Temps are starting to warm up & the days are getting longer. If you’re like me, all this springtime magic is making you feel super motivated to dive into some deep household cleaning!
I want to help you maximize this energy & make the most of your spring cleaning this year by incorporating some low-toxic home upgrades.
Because I guarantee that you have things in your home that are harmful to your health.
Things that you can easily do something about if you only knew.
Before we get into it, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of low-toxic living it simply means creating a lifestyle that reduces environmental toxins in your home so you can feel better & live healthily.
By upgrading even just a few of these household items – you’ll reduce your overall toxin load and begin improving your overall health.
The benefits will pass along to your loved ones & even your pets.
When you create a low-toxic lifestyle, everyone wins.
So let’s dive in.
My 5 Home Upgrades for Low-Toxic Living
#1 Replace your pots & pans
Toss the Teflon, aluminum cookware & foil, copper cookware, & ceramic-coated cookware. Yep. Throw them away, don’t give them away, Why make others sick – right?
Here’s why they have to go: These pots and pans contain harmful toxins. Here’s what they’re made of:
Teflon is considered the most dangerous of all the cookware choices out there because of the PTFE coating. Although the non-stick coating may be appealing at first, it has a dark side. The coating leaches toxins into your food when heated. (I don’t even get why it’s been used in the first place!) Teflon also produces harmful fumes that can make you feel sick. And you may not know that the same fumes are actually fatal to pet birds! Teflon also contains PFOA which has been linked to breast, ovarian & prostate cancer. #byebyeteflon
Aluminum is a known neurotoxic element that has been linked to Alzheimer's & ALS. When it comes to brain health, aluminum is one of the worst offenders.
Copper is important for human health but only in small quantities. Excess copper can lead to heavy metal poisoning. Even coated copper cookware isn’t safe because the coating contains yet another toxic element – nickel.
Ceramic-coated cookware is easy to chip off, causing cadmium & lead to leach into your food. Lead poisoning is nothing to mess around with. It’s known to cause health problems like infertility, abdominal pain, and headaches. In severe cases, lead poisoning can lead to a coma and even death.
Are you convinced yet?
Here’s what to use instead:
- food-grade stainless steel (does not contain nickel or chromium)
- cast iron cookware (use sparingly to avoid excess iron accumulation)
- glass cookware
- 100% ceramic cookware
These options will reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and decrease your risk of having health problems down the road. They’re easy to clean and they’re very durable. Using cookware made from durable materials that can tolerate high heat, and resist scratches & denting is so important!
This means the cookware will last longer than traditional options, reducing waste & saving you money in the long run.
#2 Upgrade your food storage
Toss the Tupperware and whenever possible, avoid those darn plastic baggies and other containers!
Here’s why they’re on the bad list: All plastic containers are made using powerful chemical bonds. So, in spite of what you may have heard or read, there are no safe plastics anywhere. They leach harmful chemicals like BPAs & phthalates into the food – especially if acidic or hot.
BPAs disrupt hormones & have been linked to certain types of cancer.
Phthalates can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs & reproductive systems, just to name a few.
If you’re ready to ditch the bad stuff and use what’s safer, consider the following options:
- glass containers
- stainless steel
- silicone storage bags
- silicone suction lids
- parchment paper
These alternatives are all more durable than plastic & can last for years and years with proper care. They’re dishwasher safe, making them super easy to clean.
#3 Replace your laundry detergent with nontoxic alternatives
First off, toss the Tide and Downey. Those sudsy chemical concoctions are no good for you or the environment.
Why they’re bad: Laundry detergents contain a ton of toxic chemicals. These chemicals are absorbed through your skin & inhaled during use. I’m talking about formaldehyde, phthalates, phosphates, chlorine, synthetic fragrances, SLES, something called 1,4-dioxane… and a few others I can’t pronounce.
Let’s take a look at a few of them.
1,4-dioxane is a known carcinogen.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.
Phosphates are linked to cardiovascular disease and are hazardous to aquatic life.
Phthalates & harmful dyes are powerful endocrine disruptors meaning they alter the way your hormones are able to function. They create damaging ripple effects throughout the body, posing risks to the developing fetus, altering reproductive health, impairing brain function, and causing immune system disorders. Need I say more?
