Dirty Dozen “Toxic” Home Care Products, Cleaning Supplies and Cosmetics

  • August

    Merriam Webster’s definition of ‘toxin’ is:

    A poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation.

    By this definition, many typical “toxins” (ie. car fumes, additives, synthetic chemicals) are not poisonous, life threatening, or created by a living organism. The term “toxin” is not properly used in most cases. A true toxin for example include cyanide, lead or venom from a viper snake bite. These true toxins take a small quantity for exposure to cause severe and even deadly effects.

    For simplicity’s sake, this article will refer to ‘toxins’ as a synthetic or non-synthetic molecule that has the potential to negatively affect the body in moderate amounts over the course of a person’s life. This may be a vague definition but it is the accumulation and toxic burden that negatively affect people most frequently. It’s not often one singular exposure.

    This post is not meant to drive you crazy. It’s not meant to turn your life upside down and be paranoid about everything you and your family are exposed to.

    In fact, most of the toxins discussed in the article don’t harm you unless you are exposed to extremely high levels on a consistent basis or if your body is unable to process them safely. History has shown us that everything is toxic and it is only the dose that separates the toxic from the non-toxic <– TWEET THIS.

    Our bodies are designed to handle daily toxic exposures, in fact it is can be healthy to challenge your immune system and detoxification pathways. Living in a sterile environment has it’s dangers, especially with children. Read more about the Hygiene Hypothesis.

    The things that we consume on a regular basis often raise the biggest concerns because of toxic accumulation. Anything that enters our bodies through direct contact with our mucosal membrane (eyes, mouth, nose, vagina, anus), inhaled into our lungs or touches our skin for long periods of time have the highest chance of entering our blood stream and impacting our bodies, for good or bad.

    Even though regular contact may not “kill you” it can produce significant negative effects with repeated exposures, such as cancer, infertility, immune dysfunction, thyroid dysfunction, skin conditions, poor libido and sexual performance issues.

    I’m not going to start blaming toxic chemicals for being the sole reasons for these diseases, but they are potential triggers a person who is predisposed (ie. genetics) or have other unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices.

    Click here to read all about “The Best Solutions to Limit Toxic Accumulation from Everyday Exposures”.

    This article is going to focus on one mode of toxic accumulation: Home Care Products.


    The Dirty Dozen Toxic Home Care Ingredients

    This list was taken from Dr. Helena Ovens, ND and EWG.org. These are the most important ingredients to check for in your home care products. If you find these ingredients check out the SOLUTIONS at the end of this list.

    1. Bisphenol-A (BPA)

    This is a common xenoestrogen found in plastics, but also used in moisturizers and makeup as an antioxidant and preservative. BPA is associated with tumor growth, hormone dysfunction, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease, while also harms the environment when it leaches into the ground.

    2. Coal Tar Dyes

    Coal tar dyes are common in hair dyes. It appears as “p-phenylenediamine” or colours listed as “Cl” followed by five digits. Also contains heavy metals which are toxic and linked to cancer.

    3. DEA

    Diethanolamine (DEA) makes products soapy and sudsy but irritates the skin. It can cause negative effects to the immune and nervous systems.

    4. Dibutyl phthalate

    Dibutyl phthalates are found in nail polishes and plastics. Studies have linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, obesity, diabetes, thyroid irregularities and can enhances genetic mutations.

    5. Formaldehyde-releasing Agents

    Formaldehydes irritate the skin and eyes, while harming marine life when flushed into water systems. Examples are chemicals such as: DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quarternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.

    6. Parfum

    Fragrances are considered “trade secrets” and many contain toxic chemicals. If a company is not willing to disclose their ingredients, I’d consider avoiding their use.

    7. Parabens

    Parabens are preservative found in make-up, toothpaste, deodorants, etc. are linked to breast cancer & hormone disruption.

    8. PEG compounds

    Polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds open skin pores, which allows harmful chemicals to penetrate. They are often found in creams and is linked to cancer.

    9. Petrolatum

    Petrolatum is also known as mineral oil jelly. This chemical caracinogen is common in moisturizers.

    10. Siloxanes

    Used to soften, smooth and moisten skin, however it can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs.

    11. Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS)

    This is a very common ingredient added to shampoos, soaps and toothpastes to create a foaming effect. SLS may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both of which cause cancer.

    12. Triclosan

    Found in antiperspirants, deodorants, cleansers and hand sanitizers as a preservative and anti-bacterial agent, which interferes with hormone function.

