We’ve all heard the saying, “know better do better.” I try to live by this saying and it’s super important to me. When I was growing up my parents did the best that they could with the knowledge they had at the time but does that mean that there aren’t ways to do things better now? Does that mean that we don’t have new research, information, and products coming out almost daily to make life better for ourselves and our families, not to mention Mother Earth?
HECK NO! Just look at how far research has come. In the 50’s it was acceptable to smoke and drink alcohol when you were pregnant but is that socially acceptable now?! WOAH NO! There is SO much research to show that this is harmful to developing babies now. But this new research and knowledge into healthier living includes much more than what we put into our bodies. It also includes what we put on them.
I never realized how harmful the cleaning products I was using in my home actually were until someone educated me and pointed me in the right direction. I started reading labels and researching ingredients and the results were mind blowing. I couldn’t believe I was letting my pets walk around on my freshly Pine-sol’d floor. What was being soaked up into their paws?!!! I was even letting my friends’ babies crawl all over too! I realized this was definitely not okay with me and started making big changes to my household.
But once I really dove into this new way of thinking, I learned that it wasn’t just the cleaning products I was using that were toxic, it was also the things I used to make my home smell good, my beauty products and so much more! I felt guilty for not learning the truth sooner and made a vow to turn my home into a completely non-toxic environment.
Removing these products from my home was not an overnight process. This is something that Michelle and I have both been researching, ditching, and switching in our households for the last 3-4 years. Even now, we continue to research and educate ourselves to make the best decisions we can with what we know. The goal of this article is to arm you with the tools and knowledge that you need to hopefully help you decide to make the switch into a more natural lifestyle. The most important thing to remember is to take your time and only do what you feel comfortable with. Take it in baby steps but I think that once you realize how easy it is to be toxin free and start seeing the benefits to your health, you will be all in!
Maybe you have already started your own journey and are looking for more information or maybe you want to start switching but are worried that natural products aren’t as effective? Well I’m here to tell you that not only are they just as effective as the chemical ridden products you have under your sink, sometimes they work even better! I think the biggest thing for me is the peace of mind that I get from knowing that the products I use, whether household or beauty, are good for my health and not harming my health or damaging the environment. I feel good knowing that my friends can bring their children over and they could physically lick the floor and be just fine!
Unlike the food industry, the ingredients in our household products are not regulated. In September 2017, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was finally granted permission from the government to begin evaluating the chemicals in household cleaning products and the harm they are causing consumers. We are finally moving in the right direction, but this research is just beginning! Although they are making a lot of progress it’s not quite enough for me considering other countries have banned some of the chemicals in the cleaning products found on our grocery store shelves in the USA. It will take decades to do this research, if they can continue to get funding and support, so let’s be proactive now and educate ourselves!!
So in the meantime, I’ve chosen the top 5 toxic products found in most American households that are harming us in more ways than you can imagine! You might be thinking that your house is clean and safe for your family, but research shows that our homes are one of the most toxic environments! Read on below and prepare to be shocked, friends.
THE TOP 5 TOXIC CHEMICALS
1. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)
SLS is a foaming agent found in SO many products! Think soaps, toothpaste, detergents, mascara, shaving cream and pretty much everything else that makes a lather. As a society we are taught to think foam equals clean but this is just not true. Foam = SLS = YUCK!!! SLS has been linked to side effects like neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, endocrine disruption, and arguably it’s most major side effect is that it is a known carcinogen.
Not only is it toxic to humans, it’s also harmful to the environment. It is commonly used as an herbicide and pesticide. SLS pollutes our waters and accumulates in the bodies of fish, killing them. Now I don’t know about you but if something is killing fish, polluting our water and commonly used to kill plants and insects, I am certain that I don’t want that in my body or that of my family!
This is found in the majority of household cleaners on the market. It has an “F” rating on the EWG website (Environmental Working Group). Evidence has shown that 2-butoxyethanol causes severe liver and kidney damage, skin irritation, developmental and reproductive problems. It causes red blood cell damage in animals via inhalation and absorption. Scientists have found that humans are less susceptible to it, but we don’t know by how much yet. This is definitely a hard “no” for my family and should be for you too, especially if you have pets. 2-butoxyethanol is found in spray lacquers, enamels, varnishes, and paints. It’s also found in paint thinners and herbicides!
