As a concerned homeowner looking to use natural and environmentally-friendly products, I was shocked to learn that many items marketed as “green” actually contain dangerous chemicals. Studies show hidden toxins in everything from cleaning supplies to mattresses. I knew I needed to thoroughly investigate the products in my home. This article details my journey to identify and remove harmful chemicals from my supposedly green purchases.
auditing My Home For Toxic Ingredients
The first step was auditing my home for potentially toxic products. I went room by room, reading every label and making a list of concerning ingredients. Here’s what I found:
- Laundry detergent – Contains fragrance, which is a common term used to hide phthalates and other chemicals. Also includes methylisothiazolinone, a preservative that may be neurotoxic.
- All-purpose cleaner – Lists 2-butoxyethanol, which has been linked to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and liver and kidney damage.
- Dish soap – Contains quaternium-15, a formaldehyde-releasing preservative. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen.
Personal Care Products
- Shampoo – Contains sodium laureth sulfate, which can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a possible human carcinogen.
- Moisturizer – Includes oxybenzone, which may act as an endocrine disruptor and generate cell-damaging free radicals when exposed to sunlight.
- Deodorant – Lists aluminum compounds which may be absorbed into the body and have neurotoxic effects.
- Mattress – Marketed as natural but the foam contains polyurethane and chemical flame retardants like TDCPP, which is a likely human carcinogen.
- Area rug – Advertised as organic wool but the backing includes PVC, which releases hazardous dioxins during production and disposal.
- Candles – While made from non-toxic soy wax, the wick contains lead which can cause learning and behavior problems.
This audit made me realize even products labeled as green and natural can hide dangerous ingredients. It was time to overhaul my home.
Researching Safer Alternatives
The next step was researching alternatives for each concerning product I identified. I used consumer reports, health websites like EWG’s Skin Deep database, and green product certifications like EcoLogo to find safer options.
For example, I switched to:
- Undiluted plant-based cleaners certified by Cradle to Cradle. These avoid volatile organic compounds and synthetic fragrances.
- Unscented laundry detergent with the USDA Organic seal to reduce risk of sensitation.
- Organic shampoo and lotion that skips endocrine disruptors and is EWG Verified.
- A natural latex mattress that forgoes chemical flame retardants.
The key was scrutinizing ingredients lists and not just marketing claims when evaluating products. I also prioritized fragrance-free options whenever possible.
Eliminating Toxics Room by Room
With my new products in hand, it was time for a full home detox. Here’s how I systematically removed toxic chemicals from each room:
I boxed up all conventional cleaners from under the sink and replaced them with plant-based, EWG approved varieties. I also bought unbleached wax paper and switched to stainless steel and cast iron for safer cookware.
Out went chemical-laden self and beauty products, swapped with organic, fragrance-free alternatives. I installed a water filter to reduce metals and other contaminants from tap water.
My toxic mattress got hauled away in favor of an organic latex version. I washed all linens and bedding in gentle, fragrance-free detergent. Area rugs were removed and the floors cleaned.
I donated or tossed items like candles and PVC-backed rugs. Air purifying plants like peace lilies helped filter indoor air pollution. I also vacuumed frequently using a sealed HEPA filter to reduce dust.
For an all-encompassing approach, I attached HEPA filters to HVAC vents to filter indoor air. I also switched to green power through my electric company to reduce energy-related pollution.
Eliminating initial toxic products was just the first step. I also enacted precautions to avoid future chemical exposures:
- Always check ingredient lists and certifications when buying new products.
- Open windows regularly to ventilate indoor air.
- Remove shoes when entering the house to avoid tracking in chemicals.
- Use doormats and washable rugs to reduce dust containing flame retardants and other chemicals.
- Vacuum and mop tile or wood floors frequently using green cleaners.
- Grow houseplants shown to remove indoor pollutants like spider plants and snake plants.
The Rewarding Results
While it took diligent label reading and research, I’m thrilled to know the products in my home are safe and healthy for my family. Here are some rewarding results of removing toxics:
- Peace of mind knowing I’ve limited our chemical exposures.
- Healthier indoor air quality with less off-gassing of VOCs.
- Cleaner ingredients that skip concerning preservatives, surfactants and fragrance chemicals.
- Positive environmental impact since natural products are biodegradable.
- Imroved wellbeing from nixing irritants and allergens.
- Sparkling surfaces cleaned with plant-based ingredients alone.
Going green shouldn’t mean using products with hidden hazards. The effort to detox my home was well worth it for the increased safety and peace of mind.