Detoxing our bodies is vital for optimal health and wellbeing, but many people overlook the importance of detoxing their living environment from poisons and toxins that surround them in the air they breathe and in the items they use in and around their home. Detoxing your home is absolutely just as important as detoxing your body, and the keeping your living space and physical body as free from toxic buildup as possible go hand-in-hand and will always be an ongoing process.
Below are 6 common highly toxic household products that are proven to increase your risk of cancer, neurological disorders, allergies and skin disorders, mental disturbances and more, that you should strive to immediately rid your home of.
Antibacterial Soap – The antimicrobial chemical triclosan, used in some toothpastes and antibacterial soaps, is believed to disrupt thyroid function and hormone levels in people; when it mixes into wastewater, it can cause sex changes in aquatic life. And health experts believe that overuse of this and other antibacterial chemicals is promoting the growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibacterial treatment.
Safer Alternative: Good old-fashioned soap and warm water will kill just as many germs, studies have shown. If you must use a natural hand sanitizer, pick one that’s alcohol based and doesn’t list triclosan, triclocarban (another related antibacterial chemical) or other chemicals described as “antimicrobial” or “antibacterial” on the label.
Synthetic Fragrances – Fragrance may be the most common type of chemical in your house. Used in laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, air fresheners, deodorizers, shampoos, hair sprays, gels, lotions, sunscreens, soaps, perfumes, powders, and scented candles—and dozens of other products you may not know about—fragrances are a class of chemicals that are well worth the time and effort to avoid. The term “fragrance” or “parfum” on personal-care-product labels can be a cover for hundreds of harmful chemicals known to be carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and reproductive toxicants, even at low levels.
Safer Alternative: Go the unscented route whenever possible, especially with soaps and detergents. Avoid any kind of air freshener or deodorizer, including sprays, gels, solid disks, and oils, suggests Anne Steinemann, PhD, a University of Washington researcher who focuses on fragrances in consumer products. “These products do not clean or disinfect the air, but they do add hazardous chemicals to the air we breathe,” she says. Use better ventilation and set out a bowl of baking soda or white vinegar to freshen up a room.
Harsh Cleaning Products – Isn’t it ironic that we actually contaminate our air when we use harsh chemicals—some of which are known to cause cancer—to “clean” our homes? Ammonia can trigger asthma attacks, and harsh oven cleaners and drain openers can cause respiratory damage or burn the skin of children who come into contact with them.
Safer Alternative: Save tons of money by turning to Grandma’s homemade cleaning concoctions, including a general cleaning solution of one part white vinegar and nine parts water. This will kill up to 90 percent of bacteria and many spores. Just spray it on and let it dry to a nice shine on its own. The best surprise about distilled white vinegar? You can buy a gallon for less than $2 and make more than 10 gallons of cleaning solution. When you’re finished using a vinegar cleaning solution, dump it down your garbage disposal or toilet for bonus odor control.
Synthetic Pesticides – Chemical weed, fungus, and bug killers all fit under this category and should be avoided both inside and outside of your house. Researchers have linked these pesticides to various forms of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; insecticides have been connected to brain damage in kids. “This is a good time of the year to resolve not to use pesticides on lawns and gardens,” says Phil Landrigan, MD, director of Mount Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center. “A few dandelions or buttercups or other little flowers in the middle of the lawn are not unsightly.”
Safer Alternative: Combating an indoor bug problem is as simple as cleaning up crumbs, sealing food in containers, and using wood shims and a caulking gun to fill pest entry points. If you’re spending big bucks on chemicals for a turf-like lawn, reconsider. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers kill the health of the soil and create a lawn that allows for little rainwater absorption, which contributes to flooding. Try replacing some sod with plants native to your area; they don’t require as much water and maintenance.
Vinyl – Some environmental health groups have dubbed vinyl the “poison plastic,” due to its harmful production process and its effects on humans. Vinyl is laced with phthalates, chemical plastic softeners linked to hormone disruption, stunted growth, obesity, and other health problems, as well as low IQs.
Safer Alternative: When it’s time to replace flooring in your home, opt for wood, bamboo, or cork that’s Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified or for real linoleum, instead of vinyl. Avoid plastic shower-curtain liners, as well as fake leather furniture, clothing, and accessories, to cut down on phthalate exposure. (Try hemp or organic cotton shower curtains.)
Dry-Cleaning Chemicals – Sure, it’s convenient to drop your clothing off with a dry cleaner, but the cleaning chemical of choice in this country remains perchloroethylene, also known as PCE, or perc. This chemical is classified a probable carcinogen and is linked to kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage. It’s not something you want to wear or have holed up in your home closet. Although many states and cities are phasing out perc, it’s still among the most widely used dry-cleaning chemicals.
Safer Alternative: You can work around “Dry Clean Only” instructions on clothing tags. You just need to know how to treat different types of fabric. Read Dry Clean Only? Nah, There Are Cheaper, Safer Ways for instructions on cleaning delicates like wool, rayon, and silk.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina “The Veggie Goddess” Matthews