    Cleaning products and detergents

    SOLUTION – Generic cleaning products for your kitchens, bathrooms, car, clothes and dry cleaning often contain harmful chemical that you indirectly eat and absorb through your skin.

    Are your cleaning supplies toxic?

    Are your cleaning supplies toxic?


    SOLUTION – Cosmetic products cover your face all day long and absorb directly into your skin.

    • Check the safety level of your products, if they rate greater than 5 out of 10 on the toxicity scale, find healthy alternatives by visiting the Cosmetic Database
    • Focus on healthy lipsticks and eye make-up because of their proximity to your mouth and eyes, respectively
    • Avoid expired products. Replace your cosmetics every 6 months or less to avoid oxidized chemicals.
    • Avoid the Dirty Dozen ingredients – see above
    • Stick to safer brands, such as Green Beaver, JASON, Kiss My Face, Earth Science, Burts Bees, Pure + Simple, Living Libation
    • Read the ingredients. Even “safe brands” can add in ingredients that are not great for the body. Use sites like EWG.org or the Think Dirty App to rate your products.

    Hygiene products such as shampoos, toothpaste, creams, deodorant, perfumes

    SOLUTION – These are products you use everyday, sometimes multiple times a day and go directly onto you skin or in areas of high absorption (ie. mouth and armpit). Most contain parabens that act as weak xenoestrogens.

    • Check the safety level of your products, if they rate greater than 5 out of 10 on the toxicity scale, find healthy alternatives by visiting the Cosmetic Database.
    • Focus on toothpastes and deodorants without parabens
    • Avoid the Dirty Dozen ingredients – see above
    • Stick to safer brands, such as Green Beaver, JASON, Kiss My Face, Earth Science, Burts Bees, Pure + Simple, Living Libation, Dr. Bronner’s Magic soap
    • Read the ingredients. Even “safe brands” can add in ingredients that are not great for the body. Use sites like EWG.org or the Think Dirty App to rate your products.
    • Use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap as an all-purpose cleaner for your skin, hair, hands, body and even dishes.
    • Baking soda toothpaste is easy and safe to make as it is 1 part baking soda to 1 part coconut oil (or filtered water) plus optional drops of essential oils for taste.

    Generic toothpastes are especially harmful because of the repetitive daily use and oral exposure to synthetic chemicals. Photo credit: pixabay.com

    Feminine Hygiene Products

    SOLUTION – Tampons and pads can contain harmful dioxins (bleach and pesticides), not to mention the risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome) with forgotten or infected tampons.

    • Menstrual cup– this re-usable silicone cup avoids the worry about TSS or other vaginal irritations from normal tampons. Companies such as Diva Cup, make high quality and safe products.
    • Sea spongenatural sea sponges absorb the menstrual flow and can be reused for up to 6 months with proper cleaning care.
    • Pads– there are so many variations of pads: overnight, wings, liners, thong, cotton, hemp, bamboo, organic. Make sure you are changing them at saturation or at least every 12 hours. Even though you aren’t inserting the pads into your vagina, they are in direct contact with the mucosal membrane, which makes for quick uptake into the blood stream. Make sure to choose products that are free of chemicals and harmful toxins.
    • Tampons– tampons are my least favorite method for controlling menstrual flow, however they are convenient. If you do choose to use tampons, pick ones that are dioxin-free (pesticides often sprayed on cotton and bleaching agents) and replace within 7 hours of insertion to avoid TSS and change immediately after swimming.


    SOLUTION – Hand sanitizers and sanitary wipes can contain parabens that act as weak xenoestrogens.

    • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 30 seconds
    • Limit your use of sanitizers with triclosan
    • Try using natural baby wipes if you are in the habit of using a soft touch on your bottom or need accessible wipes while traveling


    SOLUTION – Most households have some form of mold in their bathrooms and basements. This can lead to fungal infections, yeast infections, chronic sinus infections and post-nasal drip.

    • Check your bathroom caulking and ceiling for black spots and have it removed and re-caulked
    • Open the windows and doors and turn on the fan after a steamy shower
    • Get a dehumidifier
    • Nasal lavage and steam inhalation (learn more Natural Cold and Flu Preventions)

This website is NOT to be used as a diagnostic or treatment tool. Always consult with your Conventional Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor for specific concerns. In cases of medical emergencies visit your nearest hospital or call 9-1-1.