Friday, February 26, 2010

Detoxify your Home (notes)

Following are the notes from my presentation on Detoxifying your Home. Reading this on your own may be overwhelming, but this is information I find so important that I want to share it with as many people as possible. Please ask questions if you are unsure about something. Here goes...


Crock pots – The glaze on most crock pots contains lead. The lead leaches into the cooking food as soon as the crock pot reaches 80 degrees (the same can be true of ceramic plates and bowls if heated in the microwave). Some major brands also contain cadmium, another highly toxic metal. 100% clay crock pots can be purchased but are expensive and sometimes have to be shipped from overseas. There have been good reviews for an all glass crock pot called the Elite Gourmet Transparent Slow Cooker, available on Amazon and at Target.

Corningware – Through biomed yahoo groups and blog sites, I’ve heard from several moms who had their white corningware tested and found it contains arsenic and/or lead. For this reason I avoid corningware and whenever possible stick with glass (pyrex is an inexpensive safe option) or stainless steel.

Cookware – Aluminum is a toxic metal and at high temperatures can leach into the food cooking. Teflon is incredibly dangerous! In a recent study done by University Food Safety, when heated on high for just 5 minutes, a Teflon pan released at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. Absolutely avoid Teflon (nonstick) pots and pans, they also test positive for antimony. Stick with stainless steel and make your own nonstick spray using a pampered chef kitchen spritzer and an all natural olive oil. Pampered chef stoneware is another safe choice and a favorite of mine. (If your stainless steel pans get grime on them, try Melaleuca’s Tub & Tile to get them clean.)

Canned foods – Food cans are lined with an epoxy resin that contains BPA. Cans made of tin or aluminum also seep the metal into the food over time. Try to buy foods fresh, frozen, dried or in glass jars.

Water – Tap water is often full of contaminants (chlorine, lead, tin, flouride, etc.). Bottled water is often just tap water with added fluoride packaged in plastic that can leach more chemicals into the water. The best solution is to invest in a water filtration system for your kitchen. There are inexpensive options such as Aquasana, Brita or Pur. Or you can choose a whole home water filtration system from Nirvana Safe Haven or Kirkman Kleen.

Microwave – There is research out there saying we should all remove microwaves from our homes. Many of us (including myself) aren’t ready to do that. So, be sure to use glass to reheat foods in the microwave. If ceramic plates are used, lead may be an issue. If plastics are used, the plastic may off-gas toxins into the air and into the foods you are heating. If glass isn’t available, a safer alternative to plastics or ceramics is a simple paper plate.


Mattresses – This is a difficult one. Mattresses are made of polyurethane plastic (even if you have an innerspring mattress, it still is wrapped with foam), sprayed with chemical fire retardants (including antimony), and covered with polyester plastic fabric. Matresses off-gas these chemicals for 6 years or more according to recent studies. Exposure to polyurethane can cause bronchitis, coughing, skin and eye problems, lung problems, etc. There are all natural beds available nowadays, many choices can be found at, but they don’t come cheap.

Bedding & Linens – On a mattress we usually have a polyester mattress pad covered with polyester sheets, which are both treated with a formaldehyde-based permanent-press finish for easy care. It is getting easier to find untreated natural cotton sheets at reasonable prices in major department stores. A few stores where you can find such bedding are Land’s End, Pottery Barn, LL Bean, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Seventh Generation, and many more.

Pajamas – When pajamas are labeled “flame retardant”, and 90% of them are, this is NOT a good thing! Chemicals used to make pajamas flame retardant include antimony oxides, chlorinated and brominated flame retardants, and phosphate-based compounds. The absorption of the antimony is exacerbated by urine (ex: diapers or pull-ups leaking overnight could be a problem). Switch to 100% cotton pajamas that are snug fitting and therefore not flame retardant. I find these pajamas at Gap, Old Navy, Children’s Place, Disney Store, Kohl’s and Costco…just read the labels and you can find such pajamas! The words “wear snug fitting, not flame resistant” are music to your ears 

