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  • Writer's pictureMarie Katherine

My Personal Non-toxic Home Switches

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

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The benefits of using non-toxic household items are pretty clear. They’re better for your health and better for the environment, and in many cases, they work just as well (if not better) than their toxic counterparts. But making the switch to nontoxic products can feel daunting, especially if you’re not sure where to start.


If you’re new to the conversation, start with my post on Why you Should Switch to Non-Toxic Household Items and 6 Ways I Avoid Common toxins.


I’ve put together my personal list of clean/natural household items that we use just for you! We are nowhere near perfect, and this list is growing and changing as we find new products we like better or learn new information. We make a few of our household items, but mostly we just switched to cleaner brands.

Watch out for greenwashing!


Greenwashing literally makes me furious. It’s hard enough to make all the switches without false marketing. Oftentimes a product will claim to be “green” “non-toxic” or “clean”, but you really can’t tell unless you look at the ingredients. Here are some of the most common ingredients in household items to look for and avoid: Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Phthalates, Triclosan and Triclocarban, Fragrance, Aluminum, Propylene Glycol (PG) & Butylene Glycol, Mineral Oil, and Formaldehyde.


And there are a few others that are item-specific that we’ll get into.


My motto is to look for products with very simple ingredient lists. The shorter the better. And many products can actually be made yourself for much much cheaper!

My Personal Non-toxic Home Switches:


A note: This list is specific to me and what we use at home. There are TONS of other products that are clean and excellent options.


The Kitchen


Dishwasher detergent


To be transparent, we made our dishwasher detergent for a while, and I was not pleased with the result. I felt like it was not getting our dishes clean. This is the current one we use, which I’ve been very happy with!


Dish soap


The biggest thing to watch out for in dish soap is fragrance. A dish soap will look safe and natural, but if you read the back, they often sneak in fragrances of some sort. Here is my current favorite.


Food storage


Food storage can be tricky. The biggest thing here is to remember that plastics leach chemicals over time and especially when heated. For that reason, we don’t use plastic wrap or plastic containers. We opt for glass containers, like these.


Beeswax cloth is also an excellent option for wrapping larger dishes or keeping loose-cut veggies in. Beeswax cloth is surprisingly easy to make, but you can also purchase it here. Just remember to not let it get hot as heat will melt the wax.


Cookware


Cookware is a common item many people overlook when going through their homes to remove toxins. Unfortunately, it’s also a very common source of toxins, especially PFAS. Non-stick cookware is known for containing PFAS, and while maybe initially safe, over time as the pan or pot heats and cools, it’s bound to release those toxic chemicals into your food. Opt for stainless steel pots and pans and/or cast iron. Cast iron skillets are a must-have in my home. They can be pricey, but they last lifetimes if cared for!


Cooking utensils and other plastic


Cooking utensils are often made of plastic. Spatulas, large spoons, and other utensils are commonly made with plastic. However, when heated, plastic leaches chemicals. Opt for metal or wooden utensils.


Plastics are also commonly used in water bottles or to-go bottles and coffee pots. As water bottles age, they leach chemicals. The little nozzle that coffee passes through is often made of plastic, and coffee comes through it piping hot! Opt for stainless steel water bottles or to-go mugs and a coffee maker that does not involve hot coffee passing through the plastic. We use a French press, but there are many many other options.


To summarize:


Avoid fragrances, and harsh chemicals in your cleaning products. Avoid plastics, especially if they have the potential to get hot. Use non-toxic cookware and other kitchen items, such as glass, stainless steel, cast iron, and beeswax.


Cleaning Products



Everyday cleaner


Many people have different cleaner for different parts of their house. Glass cleaner, carpet cleaner, countertop cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and the list goes on. I simplified my cleaners a long time ago, and not only am I confident that my house is still getting clean, but I’m also saving money! I make a vinegar-water-essential oil spray that is SO easy and cheap! Many people soak orange peels in vinegar for their cleaning spray, but I actually prefer essential oils.


Laundry detergent


Laundry detergent is so easy to make, and so cost-efficient! My recipe makes 5 gallons and costs less than $12! See the recipe here!


Wool dryer balls


Wool dryer balls are such an easy replacement for dryer sheets. Dryer sheets are single use, and full of ingredients that are not good for our bodies or our dryers actually. I like to sometimes add essential oils to our dryer balls just to give our clothes a nice smell.


Room sprays, candles


Did you know that according to the EPA, the typical home in the US has chemical contamination levels 2-5x higher than outdoor air?

This is largely because of the artificial fragrances in our air! I’m sure it’s also due to dust and mold, but because the fragrance is added to almost everything, it’s a huge contributor! Again, fragrance is an endocrine disruptor. Room sprays, wall scent plugs, candles, and other scented products are not good for our health. If you must have something scented, opt for an essential oil diffuser. Make sure you source good essential oils, as some low-quality oils are just as bad as conventional fragrances. Good essential oils in a diffuser also usually have added benefits that come with whatever oils you’re using.


