10 common household products that are harming your health
These household products might seem innocent, but they’re taking a toll on your health every time you use them.
Have you ever stopped to think about the “essential” household products you buy on a regular basis? The truth is, many of them contain hidden toxins that are bad for you, your family members, and the environment. Take a look at the top ten offenders and their natural alternatives.
If you’re anything like the majority of the population, you love scented candles. But would you still love them if you knew they were made with toxic sludge? That’s right. Most commercially sold candles are made with paraffin wax – a refined substance distilled from petroleum (aka gasoline). When you burn candles in your house, countless pollutants enter your environment and are eventually inhaled and absorbed.
The alternatives: Candles made from soy or beeswax are a much safer and trendier option.
2. Toilet paper
Once upon a time, your toilet paper was a tree. In order for manufacturers to make it soft and white enough for its purpose, they had to treat it with a lot of chemicals – we’re talking bleach, sodium hydroxide, formaldehyde and many more. Because of all this processing, most of the toilet paper sold in department stores is really bad for your lady parts. In fact, TP is one of the main causes of vaginal infections, UTIs and unexplained allergic reactions. No thanks!
Toilet paper is one of the main causes of vaginal infections, UTIs and unexplained allergic reactions.
The alternatives: Family cloths and bidets aren’t for everyone, but they’re certainly a health-conscious choice. If those options make you cringe, companies like Caboo and Tushy offer unbleached toilet paper made of bamboo (it’s more sustainable than trees). For a cheaper alternative, look for department store toilet paper brands that are off-white, which typically indicates that they’ve undergone less processing.
Ever wonder why your parents taught you not to swallow your toothpaste? It’s because it’s full of synthetic substances that aren’t particularly good for you. Chemicals like Sodium Flouride, Propylene Glycol and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate give leading brands like Crest and Colgate their white, foamy nature, but these fancy features are jeopardizing your health. Fluoride is known to cause irritation to eyes, skin and nasal membranes, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate interferes with your taste buds by destroying the phospholipids on your tongue, while Propylene Glycol is a surfactant used in – wait for it – antifreeze.
The alternatives: Reach for all-natural toothpastes or take a crack at making your own!
4. Laundry detergent
Allergies? Sensitive skin? Your laundry detergent is probably part of the problem. Just like the products mentioned above, most detergents contain various chemicals that linger on your clothes and bedding, causing itchiness, dryness and irritation – and most of them are classified as carcinogens! Yes, this buzzword is overused and rarely justified, so here’s the proof. Multiple studies link common laundry detergent ingredients such as dioxane, Alcohol Ethoxylates and quaternium-15 to an increased risk of cancer. Oh, and speaking of quaternium-15, it’s among the most clinically significant contact allergens in children. Is it worth the risk?
The alternatives: Nellie’s, Honest, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer’s are among the many plant-based, biodegradable detergents now available on the market – and none of them contain harsh chemicals! Go even more natural by mixing vinegar, castile soap and your favorite essential oil to create a DIY detergent that will leave your clothes smelling fresh and feeling soft.
Most laundry detergents contain various chemicals that linger on your clothes and bedding, causing itchiness, dryness and irritation.
5. Air freshener
Aerosol and plug-in air fresheners contain phthalates (among other chemicals), which can negatively affect hormone levels, semen quality, development of the reproductive system and birth defects, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Even if your freshener of choice doesn’t contain this harmful substance, it’s best to toss it in the trash if you care about your lung health. “Plugins, sprays, candles, any fragrance — all contain irritants to the airways,” says Janna Tuck, M.D., a practicing allergist in Cape Girardeau, MO. Oh, and they’re carcinogenic.
The alternatives: Essential oil diffusers are a healthy way to make your house smell good while purifying your air!
6. Bleach disinfectant wipes
The hazards of bleach are no secret. This seemingly harmless product that we use to clean our homes is the same corrosive chemical used to create deadly gases. When inhaled, it increases the chance of immune disorders, hormone dysfunction, diabetes, miscarriage and infertility. It can cause severe damage to your skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract and eyes, and can even destroy the integrity of your cells. Now that we’ve established the risks, here’s a news flash for you: putting this chemical into convenient wipes doesn’t make it any less dangerous.
