The Toxin Free Home: Find and Use Safer Non-Toxic Alternatives that Enhance Family and Home Well-being

Is your home a chemical warfare zone? We may worry about modern day international threats of terrorist weapons and playrooms with contaminated lead-painted toys. Yet all the while, we may be unknowingly poisoning ourselves through the products we use every day.

Thousands of chemicals known to be cancer-causing agents and hormone disrupters are contained in the skin care products, shampoos, toothpastes and detergents that we have intimate contact with – and so absorbed into – our bodies. Even the clothes we wear and bedding we sleep on are likely to be permeated with harmful toxins, no matter how many times they’ve been washed.

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The Skin is the Largest Organ

We know it's important to eat a healthy diet and exercise our body, but are we actually looking after ourselves properly? It is also important to be aware of what you put on your body as well as what you put in it. If you suffer from allergies, sinus problems, asthma, persistent skin irritations, rashes or other seemingly incurable health issues, you will do well to look to the products on and next to your skin as potential culprits.

Skin is the body's largest organ. It both eliminates toxins and absorbs them. Anything you put on your skin (or inhale) enters the body's bloodstream. In fact, it has been shown in studies that 60% of chemical ingredients on the skin are absorbed through your pores. Once there, the body's immune system sees them as foreign agents and the liver goes to work to eliminate them. When the liver and immune system are having to deal with the continuous bombardment of toxic chemicals, they are diverted from their primary and intended jobs. It makes it harder to fight bacterial and viral infections, and can result in immune disorders and even cancer.

On the average day, the average person wakes up on bedding containing the residues of formaldehyde, chlorine, pesticides and chemicals in dyes. Those chemicals had been resting next to the skin. There is little doubt that they were absorbed through your skin and were inhaled from the pillow and surrounding bedding all night long.

The morning routine includes toothpaste, soap, shampoo, hair gel, deodorant, aftershave or cologne. It includes face and body creams, make-up, and nail polish. That is followed by putting on clothes with those chemical residues from the cloth as well as the chemicals from the detergents the clothes were washed in. You haven't even left your home, yet you have inhaled, absorbed and swallowed hundreds of chemicals. Some of those chemicals have been shown to be deadly.

Commercial Cotton - One of the Most Toxic Substances to Place on Your Body

Seven of the most common pesticides used for growing non-organic cotton are suspected of being, or are known to be, carcinogens. Imagine this: it requires almost the weight of a cotton t-shirt in pesticides and fertilizers just to grow the cotton for it, making cotton one of the most environmentally damaging crops on our planet.

The finished cotton cloth is chemically bleached, dyed and then finished with formaldehyde, known to cause respiratory problems and insomnia, among other conditions. Other chemicals are used to resist wrinkling and shrinking – not to mention the infamously toxic fire retardants that ‘protect’ us from fire resistance. Just those chemicals from clothing and bedding are being steadily absorbed into our skin 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This can be detrimental to those with existing conditions resulting from, or being aggravated by, the slow and steady build up of these chemicals. Don’t forget infants and the elderly with undeveloped or weakened immune systems - they are particularly vulnerable.

Fortunately, due to ever-increasing demand, all-natural cotton, hemp, linen and wool bedding and clothing products are becoming easier to find. A good place to begin detoxifying your home is with organic bedding, since you spend about a third of each day there. Besides being toxin free, organic cotton is softer, more breathable and comfortable, hypoallergenic and resistant to perspiration.

Organic Soaps and Detergents

Soaps and detergents are not the same thing. Soaps are natural compounds of animal and/or plant based fats and oils. Detergents contain synthetic chemical surfactants such as Linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS) and Alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols, implicated in chronic health complaints. Petroleum-based fragrances are added to most all detergents and are the frequent cause of allergic reactions. The unavoidable residue of detergents left behind on clothes and bedding is absorbed into our bodies through our skin.

Soaps are not recommended for use in washing machines. However, they are good for hand-washing natural fibers, leaving them softer than if they'd been washed with detergent. For machine washing, use an environmentally friendly detergent that is non-toxic, biodegradable, and free of dyes, solvents and perfumes.

Personal Care Products

It may be surprising, but there is presently no oversight or controlling governmental department for the personal care product industry. There is no FDA requirement for product registration or for safety data of their products or the ingredients used in them. Companies can put anything they want to in there and call it whatever they want to call it. The only control is consumer support or pressure.

