Do you ever stop to think about what chemicals are actually in the products you use every day? Some are great, but many are very toxic, which is why I want to help you create a chemical-free home.
Of course, everything in creation is some kind of chemical, so what I am referring to when I say chemical-free is really pointing towards harmful chemicals. It’s just a mouthful, so I decided to shorten it for the sake of keeping things easy to read.
The crazy thing about harmful chemicals is that they aren’t just in your cleaning products. They can also be found in your beauty products, fabrics, food, and so much more!
This post is going to cover all your bases, so know that you’ll have a solid game plan for transitioning to a chemical-free home by the end.
We are going to walk through the following information:
- Why you want a chemical-free home
- The benefits of a chemical-free home
- Ingredients to avoid
- How to remove harmful chemicals from your home
- Helpful resources to ensure you avoid harmful chemicals
Let’s get into it!
Why you want a chemical-free home
Toxic chemical that are in everyday household items can create a series of health effects including dizziness, nausea, cancer, hormone alterations, and much more!
Depending on the product, your symptoms could be very mild or severe. There are a lot of factors to consider, but the best thing you can do is get these things out of your home.
The benefits of a chemical-free home
Once you remove all the harmful chemicals from your home, you can breathe easier. Ignorance is not bliss in this situation.
Having a chemical-free home automatically increases your health and may even improve it over time.
You also don’t have to worry so much about pets or children getting into certain things, because there aren’t any harmful chemicals for them to ingest.
Ingredients to avoid
When you first get started with looking for these harmful chemicals, you will want to look for certain ingredients that you should absolutely avoid!
Here is a quick list and reasons why you should start with avoiding these ingredients:
Fragrance is protected due to trademark secrets, so you have no idea what is actually within a product that contains fragrance.
Here are a couple of articles to share specifics as to why you should avoid fragrance:
Phthalates are a controversial ingredient when it comes to the EWG and the government. They don’t agree. Some studies suggest that it can harm your reproductive organs, kidneys, and liver.
My view of anything so controversial is to avoid it altogether. If there is a chance that I will be harmed by this ingredient, I don’t want anything to do with it.
Check out this article by ThoughtCo. for more information.
Methylisothiazolinone & Methylchloroisothiazolinone
Both are found mostly in beauty products and can create a lot of harmful side effects when breathed in or absorbed through the skin. Some effects can include swelling of the lungs and intestines, which may result in difficulty breathing and weight gain.
Read more about it here.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Sulfates are a foaming agent in beauty and cleaning products that honestly isn’t necessary. They are only added to make cleaning or washing your hair more enjoyable, because you believe that suds mean you’re cleaning things better.
However, this isn’t the case.
These two ingredients are bad news! They can cause irritation to your skin, eyes, and lungs. If ingested, they can cause all sorts of problems for your digestive tract.
They aren’t just harmful to your body, but also the natural environment. Both can live for a long time in the environment, poisoning anything that comes into contact with it.
Here are a couple of articles you may find helpful:
- DavidSuzuki.org – The Dirty Dozen: Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Livestrong.com – How to Replace Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Honest.com – What is Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate?
According to The Derm Review and other sources, parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors and disrupt the endocrine systems. Needless to say, parabens are also bad news and should be avoided.
The one thing you really need to watch out for with this ingredient is that it can be included within fragrance as a trademark secret, which means that if you only look to avoid the word paraben it can still be found within a product, if that product includes fragrance.
Whether we are talking food dyes or hair dyes or any other non-natural dye, there are health concerns. This can include cancer, hormone disruption, increase in ADHD, and more.
If you want to learn more, check out these two articles:
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
VOCs can have damaging effects on our bodies and are found in a lot of household building materials and products – like aerosol sprays. They can cause dizziness, headaches, allergic reactions, and even cancer.
Here is a great article that dives into all the information about VOCs.
Formaldehyde & Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives
The word alone makes me want to vomit. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and can create allergic reactions. It is found in beauty products [why?], building materials, and other places.
You want to steer clear of this ingredient!
Read more about it here.
BPA & BPS
We all know BPA is dangerous for our health, which is why BPA-free is advertised on many plastic products. However, BPS is the substitute and is just as harmful.
This is why you should do your best to stay away from plastic anything, especially when it comes to food storage containers.
Learn more here.
Commonly known as an “anti-bacterial” ingredient, Triclosan can alter hormones, cause eye and skin irritations, and is toxic to the aquatic environment. It’s found in very common household items and beauty products.
David Suzuki Foundation has more information about it, as it is considered one of The Dirty Dozen.
While Teflon is a brand versus an ingredient, it is still something you want to avoid. Any pots or pans that are covered in a non-stick coating are dangerous to our health, because the chipping of the coating can get into our food [then our bodies], release harmful gas in the air, and actually never goes away, just like plastic.