Dry cleaning - Avoid if at all possible!!! The chemical used to do it, perchloroethylene, has already been linked to cancer as well as nervous system, kidney, liver, and reproductive disorders. If you absolutely have to dry clean something, unwrap them from the plastic and let them air out for a day or more before bringing them into your home. I just learned of an all natural dry cleaning company called Sunbury Cleaners located at 465 South State Street in Westerville. I do not have experience with this company, but you can visit their website at


Rubber duckies – This common bath toy and many other bath toys are made from PVC, the poison plastic. PVC can leach phthalates (linked to hormone disruption) and lead (a potent neurotoxicant). Go PVC-free by reading packages and avoiding the #3 in the chasing arrows symbol (usually found on the bottom of a product). If a plastic is not labeled, call the manufacturer.

Water – The same contaminants you find in your tap water are in your bath water, which kids soak in for hours each week. Consider a water filtration system for your tub from Kirkman Kleen, or again you can install a whole home water filtration system from Nirvana Safe Haven.

Body Products

Dental fillings – Silver amalgams are over 50% mercury. If you have them removed do so a year before considering a pregnancy and choose a dentist that is well versed in mercury free dentistry. Chelation with a trusted doctor is also recommended during and after the procedure.

Perfume & cologne - Fragrances can consist of hundreds of chemicals. Testing of Calvin Klein's Eternity revealed that the perfume contained over 800 compounds. Among the chemicals of concern is diethyl phthalate (DEP) that is absorbed through the skin and can accumulate in human fat tissue. Phthalates are suspected carcinogens and hormone disruptors. It's difficult to avoid phthalates because they are rarely listed on product ingredient labels. Phthalates are claimed as a part of trade secret formulas, and are exempt from federal labeling requirements. Find out if products you currently use contain phthalates and find safer ones on Environmental Working Group’s website at

Shampoos & soaps – The scalp and genitals are the most absorbent areas for toxins. Many shampoos (especially dandruff shampoos) contain selenium sulfide, recorcinol, PVP, formaldehyde, artificial colors and fragrances. Formaldehyde is often hidden on shampoo labels under the name quaternium-15. These same dangers exist for hair styling products. Melaleuca has a wonderful line for the kids called koala pals, which has a shampoo with conditioner as well as a body wash. For adults, you can find many safe choices at a health store such as Whole Foods. If you really love a high end salon shampoo rather than an herbal choice (as I do for myself), try Envia’s Nature Salon from Melaleuca…I absolutely love it!

Deoderants – Many deodorants contain aluminum and talc (which can be contaminated with asbestos). Aluminum is often linked to Alzheimer's and brain disorders and is a possible risk factor in breast cancer. Some safe alternatives for both men and women are from Melaleuca, Tom’s of Maine, and other organic brands you might find at Whole Foods or Raisin Rack. Check your labels!
Toothpaste – It should bother us that on the back of a tube of Kids Crest you read the following: “WARNINGS: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek PROFESSIONAL HELP or contact a POISON CONTROL center immediately.” Seriously??? I recommend you use a proven formula of natural ingredients, free of harmful chemicals and free of fluoride. Many of our kids still need a swallowable toothpaste, which is almost impossible to find in a fluoride free nontoxic choice. Melaleuca has a koala pals toothpaste that comes in apple flavor and my kids LOVE it! Tom’s of Maine also has a silly strawberry kid’s toothpaste that is fluoride free and yummy, but it does foam quite a bit which might bother your child if he or she doesn’t understand to rinse and spit yet.

Lipsticks – Contain lead, and since they are oil based are easily absorbed into our skin and bodies. Some brands that have tested positive for significant lead levels are Christian Dior, Lancome, Clinique, YSL, Estee Lauder, Red Earth, Chanel and Shiseido. There is an at home test you can try with your lipstick to determine if it is high in lead: put some lipstick on your hand, then use a 24k-14k gold ring to scratch on the lipstick, if the lipstick color changes to black then it is high in lead. If you aren’t sure about your lipstick, call the manufacturer or switch to a safer brand as listed below.