Ever wonder what fragrance actually is? Well, I’m here to break it to you that you will probably never know! Fragrance is marked as a “trade secret” so the term can stay vague and never has to change. In short, this covers thousands of chemicals that are found in our homes. Can you honestly think of any store bought product, household or beauty, that doesn’t have an aroma to it?
Unfortunately even the products that are labeled as “clean” or “green” aren’t actually better for you as they still contain fragrance. For example, Mrs. Meyers products are labelled as “green” but they still have fragrance in them. If you check out the Think Dirty app some of their products are actually rated a 9!! If you are not familiar with Think Dirty, 9 = BAD. Go download it and scan an item in your home and see the dangers for yourself!
According to the EWG, more than 75% of the products that list fragrance as an ingredient contain phthalates which are known hormone disruptors. Phthalates have been linked to liver cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity. Many countries have already banned phthalates but the US government demands a high level of proof of harm (that is close to impossible to reach) before considering banning a chemical.
Honestly this crap is surrounding us everywhere we look! Even though we lead a clean lifestyle, the people around us might not. Think about your co-workers who use perfume, soaps, febreeze (oh goodness… the amount of febreeze floating around my office at work is awful), and a million other products. We are still coming in contact with fragrance on a daily basis. You can have a clean home that smells good and gives you health benefits by using high quality essential oils and natural DIY cleaners as an alternative! If you aren’t a do-it-yourselfer, there are a lot of brands on the market that are truly non-toxic who are also making an effort to be more sustainable than big box brands. While this article is about toxic chemicals and why you should make the switch I do think it’s important to add sustainability and reducing pollution to the list as well!
Guys, I LOVE smelly stuff. You know: candles, plug-ins, sprays- you name it! My house used to be covered in candles, and that is no joke! It was not only the smells that got me but when my fiance and I moved into our first apartment together, they used to keep us warm in the winter as well.
Formaldehyde is a main ingredient in most commercial candles. This is a known carcinogen, specifically affecting the nose and throat. Studies show that inhaling scents from candles or sprays is equal to inhaling second hand smoke from cigarettes. WHAT?!?! So now we are talking about formaldehyde AND fragrance in candles. Please, do yourselves a favor and go throw out your candles right now! Stop reading for a minute, go find every candle in your home and throw it away! When you are done come back and read more.
I mean it…. Stop… Get the candles… Toss them out….
Okay, thanks for coming back! Let’s keep going.
5. Alpha-Terpineol, Benzyl Alcohol, and Camphor
These ingredients are in detergents and dryer sheets. They are potentially the most toxic things in your home! They cause central nervous system disorders, loss of muscle coordination, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Headaches are something that is such a common part of our day that most people honestly think it’s normal. They pop an ibuprofen and move on. HECK NO, this is not normal! It’s crazy to think about how something so simple as doing our laundry can be creating these problems.
Dryer sheets are incredibly toxic. But how, you ask? They make your clothes so soft and good smelling, it just can’t be! Sorry to burst your bubble but… they are awful! Dryer sheets coat your clothing with wax and chemicals which are then absorbed into your skin causing the issues listed above. Skin is the largest organ in the body, so by using dryer sheets, the body is collecting these chemicals which causes bioaccumulation in your body, leading to problems.
Now I’m sure your next question is, “What can I replace my dryer sheets with?” I get this question a lot and there is a really simple and inexpensive answer. Wool dryer balls! They are a one time cost and last forever. They’ll dry your clothes faster too which is a bonus. Just add your favorite essential oil and pop a few in! Be sure to use only high quality essential oils though. Oils that are sold at the drugstore are not necessarily pure so it could be a fire hazard or your clothes could end up a different color. I like to use purification and citrus fresh from Young Living for all mine. Michelle really likes lavender or cypress from Plant Therapy.
Also, while we are on the subject of laundry, ditch the bleach! Bleach contains some of the yucky chemicals we discussed above and there is a natural (but effective) DIY for it. Throw some peroxide and lemon essential oil into the wash with your laundry detergent. It will leave your whites bright and fresh.
We live in a time where we have the most advanced science, medicine, and research and theoretically we should be at our healthiest, BUT we are not. As a society we are more sick than ever. I hope that this article has shed some light on a handful of not-so-hidden toxins in your home and has inspired you to do some more research for yourself and your family. Drop a comment and tell us what you learned and what shocked you the most! Let us know if you want us to write an article of our favorite non-toxic brands as well! If you don’t already get our newsletter make sure to sign up below! You’ll get all the latest articles, news and workshop information from the Seven Stones girls.
As always, thanks for reading!