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Something I didn’t realize until I was thick in the middle of chronic illness was the amount of toxins we are surrounded by on a daily basis. I never thought twice about the Clorox sitting under my sink or the Windex I used to clean my windows. I never realized the awful synthetic chemicals that were used in those pretty pink air fresheners as well as the lovely scented candles we see in stores and my Tide laundry detergent (as well as those toxic dryer sheets). When I ‘woke up’ and started to understand that I was bombarding myself on a daily basis with toxins on top of toxins on top of toxins, a light bulb went off in my head and I started making changes to support my liver by removing everything that was contributing to my awful symptoms. Since we absorb and inhale everything in our homes, all that junk ends up in our bodies and then our lovely livers have to process those synthetic chemicals and toxins and work overtime to help keep us healthy and non-toxic!
When I realized this, I tossed out everything in my home that was filled with chemicals (from my all-purpose cleaner to my dish soap and my flimsy tap water filter). In my new book, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, I walk you through everything you need to detox from your home and how to make your home a safe, comfortable place where you can feel good about relaxing and enjoying yourself without the burden of chemicals all around you. The scary thing is that you might not even realize that you’re reacting to the chemicals and Endocrine Disruptors in your environment. I sure didn’t. It wasn’t until I started doing research and understanding how these chemicals were negatively effecting my health that I started to do some serious clean up duty.
Before we start, I want to mention that detoxing your home takes time and patience. It’s not an overnight fix. Trust me! I’m sharing these tips with you in hopes that you can thrive in your life. I wish that someone had pointed out all of these chemicals in my home 20 years ago because I honestly think my body would have healed much faster and I don’t think I would have been so sick. So, I’m handing the keys over to you to help shortcut your detox journey.
Are you ready for this? Here we go!
Over the past several decades, our exposure to toxins has increased through pollution, water contamination, pharmaceutical drugs, widespread use of pesticides, and increased use of chemicals in our food and personal care products. As we age, these contaminants accumulate in our fat tissues and organs, increasing our overall toxic residue. This buildup may result in health complications and illness, with accompanying symptoms like those mentioned in the quiz in my new book. You can start to reduce your toxic exposure by changing your diet, your home environment, personal care products (I’ve gotta blog post about this coming soon), supplements, water source, and even the quality of the air you breathe. Such changes will help put you on the path toward optimal health and well-being.
We are being exposed to more chemicals than any previous generation, most of us today are also experiencing chronic stress, over-stimulation of the senses, insufficient rest and relaxation, and excessive dependence on stimulants and intoxicants. These factors keep our autonomous nervous system racing in the fight-or-flight mode, which exhausts our adrenal glands, weakens our immune response, and floods our bloodstream with acid-forming residues produced by stress hormones and the metabolic reactions they trigger.
If we continue to overload our systems with toxins, however, and fail to assist the body in its detoxification efforts, our natural drainage system can become clogged, allowing waste to build up in the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. That’s when we start to notice symptoms like unexplained headaches, fatigue, joint pain, and more.
What You Can Do
The last thing I want is for you to freak out and get scared. No fear here! Just simply notice where your chemicals are in your home and start to one by one remove them. Start with things that you come into contact with daily such as your laundry detergent, dish soap, etc and before you know it, you’ll realize that you’re detoxing like a pro. You can start by replacing standard cleaners with more natural, safe options and further detox your home or office environment by making your own cleaning products. Start by removing the toxic items listed below and replacing them with some basic, all-purpose nontoxic ones. Then, you can use some basic ingredients to create economical and safe cleaning products (I’ve gotta lot of these recipes in my book).
When it comes to cleaning your home, tossing the conventional cleaning products we see lining the store shelves is the first step to making your home a safe space. Have you ever walked into a food store and when you pass by the cleaning aisle, you can literally smell the toxic smell of the chemical-laden scents in the cleaning products, air freshener products such as Fee-breeze and even garbage bags that are infused with chemical scents. I noticed this last month when I was visiting my parents and I could smell chemicals in the kitchen and I had no idea what it was- it was the garbage bags that were sprayed with chemicals before being sold! So read the labels and don’t be fooled my advertising or fancy packaging on anything you buy and bring into your home, folks.
Toxic Cleaning Ingredients
Ditch These Cleaning Products:
- Carpet cleaner
- Dishwashing detergent
- All -purpose cleaners
- Disinfecting wipes
- Drain cleaner
- Floor mopping detergent
- Floor wax
- Furniture polish
- Glass cleaner
- Metal cleaner
- Liquid dish washing soap
- Oven cleaner
- Scouring cleaner
- Silver polish
- Stain stick
- Tile cleaner
- Toilet cleaner
Use These Cleaning Products Instead:
- All-purpose, nontoxic cleaner
- Baking soda
- Castile soap
- Nontoxic dish washing detergent
- Distilled white vinegar
- Organic essential oils
- Nontoxic liquid dish washing soap
Non-Toxic Cleaning Ingredients
Here are a few ingredients that I love to use when I am cleaning my home. I have a bunch of homemade cleaning recipes in my new book that you can use on a daily basis to keep your home clean and beautiful.
