It was throughout my first pregnancy and my son’s first year that my intuition led me to become increasingly aware of the products I was bringing into the house and putting on our bodies. This was back in 2007, so there weren’t as many alternative products available but thankfully the industry has changed a lot since then. Many people however, are still unaware of the amount of toxic chemicals in our everyday products that could be contributing to various health ailments.
The more aware we become of what’s in our household products, the better. Not only for peace of mind as to what’s in our environment, but also for us to take our buying power back. The more options for less toxic products on the market, the more likely we are to make a choice that’s better for our health, and for this reason it’s been so great to see the rise in organic, natural and less toxic options!
Before I share a few of the products I use, if you’re curious to know the toxic level for the products currently in your household, EWG.org is a great resource along with Think Dirty app, not only for household cleaners, but hygiene products too.
Tips to Detox the Home
The first change I made was how we cleaned the floors since I didn’t want my son to crawl on the floor and inadvertently place floor cleaning product in his mouth. Not to mention pets walking on the floor too. Instead of purchasing toxic floor cleaners, I purchased an Oreck floor steamer which uses only hot water, and occasionally mopped the floor with hot water and vinegar. Super inexpensive and effective! It’s the method I still use to this day.
Laundry Detergent & Fabric Softeners
Then, it was laundry detergent and stopping the use of fabric softeners. Even though our washing machines rinse out the detergents, there’s still some residue on our bedding and on the clothes we wear for many hours each day. That residue ends up on our skin, and if we’re using some of the low-cost and heavy toxic detergents, there’s a greater chance for reactions such as rashes, allergies and asthma.
Fabric softeners are not rinsed off our clothes, so the residue definitely touches our skin. Fabric softener sheets in particular are also one of the most toxic items on the market!
As I mentioned, in 2007/2008 there weren’t as many options to choose from for formulas that were gentle and still worked well, but at that time I was able to find one in my local grocery store specifically formulated for babies. It was less toxic, unscented and got all the baby throw up and poop out. (Why do products need to become harsh as we become adults anyway?) I continued to use this, and a couple other unscented brands that became available until discovering Nellie’s All-Natural Laundry Soda in 2015.
I first purchased the Nellie’s laundry soda as part of the Laundry Starter Kit, which includes the laundry soda, oxygen brightener, dryer balls and stain remover stick. At this point I now had two children, so once I saw that it worked for both kid’s clothes and my gym clothes, I was hooked! Also, you use less detergent for each load making it last much longer than alternative brands.
Once the starter kit was running low, I purchased the BIG container for 1,100 loads online. I also used the Nellie’s laundry soap for towels at a small holistic business I owned for a couple years, and we washed MANY towels each day! It’s been the only laundry detergent I’ve used since 2015 and can’t recommend it enough. (I’m not being paid to say this by the way, I actually use and love it!)
It’s a higher cost up front, but the product lasts MUCH longer than other products and you end up saving so much more in the long run. I’ve gone well over a year with the 1,100 load bucket, and probably have another year left.
Nellie’s has become much more accessible and is continuing to become available in more local grocery stores too. You can purchase online through Nellie’s, Amazon, Well.ca, Costco, and Goodness Me to name a few.
My ex-husband was a big fan of plug-in air fresheners and aerosols but whenever those were in the air, I couldn’t breathe well or would start sneezing right away. What I’ve found to be better non-toxic alternatives are essential oils and natural candles.
Aromatherapy isn’t new, but it’s been popularized particularly over the past few years because it’s been proven to naturally calm our senses and bring balance within our bodies. It was first recommended to me in 2014 from a Naturopath who suggested applying lavender essential oil to my wrists, which has amazing benefits however I’ve grown to prefer using a diffuser since I find it soothing while it mists the essential oils throughout the house.
I’ve been using this Ellia Diffuser in white for almost two years now and find it works very well. This is the second diffuser I’ve owned, and this particular one is easy to use and looks nice (in my opinion). There are many other diffusers to choose from on the market now, but I do caution not to focus solely on the price. A family member of mine opted for a less expensive option a couple years ago and it didn’t work as well regarding how much mist was released, and the size was smaller so it needed to be refilled more often.
For the essential oils, personally I’m not loyal to a specific brand but do try to make sure the oils are 100% pure. I’ve used DoTerra and NOW in the past, and am currently using the Ellia essential oils. Lavender essential oil is particularly nice to have in the diffuser when going to sleep to help relieve stress and anxiety!
When choosing a non-toxic candle, it’s best to look for a wick that is 100% cotton and the wax be either 100% soy or 100% bees wax. If the soy candles are scented, check to make sure they’re scented with pure essential oils, and not something synthetic. A majority of candles on the market have toxic chemicals not only in the wax, but also the wick is dipped in toxic ingredients. When burning those candles, the chemicals go into the air and not only do we breath them in, but it settles on the fabrics within the home.
Diffusers and non-toxic candles are a great way to set the mood and clear the air so it smells great!
For a period of time, instead of buying all-purpose cleaner I made my own with a simple mixture of water, vinegar and essential oils. Found this recipe online from another blog, but don’t recall which one otherwise would link to it.
Here is the recipe I use to this day using a store-bought spray bottle:
2 cups Water
½ cup distilled white Vinegar
Up to 20 drops of Essential oils (I prefer lemon or orange)
I use this in the kitchen and bathrooms with a cloth and reusable sponge scrub combo. For stone counter tops, vinegar is not recommended but there are MANY other blogs dedicated to this topic so there’s plenty of natural recipes readily available. I’ve simply found this one easy to remember.
For mirrors, I’ve found straight vinegar works best with either a light cloth or paper towel to wipe it off, and it doesn’t leave streaks.
When I also want to have a store-bought all-purpose cleaner on hand that’s a little more heavy duty and NON-toxic, Seventh Generation’s All Purpose Cleaner works very well!
When Choosing ‘Clean’ Products
It’s important to be mindful how products are being marketed these days. Due to the increase in ‘green’ and ‘natural’ products, many traditional (and toxic) companies are trying to compete and use this angle for selling their product even though the product itself is not green or natural at all. For example, this product is being marketed to imply it’s a ‘green’ natural cleaning product, but it’s highly toxic!
The wipes can be so convenient, especially for toilets where there are young kids in the house but if the wipes are being used particularly with bare hands, the toxic levels do matter. The chemicals are left on your hands, on the item you wiped and in the air.
Since I personally started to make these changes in my home over a decade ago, these lifestyle changes have become second nature and effortless, while improving my family’s overall well-being. Every small change makes a big difference even if it’s one at a time.