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Detox Your Bathroom of Toxic Chemicals: 5 Steps + EWG Product Recommendations

Detox Your Bathroom of Toxic Chemicals: 5 Steps + EWG Product Recommendations

What kinds of toxic chemicals can be hiding in our bathrooms? I am not going to overwhelm you with a list of every single potential harmful ingredient in our bathroom products. The chemical names are hard to remember and can sometimes be called many different things. I personally find it more helpful to learn how to replace these products with lower risk products.

That being said, I do want to give you a general feel for some of the chemicals we run into in the bathroom. These are just some randomly selected examples, and there are many others.

  • Phthalates are found in pretty much any product that has the word “fragrance” as an ingredient and they are also used to soften plastics. Phthalates are believed to disrupt hormone regulation, and one class of phthalates is rated as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program and a “probable carcinogen” by the EPA.
  • BHA is a preservative used in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals and is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program.
  • Parabens are in many lotions, shampoos, shaving creams, and makeup products. They have been shown to have a weak estrogenic effect (which is commonly associated with breast cancer), however this effect can be amplified to concerning levels when combined with other chemicals (Pans et al, 2016). There needs to be more research to understand the potential link between parabens and cancer.
  • Aluminum is found in many antiperspirants and preliminary research has shown a potential link to breast cancer, but this is debated and larger scale research studies are needed (Mannello et al, 2011; Allam et al, 2016)
  • 1,4-dioxane is a chemical found in many personal care products (shampoo, body wash, foaming soaps, etc) and it is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by The International Agency for Research on Cancer and “likely to be carcinogenic” by the EPA. There is currently a petition to ban these from personal care products.
  • Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen (International Agency for Research on CancerNational Toxicology Program), and almost 1/5 of cosmetics contain chemicals which release formaldehyde (De groot et al, 2010).
  • And many more…

It’s hard to know exactly how these chemicals impact us, but a precautionary approach is to reduce our exposure to these potential toxins as much as possible. Personally, I am not willing to take the risk while waiting for more research studies to come out.

So if our products are “paraben and phthalate free” are we in the clear? Not necessarily. Just because a product calls out certain ingredients, doesn’t mean the rest of the ingredients are safe.

How do we find safer alternatives? Luckily the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done an amazing job of classifying the level of toxicity in a huge database of products. This is a great resource, however I still get a little overwhelmed because it is a massive list of products. I want to know which ones have decent consumer reviews, are not super expensive, and are easy to purchase.

Here is some good news!

To save you time, I spent hours and hours reviewing the EWG database of top rated products and have listed recommendations below. These are all products I have either used or plan to try out. They are all at prices I would spend and they have generally positive reviews.

So, how do we detox our bathrooms?

Here are some actionable steps and recommended products!

These products all have the highest ratings from EWG, have generally good reviews, and are decently priced (unless otherwise noted).

1. Replace your body products with safer alternatives.

Lotion: Two lotions with good reviews are Attitude Living and Just The Goods Lotion, two companies out of Canada.

Deodorant: Natural versions of deodorant with arrowroot and baking soda tend to work great. Check out Primal Pit Paste (love the name!)

Body wash: I just use Castille Soap and really like it. You could also try these ones from Alaffia and Attitude.

Shaving cream: Again, I use Castille Soap and it does the trick. I had trouble finding good reviews for shaving cream specific to men, but here is one with a high EWG rating to try in the meantime.

Shampoo and Conditioner: Attitude has a good option for Shampoo and Conditioner. They also sell a 2-1 shampoo that men seem to like.

Hair product: Carina Organics was about the only hairspray I could find that had good reviews. Here is a good light-medium holding pomade.

Face lotion: Good face lotion always seems to be expensive. This one by Graydon is the best balance between price and good reviews, but I still wish it was cheaper. Suntegrity and Juice Beauty have good SPF options.

Face washDesert Essence has this face wash with really great reviews, and it is pretty cheap. Just The Goods also has some good options.

Eye Makeup Remover: This one has the best reviews and I am buying it asap.

Hand soap: Nope, not Method. Plain old Castille Soap is great for hand soap. If you like bars, try out Sunfeather Soaps.

 

2. Look into alternatives for your heavily used makeup.

I am super picky with my makeup and haven’t personally tried all of these yet. I wanted to give you some options to start trying out right away. I am going to do the same and will let you know what I think.

Eyeliner: Here is a good waterproof gel eyeliner, a liquid liner, and a mineral liner.