- White Distilled Vinegar. Vinegar is a natural antibacterial and cuts through grease, making it a good all-purpose cleaner for toilets, baths, table tops, counter tops, and more. Don’t use vinegar on marble surfaces, though, as they’re porous and vinegar may stain them.Orange Rind. The oil in orange rind contains d-Limonene, a natural solvent that can cut through grease.
- Baking Soda. Baking soda cleans, deodorizes, and scours. It softens water and neutralizes minerals, helping soap clean better. It also absorbs odors and can be used daily.
- Fresh Lemons. One of the strongest food acids, lemon is effective against most household bacteria.
- Tea Tree Oil. This powerful antibacterial agent is great for use in the bathroom and kitchen. I use the NOW Foods brand.
- Liquid Castile Soap. Unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders, or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, phosphates, and petroleum distillates. Dr. Bronner’s is my favorite.
The Big Home Detox
Here are a few other items in your home (which I outline extensively in my new book) that you can start to detox.
- Shower Curtains- Vinyl shower curtains are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), otherwise known as plastic number 3 or vinyl, a plastic that can release hormone-disrupting phthalates into the air. These gases can linger in your home for up to four months. I purchase cloth shower curtains instead of the plastic varities so that I’m not inhaling any of this! This is the cotton liner that I use.
- Water Filters- My new favorite amazing water filter is the Berkey that I am absolutely loving and I am blown away by how delicious water actually tastes. No joke. This is my favorite filter that removes fluoride and all chemicals and heavy metals from your water.
- Bedding- Sadly, our sheets, pillows, mattresses and blankets are full of chemicals and flame retardants that can interfere with our health. Naturepedic has changed my life. I can’t even begin to explain to you how amazing their products are. I recently purchased an organic mattress from Naturepedic as well as their super comfy organic pillows (which I had on my Christmas list–thanks mom and dad). Something that so many of us don’t realize is that we spend half of our day in our bed sleeping so it’s very important for us to make sure we are not sleeping among hundreds of chemicals that are touching our skin!
- Air Filters- You may be inhaling toxins in your home without even knowing it. Cigarette smoke, dust, pet dander, lead, off-gassing from carpets, formaldehyde from particle board, chemicals in aerosol sprays, unclean air ducts, fumes from cleaning products, benzene, carbon monoxide, asbestos, flame retardants, and more can all contribute to air that’s unhealthy to breathe. Take your shoes off at the door so that you are not tracking in all of these toxins into our safe home. I love Austin Air Filters; this is the filter that I use in my home and it helps tremendously.
- Plastics- I’ve got a blog post about Ditching Plastics coming soon but for now, toss any containers, cups, plates, bowls, etc. that are plastic and replace them with glass or ceramic.
- Furniture- Inexpensive particleboard, aka pressed wood, is often made from isocyanate glues and formaldehyde. Both are toxic and release potentially dangerous fumes. Upholstered furniture made with polyurethane foam often has brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. These have been linked with fertility problems, learning disabilities, obesity, autism, and even cancer.
- Mold- Mold is common in any damp area in the home, such as bathrooms and basements. Be sure to keep these areas dry and checking regularly for mold. Mold is the cause of numerous health issues so nailing this before it gets out of hand is a big step in keeping you and your family healthy. Here is more information on Mold.
- Paints- Many paints contain VOCs that may have an adverse effect on your health. Conventional paints also produce fumes that pollute indoor air and contribute to outdoor air pollution. Read the labels of your paint and ask about what’s inside before your purchase!
- Laundry- I know you’re all familiar with the “fresh” scent of Snuggle coming out of your washer and dryer, but I’m sorry to say that that’s toxic, folks. The fragrance in laundry detergent is made to cling to clothes. Your pants and shirts and other items absorb these harmful chemicals and then deposit them on your skin. Reduce your toxic exposure with these healthier alternatives, like the ones listed in my new book.
- Carpets- Carpets contain harmful chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), flame retardants, antistain ingredients, and the toxic chemicals in glue binders and rubber cushioning, all of which can release fumes in the air for months. Look for natural made rugs; I have numerous examples of these in my book.
- Pots and Pans-Teflon coated nonstick pans can release small chemical toxins into the air when the pans are heated, contributing to indoor air pollution. They also have PFCs, short for “perfluorochemicals,” which are used to coat carpets, clothes, furniture, and food packaging, among other things. They persist in the environment as well as in the human body and have been associated with lower birth weight for babies, cancer, infertility, elevated cholesterol, and liver problems. I only use cast iron, glass bakeware and ceramic pots and pans in my home. My favorite brands are listed in my book.
