6 Tips for Cleaner College Living: Advice from Our Interns

By Marilee Nelson |

featured image: Branch Basics

Joey and Tricia joined us this summer as interns in customer service and product development. Joey attends Baylor University and will be a sophomore Public Relations major. His enthusiasm and engaging personality have been a huge asset to the customer service team! Tricia is also studying Public Relations, and will be starting her senior year at The University of Texas this fall. She has helped with product research and advertising during her time here at Branch Basics. We asked them for their best, easy tips for making the transition to college life simple, healthy, and clean.


6 Tips for Cleaner College Living

From Joey and Tricia:

It wasn’t until interning at Branch Basics that we both realized the large amount of toxins and chemicals surrounding us in our everyday lives. College living doesn’t often equate to a clean and healthy lifestyle! We live in old dorm rooms full of years of dust and mold, typically cleaned with harsh cleaning chemicals. We stay out way too late and never give our bodies a chance to rest. We eat food on meal plans and quickly gain the freshmen fifteen! To sum it all up, many college students find it challenging to take good care of their bodies and maintain busy schedules during the school year.

Often times, the products used in our environments are out of our control. We can’t control the habits of our roommates or the products used to clean the buildings we live in (particularly dorms). In spite of that, we do have the ability to control a few things for ourselves! We’ve found that small changes are both cost efficient and easy to do for any college student. Here are six easy changes that college students can make to create a cleaner college living environment and a healthier college experience!

Joey & Tricia’s

6 Tips for Cleaner College Living

  1. Eliminate candles and scented products
  2. Replace personal care products
  3. Stay hydrated
  4. Switch from plastics to glass
  5. Buy a pink himalayan salt lamp


Fragrance is the New Secondhand Smoke | Branch Basics

Joey: Now, as a college guy you think that there are not many candles or scented products in my life, but trust me; I appreciate plug-ins and vanilla candles as much as the next guy. After working here this summer, however, I realized how many harmful, artificial scents were surrounding me in my environment. I noticed car and wall plug-ins wherever I went. Getting rid of those wasn’t too bad - it’s as simple as unplugging them! Where it really hurt was…the dryer sheets. I love dryer sheets, most obviously because they make my clothes smell so good. Thankfully, this summer I was introduced to Woolzies (dryer balls) and they have revolutionized my laundry! I have used the same Woolzie for my last three loads of laundry. They are very economical and ultimately are just really fun to say!


Branch Basics Detox Your Armpits and Switch to Nontoxic Deodorant

Tricia: A quick way to a cleaner college living is replacing and simplifying your personal care products. You’ll see endless health benefits by ridding your body of harmful chemicals seen in the majority of products we use on a daily basis. If you’re interested in DIY projects, you can try making your own homemade shampoo like this one from Wellness Mama. At the BB offices, for example, we’ve been talking a lot about natural deodorants lately. I’ve personally been wanting to make my own natural products. This recipe for dry shampoo is simple to use between washes and seems to do the trick! As far as dental care goes, I have a new favorite nontoxic teeth whitening trick: activated charcoal. I was skeptical of trying the black powder on my teeth, but once I tried, I instantly saw results. Using activated charcoal helped me ditch the conventional teeth whitening products. Just make sure you buy yourself a separate toothbrush and don’t be scared when you see your reflection in the mirror!


Joey: Confession time everyone - Last year I would sometimes get so busy during school and studies that I would be up very late at night. During these dark times, I turned to the chemically-dependent world of Red Bull and soda to keep me energized. Sometimes, I would even end up drinking it during the day to stay awake. As soon as I started working here I was shocked to discover the harmful ingredients that make up those drinks! I have come to realize that the little energy they gave me did not justify the toxins I was putting into my body. I’m learning to reach for a glass of water when I need a burst of energy to get me through the day. If I’m bored with the taste of water, drinking green tea or dandelion tea is another way to make sure I’m staying hydrated.


6 Cleaner College Living Tips | Branch Basics Interns

Joey: Anywhere you look on a college campus, you can find plastic water bottles. Thousands of water bottles are sold at sporting events and it seems that most students carry them around in their backpacks. We like them for their ease and convenience. Little did I realize that the majority of plastic bottles contain chemicals like phthalates, BPA, and other harmful chemicals that are used to make the plastic! I recently bought a glass water bottle, free of phthalates, BPA, and other toxins. By doing this, I've greatly reduced the amount of plastic I buy and use. My favorite glass bottles are this Bkr (pronounced "beaker") and Life Factory. Both have great sleeves that help protect the glass from breaking.




Tricia: What’s a salt lamp? Before this summer I could not have told you the answer, but after finding out about the numerous benefits, I’m obsessed! Adding a Himalayan pink salt lamp to your room will improve indoor air quality and can greatly help reduce symptoms of allergies. The heat warms and releases negative ions from the lamp that bind to pollen, dust and other allergens floating in the air. A salt lamp could make a huge improvement in a college dorm room for very little cost! I cannot wait to use this in my room this fall.

Do you have any advice for college students? Anything that Tricia and Joey missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Further Reading

Are you thinking about your Back to School shopping to-do list? Don't miss this guide to Safe School Supplies that Marilee put together. It includes great options for all ages.   


Branch Basics Nontoxic Air Fresheners

Tricia helped us do the research for our Nontoxic Air Fresheners article earlier this summer. Find out how she made a vodka-based air freshener (and other DIY solutions). As Joey mentioned, it's best to skip plastic and Choose Glass, particularly when you're drinking out of the bottle or cup or storing food in a container. Need the evidence to convince your roommate to stop using scented body wash, plug-in air fresheners, or dryer sheets? Find out why we're calling synthetic fragrance The New Secondhand Smoke.


Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.