Makeup – Makeup often contains propolene glycol, glyeryl stearate, lanolin alcohol, panthenol, polyglycery 6 dioleate, and many more substances that can be toxic and are not healthy for our skin. Choose an organic brand of makeup where you can trust the ingredients. Some acceptable brands I know of are Nicole Miller New York from Melaleuca, Arbonne, and mineral make-ups.

Whole Home

Air fresheners – Most air fresheners mask odors with a synthetic fragrance or numb your sense of smell with chemical anesthetics. Aerosol fresheners spew out tiny droplets of chemicals that are easily inhaled into the lungs. Instead, ventilate well and choose natural deodorizers such as zeolite and baking soda which contain minerals that absorb odors.

Light bulbs – High efficiency fluorescent light bulbs are marketed as environmentally friendly, but they are highly toxic and full of mercury. They can’t even be disposed of in the trash because they are filling landfills with chemicals that leach into soil and water and poison fish and other wildlife. They're very efficient, but once they're used up, they become a ticking toxic time bomb. And should you break one in your home, you have just released this toxic time bomb into the air you breathe every day. Avoiding these light bulbs is the safest solution.

Pesticides – These are made to kill things, so they are extremely toxic. They leave residual poisons that linger on surfaces, contaminate air, and get tracked onto carpet from the bottom of shoes. There are many nontoxic ways to eliminate pests and weeds, so check out the recommendations at

Paints – There are 300 toxic chemicals and 150 carcinogens potentially present in oil-based paint. Be sure to use nonvolatile organic compound paints. They cost a little more money but will not be off-gassing toxins. Home Depot has a great line of NO VOC paints and NO VOC dyes to color them. Other resources for safe paints are Green Planet Paints, Fresh Aire Choice Paint, and Ecos Paints.

Carpeting – If carpet can be avoided all together that is best because most carpet and padding off-gas volatile organic compounds. Our kids often don’t react well to the dust mites and synthetics in the carpet. If there must be carpeting, a real budget buster is 100% worsted wool (no glue on the back of this carpet) with a green padding. Make sure the dyes used are low to no VOC.

Furniture – Pressboard furniture contains formaldehyde, absolutely do not use if possible. Some hardwood contains stains or varnishes that will off-gas, but older hardwood has already off-gassed. Oak is usually inexpensive and doesn’t off-gas. A great resource for nontoxic bedding and furniture is

Couch cushions - Avoid cushions, pillows, and anything with foam labeled as meeting California TB 117, as it is likely to contain toxic fire retardants. These chemicals migrate from the foam to people. These chemicals have already been linked to cancer, birth defects, thyroid disruption, reproductive and neurological disorders such as hyperactivity and mental retardation. Instead, look for foam and cushions made with polyester, down, wool, or cotton as they are unlikely to contain toxic fire retardants.

Scotch guarding – This is pure antimony, a toxic metal. Avoid if at all possible. This is also what carpet cleaning companies use if you choose the “protectant” option. Instead, have them clean with steam only or do the cleaning yourself with a safe alternative (such as Sol-U-Mel from Melaleuca).

Cleaning Products

This is one of the most toxic categories of your home, and also one of the easiest to change. I personally recommend trusting Melaleuca for all your cleaning products. They are a safe option that comes highly concentrated and work INCREDIBLY well!!! Melaleuca is less expensive than buying name brand cleaners at your local Walmart or Target, so you are making your home safer and saving money in the process. If you are already purchasing nontoxic cleaners from companies such as Seventh Generation, California Baby and Burt’s Bees…you will save a TON of money with Melaleuca since these other nontoxic brands are quite expensive. Here are some substitutions I have made in my home to give you some ideas:

