Creating a Toxin Free Home

We live in a toxic world. Water, air, food, and the environment at large are full of harmful chemicals. Synthetic, man-made chemicals are in many household cleaning and personal care products we use every day. They are found in antiperspirants, makeup, toilet bowl cleaner, skin care products, air fresheners, candles, and more. 

To rid your home of toxins you need to know what they are. Below is a non-inclusive list to help you get started. These ingredients may be linked to infertility, obesity, cancer, thyroid problems, birth defects, migraines, allergies, and more. 

Common Household Toxins

  • Aluminum (or aluminum derivatives): commonly found in antiperspirants and deodorants 
  • Ammonia: found in cleaners that shine bathroom fixtures, glass, sinks, and jewelry
  • Boric acid: commonly found in cosmetics, laundry detergent, pesticides, and medications
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA, or anything with “butyl” listed): commonly found in makeup, cosmetics, and creams 
  • Chlorine: commonly found in cleaners labeled for scouring, heavy duty cleaners like toilet bowl cleaner and mildew removers, and in some tap water
  • Coal Tar Dyes (Sometimes labeled as “CI” followed by numbers): banned in food products, but is still commonly found in cosmetics, hair dyes, lipsticks, and more.
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP): commonly found in nail polish and cosmetics (although they aren’t always listed) 
  • Formaldehyde or formalin: commonly found in nail polish, hair treatments, air fresheners, candles, and repellants 
  • Fragrance (or “parfum”): commonly found in just about everything. If it has a scent 
  • Glycol Ethers: Found in window, kitchen, and multipurpose cleaners
  • Oxybenzone: commonly found in sunscreens
  • Parabens (and anything that ends with “paraben”): commonly found in cosmetics, shower products, lotions, and more
  • Petroleon (Mineral Oil): commonly found in cosmetics, lotions, creams, lip balms, and skin care products.
  • Phthalates: Commonly found in fragranced products such as air fresheners, soap, hair spray, nail polish, and cosmetics
  • Propyl or Propylene Glycol (aka antifreeze!): commonly found in cosmetics and food products
  • Retinyl palmitate or retinol: commonly found in lotions, moisturizers, chapsticks, lipsticks, sunscreens, and lip balms 
  • Sulfate Compounds: commonly found in most skincare and cosmetics and skincare products including shampoo, body washes, and facial cleansers. It’s also used in car cleaners and engine degreasers
  • Talc: commonly found in baby powders, cosmetics, deodorants, and powdered makeup
  • Triclosan (or Triclocarban): commonly found in liquid soaps, toothpaste, laundry detergents, shampoos, and etc. 

Fragrance

A big culprit contributing to toxic overload is the ingredient labeled “fragrance.” It is a term used to hide undisclosed chemical ingredients that may be contained in a product, usually consisting of synthetic chemicals designed to mimic the smell of natural scents. 

An alternative is to use unscented, fragrance free items, or products scented with essential oils. The essential oil industry is unregulated, so terms like therapeutic grade, pure, and even organic, don’t always mean there are no synthetic chemicals or that the oil has not been adulterated in some way. Do your research to find a reputable source of household products that list essential oils in their ingredient list. 

How to Rid Your Home of Toxins

Identify the chemicals in the products you use. The EWG, Environmental Working Group, Healthy Living app can help. It is a free mobile app that allows you to scan the barcodes, or search for, personal care products to see how they rate on the toxicity scale. Another free mobile app to utilize is Think Dirty. It works much the same for assessing cleaning and personal care items. 

A few tips:

  • Replace dryer sheets with wool dryer balls. They are both good for you and the environment as they can be used over and over again.
  • Replace air fresheners and scented candles with a diffuser and essential oils. Remember the quality of the oils you use is important. 
  • Find a supplier you can trust. To save time, preferably one that carries most of the products you need.
  • Make it yourself. Many DIY recipes are available on Pinterest or clean living blogs.

Don’t be fooled by claims on labels like all-natural, simple, or green. These terms mean nothing when it comes to the safety of a product. Companies know people are willing to pay more for what they assume is a safer product, even if it's not, and use deceptive marketing to their advantage. 

After my journey with cancer, I rid my house one item at a time and replaced each with a toxin free, plant based product. Most come from a single company. For me, it takes out the guesswork and saves a lot of time and effort.

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