Chemicals are part of most household products, but do we really have to be surrounded by all these toxins? Research shows that many chemicals found in common household products contain chemicals that can cause various health issues, from allergic reactions and skin problems to some serious diseases, including cancer. From shampoo to frying pans and dryer sheets, we’ll address some of the best ways to convert your home to a safe, chemical-free haven.
1. Dust and vacuum often
It’s not just for the sake of looking clean. Dusting and vacuuming are important to your health. Harmful chemicals, such as flame retardants, can be released from off-gassing products in your home, and then settle with dust. When dust is disturbed, from surfaces, floors, and curtains, you’re putting the dust and the chemicals in the air to be inhaled. If you have little children, they’re likely to be more exposed to this by putting things in their mouths. Dusting and vacuuming will help your family members who struggle with allergies too. Less dust, fewer chemicals, and disturbances to your respiratory system.
2. Go for Zero-VOC paint
Low-VOC paint is fine, but still contains a high amount of VOCs. Zero-VOC paints may even slip a few chemicals into the mix, so your best option is to buy a Zero-VOC, Green Seal certified paint. The initial fumes are not your only problem with using conventional, toxic paint. It can also keep releasing chemicals long after it’s been applied. Conventional paint has been found to release carcinogens, reproductive and hormone disruptors, and ozone-depleting compounds.
3. Stop using air freshener
Another place you’ll find all those nasty chemicals I mentioned above is in your bottle of air freshener. In fact, you’ll find that more than 15 chemicals are released with each spray. Avoid these airborne contaminants by using safer air freshening techniques. Open your windows for fresh air, simmer potpourri on your stove, or diffuse essential oils.
4. Use the power of plants
Plants have an amazing filtration ability. They can clean your air slowly by absorbing the toxins and emitting the good stuff. Not all toxins are absorbed, so you will still want to purchase that air purifier to get the job done. There are several powerful, yet beautiful, plants that you can put in your home to start filtering the air. The rubber plant, lady palm, philodendron, and peace lily are all classic indoor plants that both decorate and filter.
5. Use safer pest control
Your average pesticides have a long list of potential health hazards. And yet, they are used all the time. You are exposed to these toxic pesticides every day through your eyes, the air you breathe, your food and water, and skin contact. They’re not necessary though. You can fight pests through using non-toxic methods too, such as Diatomaceous Earth. DE, as it’s commonly known, is 100% chemical-free and can be used indoors or outdoors. Unlike conventional pesticides that insects can become resistant to, DE doesn’t lose its effectiveness so long as it stays dry. This non-toxic option is not harmful to humans or pets.
6. Ditch the scented candles
Candles are usually made of paraffin, a petroleum byproduct. When you burn these conventional candles, they release carcinogenic soot which not only can build up a dirty layer on your home items but have negative effects on your health. Many old scented candles had wicks with a hidden slow killer. Because fragrance oils soften wax, they used to combat the problem by putting lead cores in the wicks to stiffen them. Aromatherapy candles that are scented with synthetic oils release microscopic particles that can cause cancer and other health issues when inhaled.
There are alternatives, such as beeswax or vegetable-based wax. They need to have cotton wicks to avoid the problem with lead or other dangerous additions. Keep the wicks trimmed to ⅛ inch to reduce soot. Most synthetic fragrances are loaded with harmful chemicals including phthalates, so if you want a scented candle, pick one that is fragranced with naturally derived essential oils. Above all, buy your candles from a certified green business. You never know when companies will cut corners for the sake of profit. For instance, because beeswax is pricey, some manufacturers reduce the cost by blending it with paraffin. That’s why it’s so important to make sure it’s 100% beeswax, and thus, non-toxic.
7. Filter your water
Your tap water can be host to chlorine, chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, and bacterial contaminants, just to name a few. Although most water companies are regulated and monitored, there are always a few chemicals that are not yet regulated or controlled. You can be safe by installing a countertop water filter. This will be an easy, constant source of clean drinking water. You can even install water filtration for your shower and sinks if you want. You can also buy a water filtration pitcher that you fill as you want to drink. Not only will your water be safer, it will taste better too!
8. Buy organic food
Your food could already be contaminated from the soil it grows in. Pesticides, GMO’s, and air pollutants are all dangers you could find in your fridge and pantry. You need to find out where your food comes from to be sure it’s not been affected by all those outside contaminants. This is why it’s great to buy from an organic market or directly from a farmer who uses responsible, clean farming techniques.
9. Better food storage
Once you’ve made sure that your food is free from toxins, you need to pay attention to what you put that food in. If you usually store your leftovers in plastic containers or wrap them in plastic wrap, then consider switching to a better alternative. Plastics can emit chemicals like phthalates, so you need to be cautious about keeping your food in close proximity to them. Instead, try these other ways. You can replace plastic wrap with beeswax wraps or soy-based wraps for a vegan option. Use glass storage containers for storing things like flour and beans.