Formula 409 --> Tough & Tender
Fantastik --> Tough & Tender
Multi Surface wipes --> Tough & Tender wipes
Pine-Sol --> Mela Magic
Mr. Clean --> Mela Magic
Magic Eraser --> Sol-U-Mel
Spot Shot --> Sol-U-Mel
Oxiclean --> Sol-U-Mel
Lysol --> Sol-U-Guard
Clorox --> Sol-U-Guard
Tilex --> Tub & Tile
Comet --> Tub & Tile
Scrubbing Bubbles --> Tub & Tile
Soft Scrub --> Tub & Tile
Lime-a-way --> Tub & Tile
Windex --> Clear Power
Pledge --> Rustic Touch
Orange Glo --> Rustic Touch
Palmolive dish liquid --> Lemon Brite
Cascade dishwasher detergent --> Diamond Brite
Tide laundry detergent --> Mela Power
Clorox 2 --> Mela Brite
Downy fabric softener --> Mela Soft liquid
Bounce dryer sheets --> Mela Soft dryer sheets
Shout spot spray --> PreSpot

Oven, drain and toilet bowl cleaners are the three nastiest toxins to come into your home. Corrosive or caustic cleaners, such as the lye and acids found in drain cleaners, oven cleaners and acid-based toilet bowl cleaners, are the most dangerous cleaning products because they burn skin, eyes and internal tissue easily. Here are a few tips to replace these 3 nasty cleaners:
* Oven: To clean extra-greasy ovens, mix together 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup of washing soda, then add enough water to make a paste; apply the paste to oven surfaces and let soak overnight. The next morning, lift off soda mixture and grime; and rinse surfaces well. You can also use a mix of Mela Magic & Sol-U-Mel with a scrubbing pad.
* Drain: Prevent clogged drains by using hair and food traps. To de-grease and sweeten sink and tub drains, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down drain followed by 1 cup vinegar; let bubble for 15 minutes; rinse with hot water. You might have to repeat the whole procedure more than once.
* Toilet: You can also use the baking soda and vinegar mixture listed above to treat clogged drains. Also, spray Tub & Tile in the toilet, let sit, then scrub with a toilet brush.

After reading this you may be interested in learning more about Melaleuca. If so, please contact me at and I would love to show you more. This is a company that has made detoxifying by home easy, fun, and most importantly inexpensive. Detoxifying your home is a process, it is not something you can accomplish overnight. Just remember to take it one step at a time, and start with the easy changes such as cleaning products and health products. Good Luck...and ask questions!!!


Anonymous said...

just wanted to chime in that a brand called jason, typically found in health food stores, has a good biotin shampoo and conditioner that does not have too much crap in it. nature's gate shampoos usually have sulfates but there is one kind, i forget which, that does not. they are reasonably priced too, so you might do some label reading at the health food store.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. i was wondering if you would mind if I use your article and posted on my blog, with all credit goes to you. please let me know and email me
again thank you

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your post....a lot of good information! I have two questions...what kind of flooring do you think is safe? It seems every kind has something wrong with it (except for the wool carpet). Laminate has plastics and wood has varnish. I am in the process of putting new floorin gin and just not sure what to go with! Also, a few years ago, I read the ingredients on the back of a friend's koala / Melaleuca had soap and it had a dangerous chemical in it. I can't remember for sure which one (it was so long ago. I think it was a PEG. And, another friend was selling Melaleuca and I read the ingredients on the back of some food items she told me were really healthy. Well, yes, they were healthier than most of the stuff on the snack isle at Wal-mart, but I did not think it was healthy or all natural. I really want all natural and safe products that are not going to slowly kill me and my family. However, it is hard for me to believe in and trust in their products because of some of the ingredients I have seen listed on the product.

Anonymous said...

God bless you and thanks for such an informative list. Keep up the great work. Cholasdaughter

Anonymous said...

I have a few suggestions:

Natural Deodorant- I have tried several and the only one that works is Muddy H2o Pit Stop.

Vinegar is a great cleaner with many anti-pathogenic qualities.

Laundry detergent- This is another big one since youll be wearing clothes basked in whatever chemicals your detergent contains all day. Many of the natural brands still contain sodium laurel sulfate, so read the labels. The best brand I have found is Biokleen.

Anonymous said...

You mention Pyrex for glass. Pyrex glass has lead in it. What you want for glassware is Anchor Hocking