News flash! Putting bleach into convenient wipes doesn’t make it any less dangerous.
The alternatives: Good ol’ fashion cloths, vinegar and water, plus a drop or two of lemon essential oil.
7. Non-stick pots and pans
Non-stick cook wear was invented for one simple reason – convenience. But do you know what these pots and pans are coated with? Polytetrafluoroethylene, otherwise known as Teflon. When heated, this scary-sounding chemical (which is also used to make cable coatings and raincoats) releases toxic fumes that seep into your food and lungs while you cook. If that’s not bad enough, Teflon has been linked to – you guessed it – cancer. Luckily, over the past decade, the plug was pulled on an even more dangerous chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, which was previously used in the Teflon manufacturing process… but that doesn’t exactly make Polytetrafluoroethylene sound any more edible.
The alternatives: Cast iron pans might be the longest lasting, least toxic cook wear option available – and they add an unparalleled richness to your food (plus iron, for the vegans out there).
8. Spot-on flea and tick products
Pet parents, beware! Companies that offer spot-on flea and tick preventatives have done a fantastic job of marketing their product. Many pet parents have been led to believe that it’s the only way to keep pesky pests at bay. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! There are various natural options out there that work to repel bugs (and kill the existing ones) without causing your pet unnecessary harm. What harm, you ask? When you apply one of these products to your pet, you’re essentially smearing a chemical insecticide to his skin. It absorbs into his bloodstream, increasing his risk of thyroid lesions, liver toxicity, increased cholesterol levels, cancer, convulsions, inflammation, skin irritation, muscle weakness and organ damage. These same toxins rub off onto your furniture, posing a similar risk to you and your two-legged family members.
The alternatives: Boosting your pet’s immunity by feeding a high-quality diet, skipping unnecessary vaccines and limiting his exposure to toxins will help protect him from fleas and ticks in the most natural way possible. If you live in a high-risk area, try adding small amounts of garlic and apple cider vinegar to your pet’s regular meals. These foods will make your animal companion “less tasty”, so those bugs will leave him alone. Finally, reach for a natural bug repellent made from essential oils.
Boosting your pet’s immunity by feeding a high-quality diet, skipping unnecessary vaccines and limiting his exposure to toxins will help protect him from fleas and ticks naturally.
9. Plastic cutting boards and food containers
Any type of plastic will eventually break down. Over time, these products release chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA) into your food. When BPA is ingested, it mimics estrogen and disrupts your endocrine system. Over time, this can affect your hormones, metabolism, growth, sex drive, sleep, and organ function.
The alternatives: Be wary of plastic products labeled “BPA-free”. Chances are, they still contain trace amounts, not to mention countless other chemicals. Instead, turn to good ol’ fashion glass containers, and opt for bamboo cutting boards. The price might be higher, but the benefits outweigh the extra cost.
10. Feminine hygiene products
In case you haven’t noticed, your vagina is a very sensitive thing. It’s somewhat unbelievable, then, that most tampons and pads are made with cotton grown with pesticides, and then bleached with a host of chemicals and additives. These scary substances then enter your body via your “you know what”, putting you at risk of bacterial and yeast infections, hormone dysfunction, ovarian cancer and even infertility.
Most tampons and pads are made with cotton grown with pesticides, and then bleached with a host of chemicals and additives.
The alternatives: Unbleached, organic tampons and pads work just as well as their traditional counterparts. Don’t believe us? Give them a chance! If you want to go the reusable route, try a diva cup or shop at Hannahpad, a company that offers an entire line of adorable cloth pads and liners that will keep your va-jay-jay happy and healthy. They might seem expensive, but think of all the money you’ll save in the long run!
As a consumer, it can be difficult to break your habits and say goodbye to your favorite brands – we get it. But you and your family deserve to live in a healthy environment! Challenge yourself by swapping out one household product a month for a safer alternative and see where it takes you. Trust us… you’ll be happy you did!