victim to my diagnosis and after taking my health into my own hands, that’s no longer the case.

Let’s chat germs and traveling. As summer travel is in full swing, how can families continue to live in a harm-free environment even on the road or in a plane?

Goes back to the above – spray with a pure soap or non-toxic cleaner and wipe! Baby wipes or essential oil wipes are sufficient – no need for disinfecting wipes with toxic chemicals and pesticides!

What would you say to our readers who want to live a clean, toxin-free lifestyle in all aspects but find it overwhelming to start. Do you have any favorite resources, blogs, podcasts, websites that help you maintain this lifestyle?

We share a lot of information on our blog and instagram that people can search, and we are huge fans of Wellness Mama – her website and podcast. There are so many areas to cover and it can definitely be overwhelming to think about them all, but mindset is everything. If we are motivated by fear then we will only become anxious and stressed. Doing the best you can, as you can, and educating yourself so that you can make wise, informed choices every day with each new decision will lead to change!

What’s next for Branch Basics?

We are working to create a guided protocol for creating a truly healthy home as well working on new products. We just launched our new Laundry bottle to make using our Concentrate for laundry easier and our new dryer balls to replace harmful dryer sheets. We’re hoping to have wipes out by next year!