Read more about it here.
Pesticides and Herbicides
These two ingredients are a big reason that organic food has grown in popularity and for good reason, too! They cause all sorts of harmful side effects when breathed in or ingested.
Not only that, but they disrupt the natural environment and cause way more harm than good.
Here are a couple of articles that dive deeper into the issues:
- EPA.gov – Human Health Issues Related to Pesticides
- fairlington.org – Fact Sheet on Health Hazards of Pesticides/Herbicides
How to remove harmful chemicals from your home
Now that you have a good idea of where to start with browsing your products, let’s talk specifically about how you can create a chemical-free home.
We’re going to take this room by room and I’ll provide healthier alternative ideas for you.
Let’s start in the Kitchen
The obvious place for anyone to start looking to create a chemical-free home is in the food pantry. Processed foods can have all kinds of harmful chemicals within them.
A good rule of thumb is to stick to Earth grown things, such as plants and animals. Keep the weird chemically created candies and sorts out of your home.
It is important to remove any and all plastic from your kitchen, because plastic leaches chemicals into your foods.
Here are a few swaps I recommend:
- Plastic Tupperware gets swapped for Wean Green glass food storage containers. [Use coupon code ‘thetannehillhomestead’ for 15% off your purchase!]
- Single-use plastic utensils are swapped for your normal set of utensils.
- Plastic spatulas or baking utensils can be swapped for wood options.
These are the swaps I started with, but there are a few more that aren’t as obvious that you can make.
As I mentioned in the ingredients section, you want to stay away from Teflon or any non-stick cooking pots and pans.
Here are a few brands I suggest you try instead:
A few other things I want to suggest to you that make a difference are filtering your tap water and changing your dish and hand soaps.
I’ve had my Brita Pitcher for about 5 years now, and LOVE it! With the inconsistency in water quality, I know that I can always have clean water by using my Brita filter. Chlorine and other chemicals used to “clean” our water are filtered out, which makes it safer to drink.
When it comes to dish and hand soaps, it is best to make your own or use Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap or Young Living’s Thieves products. While you may see suggestions for other products, these are honestly the cleanest ready-to-use products on the market.
[Purchase your soaps in bulk to reduce packaging resources by 15%]
Moving onto the Bathroom
The bathroom is home to probably the most harmful chemicals compared to other places in your homes. This is often the place for “pleasure ingredient” filled products – referring to sulfates.
The easiest thing to recommend is if you cannot read the ingredient or know exactly what it is, don’t use it!
But let’s start in a less obvious place, your shower water.
If you’re not filtering your shower water, you’re allowing a lot of chemicals to be poured all over your body. This includes chlorine, lead, mercury, VOCs, and more! I recommend Berkey products for this because they work really well!
Another not so obvious swap that is beneficial for your health is your shower curtain!
If you have a PVC shower curtain, your health could be at risk. A study done by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice found that the gasses that come off the curtain can cause breathing problems, headaches, central and nervous system problems, and more.
Moving onto obvious places in your bathroom to remove harmful chemicals, let’s talk about beauty products!
You should read the ingredient list very carefully with all of your beauty products. Be sure to look through all of your products in the following categories, and if you want my product recommendations, I’ll have them linked below for you as well.
Bathroom product categories you need to audit:
- Shampoo, conditioner, and hair masks
- All makeup products
- Skin care
- Toothpaste & mouthwash
- Body creams and lotions
- Feminine care products
Posts containing some of my recommendations:
- Natural Ingredients for Hair Renewal
- Body Care Products that are Free of Harmful Chemicals
- What are the Best Oils for My Skin Type & How to Use Them Effectively
When it comes to feminine care products
One thing that is not mandatory for feminine care product companies is to list out ingredients of what is actually in your pads, tampons, or other feminine care products.
If you’re buying from a supermarket, drug store, or other quick access place, odds are you’re putting pesticides, bleach, and other harmful chemicals onto and into your body.
Please stop using these products!
Instead, opt for a brand that cares, like Lola. I’ve used them for many years now and LOVE their transparency and how well they listen to their customers.
They are a subscription based service, so you don’t have to worry about running out or buying in store or wondering what ingredients are in your products.
I also love that they have a referral program for all of their customers, so when you place your first subscription order, you’ll receive $5 off and I’ll receive $5 off. SHOP NOW!
Moving onto a not so obvious chemically-filled room – the Bedroom
That’s right! There are things in your bedroom that have harmful chemicals within them that you can remove from your home.
First, let’s talk about your mattress.
This was a change I made in 2017, because we had an old worn out mattress that caused us a lot of pain!
After researching and researching and researching, we chose to go with the Brentwood Home Oceano mattress and have honestly LOVED it!
