From cleaning supplies to personal hygiene products, your family relies on dozens of everyday essentials to maintain a healthy, happy home. These household staples are key to your success as a parent and homeowner. However, many of them may be causing more harm than good. That’s because many common items contain chemicals, unrecyclable materials and toxic ingredients that can negatively affect both you and the planet.
Luckily, reading ingredient lists, scientific studies and reviews can help you choose the right essentials and protect your family.
1. Laundry Detergent
If you and the kids are battling dry, itchy skin or rashes, your laundry detergent may be to blame. Detergents are packed with artificial fragrances and hidden chemicals that can cause allergic reactions and trigger skin conditions like eczema. Others may prove toxic to the brain and nervous or respiratory system. Many also contain phosphates which are non biodegradable and contribute to water pollution.
Look for brands that omit these chemicals from the ingredients list and rely on natural fragrances to make your clothes smell clean and fresh. Still struggling with skin issues? Choose detergents free of dyes and fragrances to minimize irritation.
2. Cleaning Solutions
Many household cleaners contain harsh chemicals called volatile organic compounds. These man-made compounds include toxins like toluene, ethylbenzene and formaldehyde, all of which can pollute the air and cause adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors, which can certainly put your family’s health at risk. Therefore, it’s crucial that you choose the right cleaning products.
Choose brands like Mrs. Meyers or Seventh Generation that use plant-based and biodegradable ingredients. Natural citrus solvents and water-based cleaners are excellent choices as well. However, you can also make your own solutions using natural ingredients like vinegar, lemon and baking soda. This option may be the safest — and most affordable.
Maybe you work in an office that has those long bright, fluorescent lights or your kids go to a school that has this kind of lighting. While these bulbs are great at saving energy, they can lead to adverse effects on your family’s vision, especially if you also use them at home. If you spend enough time in this light, you increase your risk of developing cataracts and diseases like pterygia, which can obscure your vision.
Luckily, there are better alternatives, including incandescent and LED light bulbs. Warm white fluorescents may also help illuminate your home without emitting as much UV radiation as the bright white counterparts.
When you think of family essentials, toothpaste probably doesn’t come to mind. Yet, you and your family use this item everyday. With so many brands to choose from, how do you know which one is best? Well, it depends.
For instance, kid’s toothpaste may be best for your little ones because it’s less abrasive and contains less fluoride. However, you and your spouse might need a teeth-whitening paste or one that protects or repairs enamel. Does one of you hate going to the dentist? A tartar control toothpaste may be best. Otherwise, standard toothpastes that contain mild abrasives, detergents and flavoring agents will work just fine.
5. Paper Towels
Paper towels are a kitchen staple in most American households. However, they generate an excessive amount of unrecyclable paper waste and contribute to both deforestation and pollution. Therefore, those who value sustainability and wish to cultivate a green lifestyle may choose reusable paper towels instead.
Clean tough messes and reduce your carbon footprint with odor-resistant, machine washable and quick drying towels from a wide variety of brands. Many are suited for cleaning both outdoor and indoor spaces and can hold up for dozens of uses. Sure, they may cost a bit more than regular old paper towels, but they’ll last much longer and stretch your dollars further.
6. Garbage Bins
Trash cans may not be the prettiest household item, but they certainly are essential. In addition to choosing the right size, you must also find one with a user-friendly and hygienic design. Such containers will provide efficient waste management and containment to keep your family safe from mold, bacteria and other contaminants lurking in your garbage.
Keep odor and debris secure and prevent insect invasions with a lidded bin. One with a motion-activated lid may also keep germs at bay. Remember to use separate bins for recycling and composting purposes to avoid cross-contamination or having items end up at the wrong waste disposal facility.
Nothing But the Best
You and your family should feel safe and healthy at home, which is why choosing the right essentials is so, well, essential! Your loved ones deserve nothing but the best, so go the extra mile and do your research before choosing a product. Odds are your health and happiness will improve as a result.