Detoxing Your House

Wendy Hilty 1955

When I first moved into my new husband’s house, I developed asthma.  The place was so dusty that I would begin itching whenever I entered it (he hadn't been living in the house).  I began to see an allergist and found I was extremely allergic to dust.  When we removed the carpet we were relieved to find hardwood floors underneath.  Eliminating the carpet eliminated my asthma.

Decluttering all the rooms & drawers took a long time (I still have one room I call the junk room that is filled with family memorabilia I haven’t gone through yet).  But during this time of clearing out clutter, I began to feel physically bad.  We found lots of products, including banned pesticides like DDT, and I began to wonder just how much my new environment was affecting me.

I bought the book Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd which has 400 pages of How to Determine If a Product is Toxic To You, How Safe is Your Home, Indoor Air Pollution, Household Cleaning and Laundry Products, Home and Garden Pest Control, Water, Drugs and Medications, Beauty and Hygiene, Food, Textiles, Home Office and Art Supplies, Home Furnishings, Babies and Children, Pet Care, Finding a Safe Home, Harmful Effects of Common Substances and Household Poisons.  Whew!  It is a veritable bible of information.  You’d think that after reading this book my home would be detoxed, wouldn’t you?

I did great for awhile, and eliminated many toxic substances from our home.  But slowly items began to creep back in, or were never eliminated.  “I’ll use this up, but not buy more (glass cleaner).”  “But it smells like clean (degreaser).” “But my friend highly recommends it (grout cleaner).” “Mom always used it (dryer sheets).” “I don’t have a spray bottle to make my own products and I can never remember the recipe.”  “Grandpa gave it to me (a plethora of half used cleaning supplies).”

Why David Hated Tuesdays: One Courageous Mother's Guide to Keeping Your Family Toxin and Allergy FreeThen I got pregnant and jumped back on the bandwagon when I read the awesome book Why David Hated Tuesdays, One Courageous Mother’s Guide to Keeping Your Family Toxin and Allergy Free by Amilya Antonetti, Founder and CEO of Soapworks.

She has an incredible story of how she slowly came to realize her very sick child was ill because he was highly sensitive to chemicals that are “normal” in every home.  She wrote down what David ate, wore, when he slept, when he was happy or in pain…and found he was always sick on Tuesdays.  She realized she always deep cleaned the house on Tuesdays and a light went on. 

It’s a fascinating introduction to how she detoxed her home, and gives us “Good, Better, and Best” advice on what we can do to improve our home as well.  It is 241 pages of wisdom.  It is not dry reading; she tells her story and David’s reaction to products on each page, and it’s like reading an interesting journal of what she learned about products (especially those cute baby products!) and the alternatives she began choosing, or making.  She gives recommendations, and asks you journal questions for your own journey to health. 

So you’d think my home would be toxin-free now, wouldn’t you?  But I was still addicted to dryer sheets, cheap detergent, bath tile sprays, floor cleaning products….  I’d eliminated a lot of cleaning products, but there were still parabens and preservatives like formaldehyde in my cosmetics, hair products, lotions….

The Healthy Home: Simple Truths to Protect Your Family from Hidden Household DangersAnd then last week, I picked up the brand new book The Healthy Home by Dr. Myron Wentz and his son Dave Wentz, with Donna K. Wallace.  This book is enjoyable to read - a page turner that made me jump up at the end of each chapter (even at midnight!) and get into the room I was reading about and check out what was in the products I was using.

The first thing I did (from the first chapter on the Bedroom) was take a look at what I was sleeping in.  I discovered that my pajamas were not pure cotton as I had assumed.  The top had nylon, rayon and cotton, and the bottoms had cotton and 40% polyester.  My pajamas are on 11 hours a night!  He discussed the reasons why we should only sleep in cotton, organic if possible.  I tossed most of my family’s pj’s and kept only the cotton ones. 

But then I noticed that a seldom itchy spot on the back of my neck wouldn’t leave me alone.  So that day I stripped the bed and washed the sheets, and instead of using dryer sheets, I used vinegar in the fabric softener compartment of the washer.  The next morning my neck began healing.  Tiny spots on my face also began healing.  I could feel them healing! 

After each chapter, where the three writers go through Dave’s home and outline the dangers in each room of his (and our) home, I went through my home and looked at each product they mentioned.  I threw away 3 bags full of lotions, shampoos, baby care items, cleaning products, soaps, silver polish, laundry aides, paint…you name it.  If it had a major toxin in it, out it went!  I’ve been using vinegar and water, and bon ami, borax, baking soda, and have ordered washing soda.  I plan on making my own laundry detergent, and I’ll let you know how that goes! (Update - just okay.  I switched to free and clear detergents instead.)  They give such great, readable and doable information.

In the kitchen I took my aluminum foil out of my oven, I tossed the plastic wrap, and I checked each plastic dish and container I own and tossed anything that wasn’t a 5.  They also discuss what to use in the kitchen (not Teflon!), what to eat, drink, how to cook, and supplements to take (without pushing a product!).  One thing that is repeated throughout is to fling open your windows!  Outside air (unless you live next to a freeway?) is always cleaner than inside air!  And turn off WiFi at night.  Their website is

Household Cleaning: Self-Sufficiency (The Self-Sufficiency Series)Last book:  Household Cleaning, Self-Sufficiency by Rachelle Strauss.  I love this book because it takes each product and says:  What is _______? (floor cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, detergent)  How do they work?  What is in them?  Dangers to You, and lastly, Keeping it eco-friendly.  It is a small, easy to read book that lists the basics you need to know. 

Just a few of my notes from The Healthy Home – there are hundreds more in the book:

Clothes:  Stay away from acrylic, polyester, acetate, triacetate, nylon, and anything static or wrinkle resistant, permanent press, no iron, stain proof or moth repellant. 

Avoid beauty products, or any products, with Formaldehyde: Quaternium 15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidozolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin.

Also avoid, especially in children’s products – parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, ethyl), mercury (thermisal), lead acetate, diethanolancine (DEA), synthetic color pigments, propylene glycol (PG), coal tar, toluene, phenylenediamine (PPD), petrolatum, and aluminum. 

Aluminum is found in antiperspirants, some medications, aspirin, cake mix, pots, foil, cans, processed cheese, self-rising flours, frozen dough…

Take acidophilus that has active and live cultures.  Calcium, magnesium, vit. D to keep teeth healthy.  Spend 10 minutes each day in the sun with no sunscreen.  Milk cancels out its calcium benefits by being acid-producing and drawing calcium from your bones.

Don’t buy products with triclosan or triclocarban.

Buy “green” nonstick pans, or an iron skillet.  Use stainless steel water bottles, not aluminum.

Use low-VOC paint, incandescent bulbs, castile soap, essential oils, vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda.

Stop using pesticides!      Wear gloves when cleaning!      Open your windows!

I hope you are inspired to detox your house, and remember to take the toxins to a household round-up; please don’t discard into the landfills.

The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started. ~ Dawson Trotman


  1. Thanks for these resources! My son is borderline asthmatic, and while I use mostly "green" household products, I'm sure there's a lot more I could be doing to make the inside of our home healthy. I wasn't sure where to get started though--and that's why I so appreciate the book recommendations!

    (Why David Hated Tuesdays is such a good book title!)

  2. Thank you for your comment, Anne! I agree that these books should be able to help you get started with some more simple changes. I no longer have asthma. Why David is a great book to start with and is very inspiring to make changes, as is The Healthy Home.


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