Our homes are filled with building materials, furnishings and household products that contain loads of harmful chemicals. The chemicals make their way into the air and we end up breathing in the toxins. Yuck. Luckily, there are so many things we can do to reduce our exposure to toxins in our homes. Learn how you can start making the transition to a toxin free home today.
Curious why indoor air quality is so important for you and your family? Learn more about the importance of healthy air here.
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15 easy strategies and product swaps that will get you on the path toward a toxin free home
Let’s start at the front door
1. Entry Mats:
Entry mats are the first line of defense to keep toxins out of your home. The dirt on your shoes is anything but clean. Dirt is full of chemicals and bacteria that you do not want to track into your home. The best approach is to have an exterior door mat to scrape away as much dirt as possible and an interior mat to scoop up any lingering dirt. I use this exterior jute mat and this interior recycled rubber mat. They work great.
And don’t forget to take your shoes off at the door! If you hate being barefoot in your house, keep a basket of slippers or flip flops by the door to always be prepared.
Next stop is the kitchen
2. No More Nonstick Cookware:
Nonstick cookware will off-gas the chemicals that make the pan non-stick. It has been found that the chemicals only off-gas at a high cooking temperature, but the problem is that it is very easy to get your pan to a very high cooking temperature. The safest bet is to stop using nonstick and replace the pans with cast iron or stainless steel.
3. Switch to Glass:
Plastic food containers (even BPA-free plastic) can leech out harmful chemicals. Play it safe by switching to glass storage containers. I love them. They last longer, make reheating food really easy, and they are much nicer to look at than filmy, scratched plastic containers.
You can also ditch your plastic wrap by switching to bee’s wax wrap. I have been using the Bee’s Wrap for a few months now and love it. They wrap around leftover veggies so well and are easy to clean.
4. Filter Your Water:
Unfortunately municipal water is not always toxin free. It can contain heavy metals, chemicals and bacteria. Toxic water has been connected to brain development problems in children, reproductive issues, digestive illnesses, and cancer so filtered water is extremely important for toxin-free living.
Have you water tested and filter your water accordingly. Most times city water can be made safe with a pitcher or faucet type water filter like this PUR filter.
If you have well water, you are responsible for testing and maintaining the health of the water. Make sure to test the water every few years and filter your water as needed.
Go deeper into a healthy kitchen makeover here: How to Make Your Kitchen Healthier Right Now
Now let’s Detox Your Living room
Most furniture contains formaldehyde and flame retardants. Both are known carcinogens plus a host of other health risks like endocrine disruptors and neurological disorders.
Formaldehyde can be found in the particle board core of the furniture and flame retardants are applied to the upholstery to make them less flammable. Look for furniture that is made of solid wood to avoid particle board or furniture that is made of formaldehyde free particle board.
Finding solid wood furniture can be quite expensive. IKEA is a great source for inexpensive less toxic furnishings. They claim to use the strictest health and safety requirements whenever practical. They also phased out flame retardants in 2015. Other companies like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel have also phased out flame retardants on their couch products.
6. Time to Say Goodbye to Wax Candles:
Traditional wax candles are made from paraffin wax, a petroleum by-product. Chemicals are released when burned, filling your air with toxins. And if that’s not enough, the scented candles are typically synthetic fragrances, which add more toxins to the air. This is a very helpful article from Wellness Mama explaining just how terrible traditional candles are for our health.
Switch to organic soy candles or beeswax candles to reduce your exposure to toxins. If you miss the smell of scented candles, use an essential oil diffuser or make your own scents by simmering fruits, herbs and spices on the stove.
7. Get Rid of Air Fresheners too!:
Air fresheners like Febreeze and plug-ins contain loads of chemicals that fill your home with toxins. Chemicals found in air fresheners are carcinogenic and hormone disruptors.
So the next time you need to freshen up the air in your home, think about all of the chemicals you are spraying into your air and switch to natural air freshening techniques instead.
Essential oil diffusers, stove top potpourri and opening windows are all great ways to naturally freshen the air in your home.
