In the spring we often thing about cleaning up our diets – it's a great time to do it. In addition to diet, Spring is a great time to think about eliminating some of the household toxins we are exposed to in the products we use. Many household products contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to our health and we may not even realize they are there. Some so-called natural products even contain things that are not 100% safe so it is really important to read ingredient lists and to know what you are looking for in the ingredients. So many of the things we need to avoid have strange chemical names that we are not familiar with so it's hard to know what is OK and what is not OK. There can be a lot of things to look at in your home but I've put together a list of a few places to get started.
Antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizes such as purell, are very popular. People are pretty afraid of germs these days and I've seen hand sanitizing stations practically everywhere I go. Most antibacterial soaps contain a chemical called Triclosan which is something I am conscious to avoid. Triclosan is toxic and has been said to disturb thyroid functions and hormone levels in people. I've written extensively on the topic of hand sanitizes in this post, Hand Sanitizers: Good or Bad?
Best Alternatives: Hand soaps with essential oils are a great alternative to using chemical antibacterial soaps. Essential oils like Tea Tree Oil, Lavender Oil, and Young Living's Thieves Oil are all great for this purpose.
Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (T.EA), Alklyphenol ethoxylates (APEs) and Propylene Glycol are common VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are found in conventional household cleaning products. These chemicals are associated with many health issues including nervous system problems, immune system issues, and problems with the liver and kidneys. The level of toxicity in the air inside homes that use toxic cleaning products can be up to 70% higher then air outside the home. It has been found that women who are homemakers (and use toxic cleaners) have a higher chance of getting cancer then women who work outside the home because of the exposure to these chemicals on a daily basis. The effect on children can be even worse.
Personal Care Products
This is an area that I have written about many times before. There are so many toxic chemicals in our personal care products it's really unbelievable You would never eat any of these chemicals in food so they should not be put on your skin or in your mouth for any reason. Chemicals absorb into the blood stream through the skin just as easily as if they were eaten. Some things to look out for in the ingredient lists include – Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Parabens, Phthalates, Petrolatum or Mineral Oil, para phenylenediamine (PPD), Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT). If you are not sure about a product you are using check it's safety using the Skin Deep database.
Best alternatives: All natural toxin free products often found in health food stores (not all are good). A few brands I trust are Aubrey Organics, Weleda, and Dr. Bronner'sbut mostly I make my own products using natural oils like coconut oil or olive oil and essential oils from Young Living. If you are interested in learning how to make your own products take a look at my eBook, The Holistic Mama's Guide to Homemade Skin Care.
Synthetic fragrances are commonly used in air fresheners, shampoos, scented candles, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, perfumes, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, hair sprays, and lotions. Many of these products contain carcinogens, reproductive, and endocrine disruptors. Often air fresheners and products like lysol spray are advertised as if they are “cleaning” the air and making it fresh when it's quite the opposite. These chemicals are creating a more toxic environment. Fragrances are best to be avoided in all products.
Best alternatives: Buy products that do not contain fragrances. In the case that you want a scent use natural essential oils. In place of air fresheners diffuse a good quality essential oil into the air.