If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I talk a lot about toxic ingredients in our skincare and beauty products. In the past two years, I’ve made it my mission to clean up those two areas of our home. It feels so good knowing that all the products we use now are safe and clean.
It’s one of those things where, when you know, you can’t un-know the facts on what it does to our body. They can cause hormone disruption, mess with our endocrine system, back up our livers, irritate our skin and lead to much larger issues like adrenal fatigue, infertility, brain fog and all kinds of health problems.
The next area that I’m working on making safer is the rest of our home. After I dove into the clean beauty world, I started learning about how many other, seemingly harmless, things in our homes are actually incredibly toxic.
It can be overwhelming when you first learn this, so instead of trying to do it all at once, I always say, pick one area to start working on and then once you’ve got that done, move onto the next area!
So, clean beauty and skincare is done at our house, now time to tackle the rest of the home!
But, what should you be looking for? I’m breaking it all down in today’s post. I’m sure I don’t have everything, but this is a great place to start.
Toxic Things In In Your Home You Probably Use Everyday
Common Toxic Chemicals In Household Products & Items
- Fragrance: fragrance is considered a trade secret, which means companies don’t have to disclose what’s inside, which really means, they can hide potentially harmful chemicals and ingredients inside without sharing—scary! It’s found in so many common household products, and isn’t as innocent as it sounds.
- Phthalates: increase the flexibility of plastics in cosmetics to help products stick to our skin and they’re endocrine disrupting. The European Union has banned these and it’s about time the United States gets on board!
- Parabens: these help preserve the shelf-life of products, they can mimic estrogen in the body which isn’t good for anyone.
- Chlorine: yeah, the same stuff we use in pools, not terrible in small doses (you can still go swimming), but it strips skin of natural oils and isn’t great if you inhale it. It’s also found in dish soaps and laundry detergents, so avoid it where you can.
- Sodium Hydroxide: it’s often found in drain and oven cleaners and is extremely corrosive and damaging to human skin.
- Ammonia: look for it in glass and window cleaners and can be harmful when it makes contact with your skin and can also irritate your eyes and throat.
- 2-Butoxyethanol: this is a solvent, often found in spot cleaners (think carpet cleaner), it’s bad to inhale and has been linked to asthma and allergies.
- BPA: a chemical added to make plastic containers stronger and longer lasting, it’s found in plastic bottles, food containers, consumer products packaging, aluminum cans, and so many more. BPAs are linked to fertility issues, male impotence and heart disease.
- Lead: most commonly found in paint, ceramics, pipes, lipstick (more on safe lipstick in this post) and batteries. If you live in an older building, lead paint, may be a concern! It’s a heavy metal and neurotoxin and exposure can lead to behavioral issues and lowered IQ. A pregnant woman’s exposure to lead can cause birth defects as well.
- Atrazine: this is an herbicide found on foods and on residential lawns and golf courses. To avoid it, choose organic produce whenever possible.
- Perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs: commonly found in stain resistant fabrics and furniture, water resistant products, non-stick cookware, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, flame retardants and other packaging for greasy foods. They can effect the functions of our liver, pancreas, thyroid, and impact our hormone levels. These chemicals have also been linked to breast cancer.
- Perchloroethylene or “PERC”: primarily used in dry cleaning (another reason I’m happy that I’m too lazy to dry clean my stuff!) and degreasing metals. It can cause irritation to your throat and eyes, kidney dysfunction, and mood and behavioral changes.
List of Toxic Products You May Have In Your Home
This is one of the most common areas you’ll find chemicals. Thankfully, there are so many household cleaning brands that offer cleaner ingredients. You might have to put a little extra elbow grease into your cleaning, which kind of sucks, but I’d rather do that (good arm workout, right?) than inhale toxic fumes. Baking soda and vinegar are two amazing natural products that work great for cleaning and scrubbing.
We’ve used Young Living’s Thieves products as well as Mrs. Meyer’s cleaners. Mrs. Meyer’s does have fragrance listed as an ingredient, but they are very transparent about what is included in their fragrance on their website.
Laundry Detergent & Dryer Sheets
Laundry detergent can often have lots of chemicals and fragrance in it that irritates your skin. I know from personal experience. For the longest time I had a rash on my body and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I switched to a fragrance free one and it was gone pretty much instantly!
Dryer sheets are also filled with toxic chemicals and fragrance. Because fragrance is considered a trade secret, they don’t have to actually list our the ingredients. Instead, use wool dryer balls with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Much safer and still leaves your clothing smelling fresh!
Air Fresheners & Candles
It didn’t surprise me to find out that air fresheners were filled with toxic chemicals from their fragrance, but candles were one I hadn’t considered!
Most candles are made from paraffin wax which when you burn, creates the same toxins you’d find in diesel fumes—yikes! They also often contain synthetic fragrance that can make you feel ill.
Opt for diffusing essential oils instead. I have a whole posts here on getting started with essential oils if you’re curious but not sure where to start.
Beauty, Skincare & Personal Care Products
Well, if you’ve been around here a while, you know I’m all about this! Since these products go directly on our skin, they’re quickly absorbed into our bloodstream. When you’re using 12+ products on your body a day, you’re absorbing far more than you might think. Read this post on my favorite safer makeup and safer skincare.
One other area I’ve recently made a switch to is tampons. I hadn’t considered this before, but some brands have chemicals and even fragrance added to them—so gross! I’ve started buying from Lola, which uses organic 100% cotton. Another green option is a menstrual cup, but I haven’t been able to get on board with that one just yet.
This sort of falls into the same category as above, but consider swapping out your shampoo, conditioner and body wash for cleaner ones. Many traditional products are filled with parabens, phthalates, SLS (common foaming agent in shampoo) and fragrance.
I made the switch to safer shampoo and conditioner and have been so impressed by my hair’s transformation—read more about that in this post.
Whenever possible, buy organic! I know it’s more expensive and not always possible, but at the very least check out the dirty dozen from EWG. This is a list of 12 items that have been tested and were found to have the highest level of pesticides on them. That means, these 12 items are the ones you want to buy organic at all costs:
- hot peppers
This last one was new to me! For years, I’ve been using non-stick pans that are coated with teflon, a PFC. I recently swapped out my two teflon-coated pans for ceramic-coated GreenPans. Not only does the non-stick work so much better, but I feel much better about cooking dinner for our family in these. Stainless steel is also a great option and we use that for pots, but I’m not a fan of them for frying pans—everything sticks!
PFCS or perfluorinated chemicals are incorporated into products to make them more resistant to stains, water or sticking in the case of non-stick pans. You’ll find them used in waterproof, water-resistant and stain-resistant fabrics—not just the clothes we wear either. Rugs, fabric for couches, water-resistant fabrics are often culprits too.
That was a long one and maybe a tad overwhelming, I’m sorry! I hope that it sheds some light on the different health risks that common household products pose in our lives. Again, don’t try to do it all at once! Start with one or two areas and then once you’ve got those covered, keep making additional switches, and before you know it, your home and bathroom will be so much safer!
For me, it’s been so empowering and encouraging to see my own health improve and know that the choices I make everyday are benefitting me and my family positively! I also like that by reducing our use of chemicals and single-use products we’re improving our environmental health as well!
What areas of your home have you gone green? What areas could still use some help? We’ve got a ways to go, but I’m so encouraged to keep making changes and I hope you are too!