It’s easier than you think to have a chemical free home.
Or at least one as free of chemicals as possible.
Potentially dangerous toxins abound. They’re everywhere. You’ll find them in cleaning solutions. They’re in personal care products. Chemical air fresheners emit a noxious brew.
Burning scented candles is a little like running a diesel truck inside your home. In fact, candles are a leading cause of indoor air pollution.
Most candles are made from paraffin. This is a petroleum derivative. That’s why it’s a little like diesel fuel.
Fortunately, though, there are good alternatives. It’s not difficult to replace potentially dangerous products with safer options.
Natural plant-based products work just as well as chemicals. They’re widely available. But they cost a little more than conventional products.
If you want to save money, you can make your own cosmetics and home cleaning products. All you need are a few ingredients. Plus essential oils. Aromatic oils make good cleaning agents. Plus they smell great.
For instance, you can make an amazing non toxic carpet freshener with lavender essential oil. (Visit that link to get the recipe.)
How to Have a Chemical Free Home
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One of the easiest ways of going chemical free is to round up all of your scented candles. Walk them to the trash can, and toss them in. (Check with recycling laws in your community. It’s possible the glass can be recycled.)
Then, use essential oils instead. I used to burn scented candles before company arrived. I loved how they made my house smell. Little did I know I was exposing my family and my guests to toxins.
Instead of scented candles, you can put about five drops of your favorite essential oils into a cold mist essential oil diffuser. This is a non-toxic way to make your own smell good.
If you don’t already own an essential oil diffuser, you can easily find one online.
How To Have a Toxic Free Home
But you still may like candles. After all, they’re romantic. However, you don’t have to give them up completely. People have burned natural beeswax candles for ages. Paraffin candles are a relatively new invention. (I hope someday they go the way of the horse and buggy.)
You can probably find beeswax candles at your local health food store. Or you can order beeswax candles online. It’s believed they actually help clean the air. I haven’t been able to confirm this. But it’s thought they draw toxins out because they emit negatively charged ions. Toxins are positively charged.
Regardless of whether this is true, pure beeswax candles won’t contribute to indoor pollution.
Non Toxic Cookware for Your House
I first cleaned up my diet by switching from regular food to organic food. Whenever possible. I started feeling better once I ditched the toxic pesticides and questionable food additives.
But I realized I needed to go further, in order to have a toxic free lifestyle. I needed to go beyond food, and eliminate environmental toxins.
It makes little sense to buy organic food, if I’m going to prepare it in toxic cookware. So I got rid of old pots and pans. These were coated with something, which had worn off, exposing an aluminum base.
Aluminum is a toxic heavy metal. It has no function inside our body. However, it’s been linked to cancer and heart disease. Non-stick cookware can also be toxic when heated. So I invested in safer aluminum and cast iron cookware.
A Non Toxic Way To Make Coffee
I searched high and low for a non-toxic coffee maker. I didn’t want to use those little disposable plastic coffee filters. Because I didn’t want to drink hot water in contact with plastic. Even though they’re supposed to be free of BPA, I worry about some of the other chemicals used.
Our old coffee maker had a different type of plastic. But hot water still ran through it.
I thought I found the solution with a stainless steel electric percolator. Until I discovered it had an aluminum heating unit. This unit came in contact with coffee.
Then I realized there were only two options for truly non toxic coffee. One was a glass or stainless steel French press. The other is a small stainless steel Vietnamese coffee maker. The Vietnamese coffee maker is designed for single cup use. It’s so easy to use, and it’s what I reach for in the morning, when I’m in a hurry. You can see them both below.
Non Toxic Natural Beeswax Wrap for Food
Because I want to avoid aluminum, using tin foil to wrap food isn’t an option. The same with plastic wrap. Because I don’t want plastic chemicals potentially leaching into my food.
This leaves wax paper and parchment paper for food wrap. Another option is to make your own non toxic reusable cloth food wraps with beeswax.
How To Live a Toxic Free Lifestyle
Personal care products can be a big source of toxins. (Now I make a lot of my own solutions, including deodorant.)
Going green, the first thing I got rid of was my regular brand of shower soap. I started buying soap made without parabens, sulfates and artificial fragrances.
Parabens are known as hormone disruptors, because they mimic estrogen. That’s why there’s concern that parabens can potentially fuel hormone driven cancers.
If you use a scented body wash, you may want to think about non-toxic liquid soap instead. This will be either Castile soap or liquid black soap. I started using Dr. Bronner. But quickly switched to Dr. Woods liquid non-toxic soap because I like it better.
Natural liquid soap has a myriad of uses. Owning it makes it infinitely easier to get rid of chemical cleaners. I’ve used it to wash my floors and also to wash dishes. Here’s a recipe for DIY liquid dish soap.
How to Have a Non Toxic Lifestyle
Shampoo was another matter. I tried the “no poo” method of baking soda and apple cider vinegar. It was a disaster. It left my hair feeling like shredded wheat.
I know some women have seen great results with going “no poo.” I’ve seen pictures of their glorious locks after months of not shampooing. But I was very disappointed.
Instead, I buy commercial shampoo without harmful ingredients. The brand I use is Pura d’Or hair loss shampoo. I started using it after I noticed my hair thinning, following a period of stress. The shampoo has solved the problem. I continue using it because it’s a good non-toxic shampoo solution.
