Did you know that you and your family have measurable levels of toxins in your body?
You might be thinking “But I don’t use anything with lead, our house doesn’t have asbestos, we don’t have nasty mold growing in the walls, and I keep our harsh chemicals in a safe place… what do you mean I have toxins in my body?!”
Well, those are things that we’ve been warned about for years. They’ve either been mostly legislated out of use or we know enough to avoid their dangers.
BUT… what about the toxins we deliberately put on our skin? Or consume daily?
We’ve heard horror stories about lead, mold, PFAS, and asbestos, but it’s time to pay attention to daily-use items that can be just as dangerous.
Toxins in the body lead to a host of chronic illnesses.
Did you know that toxins like to store themselves in your adipose (fat) tissue? If you’ve had fat packed on for 30 years, it’s sure to have toxins hiding inside.
So if you lose extra weight, you will lose stored up toxins too--bonus! (source)
Anyway, in the interest of removing ick from our bodies (and minds) and feeling better as a result, here are some common sources of toxins and a quick fix for each one.
7 Easy Ways to Detox Your Home
1. Ditch Plastics
First, let’s talk about the endocrine system. One of the more vastly complicated and important systems in your body, the endocrine system affects literally every cell and function in your body.
This system includes:
- Adrenal glands
- Sex hormones and development
- Pituitary glands
- Thymus gland
- Thyroid gland
- Pineal gland
Those glands and systems control basically everything in your body.
Ever heard the phrase, “all disease begins in your gut”? The more I learn about this stuff the more I believe that phrase is VERY true!
And that’s where plastic comes in. Many plastics contain BPA, which is a known endocrine disruptor. Seriously, check out that list above again, and you’ll see why messing with our endocrine system is a precursor to many illnesses!
There hasn’t been extensive human testing, but hundreds of animal studies demonstrate that BPA causes abnormal development of the brain and sex organs, feminizes male organs, causes early puberty, and leads to infertility.
In fact, BPA has been banned in several countries for use in baby bottles… and I’m pretty sure if it ain’t good for babies, it ain’t good for you and me.
Maybe the closest thing we have to a human study was a trial performed by Harvard researchers where 77 students drank water from stainless steel bottles one week, and then polycarbonate bottles the next. During the polycarbonate week, BPA increased 69% in the participants’ urine. That’s a drastic change over a really short time frame.
Imagine how those numbers would look after years and years of exposure.
So, the solution is to purchase BPA-free products, right?
Unfortunately it’s not that simple.
Here’s an excerpt from a recent study performed by Environmental Health Perspectives:
“Results: Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled—independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source—leached chemicals having reliably detectable EA (estrogenic activity), including those advertised as BPA free. In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA than did BPA-containing products.”
In other words, BPA-free might be WORSE than BPA!
Toxic Plastic Quick Fix
Begin replacing your plastic containers with metal ones like these, especially the ones you keep your leftovers in.
I mean if I’m going to spend the money to buy raw milk, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and make my own granola, then I don’t want plastics leaching endocrine-disrupting chemicals into it!
We’ve also purchased glass food storage containers – which is especially important because your leftovers can sit for days in them and often get thrown in the microwave (another big no-no with plastics and food).
2. Choose Non-Toxic Cleaners
We pretty much already know that household cleaners are dangerous – yet we still spray them on our counters where we prepare our foods. Are we sure we’re getting every last molecule off our counters before we knead some bread dough there?
Think about something we consider semi-harmless, like Windex. Here’s what the caution label says:
“Avoid contact with eyes, skin, or clothing. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling. Avoid contact with foods”
Do you always wash your hands after using Windex? Does it all get on our mirror and nowhere else? Does the fine mist float around, being absorbed by our skin and breathed in our lungs?
We know to be careful with stuff like drain cleaner, but even something “harmless” like Clorox Wipes carry the recommendation to rinse your counters afterwards and wash your hands thoroughly.
How often are these chemicals making their way into our systems? OFTEN!
Quick Fix for Cleaners
We use an all-purpose cleaner made mostly from water. Basically, you could drink the stuff (probably would taste nasty though!), so if trace amounts find their way onto our skin or into our foods, it doesn’t matter one bit.
You can also buy truly clean household cleaners.
Pure Haven has loads of great options from dishwasher detergent to laundry, scrubbing cleanser, and more.
Here are some of the products in a discounted set.
