It’s 2018 and by now, we’re all well-versed in detoxing. We’ve downed green juice, ditched sugar, put charcoal on our faces, maybe even swapped some beauty products for cleaner alternatives. Coconut oil everything. But, when you’re using your paraben-free shampoo, are you thinking about the chemicals in your shower water? Or on that scratched nonstick pan you used to make your local organic veggie filled omelet this morning? We’re putting in a lot of effort in the name of wellness, while missing some simple, but meaningful, fixes right in front of us.
After I cleaned up my diet and top shelf, I decided to take on my whole apartment. Lucky for you I already did the endless hours of research. You can overhaul your home all at once or over time, it’s a choose your own adventure situation because even the smallest change will be of benefit.
First, ditch all your chemical cleaning products. They’re not doing your endocrine system any favors. All you need is a gentle unscented soap, water, a glass spray bottle and microfiber cloths. I use this combo for everything from my countertops and appliances to my shower marble, and it works as well as any chemical cleaner I’ve used. For a natural disinfectant try an equal mix of water and vinegar with a few drops of tea tree or any citrus essential oil. Just avoid using this on any sensitive material like marble, as vinegar can cause etching. If you’re worried about any products like soap or laundry detergent, the EWG has a handy guide and rating system.
I would also highly recommend investing in an air filter, especially if you live in a city. I went with the Molekule, but anything with a HEPA filter will make a noticeable difference in air quality.
Clean water is so important for your health and if you do only one thing, buy a water filter. Most tap water contains endocrine disruptors, heavy metals and residual medications at best. Standard bottled water usually isn’t much better and potentially contains additional chemicals like BPA from plastic bottles. I found the Berkey to be the most efficient and cost-effective filter that requires no installation. It sits on your counter and uses a solid carbon block filter to remove almost anything you wouldn’t want in your water.
For cookware and bakeware anything aluminum or nonstick is a definite no, because they can leach chemicals and toxins into your food. For the usual stovetop cooking, use high quality stainless steel cookware. I bought a set on sale that came with everything I needed. It’s an investment, but should last for years with proper care. You should only use wooden or 100% food grade silicone utensils on any stainless steel cookware to avoid scratching, which can also cause metals to leach into food. For anything acidic, like tomato sauce, use a glass pot. I also use glass baking dishes for roasting and baking. You could go with enamel as well, just avoid any bright colors like reds or oranges, which often contain lead and cadmium in the pigment. I also use a cast iron skillet almost every day. They’re inexpensive and only get better with time. To clean your cast, use coarse salt and water, dry on the stovetop and coat with a high-quality flax oil to avoid rust.
The same material rules apply to all other kitchen utensils, plating and food storage. Stick to glass, 100% food grade silicone, high quality stainless steel and wood. I use reusable silicone bags and glass containers for food storage, stainless steel straws, and a glue-free solid wood cutting board. As much as I love ceramics, I’ve found its nearly impossible to find out what materials companies use to produce them and a lot of ceramic glazes contain heavy metals in the pigments that you don’t want near your food. Unless you can confirm from a ceramicist that their work and glazes contains no heavy metals, maybe skip it for any products that come in contact with food. They’re not the most interesting plates, but for everyday use these white durable, non-toxic glass plates do the trick. I found most of what I needed at Mighty Nest, which is an amazing resource for non-toxic products.
Back to the tap water issue. Your skin absorbs a large amount of what goes on it, including chemicals like chlorine, in your shower water. Aside from affecting your hormones and overall health, these chemicals can disrupt your skin’s microbiome and cause dry, irritated skin and hair. The heat from the shower also potentially vaporizes some of these chemicals into the air, so a filter on your showerhead will do a lot of good for almost no effort. I use a vitamin C filter that screws directly onto your showerhead. All you have to do is replace the cartridges every few months.
Another issue is your plastic shower curtain, specifically ones made from PVC. Over time the chemicals in PVC shower curtain, many of which are known carcinogens, break down and are released into the air. Your best bet is to use an organic cotton curtain with no liner that can be washed regularly.
I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time in my bed so I’d like it to be as comfortable and non-toxic as possible. I upgraded to organic cotton down pillows, comforter and bedding and have never slept better. If you want to take it a step further, try out a non-toxic mattress, like avocado. I have a Casper mattress, which I love, but maybe in a few years (when I’ve reached my full organic form as a Venice beach mom in head to toe Isabel Marant) this will be the next upgrade.