There are other natural shampoo brands as well. I know plant-based shampoo costs more than regular shampoo. If money is an issue, at least try to find a shampoo made without parabens, phthates and sulfates.
How To Live a Toxic Free Lifestyle
Cleaning solutions are another source of toxic chemicals. One of the first things I did was to get rid of them.
I started making my own cleaning solutions with Dr. Woods liquid soap and essential oils. Sometimes I’d add baking soda, depending upon what needed cleaning.
Essential oils work really well in natural cleaning solutions. I did an earlier blog post on Essential Oil Recipes for Cleaning Your House. Some of the most popular essential oils for cleaning are peppermint oil and lavender essential oil. The very name lavender is taking from a Latin root name that means “to clean.”
I started green cleaning by making my own solutions, with essential oils. However, my schedule is busy. Time is a factor. Lately, I’ve been using all natural Ecos all purpose cleaner, as well as Ecos brand non toxic floor cleaner. I keep both of these on my kitchen counter, for when they’re needed. (They’re needed a lot, because we have an elderly dog.)
Creating A Toxic Free Home
Laundry detergent is another source of toxins. So are those scented cloths you toss in the dryer to soften your clothes.
However, there are good natural alternatives. One option is to buy natural laundry soap. Or you can make your own non toxic laundry detergent/dishwasher powder. (The recipe I used works really well for both in the laundry and in the dishwasher.)
The non toxic laundry detergent recipe can also be used in your dishwasher. However, I’ve noticed that it doesn’t clean the inside of the dishwasher was well as commercial detergent. One option would be to use it for most cycles (it cleans dishes as long as they’re well rinsed.) Then, every now and then, use a more natural commercial detergent. We use Seventh Generation dish washing powder for this purpose.
Another alternative for non toxic laundry is to use soap nuts. These are little berries with detergent-like qualities. You put a few soap nuts in a little linen sack, and toss it in your wash cycle.
Soap nuts don’t make a lot of suds. But, apparently, they do clean. Clothes come out smelling fresh. Soap nuts also last a really long time. They are, by far, the most economical way to do your laundry. You may not be able to find soap nuts at your grocery store. But soap nuts are available online.
Natural Non Toxic Pest Control
Peppermint essential oil can be used for natural pest control. Ants and other pests hate the smell of peppermint. I haven’t used insecticide in years, because peppermint oil works so well. During the warm weather I often put a few drops on my kitchen sponge before I wipe down my counters. I haven’t seen ants in my kitchen for a long time.
You can also use peppermint essential oil to deter rodents.Rats, mice and other little pests hate the smell of peppermint essential oil. For pest control, I use a brand that comes in a big bottle.
Natural Non Toxic Flea Control
Commercial flea products can poison your dog. Your pet can potentially die, or become permanently injured by flea control products. This is more often a problem with puppies, or older and debilitated dogs, according to the website PetMD.
We don’t tend to hear much about this. Why I don’t know. It may be because flea control is a huge industry.
But we have research showing that flea control products aren’t always benign. One is a report released in 2008 by the Center for Public Integrity. It found that 1,600 pets died during a five year period after being given so-called “spot on” treatments. These are chemicals applied in between a pet’s shoulder blades. They’re supposed to provide flea protection for a month.
Deaths have also been reported from other types of flea and tick products.
Are Flea Control Products Toxic?
One of the problems with flea control products is a class of compounds known as prethroids. These compounds are considered neurotoxic. When you apply them to your pet, they invariably enter the bloodstream. You and your family are also exposed to flea control chemicals when you come in contact with your pet.
Flea and tick collars are among the more worrisome. These products stay on your pet, and continue to emit chemicals. But other flea products cause concern as well. Including shampoos and “flea dips.”
One study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health found that canine flea collars and flea shampoos resulted in human exposure. Children seemed the most affected, as measured by the amount of pesticide in urine samples.
Exposure levels coincided with the amount of time spent with a pet. However, there was another wrinkle. Pesticides were found in the urine of children who didn’t have direct contact with a dog, if the dog wore a collar. This strongly suggests that flea collars can contaminate surface areas in the house.
The authors concluded that, “pet care products such as insecticidal shampoos and dips and impregnated collars may expose family members to low levels of insecticide relative to toxic levels of concern.”
How To Avoid Toxic Flea Products
The best way to avoid toxic flea products is to use only non-toxic ones. Vet’s Best makes a number of plant-based flea products, including house spray for fleas and ticks.
Also, you can use essential oils on dogs (not cats, puppies or pregnant dogs) once your vet signs off on the idea. There are certain essential oils you should never use on a dog. Others can be used very judiciously. A little goes a long way and dogs have a heightened sense of smell.
We don’t have a big problem with fleas in our house. But, in the past, I’ve used a drop of geranium essential oil on my dog’s collar. I put this on a cloth collar and don’t add any more until the smell is long gone. (About a week.)
There’s also a special germ-fighting essential oil blend that you can put in your vacuum cleaner canister. This will make it difficult for flea eggs to live in the canister. Carpets are where flea eggs hatch.
Years ago I used to put mothballs in my vacuum cleaner to kill flea eggs. However, mothballs are toxic. So essential oils are a safer choice.
For More Reading
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essential oils unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional.