Your kitchen is supposed to be one of the cleanest areas of your home. After all, this is where you prepare food, right? The problem is, most people don’t realize that there are far more dangers being exposed to toxic chemicals than there are getting food poisoning. A friend of mine was shocked when she came to my house and saw that my newly renovated kitchen was comprised of wooden countertops. “But the bacteria!” she exclaimed. Well guess what? Our family has been living with wooden countertops for five years and not one of us (family of seven) has suffered from food poisoning because of it, and might I add, we don’t use commercial antibacterial sprays. Why don’t we use them? Because they aren’t good for humans and they aren’t much better than a bottle of ordinary white vinegar. I’ll show you the proof shortly.
Avoid all kinds of toxic cookware. The most toxic, by far, is non-stick cookware. Close runners up are aluminum cookware or those speckled baking dishes. The more toxic your body is overall, the less chance you have of eliminating specific toxins from the body, like excess estrogen. Safe cookware equals stainless steel, cast iron, glass, ceramic, or copper only.
Food Prep and Storage
Plastic. If plastic is bad for the environment, it only makes sense that it’s also bad to store our food in it, right? The problem with plastic is that it contains harmful chemicals that may seep into our food, especially when heated, and can affect our hormones (remember that the next time you leave a plastic water bottle in a hot car). Two major chemicals to watch out for are phthalates (used to soften plastics) and bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make very hard, shatterproof plastic (it usually has #7 on the bottom) and is also found in the lining of canned foods and beverages. Although numerous studies have found BPA to cause reproductive harm and cancer, it is still legal in most of the United States (but banned in some other countries). Just because a plastic food container is phthalate and BPA-free doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe. Of the 80,000 chemicals produced and used in the U.S. today, the Environmental Protection Agency has required testing on only 200, leaving a lot of uncertainty over their safety and long-term effects.
Aluminum is one of the most abundant metals on Earth and is naturally found in small amounts in water and food. However, cooking with it at high temperatures (like when you bake a potato) or with acidic foods (like tomatoes), can cause high amounts of aluminum to pass into your food. Some research has suggested that excessive consumption of aluminum from it leaching into food has extreme health risk effects . Although some studies have found it to be safe, I recommend avoiding it to be on the safe side.
Silicone rubber does not react with food or beverages, or produce any hazardous fumes and appears to be safe. So far, no safety problems have been reported but personally I avoid silicone altogether because I don’t think enough research has been done on it since it’s a newer product. Maybe stick to silicone kitchen tools, such as spatulas, and avoid bakeware if you’re concerned. And if you buy silicone products, make sure you get good quality ones that don’t contain any filler, which may contain toxic chemicals. You can test it by pinching and twisting a flat surface to see if white shows through – if so, filler has been used.
Dishwasher detergent can contain bleach, artificial fragrance, dyes, and a whole host of chemicals that are known to cause adverse health effects including respiratory issues, hormone imbalances, and even cancer.
Many hand soaps on store shelves are antibacterial. There are several problems with this. First, antibacterial hand soaps are no more effective than regular soap and water for killing disease-causing germs, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Second, antibacterial hand soaps are more expensive than regular hand soaps. Third, antibacterial hand soaps kill the healthy bacteria on your hands, which can make antibiotics less effective in the fight against new strains of bacteria, called superbugs.
Dust… It’s everywhere and it’s not going away. Dust contains mostly shed human skin, animal hair if you have pets, decomposing insects, plant pollen, and even lead and arsenic. Considering it’s not only gross and chronic exposure may lead to allergies, it’s no wonder we want our home to pass the white glove test at all times.
Personally, I prefer not to use furniture cleaner at all. A microfiber cloth is the greenest possible way that you can dust your home, but sometimes you need something more. Most furniture cleaners contain toxic chemicals that you breathe in, which are “no bueno”.
Antibacterial cleaners classified by law as pesticides and their germ-killing claims are specific and limited. In fact, some don’t even claim to kill E. coli, one of the most commonly feared food-borne bacteria. Their germ-killing ingredients aren’t so good for humans or the kitchen, either: Labels include warnings about fumes and contact with skin or eyes, the importance of rinsing food-contact surfaces after use, and potential damage to common materials. Considering white distilled vinegar reduces bacteria by 99.9%, without carrying dangerous warning labels, it makes sense to skip modern antibacterial cleaners and revert back to grandma’s tried and true cleaning solution: vinegar solution. You can use it to clean food surfaces (hey, it is vinegar after all), the inside of your fridge, and the windows.
Non-Toxic Antibacterial Spray:
Vinegar Solution (one-part white vinegar with one-part water)
Most glass cleaners contain one or more of these harmful ingredients:
Non-Toxic Glass Cleaner:
Vinegar Solution (one-part white vinegar with one-part water)
Tip: Annoyed by streaks on glass? Streaks that remain after cleaning glass with vinegar may be due to a waxy residue from previous glass cleaning products. Mix one-part rubbing alcohol with 20-parts water and remove any buildup before cleaning standard glass with vinegar.
You would think that because it goes into the toilet, you won’t come into contact with it. However, even just breathing the fumes when pouring it into the bowl may be harmful.