House plants are also excellent ways to clean the air in your home, as well as occasionally (or frequently) opening your windows to let fresh air in.


To summarize:


Simplify your cleaning supplies. Make what you can (laundry detergent, multipurpose cleaner), and/or buy products with simple clean ingredients. Watch out for artificial fragrances, and go ahead and toss any scented candles, room sprays, or other fragrances as those contribute to low air quality and disrupt our hormones!


Personal Care


Shampoo and conditioner


There are actually a lot of options for clean, natural shampoos. and conditioners. We’re currently using this one, which is scented with essential oils. Again, opt for simple ingredients, and watch out for artificial fragrances.


Body wash


Again, there are lots of options for body wash. We opt for castile soap because it’s accessible, affordable, and versatile. It’s a concentrate, so we just use a little bit of a sponge in the shower, and it goes a long way! It can dry skin, so I follow it with a simple moisturizer.


Moisturizer


Just like all personal care products, there are tons of options for moisturizers and lotions. I’m lumping them together because I like to use the same two products for both! I use coconut oil (usually for my body) and homemade tallow balm for my face, and those particularly stubborn and dry portions of my body. These two things are both cheap and very simple. The Tallow moisturizer actually has a lot of anti-aging benefits. I purchased this tallow moisturizer to test it before making a large batch of my own, and loved it!


Deodorant


I’ve opted to make my own deodorant. I’ve found that “natural” deodorants only work for me about 60% of the time. Especially if I work out or spend time gardening, store-bought natural deodorants just don’t last very long. Besides the previously listed chemicals to watch out for, deodorants are also known to contain aluminum which is a PFAS and a neurotoxin. So while conventional deodorants are effective, it’s not worth it! I’ve been VERY pleased to find that homemade deodorant works almost as well as conventional deodorant. The difference is, mine lasts only about 24 hours instead of 48 (and do you really want something on your skin that long anyways?) It’s both easy to make and VERY cost-efficient! A batch will last me and my husband (we both use it daily) for about 4 months! See the recipe here!


Toothpaste


Toothpaste is a common product that is greenwashed. The specific ingredients I avoid in toothpaste are any kind of colorants, fluoride, and sodium lauryl sulfate. You can make your own, but I personally prefer this one.


Hand soap


You can buy a variety of hand soaps that are made with clean, natural ingredients, but I like to keep it simple with castile soap and water. A foaming dispenser makes the experience a little nicer when washing hands. I also love to buy local handmade bar soap, or sometimes make my own!


Sunscreen


Sunscreen can be a tricky product to shop for. In addition to it often being greenwashed, many people in the natural health space don’t wear or recommend sunscreen at all, instead opting for mindful sun exposure, a healthy circadian rhythm, and a diet free of seed oils (which yes, will reduce your chances of being burned). I personally still buy and occasionally wear sunscreen. I do all of the things mentioned above to reduce my chances of being burned, but if I’m going to be out in the sun all day (on the beach, at the river, or working outside) with little or no shade, I wear sunscreen. Do what you’re comfortable with, and do your own research.


I prefer mineral sunscreen to chemical sunscreen. Here is a good one that I like.


Bug spray


Bug sprays, while necessary, can be among the MOST toxic personal care products you can buy! They are full of chemicals that are not good for bugs (as evidenced by the fact the bugs stay away), BUT they are also not good for people! I prefer an essential oil-based bug spray. Nature provides what we need, and there are a variety of plants that are not harmful to humans, but deter bugs, simply because they do not like the smell! You can make your own at home, but I like this one personally.


To Summarize:


Do you really need 6 different kinds of lotions, potions, and sprays to maintain healthy skin? Try and simplify your personal care routine. Make what you can, and make sure what you buy is made with simple, clean ingredients. Watch out for greenwashing! I’ve found that clean personal care products are actually difficult to find because you have to wade through the swamp of greenwashed products. I’ve also found that eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated are just as important if not MORE important to hygiene and beauty than the products you use! A clean diet and hydration lead to less body odor, clearer skin, and reduces your chances of burning.


You may have noticed, but I left out a section on makeup and a section on baby items. I don’t wear very much makeup, and the current brand I’m currently wearing is one that I suspect is green-washed, so I’m not confident recommending it. And while baby items are on our minds, I’m not due for several months, so I haven’t done the research yet. When I do, I’ll be sure to make a list! Again, if you have recommendations or suggestions, please let me know in the comments!

 

There is so much to learn here, so if you’re brand new to this conversation, don’t be overwhelmed! See my posts here on 6 Ways I Avoid Common Toxins, and Why Buy Organic Food. Both posts are good places to start. If you’re an old pro, let me know in the comments why you switched to clean and natural products!

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