One easy way to reduce toxic chemicals in your home is to take a room by room survey. What products do you use in each room?
What items may need to be replaced soon? Where do you have the most product turn-around? A good place to start is the bathroom. While you're not buying a new couch every month (or every year, or even every ten years), your family probably routinely goes through items like shampoo, soap, and cleaning supplies. A few simple swaps, actions, and DIYs can drastically reduce your chemical exposure in the bathroom. Get your green home makeover started by trying these top 5 tips:
Body wash and Soap: A good liquid castile soap can be used as a face wash, body wash, and as a simple hand soap. Check the label when you’re buying liquid castile soap; Women’s Voices for the Earth recommends avoiding sodium lauryl (laureth) sulfate (SLS) and Diethanolamine (DEA). For sensitive skin, you may want to use unscented soap, or dilute it with warm water. If you're buying other soaps and shower gels, make sure to look them up on the Skin Deep database first.
Shower Curtains: You know that sharp, new shower curtain smell? That’s the smell of chemicals off-gassing. According to Healthy Child, Healthy World, "shower curtains contain a host of other chemicals (Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs) which are linked to central nervous system, liver and kidney damage." Next time you’re in the market for a new shower curtain, choose a cloth curtain, or one of the PVC-free shower curtains on this list from CHEJ. If you do purchase a new vinyl curtain, open it outside and let it off-gas outside of your home before you hang it up.
Cleaning supplies: Tub cleaners, sink scrubbers, tile sparklers---according to your local cleaning supply aisle, bathrooms require quite a few specific products. Skip the toxic chemicals in many conventional cleaning supplies by trying these easy DIYs.
- Toilet bowl cleaner:Women’s Voices for the Earth recommends sprinkling your toilet bowl with baking soda, then drizzling distilled white vinegar in the bowl, and letting the mixture soak for at least 30 minutes. Then scrub the bowl with a toilet brush.
- Tub cleaner: Try this recipe from Healthy Child, Healthy World– Mix 1 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid soap and 1/2 cup water.
- Glass spray: My favorite easy recipe, from Alexandra Zissu: Just mix equal parts water and distilled white vinegar.
Shampoo and Conditioner: Do a little research before your next haircare shopping trip. Look up shampoos, conditioners, and hair products on the Skin Deep database and the Good Guide. Both of these sites offer handy apps, so you can look up products while you shop. Or skip the searching (and save some money) with these easy DIYs.
- Shampoo: This Planet Home recipe is so easy, and uses ingredients you probably already have at home! To whip up a bottle of homemade shampoo, just combine ½ cup of baking soda with three cups of warm water in a bottle.
- Conditioner: Here’s a recipe from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. You’ll need: one egg yolk, ½ teaspoon olive oil, and 3/4 cup lukewarm water. Beat the egg yolk until it's thick and white. Add the oil and mix well. Then add the water into the egg mixture and mix well. Massage into clean, damp hair. Rinse with plenty of warm water after about 10 minutes.
Reduce bathroom moisture: Damp bathrooms can be breeding grounds for mold. Try these two easy tips from Planet Home to reduce your bathroom moisture:
- Shower with a window or door open, and the exhaust fan on.
- Take colder showers, which not only reduces moisture on the walls, but saves energy!