Methylisothiazolinone is a neurotoxin & skin irritant.
The list goes on. And none of it’s good.
What to use instead:
- Molly’s Suds laundry detergent
- Branch Basics
- DIY laundry detergent (click here for a super easy recipe)
Each of these will perform as well (if not better) than their toxic counterparts and they won’t make you or your loved ones sick!
#4 Replace your cleaning products
Toss your household cleaning products. Yep, all of them! Furniture polish, toilet bowl cleaner, air fresheners, glass & oven cleaners, mop pads, & yes – even disinfectant sprays. They’re just as toxic as the laundry detergent you just threw out, maybe worse. These aerosol particles are released every time you use them – and in every room of your home.
Why they’re bad: As with laundry detergent, household cleaners are filled with harmful chemicals such as ammonia, perchloroethylene (PERC), chlorine, triclosan, and synthetic fragrances. These chemicals can be harmful to your health and the environment and can be absorbed through your skin or inhaled during use.
Ammonia, when inhaled, can irritate the lungs and sinus membranes. Prolonged exposure has been shown to cause chronic bronchitis and even asthma.
2-butoxyethanol can damage the liver, kidneys, and lungs, and lead to pulmonary edema.
PERC is a known neurotoxin & possibly carcinogenic.
Triclosan, which is found in hand sanitizers, can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, making antibiotics less effective. It can also be a hormone disruptor as well as a carcinogen.
Synthetic fragrances might smell great but they have a dark side. Almost all of them are known or suspected to disrupt your hormones, trigger allergies, damage the brain and irritate your lungs. Need I say more? Manufacturers also hide these toxins on their ingredient list by using the word ‘fragrance.’ Sadly, the FDA doesn’t require disclosure of exactly what is being used to add fragrance to commercial products.
What to use instead:
There is hope! Try a few of these replacements:
- Seventh Generation toilet bowl cleaner
- Branch Basics bathroom cleaner
- Bon Ami cleaning powder for sinks & countertops
- Vermont Natural wood cleaner
- Aunt Frannie’s floor cleaner
And if you’re so inclined, you might also enjoy making your own DIY household cleaners. Start with a simple glass cleaner substitute made of vinegar and water!! It’s so simple, easy to make & inexpensive!
And now, last but certainly not least… household toxin number 5.
#5 Buy a non-toxic mattress & organic bedding
It might be time to toss out your old mattress. Most mattresses are made with synthetic materials and petroleum-based foam that’s been treated with – you guessed it – harmful chemicals.
Why they’re bad: Conventional mattresses are covered with flame retardants and have formaldehyde-producing adhesives and even pesticides to keep the bed bugs away. In short, you’re sleeping in a toxic environment every single night.
Flame retardants cause hormone disruption, and neurological damage and are known to cause cancer.
Pesticides are implicated in a looooong list of problems ranging from rashes, dizziness, and burning eyes to cancer, birth defects, and neurological damage. Crazy.
Polyurethane foam (aka polyfoam) is linked to cancer and the development of tumors. Polyurethane also harbors mold and mildew
Synthetic latex is produced using a variety of chemicals and contains polyurethane foam. This can release toxic fumes over time & may lead to cancer.
Conventional cotton is grown using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
What to use instead:
- organic bedding, made from 100% natural materials like wool, organic cotton, or bamboo
- buckwheat pillows
- sugarcane fiber pillows
For nontoxic mattresses look for these brands:
Organic mattresses and bedding will inevitably lead to a more comfortable night's sleep and better support making the time you spend with your eyes closed soooo much better. Non-toxic bedding is better able to regulate temperature, resulting in a better night's sleep.
Living a Low-Toxic Lifestyle
Living a low-toxic lifestyle is definitely an achievable goal. But don’t try to change everything overnight. Detoxing your home is a process and a journey. It will take some time.
So don’t feel overwhelmed. Start by taking baby steps. Choose one thing that appeals to you most. Once you’ve tackled one, you can move on to the next.
Rest assured that with every upgrade you make, you’re improving your quality of life!