3. Detox Your Laundry
The scientific community is coming out with more and more evidence that these laundry products are damaging to our bodies.
For example, every news outlet in the country reported on a major issue with children eating laundry detergent pods, with hundreds of children being hospitalized and at least one death occurring.
Okay, I know you’re not eating laundry detergent, but we’re soaking our clothes in this stuff every week. Our skins absorb stuff pretty darn well, meaning detergent makes it into our system every week, for all of our life.
On top of the soap itself being dangerous, the University of Washington discovered that detergent, softener, and dryer sheets all emit at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous (without any labels indicating this). Most of these products also produce carcinogenic air pollutants.
Quick Fix to Get Toxins Out of Your Laundry
Make your own Homemade Laundry Detergent. Got a baby in your home or people with extra sensitive skin? This Homemade Baby Laundry Detergent is great not just for babies, but for anyone with sensitive skin.
I know, you’re thinking that this is one more thing you have to learn how to make. But, these detergent recipes take very little time to make and are well worth the all-natural results that won’t harm your family
For fabric softener? Simply pour ½ cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle of your machine--or skip it entirely.
Not Into DIYing?
Try to buy as clean of a detergent as possible, making sure to buy from a reputable company as some have been found to mislabel their products.
One other option is an ozone washing machine device like this one.
You use no detergent at all--just ozonated water to get your clothes super clean--no sorting and no need to use anything but cold water ever.
4. Filter Your Water
The hazards of tap water aren’t some underground secret anymore – a quick Google search reveals dozens of articles from reputable sources reporting the dangers.
For example, the New York Times reported that only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are found in tap water. Hundreds of those chemicals contribute to disease and cancer.
That same article ends with “Government scientists now generally agree, however, that many chemicals commonly found in drinking water pose serious risks at low concentrations.”
The fluoride found in tap water has never been shown to prevent cavities or tooth decay (except by direct application like your dentist might do). On the contrary, it’s been shown to destroy teeth in young children and babies.
The chlorine (according to Environmental Health Perspectives) can contribute to low birth weight, preterm birth, birth defects, fetal deaths, and other pregnancy problems. I’ll go out on a limb here and say it’s probably not good for adults either.
Quick Fix to Remove Toxins from Water
The best overall solution would be to buy a complete home water filtration system, but that’s not feasible for everyone. A small filtration system that sits on your counter can be a more attainable solution for most people. Find out here how to make your tap water safe and go here to read about what you need to know about what is in your water.
At the very least, you can begin purchasing filtered water by the gallon (less than a buck at Walmart and many other stores) to use for drinking and cooking.
5. Choose Non-toxic Cosmetics/Personal Care Products
Did you know that cosmetics and personal care products require no safety testing?
Good thing for them, as they use known carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Stuff like petroleum and formaldehyde, to name a small few, are some of the ickies they use.
These companies sleep at night because they (hopefully) think their products are literally skin deep. However, according to the Environmental Working Group:
“Cosmetic ingredients do not remain on the surface of the skin. They are designed to penetrate, and they do. Scientists have found many common cosmetic ingredients in human tissues, including phthalates in urine, preservatives called parabens in breast tumor tissue and persistent fragrance components in human fat. Do the concentrations at which they are typically found pose risks? For the most part, those studies have not been done. But a small but growing number of studies serve as scientific red flags”
Also, the European Union has banned hundreds of cosmetic chemicals, while the US has only deemed 11 unusable. Clearly, many of these chemicals are proven hazards, yet we continue to use them.
How to Remove Toxins from Your Cosmetic Drawer
You can make safer DIY products or buy solid non-toxic products.
It can be daunting to replace ALL of your personal care and cosmetic products that you use daily (not to mention expensive). But you can make changes little by little.
If you're not into DIYing, you can buy safer products.
One company that's very transparent about ingredients is Beautycounter.
Every single batch is tested for heavy metals and other contaminants and the quality is superb.
Remove Toxins from Your Haircare
Another important way to remove toxins from your personal care routine is to get them off of your hair. Just think about it--the pores on your head are pretty large so anything you are putting on your scalp can enter into your body fairly easily.
Now, I'm a hair product snob and haven't found any DIY shampoo recipe that's enabled me to give up the plastic containers in my shower. Sigh..... But at least you can ditch the toxins from your haircare products by seeing what haircare ingredients to avoid and using something safer.