Rising consumer demand and support of natural and organic products is increasing the availability and affordability of everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to organic cotton. Considering the lack of government oversight, perhaps the most important category of organic product we need to examine is for skin and beauty products. We bathe in them, slather them on, spritz, color and polish them onto and into our skin, hair and nails.

Consider the products used in the shower when the pores are opened wide from the warm water, inviting inside everything on the surface. Then consider that there are over 100 toxic chemicals known to be used in shampoos, with most brands containing over 20 of them - along also with the chemical scents and dyes.

A dominant ingredient in shampoos is Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). It has been shown to have deleterious effects on the body's immune and detoxification systems. It has also been shown to slow hair growth by corroding hair follicles. According to research carried out by the American College of Toxicology, through and even after its use, one finds measurable levels of SLS in both the heart and brain, as well as other primary organs such as the liver and lungs. This residual level of toxin is maintained and increased through continual use.

Unless your product is made exclusively with essential oils, the fragrances used in personal care and other household products are or will include chemical synthetics. There are over 4,000 chemicals used to create synthetic fragrances, including those that are made from petroleum waste products. Several of them have been implicated in birth defects, cancer, infertility and central nervous conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer's.

With most of our products now being synthetically scented, it's little wonder that the number of people suffering negative reaction and illness from the constant exposure to the chemicals is increasing. Those most vulnerable are babies and children as well as those weakened by illness. Exposure to these chemicals can result in a long list of persistent and/or recurrent symptoms that can be mystifying. Chronic fatigue, allergies, headaches, asthma, nausea, dizziness and fainting can all be symptoms suffered from exposure. Children who are exposed can also suffer behavior and learning difficulties, hyperactivity and attention deficit.

Personal care products made from organic ingredients are increasing in number, becoming easier to get and more affordable. Many actually cost less than their chemical-laden counterparts. They are healthier for your skin and body and have less impact on the environment.

Safer Alternatives

In addition to the organic bedding, clothes, detergents and personal care products, there are other easy and inexpensive measures you can take to further detoxify your home and your family's lives.

  • Use sachets to replace toxic mothballs. Mothballs is the common term for the volatile, toxic chemical paradichlorobenzene. It can cause headaches and serious irritation of the nose, throat and lungs. Over time, it can even result in liver or kidney damage. Instead, make sachets with dried lavender, mint and rosemary or use cedar pieces to protect your woolens from moths.
  • Enjoy botanical baths. Throw out the synthetically fragranced bubble bath and oils and enjoy instead a healthy, organic experience. Use fragrant herbs like lavender, calendula, and chamomile, alone or with a quart of buttermilk for a skin and spirit soothing home spa treatment. Add Epsom salts to ease tension and relax muscles. If you want bubbles, use an organic or natural soap.
  • Avoid exposure to toxic ammonia with this glass cleaner: combine 1 cup of rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 cup of water in a spritz bottle. Club soda also works great. Use newspaper rather than cloth or paper towels for a streak-free shine.
  • Throw away permanent ink pens and markers. These markers contain volatile, very toxic solvents like toluene and xylene. Replace those with water-based markers and pens.
  • Add house plants. Plants absorb exhaled carbon dioxide and release fresh oxygen to freshen the air. Some plants even remove some household air pollutants, like the common and easy to grow spider plant.
  • Start an organic garden. Healthy living means healthy food, and what better way than growing your own food? Organic gardening is "growing" in popularity and uses no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Growing food using no chemicals and only natural fertilizers means healthier and more nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Detoxifying your home isn't difficult nor does it need to be expensive, particularly if you’re doing it online. It's primarily a matter of being aware of the toxins in products and choosing safer alternatives. Choose an organic or natural product when it comes time to replace your detergent, cleaning products and personal care items. When you next buy bedding, buy organic bedding, which is longer lasting as well. Learn to look for the “certified organic” labels as a matter of routine. Though some products will cost a little more in purchase price, what they return is beyond value.


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midnightbliss 7 years ago from Hermosa Beach

great hub, it serves as an eye opener that there are lots of toxic chemicals all around us specially to the most common things that we use that sometimes we are not aware of.

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