Mascara: Try out this Physician’s Formula mascara. Unfortunately, I did not find a waterproof mascara with the highest EWG rating. I will update this if I find one!

Eye brow liner: Give this one a try, from Maia’s Minerals.

Eye shadow: Mineral Fusion has some nice eye shadow trios. Bella Mari has great color selections, limited reviews, but good prices.

Bronzer: Mineral Fusion also has a great looking bronzer with good reviews

Concealer: W3LL People’s Liquid Concealer has some pretty awesome reviews, and Mineral Fusion has a nice compact concealer.

Foundation: Here is a pressed powder foundation to try out. Au Natural also has a foundation stick in a few different shades that people seem to like.

Lip gloss: I love the look of Mineral Fusion’s lip glosses.

Nail polish: I could not find a non-toxic EWG rated nail polish with good reviews. Look for polishes that say they are free of formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, or camphor (some listed as “4-free”). I am currently using Mineral Fusion nail polish on my toes and love it. Note, it has not yet been rated by EWG.

3. Clean up your oral hygiene.

Toothpaste: I love Tom’s toothpaste. I choose this fluoride free version, because there is debate over the toxicity of fluoride.

Dental floss: Use floss coated with beeswax or plant wax, not Teflon or petroleum. Tom’s dental floss is a great alternative (not rated by EWG)

 

4. Ditch your vinyl shower curtain.

Replace it with a cotton liner like this one from Eco Choices. I also really like these hemp liners but they are pricey. These have not been rated by EWG.

 

5. Detox your bathroom cleaning routine.

We talked about how cleaners can contain many toxic and undisclosed ingredients in our “Detox Your Kitchen” post. The same goes for bathroom cleaners. Here are some top rated EWG products with good consumer reviews.

Shower: The best option is to keep your shower clean by wipe down with each use and periodically using a shower cleaner like the Earth Friendly Products shower cleaner. Mold and mildew cleaners can be particularly harsh so there aren’t a lot of great options.  Give Attitudes Bathroom Cleaner a try. Hard water and calcium build up? CLR-Calcium remover is your best bet.

Toilet: There are not many toxin-free options for this one! Try GreenShield Organic Toilet Bowl Cleaner.

Drains: Avoid pouring toxic chemicals down your drains. Use the coat hanger method to get hair out of bathtub drains (unscrew drain cover, straighten a metal coat hanger, bend a little hook into one end, put the end down the drain while rotating it and then pull out the gunk!). Other options: Fill up tub or sink with water and use a plunger, or try and clean out the trap.

All-Purpose: These cleaners by GreenShield Organic and Attitude have good reviews.

Air freshener: Avoid the conventional air fresheners that pump toxic chemicals into the air to mask smells. This air freshener by Earth Friendly Products was pretty much the only one that had a high EWG ranking and good reviews.

Cleaning pointers: 

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia, vinegar, or other acids (including lemon) – This produces a deadly gas
  • Avoid the need for heavy duty cleaners by doing some light cleaning more often. Don’t wait until your shower is covered in mold and mildew before cleaning it!
  • Open a window to air out bathroom after a shower and to get rid of smells
  • Dispose of your old cleaners at a local hazardous waste facility (don’t pour down drain)
  • Open windows, wear gloves and a mask while cleaning to reduce your exposure to chemicals
  • Let me know below if you would like to know some DIY options.

How do I know if the products I already have need to be replaced? The easiest way is to download the EWG Healthy Living App and scan the barcode on the product. If you can’t find your product, you can go to their two databases (this one for cleaning products, this one for personal care products) and search the ingredient names to see if there is a toxin concern (many cleaning products do not list ingredients, and in that case I replace them).

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Start with your most heavily used products, and continue on from there. Bookmark this page if you want so you can come back to it.

Take it one step at a time and you will find that detoxing is easier than you think!

Have you tried these products? Feel free to share ones that you liked or didn’t like in the comments.

Ready for more? Check out our post on how to “Detox Your Kitchen.

 

This post contains affiliate links to products we recommend. If you purchase a product using these links, we receive a small commission, and the price remains the same for you. If you like our site, feel free to use our links to help support us!