Beautycounter's shampoo is great for a lot of people but I personally use Pure Haven's Supergreens Collection for my hair.
Super nourishing and super clean.
6. Choose Non-toxic Cookware
Most people buy nonstick pans because they're easy to use and clean. The manufacturers claim there are no issues with this coating as long as it’s not overheated, but that assertion is coming under fire.
The EWG conducted a series of tests, with results proving that a mere 2-5 minutes on a conventional stove top were enough to begin breaking down the coating. This coating leaches harmful particles into our food and into the air. (source)
One of the most interesting tidbits I’ve found is that a bird will die quickly if kept close to where a cook uses nonstick cookware. Probably not good for people then, either!
Teflon and similar nonstick coatings are chemicals belonging to the PFC family. According to the EWG:
“PFCs have been found in nearly all Americans tested by federal public health officials. Chemicals from this family are associated with smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and weakened immune defense against disease.”
So for sure, one thing to do is to buy Teflon-free cookware if you want to reduce toxins in your home.
Quick Fix to Get Non-toxic Cookware
Ideally, my family would be using ceramic cookware but it’s crazy expensive. There’s this pot I’ve had my eye on that costs over $200… so file that under “things I’ll buy when we win the lotto or are included in a massive inheritance”
We compromised by buying each other a stainless steel cookware set for Christmas. They were surprisingly affordable and we love them – especially since we’re not consuming hazardous chemicals.
Ceramcor Cookware is a very high quality cookware brand that is well known for being super clean regarding ingredients--if you can save up for it, it's a great choice.
7. Avoid Toxic Pesticides (On Food and Lawn / Garden)
The pesticides I’m referring to here are the ones found on your non-organic produce as well as the bug spray you use in your home to poison/drown unwanted creatures.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the poisoning risks of pesticides are clear, from both acute and chronic exposure. Exposure to pesticides is linked to decreased brain function, pediatric cancers, and behavioral problems.
As noted in this post on strawberry pesticides, the amount of toxins on your food can be significant.
Toxins accumulate in your body (and aren’t easily expelled) are part of what leads to most degenerative diseases known to man.
Quick Fix for Pesticides
When purchasing produce, we buy everything organic that’s found on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, and the rest we buy non-organic (unless the organic is on a huge sale). If you can buy everything organic, then good on ya. But avoiding the most pesticide-riddled produce can help rid your life of high sources of toxins.
Do a Google search for CSA (community supported agriculture) or farmer's market and maybe you can find some awesome local organic farm to buy your produce from. I just volunteered to run a drop-off site for a local CSA.
In your home, there are easy alternatives to spraying massive amounts of Raid at every bug that dares cross your home’s threshold. When the weather turned cold and every spider within a mile tried to come inside, we spread diatomaceous earth on the window sills and by the doorframes.
We also sprayed cedarwood essential oil on these areas for a little extra protection I mixed about 15 drops into 4 ounces of water in a spray bottle. (For the company that Adrienne chose when she went on a hunt to find the "best" essential oils, go here.)
Got a lot of spiders in your home? Here's a tip....put each leg of your baby’s crib in a tupperware container filled with baby oil to keep bugs from climbing the crib. Then have your husband fish the bugs out--gross, but effective!
8. Try Air Filtering Plants
This isn't a "switch this for that" option, and it was added after the original post, but it's one to consider for sure.
To address indoor air quality, you can do many of the above things, but you can also invest in a quality air filter, or get this--you can grown indoor air purifying plants--many or most of which are simple to grow!
It’s scary how often we expose ourselves to toxins.
Take a look back at the 7 points mentioned, and you’ll realize that it’s many times per day that you’re adding toxins to your body… and you can’t get rid of that stuff easily.
I know it’s not easy to get rid of products we’re conditioned to use every day. Plastic? Seriously? EVERYTHING comes in plastic!
It starts with you deciding that your health is worth the inconvenience of making some changes. Once you realize that you can prevent most chronic diseases by avoiding toxins, you’ll see that it would be worth ten times the work to avoid poisoning ourselves.
Plus you will notice that you will feel amazing as you become toxin-free.
Take one step at a time and you can get rid of the toxins in your house. I mean shoot, I’m planning on taking a whole year to get everything out of my house! When your cleaner, deodorant, dish detergent, or whatever you want to get rid of runs out, replace it with something better.
Have you made any changes to rid toxins?
How did it go?