Bathrooms can harbor a lot of toxins for a little space
8. Hand Soap:
Use a natural hand soap to avoid the chemicals in traditional hand soap. Even though you are not swallowing the soap (hopefully), chemicals will enter your body through the skin.
You also want to avoid anti-bacterial soaps since they reduce your immunity and contain harmful chemicals.
Pure castile soap is a great alternative to traditional hand soaps. Dr. Bronner products are awesome and come in multiple natural fragrances.
9. Vinyl Shower Curtain:
Vinyl shower curtains are quite terrible. Do you remember the last time you opened one up from the packaging and was immediately hit with a burst of chemical smells? Those chemicals are going straight into your body and into the air. The PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) plastic contains harmful VOCs, phthalates and metals which lead to a host of development issues, illnesses and cancers.
Switch to an organic cotton shower curtain, or, if you happen to be doing a bathroom remodel, install a glass shower panel in lieu of a curtain.
10. Skin Care products:
Make the switch to natural skin care and beauty products to avoid smothering your skin with chemicals. This is a great article on Eight Non Toxic Beauty Products to Really Love.
Bedrooms are where you spend most of you time at home so let’s get rid of the toxins
11. Add Some Plants:
Plants provide so many benefits to a home. They are beautiful, create a connection to nature, help alleviate stress, AND remove toxins from the air.
Some of the best plants for air purification are spider plants, snake plants, Boston ferns, and English Ivy. I personally love spider plants and snake plants because they are hardy and easy to keep alive.
12. Opt for Natural Pillows and Mattresses:
Purchasing organic pillows and mattresses is a big expense, but well worth it. Your head and body are in direct contact with these items for (hopefully) eight hours each day. Traditional pillows and mattresses contain flame retardants that put you at risk of toxin exposure every night.
Look for all natural, organic pillows and mattresses that use 100% wool (a natural flame retardant) and that is 100% natural latex. Synthetic latex is petroleum based and will release harmful chemicals.
You can find natural pillows, bedding and mattresses at Pure Living Space. I love Pure Living Space for buying products for my healthy home. Carol, the owner has done an amazing amount of research in choosing the healthiest options.
Use this link to receive 10% off your Pure Living Space purchase. The discount will be applied at checkout.
Soaring hearts and Naturepedic are also reliable and safe mattress options.
If buying an organic mattress is not in the cards right now, consider adding an organic waterproof mattress protector to your bed. Naturepedic makes organic waterproof covers for all bed sizes.
Mattress covers do not block all chemical exposure but are a step in the right direction. And make sure it is waterproof since that is what helps block the off-gassing chemicals.
13. Dust More:
Dusting applies to all rooms in your home but is super important in bedrooms, especially kids rooms where they spend so much time playing on the floor.
Dust contains more than just allergy inducing dust mites. All of the harmful chemicals being released from the products in your home have the ability to latch onto the dust in the air and surfaces of your house. Little piles of dust are basically little piles of chemicals that get sucked into your body when disturbed (ie, kids playing on the floor of their room).
It’s a little scary to think about, which is why it is so important to dust and vacuum often! Be sure to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter as this will collect the harmful particulates that you are trying to remove.
And don’t forget to dust your toxin fighting plants. They will do their job better if they have dust-free leaves.
The laundry room is the final room on this toxin-free journey
14. Dryer Balls:
Dryer sheets contain harmful chemicals that stick to your clothes and sheets. They also release harmful chemicals into the air. A safe alternative is a 100% wool dryer ball. I have been using a wool dryer ball for quite a while now and my clothes always come out of the dryer fluffy and static free. You can add a few drops of an essential oil to the dryer ball to give your laundry a lovely smell.
15. Cleaning Products:
Avoid the harmful chemicals in traditional household cleaners like Lysol by choosing safer alternatives. You can buy environmentally friendly cleaners to help everyone in your house breathe easier. Safe, planet friendly cleaners are often labeled as biodegradable, phosphate-free or petroleum-free.
Use the Environmental Working Group's Healthy Cleaning Guide to find the healthiest products for your household. I use the Seventh Generation multi-surface cleaner for almost everything in my home, and it works great.
You can also make your own cleaners with household ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and lemons.