Conventional mattresses are made with harmful ingredients like petroleum-based foam and synthetic latex, chemical flame retardants, and vinyl.
It can let off toxic gasses for a long time, too, even after the smell is gone.
Other things to consider in your bedroom are your bedding and pillows.
Pillows are similar to mattresses, where you need to be very careful about what materials it includes. The more organic of materials used, the better you can breathe.
The same goes for bedding. You want to use organic cotton or eucalyptus bedding. Don’t settle for things that can have plastic or synthetic materials within them.
Brentwood Home also has great options for both and I highly recommend anything by them!
Let’s talk about general household items!
It’s time to remove harmful chemical cleaners from your home!
The truth is that you only need one or two products to clean your entire home. Marketers have many people thinking you have to have a window cleaner, countertop cleaner, bathroom cleaner, etc.
But the truth is that when you use a natural cleaner, you only need one or two cleaners!
I personally only use Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner and diluted vinegar for cleaning everything in my home. I may use baking soda from time to time, but the Thieves Household Cleaner does a really good job, even with the nastiest of cleaning jobs.
Laundry products are full of crazy chemicals and thankfully easy to replace with chemical-free options!
When you switch to plant-based laundry detergent, you’re not only improving things for your household, but also the natural environment.
You honestly don’t need a fabric softener at all! Great news right? Instead, you can use vinegar. It helps keep things super fresh, too!
Lastly, stop using dryer sheets! They are wasteful and unnecessary. Instead, opt for wool dryer balls. They work much better and are zero-waste!
Candles & Air Fresheners
There are many reasons you don’t want to use conventional candles or air fresheners, but the most important reason is that it is very bad for your health!
Instead, opt for diffusing essential oils. They are much healthier for you and the environment.
You may argue that coconut or soy wax candles are fine, and in a sense they are. However, you have to make sure they are not made with fragrance/fragrance oil. If they aren’t made with pure essential oils, DO NOT USE THEM!
Curtains and Window Treatments
Similar to shower curtains, depending on the material used, curtains and window treatments can let gasses off that harm the quality of your life.
Ensure that you’re choosing organic, quality options. Yes, it may mean a higher investment, but your health is worth it!
Be cautious of the flooring material you use when installing new flooring into your home. Make sure you’re choosing a material that is healthy for children and babies to crawl around on without worrying if they will get sick from it.
We’ve already discussed the dangers of VOCs, but I want to reiterate it with your paints. There are plenty of VOC-free paints for you to use, so make sure any paint you use is of that quality.
Yes, you even need to consider your upholstered furniture. If it is not made with a quality material, you could be harming your health and the health of anyone who sits on your furniture.
There are many options and companies available to help you find quality furniture that is safe.
If you live somewhere with poor air quality, it is time to do something about it!
I have the Rabbit Air MinusA2 Air Purifier and LOVE it! The air quality has vastly improved since we’ve introduced it into our home, especially when it comes to cooking. It sucks bad air out of our home quickly and replaces it with clean air.
An air purifier is an investment, but one that is absolutely worth it!
Another option is house plants! Check out my post about how to have a greener home for all of the air purifying house plants that NASA recommends you have.
The dry cleaning process is actually full of a lot of harmful chemicals. It is best to stay away from clothes that need dry cleaning altogether.
However, if you absolutely love certain dry cleaning pieces, a better option is to use an at-home kit.
New habits to create to maintain a chemical-free home
1 // Read the label
Before you purchase anything, check the ingredients list. This will help you from purchasing things that can hurt you more than help.
2 // Leave shoes at the door
You honestly don’t know what things you’ve brought home with you on the bottom of your shoes, so take them off at the door. This cuts down on dust, dirt, and the unknowns.
3 // Dust more
Want to keep a healthy home? Make sure you keep the dust at bay. This will keep you mindful of having a healthy home and help you want to take the next step to reducing harmful chemicals in your home.
4 // Eat clean and organic
This is one of the best things you can do for your health, because you cut out processed foods, pesticides/herbicides, and chemicals that were never meant to be ingested in the first place.
It’s a learning curve to figure out what to purchase and what not to purchase. The good news is that I have two resources that will help make it easier to make good choices.
Both of these are great resources for learning which products to avoid or use.
If you’re looking to create a chemical-free home, live more sustainably, and just live a better life, take action by getting access to The Tannehill Homestead Resource Library!
It has checklists, workbooks, ebooks, and more to help you get started with living more intentionally!
Remember to give yourself grace in this process. Creating a chemical-free home isn’t going to happen overnight.
Also, don’t beat yourself up for the things you have that contain harmful chemicals. I did that [and still do when I mess up], and it doesn’t help.
Instead, just do what you can and celebrate those accomplishments. You will create a chemical-free home as long as you are consistent with your efforts!
You’ve got this, friend!