Did you know there are household plants that naturally clean the air in your home? If you can’t afford an air purifier (this is the air purifier that I use and it’s wonderful), a couple of houseplants can work wonders. The following are known for their ability to clean indoor air:
- English Ivy
- Gerbera Daisy
- Peace Lily (This is my favorite! I’m buying one of these for my home soon.)
- Spider Plants
- Weeping Fig
- Chinese Evergreen
- Bamboo Plants
You are not broken. Your body is trying to help you by giving you unwanted symptoms from chemicals.
More Non-Toxic Home Detox
Here are a few other tips of mine that can help you with your journey to detoxing your home. Remember, it’s taken me 10 years to detox my home. Don’t get overwhelmed; start slow and make 1 change today and then start making your next change when you feel ready- whether that’s next week or next month.
Leave a comment below telling me about your journey. I’d love to hear from you. xo
- Non-Toxic Kitchen Cleaners
- Non- Toxic Homemade Household Cleaners
- Non-Toxic Home Cleaners
- Non-Toxic Cookware
- Non-Toxic Candles
- Cleaning Essentials
- Endocrine Disruptors
- How to Detox Your Pantry
Let me know what you’re going to start detoxing in your home today. I love hearing from you in the comments below.
Share your thoughts
So what is an alternative for couches and chairs etc in homes?
Hi Megan! I wouldn’t recommend not having couches and chairs! But you can steer clear of particle board furniture and furniture that has been made with polyurethane foam when you’re purchasing.
I know personal care items were mentioned but I’d like to bring up a very important one in particular; regular name brand tampons! They literally inject chemicals straight into your body and you may not realise they are causing your horrible cramps, heavy or irregular periods and other symptoms. Use organic non-toxic tampons and reusable cloth/charcoal pads. My periods used to be an unpredictable painful nightmare but using natural chemical-free period products has changed that completely!
Hi Nicki, Wonderful to hear from you! Yes, using organic non-toxic tampons and pads is the way to go. We will be doing an article on this topic very soon.
Great list. What an eye opener. I hadn’t even thought of the things you mention. I can work on myself and my own environment. My problem is that I live in a condo with 2 neighbors that smoke. Because this complex is so old, the smoke odor is most likely coming from multiple sources. It is worse when I shut my windows. I am also wondering how often should air ducts be cleaned?
Hi Patricia, thank you! It’s amazing, isn’t it? I suggest at least once a year! xx
Is there a separate filter for the showerhead ? The link takes me to the Berkey filter, which is just for drinking wanter. Thanks.
Yes! I just updated it and added it for you! xx
If you are too lazy I think you can’t do it. Just like me, so I am always hiring professional home cleaners.
Ooops! Just realized I posted the same comment twice (sorry!) I’ve been studying your articles — I’ve detoxed my home a lot over the past 5 years but I’m still learning a lot from your articles. Thanks!
Thanks Hilary; so glad you’re enjoying my recipes and my book. Lots of love. oxx
Great article! It would be helpful if you’d give a list of plants that are safe for cats, as some of the ones you listed are poisonous (you may want to add a warning about that.) Thanks!! xo
Great list! Maybe make a note that many of those plants are poison to cats… Lots of people don’t know that and accidentally make their cat very sick.
Also, what are your thoughts about reverse osmosis versus Berkey? I’m thinking of switching. xo
Gwen, coconut oil is amazing for keeping mosquitoes off the skin. They HATE it & won’t come near you!!
Thanks Tammy; I love using coconut oil to keep the mosquitos off!
Hi Amie- do you have a recipe for toxin free mosquito repellant? I don’t remember reading anything in your book about it.
BTW Love your Book!
Awe thank you! Not yet Gwen but I will work on something! oxxx So glad you are loving my book. YAY!!!
You left out EMF’s
cheers great read.
There will be a post on EMF’s soon Kim! oxxx
I’m a new reader thanks to Dani from Clean & Delicious. I enjoyed reading this post on ways to detox the home. Unfortunately I’m guilty of having a good basketful of these toxic products you said we all should AVOID! ???? I do have biokleen’s powder laundry detergent, and the 7th Generation Liquid Dish soap you linked us to! Plus a few Dr. Bronner’s products, because who doesn’t love Dr. B’s right? Anyways, I’m sure it may not sound like a big step, but instead of using Simple Green’s All Purpose Cleaner to get the grease off of my stovetop, I used my 7th Gen. Dish Liquid soap and a handmade dishcloth to get the job done!
Like I said, I enjoyed this post and it really disturbed me – in a good way. I also tend to get a little anxious so I was a bit overwhelmed, but after listening to you on Dani’s channel and smiling some reading, it encouraged me to continue to get rid of the toxic garbage so I can live a healthier life. Especially if I plan to have children! Oi!
I meant *doing some reading! ????
So great to hear from you Mariana. I hope you love my recipes. xo Big hugs!