Though the average person comes in contact with hundreds of toxic chemicals every day, the biggest contributors to toxic chemicals in our homes are from fabric softener, dryer sheets, air freshener plug-ins, candles, and cleanings supplies. Yuck! But even seemingly harmless products, such as our cosmetics and other personal care products, can carry a toxic load.
The volatile chemicals found in conventional cleaning products often linger in the air after you use them in your home, and enter the body through the lungs. They can also be absorbed into the body though the skin, or even ingested from cleaning residue left on cutlery and dishes.
Once these chemicals get into your body, they can cause a whole lot of damage, especially when we’re chronically exposed to them over a long period of time. Many of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and others cause asthma!
Here’s the thing: we’re all just doing our best to have a healthy, happy, and clean home. No one wants to poison their family with toxic chemicals and carcinogens!
Don’t wait until you’re sick to start ditching the chemicals. Even if you just make these 5 easy switches, you’ll be off to a good start with ridding your home of toxins. It’s time to take charge of your health: start ditching the toxins, and switch to cleaner alternatives!
Here’s your first piece of homework: Start reading labels!
Like really reading. Turn over your cleaning products and cosmetics and actually read what’s in there. I’ll give you a list of chemicals to look out for below, but if you want to make things even easier, download the Think Dirty app onto your smartphone. It will allow you to scan bar codes with your camera, and gives you a rating on a scale of 0-10 to tell you if the product is dirty or clean, with zero being the cleanest and ten being the dirtiest. It even breaks down the ingredients and tells you why they are harmful.
Here’s a list of toxic chemicals to look out for when you’re reading labels:
- 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE, also known as butyl cellosolve)
- Coal tar dyes
- MEA (monoethanalomine)
- DEA (diethanolamine)
- TEA (triethanolamine)
- Fragrance chemicals
- Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)
- Silica powder
- Sodium dichloroisocyanurate dihydrate
- Sodium hydroxide (also known as lye and caustic soda)
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
- Trisodium nitrilotriacetate
Ok, so now that you are reading labels… Let’s get those toxic products out of your house.
Here are 5 Natural Household Switches you can easily make right away!
1. Fabric Softener & Dryer Sheets… Meet Wool Dryer Balls!
Since fabric softener and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products out there, so why not ditch them first?! Honestly, this is such an easy switch: wool dryer balls last for a really long time and you’ll find them in packs of 2 or 3 at your local health food store. They last for up to 1000 loads, so after the initial investment, all you have to do is throw them in the dryer! If you’d like, you can add a couple drops of essential oils directly to the balls themselves for extra fresh and amazing smelling laundry. No synthetic fragrances here!
2. Air Freshener Plugins & Sprays
If you have these in your home, believe me when I say that they can cause asthma attacks! One whiff of air freshener spray will personally have me coughing and struggling for a deep breath. Here’s the good news: essential oil diffusers are all the rage! Haven’t you heard? Not only do they smell amazing, but they can also be great for supporting your respiratory system. Invest in a good ultrasonic diffuser and some pure essential oils. You can run the diffuser in the kitchen to clear the air, or even beside your bed at night to help get a good night’s sleep.
3. All Purpose Cleaner
Stop spending boat loads of money on 10 “different kinds” of cleaners for each part of your home. It’s so easy to make a natural, all purpose cleaner with just a few simple ingredients. Here’s my favourite recipe.
Combine in a spray bottle:
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 tbsp castile soap
- 10 drops thieves essential oil
- 10 drops lemon essential oil
Shake it up, and get scrubbing!
The big concern with conventional deodorant and antiperspirant is aluminum, parabens, and synthetic fragrances. Look for one that’s aluminum free at your local health food store. Or try making your own with coconut oil, arrowroot starch, a little non-aluminum baking soda, and a few drops of pure essential oils.
5. Dish Soap / Shampoo / Body Wash / Hand Soap
Some of the chemicals often found in soaps include: sodium laurel sulphate (SLS), fragrance chemicals, ammonium laurel sulphate, triclosan, and phosphates. When you see these ingredients, think: endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, skin irritants, and eye irritants.
There is a better way!
Start reading the labels on your products and be selective with what you bring into your home. Most of the chemicals out there don’t even have health and safety data broadly listed. So many of these products have harmful properties that we don’t even know about, and the companies making them fail to inform us of the risks. Take a look in your local health food store, and search for soap products that have a list of ingredients you can actually read and understand. There are some great options out there that do the job even better than conventional cleaning products. Remember: the Think Dirty app is your friend, and will help you distinguish between clean and dirty choices!
For more information on toxic household chemicals, visit the David Suzuki Foundation website here.
You’re already on your way to a healthier, chemical free home!