10. Choose the right cookware
Most non-stick pans are made with Teflon. This has been linked to a condition called polymer fume fever, which gives people short term flu-like symptoms. Not fun. So, using a brand new non-stick, Teflon pan could be risky. But using an old, flaky one could result in you also ingesting small amounts of it too. Rather be safe than sorry and look into these other perfectly functional cookware options. If you want the non-stick feature, go for either cast iron or ceramic-coated pans. Stainless steel and glass (in the oven) are also great non-toxic cookware choices but they aren’t non-stick.
11. Leave your shoes at the door
Your shoes attract a lot of bacteria during the day. Wherever you go, you’ll bring back all that dirt with you. Leave it at the door with an entry mat and a shoe rack. It’s not just good manners to avoid wearing shoes indoors, it also helps you stop tracking all that foreign dirt and bacteria into your home. Not to mention all the chemicals that you pick up in town from floors that are washed with conventional cleaning products.
12. Use cleaner cleaning products
That may sound redundant, but not all cleaning products are truly “clean” in the sense of toxin-free. You find many harmful substances in the average cleaning products on the market. Some products are so seriously harmful that you need to take extra precautions when using them, such as oven cleaner or bathroom and kitchen disinfectants containing bleach. While many chemicals are banned from use in excessive amounts, many toxins are not regulated or required to be listed in the ingredients. The best way to avoid the dangers to your eyes, nose, skin, and lungs is to use natural, toxin-free cleaning products. They are effective, disinfecting, and smell great without the lingering toxic fumes.
13. Use natural body care products
While we are talking about products that come in contact with your skin, we need to address body care products. Things like deodorant, lotions, hand soap, bath products, and perfume are all potentially full of chemicals. To avoid harmful things like phthalates, parabens, and many more, make the switch to non-toxic, natural body care products. There are many brands to choose from that are certified to be environmentally friendly and not harmful. Because you use these products every day, it’s a very quick way to make a big difference in having a chemical-free home.
14. Use natural cosmetics
Some people wear makeup on a daily basis. When you consider just how many chemicals you expose your body to through the use of cosmetics, you’ll be shocked at the long-term negative effects it can have. A large percentage of what you put on your skin can be absorbed into your bloodstream. This is why not only natural body care products are so important, but also cosmetics. Toxin-free cosmetics can put a glow in your skin not just by the use of color, but by feeding your skin with the nutrients it needs. You can leave those days of itchy, dry eyes, and skin behind when you switch to using chemical-free cosmetics.
15. Buy organic bedding
We spend so much of our time in bed. It’s a space where you want to have the best quality, chemical-free items. This includes your mattress, blankets, pillows, and bedding such as sheets and pillowcases. All these essential items can harbor chemicals that come in direct contact with your skin. From synthetic sheet fabrics to off-gassing flame retardants from mattresses, you need to find non-toxic bedding solutions. Thankfully, there are organic bedding options to make a complete, luxurious bedroom kit.
16. Buy non-toxic shower curtains
These functional parts of any bathroom can be a major source of chemicals in your home. They are often made of vinyl or PVC, which is toxic. Bath mats are also usually made with vinyl. That strong smell of a newly unwrapped shower curtain is the released VOCs making their way into your home. These chemicals could damage your central nervous system, respiratory organs, reproductive systems, etc. Buy vinyl-free or PVC-free shower curtains or ones that are made of organic cotton. When purchasing a bath mat, choose a silicone one instead of vinyl.
17. Use non-toxic detergents
Detergents and fabric softeners are a necessity in life. They clean and make our clothes smell good. Sometimes too good, those smells can be overpowering. The ingredients of these powders or liquids are usually filled with nasty chemicals that you don’t want near your skin. The whitening agents, colorants, artificial fragrances, and cleaning chemicals are all hazards. There are great alternatives. Many people use non-toxic options like soap nuts, powdered soap nuts, baking soda for softening, and other natural ingredients. These are easier on the environment, your clothes, and your skin.
18. No more dryer sheets
Not everyone uses dryer sheets, so it’s a bonus to laundry day. Your traditional dryer sheets pose many of the same problems mentioned above about other laundering products. Instead of the conventional toxic dryer sheet, try a dryer ball. Wool dryer balls soften and fluff your fabrics, while also making them static-free. Make sure it’s a 100% wool dryer ball. If you’re missing the pleasant smells of conventional options, try adding some essential oils to the load.
19. Don’t use your self-cleaning oven option
This may be a handy feature, but it’s also dangerous. When you heat your oven at such a high temperature, you start to also release toxins into the air. These fumes may be from the off-gassing interior of your oven or from burning food residue. Use a fume-free alternative cleaning method with baking soda and vinegar. It works like a charm, all without the harmful chemicals.
20. Educate yourself
As with any profession, you need to stay updated on the latest news, findings, and methods. Keeping your home chemical-free is a big job! Stay updated on the necessary information, best techniques, new reports, and more by following the right people who set the right example. You can never know too much when it comes to keeping your home clean and toxin-free.
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