Spring is an excellent time to clean out your house and get rid of harmful products.
After all, a growing amount of research suggests chemical toxins in everyday household products increase the risk of autoimmune diseases, birth defects, cancer, infertility, and other health conditions.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has discovered that more than 300 environmental chemicals can accumulate in human tissues.1
So, without further ado, here are some key items to replace around your home this spring…
1.) Plastic food containers. Plastic breaks down over time—especially when exposed to heat in dishwashers or microwaves—and releases dangerous chemicals into food.
One recent study tested common household food-storage products and found that a whopping 74 percent contained some sort of toxin.2
Common chemicals found in plastics include bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, which can disrupt the endocrine system, potentially contributing to cancer and reproductive issues.
So, avoid storing foods in plastic containers. And never heat your food in a plastic container.
Instead, look for glass storage containers. Glass is always microwave safe and is free from chemical contamination.
The same is true when it comes to beverages. Don’t succumb to the lure of individual plastic water bottles. They’re not only a waste of money, but they’re also dangerous to your health and to the health of planet earth.
As I always recommend, drink filtered tap water, or mineral or spring water bottled in glass at the source. Some of my favorites are San Pellegrino (from the mountains where my ancestors resided in Italy), and Mountain Valley Spring Water (from Arkansas’ Ouchita Mountains). Mountain Valley water has been bottled in glass since 1871, right here in the U.S.
2.) Cooking pans. Many non-stick cooking pans contain traces of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to cancer in animal and human studies. That’s not surprising, considering this non-stick, toxic lining can scratch and scrape right off into your food.
So don’t stick with Teflon. Instead, use olive oil and/or full-fat butter in copper, stainless steel, or cast iron cookware to keep your food from sticking to the pan.
Just remember, when it comes to cast iron pans, you don’t need to (and should not) scrub or wash them with soap and water. Just wipe them out with oil to “cure” and “season” the pan. If you do end up with burned-on foods that are difficult to remove, you’ll be amazed at what a little, gently warmed vinegar will do to restore a nice interior surface.
And if you’re debating between stainless steel or copper pans, it’s worth noting that stainless steel is more difficult to “sanitize” because there are tiny imperfections in the surface. Copper, on the other hand, is naturally antimicrobial and a favorite of chefs. I’ve found it to be the best-quality cookware, myself.
3.) Air fresheners and artificially scented candles. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to shut down entire segments of our economy and restrict our freedoms in order to reduce outdoor air pollution. But indoor air pollution should be a much bigger concern than it is (particularly during a pandemic).
Two of the biggest culprits behind indoor air pollution are artificially scented candles and synthetic, plug-in scents, which often contain chemical phthalates. As you breathe them in, these endocrine-disrupting chemicals can end up in your blood and tissues.
So don’t allow artificial air fresheners into your living and working environments (which, increasingly, are one and the same). Instead, try candles made with essential plant oils, dried flowers, and spices.
Or, even better, instead of covering up unwanted aromas around your home, use natural ingredients like baking soda and white vinegar to remove them at their source.
4.) Cleaning products. It amazes me how many harsh, chemical cleaning products I still see on store shelves, especially with the emphasis on disinfectants to help fight coronavirus. The government allows manufacturers to keep their chemical formulas a secret, so there’s no real way to know just how dangerous your household cleaners really are.
But here’s a good rule of thumb: Don’t choose a product to clean your kitchen, bathroom, or any other room in your home if you feel like you should wear gloves to use it.
Instead, clean with natural products like baking soda, borax, hot water, vinegar, lemon, or soap powders. They disinfect just as well (or even better than) their chemical cousins, and don’t require spraying your home with toxins.
And just skip the upholstery-protection sprays. They often contain chemicals such as phthalates and surfactants that create a transparent plastic layer to “protect” your furniture. But when the plastic eventually wears off, it can release these toxins into the air.
5.) Personal care products. Many soaps, shampoos, lotions, antiperspirants, cosmetics, skincare products, sunscreens, and perfumes pollute the air you (and others around you) breathe. And their toxic chemicals can be directly absorbed into your bloodstream through your skin.
In fact, according to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average American uses nine personal care products a day, containing a total of 126 ingredients!
That’s why it’s so important to read the labels of the products you put on your skin and hair. Some innocuous-sounding ingredients are quite toxic (like PEG in deodorants), while others with unpronounceable names are harmless or even good for you (like tocopherols, the major forms of vitamin E).
The best resource I’ve found to decipher personal care product labels is EWG’s Skin Deep database at www.ewg.org. But there’s an even simpler way—just choose products with ingredients labeled “organic”.
And be wary of the buzzword “natural,” as it’s essentially meaningless. There’s no legal definition for “natural” personal care ingredients—or food ingredients, for that matter.
(I recently learned about this when my daughter began producing safe, organic soaps, shampoos, body lotions and scrubs, lip balms, and bath bombs. They’re made with organic essential plant oils extracted directly from petals, seeds, and leaves like bayberry and wild beach rose; and organic coconut and olive oils. You can find them at
I also recommend simply looking for cosmetics made with mineral-based pigments, and moisturizers made with plant oils. And always avoid soaps and shampoos that contain synthetic fragrances and chemicals such as triclosan.
This spring, I hope you’ll join me in making it a priority to throw out any and all chemical cleaning and personal care products around your home. Replace them with products as pure as you can find.
Then, open the windows and enjoy the natural, invigorating scents of the spring air and sunshine—two of the best natural disinfectants you can find!
2“Benchmarking the in Vitro Toxicity and Chemical Composition of Plastic Consumer Products.” Environ Sci Technol. 2019, 53, 19, 11467–11477.