References
Allam MF. Breast Cancer and Deodorants/Antiperspirants: a Systematic Review. Cent Eur J Public Health. 2016;24(3):245-247.
EWG Skin Deep. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. Accessed June 19, 2017.
EWG Guide to Healthy Cleaning. http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners. Accessed June 19, 2017.
Mannello F, Tonti GA, Medda V, Simone P, Darbre PD. Analysis of aluminium content and iron homeostasis in nipple aspirate fluids from healthy women and breast cancer-affected patients. J Appl Toxicol. 2011;31(3):262-9.
NTP (National Toxicology Program). 2016. Report on Carcinogens, Fourteenth Edition.; Research Triangle Park, NC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Pan S, et al. Parabens and Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Ligand Cross-Talk in Breast Cancer Cells. Environ Health Perspect. 2016;124(5):563-9.
How To Detox Your Kitchen from Harmful Chemicals and Carcinogens

How To Detox Your Kitchen from Harmful Chemicals and Carcinogens

We are exposed to thousands of chemicals and pollutants in our home and environment every day and many of them are suspected to be or known to be carcinogenic.

A few organizations review research on commonly used chemicals and report on their carcinogenic status (International Agency for Research on Cancer, National Toxicology Program, Environmental Protection Agency). This does not necessarily mean these products are removed from our lives. Many household products contain harmful ingredients, but they claim they are not at levels to cause harm. The problem is that we are using many different products which add up and these chemical cocktails may actually amplify the levels of toxic exposure in our bodies (Goodson et al, 2015).

It is easy to become paranoid about every product that we use in our homes and put on and in our bodies. For me, the paranoia only increased when I learned that ingredients are not required to be listed on cleaning solutions, and many companies are using words and packaging to make them look “green” while in reality they are just as bad as the conventional products.

I tend to feel overwhelmed when I see a list of chemicals and additives to avoid. If all of the ingredients are not listed on the bottles, how do we even screen for these? And how are we supposed to remember names like 2-butoxyethanol?!

Rather than walking around paranoid, stressed, and overwhelmed, I created actionable steps to help easily avoid many of the harmful chemicals around us.

This summary is a result of hours and hours of researching so I hope it helps you quickly get up to speed to detox your kitchen!

Below are the main steps to detox our kitchens. These steps will not remove every toxin, but it is based on the research and recommendations from organizations such as the Environmental Working Group.

Use stainless steel, ceramic, or glass to store food. Avoid plastic as much as possible.

Replace plastic Tupperware with glass food storage containersmason jars, or ceramic containers. BPA found in hard plastics may increase risk of breast and prostate cancer (Seachrist et al, 2016). Even if plastics are labeled BPA free, they may contain other potentially harmful ingredients. For example, phthalates are additives used to help soften plastics and are believed to disrupt hormone regulation and potentially increase risk of cancers such as testicular cancer (Meeker et al, 2009). The National Toxicology Program (NTP) rates phthalates as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”.

Avoid styrofoam. Styrofoam contains styrene which is classified as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the NTP.

Look for “BPA free” on cans. BPA is also in the lining of cans (including drinks). Look for the “BPA free” label. Many organic canned beans will have this labeled.

Avoid plastic wrap. Plastic wrap can contain PVC, and vinyl chloride (used to make PVC) is classified as “carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Filter drinking water. 

There are many contaminants in the water that we drink (yes, even bottled water). For example, chromium 6 (the focus on the movie Erin Brockovich) is in much of our water supply (check out amounts in your area here). Two great options for filtering our water are gravity filters with carbon filters, and reverse osmosis systems. The filters that attach to our faucets or the pitcher type filters do not filter out as many contaminants.

You can find out what is in your water by looking at the “Consumer Confidence Report” that your water company is required to send to you on July 1st each year. You can find it online using this handy searchable map provided by the EPA.

Take these precautions when heating food:

Use stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic, or glass to heat foods or liquids. Avoid heating food in plastic (examples: Tupperware, plastic kettles, plastic liners for crock pot, etc). Heating plastic causes chemicals to seep into the water/food at up to 55 times the rate before heating (Le et al, 2008).

When microwaving, cover with a paper towel instead of plastic to avoid plastic leaching into your food.

Use oils carefully.

  • High omega 6 and low omega 3 has been linked to increased inflammation and rate of diseases including cancer (Ramadan et al, 2010; Simopoulos, 2002). Avocado oil and olive oil are good choices, however olive oil has a lower “smoke point” so it should not be used with high heat (see next point). Vegetable oils have a high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio and should be avoided altogether (corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil). These also tend to be highly processed and genetically modified and may contain additional pesticides and contaminants.
  • Cook on lowest heat possible with healthy oils that can withstand high heat (unrefined cold-pressed avocado oil). Many oils break down at low temperatures (called their “smoke point”) resulting in free radicals (olive oil).
  • My go-to oil choices are unrefined cold-pressed avocado oil (high smoke point and good omega 6/3 ratio), virgin cold-pressed coconut oil (high in saturated fat so I use small amounts), and extra-virgin olive oil for dressing and sauces only (not for heating). Another option is red palm oil (make sure it is CSPO certified sustainable).

