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Three Easy Swaps to go Low-Tox in the Home

by Carollyn Mushro

I know what you’re thinking. Swapping out potentially toxic products is already on your to-do list. I know you want to do it. But it hasn’t made it to the TOP of your to-do list…until now.

When I first learned there were everyday staples in my home that were potentially causing my family & I harm, I knew I had to do something. But, everything I read was heavily laden with scientific jargon, and it felt overwhelming. Instead of feeling empowered, I walked away from the research feeling defeated about how to take action.

So, this list is just for you–yes, YOU– the woman who knows she needs to make a swap but doesn’t quite know where to start! (Or maybe you’re already on the low-tox journey and you’re double-checking your work!)

Swap #1– Household cleaner

Many of the generic cleaners used at home contain phthalates, which interfere with hormones and are carcinogens. They also contain asthma instigators and poisonous ingredients that affect you and your family's health.

Research by the Department of Clinical Science at Bergen University shows that exposure to commercial cleaning products can be as damaging to lung function as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.  It increases asthma and decreases lung function.

Here’s a low-tox swap idea– buy some cute little spray bottles and mix up a safe but effective cleaner of your own. Just fill your spray with 300ml cheap white vinegar, 200ml water, and a few drops of quality essential oils if you’d like. I love to use aromas like lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, or lemon for this purpose. And the essential oils increase the efficacy of your cleaner, as well!

Swap #2– Laundry products

I know, I know. It’s hard to walk away from that “Gentle Sea Breeze” aroma we huff when the towels come out of the dryer. 

Unfortunately, the majority of the laundry soaps and softeners available to us are riddled with dangerous chemicals such as 1,4-dioxane; fragrance; SLS; and more. We breathe in those chemicals as the laundry is being washed and dried (hello toxic dryer sheets!) AND we can even be absorbing them as we wear our clothes and snuggle into our blankets and towels. Ahhh! 

Why risk things like skin, nose, throat, and lung irritation or long-term effects to our organs and hormones? Some of these dangerous chemicals have even been linked to cancer yet they’re still readily available to us and marketed as “safe” due to lacking industry regulations.

Safer swap– ditch the dryer sheets ASAP. Your laundry will survive without them (plus no more awkwardly extracting one from  your sweatshirt hoodie while in public!) If you would like to reduce static, try fastening a safety pin to wool dryer balls. 

Then, find a laundry detergent that Environmental Working Group deems as “healthy cleaning” here.

Swap #3– Home fragrance

As you’ve probably gathered by now, any time you see the word “fragrance” on a product label, we can assume that it is full of chemicals we want to run far away from. 

I, too, used to adore a fragrant candle or the occasional plug-in. But now that I have stopped using them for many years, I actually get an instant headache upon smelling them. Air fresheners, candles & plug-ins are infused with phthalates (as mentioned above), and they are great at disrupting your hormones and health. Regular exposure to phthalates can wreak all sorts of havoc on the body, from allergic asthma in kids to lower male sperm counts and even incidences of breast cancer. Hands-down, the most harmful ingredient that unknowing individuals bring into their homes is artificial fragrance!

Here’s your swap– a natural alternative to fragrance is bringing home plants instead! They act as natural air fresheners, circulating the air. Some great choices for this purpose include the Peace Lily, ZZ plant, Bamboo palm, Parlor palm, Philodendron or the “Snake Plant.”

Additionally, houseplants have been found to have properties that can lower stress, induce restful sleep, reduce the risk of headaches and help you focus!

The sooner you can get these questionable chemicals out of your home, the better you and your family will feel. It may be a bit of an adjustment at first, but soon you’ll wonder how you ever did life differently! 

About the Contributor

Carollyn is a wellness enthusiast living in the Chicago burbs with her husband and two children.
She loves inspiring families to find their own healthy journey through holistic modalities.
She loves kombucha, travel, and questioning the status quo.
You can find her on IG: @carollyn.mushro