So You Want a Nontoxic Home

"Are you poisoning your family?"

You have probably seen ads for the various direct sales companies offering products for cleaning your home. Some ask questions such as the one above. But how do you know if they are nontoxic, less toxic or about the same as what you would buy from the store? Does it even matter?

All kinds of claims about the toxicity of products can be found on the internet. The first thing you need to remember is that anyone can say anything on the internet, so look at the quality of your resources first and foremost. Also keep the dosage in mind. Just about anything good for you is poisonous in a large enough dose. Too much iron in your diet can cause problems ranging from diarrhea to metabolic acidosis to death. But you aren’t going to avoid iron now, are you? Let’s keep a little common sense going while we worry about ingredients.

The first thing you need to do is find out about the ingredients. Some companies will have these listed on their websites. Now, you’re probably going to see lots of words you don’t really understand. That isn’t a bad thing, you simply need to find out what they are and why they are used. Take sodium laureth sulfate, for example. I found that one on a soap pump in my bathroom. It was the second ingredient, right after water. There are those who would call this a dangerous ingredient, but is it really? You can easily find claims on the internet saying that yes, it is, but look more closely. I finally found the Cosmetic Ingredient Review website, and this information: Essentially, while for some it may cause some irritation, particularly in the eyes, it is generally safe, and not carcinogenic. The American Cancer Society agrees (see

Now what about dyes and fragrances? Let’s face it, you might love the way your soap smells, but is it safe? Generally, yes, but once again, there are those who have reactions to dyes and fragrances, so if they aren’t necessary, why have them in your cleaning or personal products? I certainly don’t care what color my laundry detergent is, nor am I concerned that my clothes smell “April fresh.” I want them clean. Particularly if anyone in your home has allergies, think carefully about using products with added dyes and fragrances.

Finally, make sure you think about where you store your cleansers. No matter how much less toxic the ones you have bought from your environmentally friendly resource are when compared to the stuff you buy in the stores, do you really want your children swallowing any cleanser? Make sure they are out of reach, in a locked cabinet or otherwise kept out of the reach of your children.

Hopefully, this will help you get started thinking about what you consider to be acceptable in the products you use around your home and on yourself and your family. It’s a decision you must make for yourself, and should only be made with careful research, avoiding the hype, shams and flat out lies that are out there.


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