If you choose to eat meat, cook on low heatHeterocyclic amines are formed when cooking meat at high temperatures and are “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the NTP.

Replace nonstick pots and pans with stainless steel or cast iron. Nonstick has a Teflon (PTFE) coating. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), used to create Teflon, is rated “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer due to some research studies linking it to testicular cancer, among others. While PFOA is mostly burned off in the process of making Teflon, it is known that fumes from a Teflon coated pan can produce fever-like symptoms (polymer flu fever) and kill pet birds (Greenberg et al, 2015).

Replace plastic cutting boards with bamboo cutting boards to avoid pieces of plastic in your food.

 

Buy organic produce to reduce exposure to pesticides from ingestion and build up on kitchen surfaces.

Replace cleaners with safer alternatives. Safe alternatives are difficult to identify since the ingredients are not required to be listed on cleaning solutions. Cleaners routinely used in our kitchens include harmful ingredients such as glycol ethers, ammonia, phthalates, chlorine, and lye (sodium hydroxide) among others. I have provided some DIY solutions as well as links to products you can buy that have an “A” rating from the Environmental Working Group.

  • Mop floors with a wet mop rather than chemicals. Or try this one which has an “A” rating from EWG.
  • Hand wash dishes with liquid castile dish soap
  • For dishwashing detergent use 1 tablespoon of washing soda with a couple drops of liquid castile dish soap and put white vinegar in the rinse dispenser (organic white vinegar to avoid GMOs). Or try this one.
  • Clean windows with newspaper and diluted white vinegar.
  • Use a safe general purpose cleaner (4 cups warm water, 1 tsp washing soda, 2 tsp liquid castile soap, essential oils; shake and put in a spray bottle). Or try this one.
  • Avoid anything with the generic word “fragrance” listed as an ingredient. The fragrance commonly contains phthalates along with other chemical cocktails. Avoid plug-in air fresheners as well. Use essential oils instead.
  • Use baking soda and water instead of chemical oven cleaners.
  • Replace your antibacterial soap. Antibacterial soap contains Triclosan which is now banned by the FDA. According to the FDA, plain soap and water just as effective as antibacterial soap (and cheaper)!
  • Open windows, use gloves, be careful not to inhale fumes
  • NEVER mix cleaners containing chlorine bleach with products that contain vinegar, ammonia, or oxygen bleach. This generates toxic fumes. Keep this in mind as you transition to DIY solutions.

The scientific community is still researching and developing their understanding on how various toxins affect the body. Just because we are exposed to one of these toxins, doesn’t necessarily mean we will develop a health problem or cancer. There are many factors involved including our lifestyle, immune system, method of exposure, amount of exposure, etc. It takes a long time to fully understand the effects of toxins on our bodies and even longer for a “fix” to be implemented in our stores. Rather than wait around for years for the answers, these steps are precautions based on what knowledge is out there.

Take it one step at a time and you will find that these steps are easier to implement than you think!

 

This post contains affiliate links to products we recommend. We receive a small commission if you purchase a product using these links, and the price remains the same for you. If you like our site, feel free to use our links to help support us!
References

Goodson WH et al. Assessing the carcinogenic potential of low-dose exposures to chemical mixtures in the environment: the challenge ahead. Carcinogenesis. 2015;36 Suppl 1:S254-96.

Greenberg MI et al. Metal fume fever and polymer fume fever. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2015;53(4):195-203.

Le HH et al. Bisphenol A is released from polycarbonate drinking bottles and mimics the neurotoxic actions of estrogen in developing cerebellar neurons. Toxicol Lett. 2008;176(2):149-56.

Meeker JD et al. Phthalates and other additives in plastics: human exposure and associated health outcomes. Philos Trans R Soc Lond, B, Biol Sci. 2009;364(1526):2097-113.

NTP (National Toxicology Program). 2016. Report on Carcinogens, Fourteenth Edition.; Research Triangle Park, NC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/roc14/

Ramsden CE et al. n-6 fatty acid-specific and mixed polyunsaturate dietary interventions have different effects on CHD risk: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2010;104(11):1586-600.

Seachrist DD et al. A review of the carcinogenic potential of bisphenol A. Reprod Toxicol. 2016;59:167-82.

Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002;56(8):365-79.