Don’t you just love it when you can prove someone wrong?

For the women who founded Branch Basics, their foray into natural cleaning was spurred by the need to prove doctors wrong -to say NO to a dire diagnosis of a sick, barely-getting-by life and take back their health and their future.

And they did. With soap.

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Branch Basics is a company that sells one soap that has a myriad of uses. By buying just one concentrate, and then diluting to specific cleaning tasks around the home, Branch Basics’ 100% plant and mineral-based, non-GMO cleanser can virtually eliminate the mountain of bottles that are threatening to spill out from underneath your kitchen cabinet.

Using one concentrate for nearly all home cleaning tasks dramatically reduces your carbon footprint, saving energy, money and time shopping. It’s a definite win for the environment, but for the founders of Branch Basics, the real reward is improved health.

Marilee Nelson was desperate to help her 10-year-old son recover from a severe chemical exposure almost 25 years ago. “When my son was chemically injured and was virtually like a bubble boy, he became our family’s own canary in the mine alerting us when any product came into the house with harmful chemicals,” she said.

“Trying to find products that he didn’t react to was our greatest challenge. I found to my surprise and shock that he even reacted to most of the so-called non-toxic cleaning products. Most of the “non-toxic” products still had at least one or more harmful synthetic chemicals in the formula. I saw how his behavior, mood, and health were affected when he was exposed to these products.”

Marilee’s ability to navigate the confusing chemical-filled world of products for the home – all while restoring back the health of her son, who is now in the U.S. Navy – led her to create “The House Doctors” back in 1992, a consulting business for those who are chemically sensitive or chronically ill.

Her background in fighting chemical sensitivity took a personal turn again when her niece Allison, was in college. Allison suddenly started experiencing chronic pain and loss of motor skills, and more than a dozen doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on. Marilee taught Allison how to remove chemical exposures from her life (especially important because Allison was living in a newly constructed apartment full of toxic fumes) and in about six months she started feeling normal again.

“I was aware of the harmful ingredients added to processed foods but was shocked by how toxic my cleaning products were,” Allison Evans said. “I mean, I used them to clean!”

Soon, Marilee, Allison, and Allison’s best friend Kelly Love created a website to show the importance of eliminating chemical exposures wherever you can. On their website, they sold a non-toxic soap that they had created with a bio-chemist. And with that, Branch Basics was born.

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The coconut oil-based concentrate can be used in varying dilutions to create:

  • an all-purpose spray
  • bathroom cleaner
  • streak-free cleaner for windows and granite
  • laundry detergent
  • stain fighter
  • wood cleaner
  • baby shampoo
  • hand soap and body wash.

Evans sums up the company’s philosophy that more isn’t always better.

“I discovered you don’t need a separate cleaning product for every job – it’s all about getting back to basics and for me, pure soap does the trick every time!”

Images courtesy of Branch Basics

By Kimberly Button

Kimberly Button is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home and the Editor-in-Chief of GetGreenBeWell , featuring modern, sane ideas for living a non-toxic life. A professional journalist for nearly two decades, Button has written for magazines such as Martha Stewart's Whole Living, American Airlines, AAA, Sierra, National Geographic Traveler, and Vegetarian Times. Visit for more information.