Phasing Out Chemically Treated Home Goods

Chemical-based cleaners. We've written about them before.

Specifically, how many of them are loaded with questionable materials—materials that recent, high-profile coverage has suggested may not, in fact, be good for our health.

But cleaners aren't the only things emitting potentially toxic fumes in your home.

Things as seemingly unthreatening as wall-to-wall carpet—which is often factory-produced and, as a result, is treated with all sorts of things, from dyes to stain repellants and more—stand to negatively impact the air quality of your home and the health of your family.

How do you phase out or get rid of these chemical-based substances in a responsible way? And what, exactly, can you replace them with that's equally effective?

Factory-produced household items can be toxic

As mentioned previously, things as innocuous as wall-to-wall carpeting can be, potentially, toxic to your health.

Products like this, which are treated in factories with all kinds of chemical solutions to increase their durability and aesthetic attractiveness, often "off-gas" over time—meaning, the chemicals they contain leech out into the air, negatively affecting the atmosphere within your home.

Here are a few of our recommendations to avoid products that "off-gas":

  • Tear out wall-to-wall carpeting - Non-toxic carpeting, tile, and hardwood are perfectly acceptable alternatives—they might not be as comfortable as the wall-to-wall option, but at least they aren't saturated with anti-static sprays, dyes, and the like.
  • Nix non-stick cookware - Non-coated pans like cast iron skillets may require more upkeep and care, but they're much more durable than non-stick options (plus, they aren't coated with hazardous chemicals, like perfluoroalkyl, a coating ingredient in non-stick cookware that has been linked to instances of disease).
  • Buy from trustworthy companies - Ingredients lists are magical things; if the company you're buying from doesn't disclose what their product is made of, it's a safe bet that you don't want to do business with them.

There are safe chemical disposal organizations in your area

Not sure what counts as a "hazardous chemical"? Here's a quick primer to help you get your bearings:

  • Automotive chemicals - fuel, motor oil
  • Batteries - all varieties, from Double-A batteries to car batteries
  • Beauty products - anything in an aerosol can, nail polish, nail polish remover
  • Renovation/restoration products - paints, paint thinners, stains, varnishes

This list is by no means comprehensive. It doesn't even reference our original boogeymen, household cleaners—there are countless hazardous chemicals in that realm, from drain de-cloggers to anti-bacterial sprays and more. But it does demonstrate the extent to which the "hazardous" label can be applied to products we encounter from day-to-day.

Who can you turn to for disposal support?

So, how do you get rid of them in a responsible way? Here's a hint: don't pour them down the drain.

Look around your community for resources that could support with safe disposal. Trying to get rid of used fuel or motor oil? Get in touch with a local car shop. Looking for a way to dispose of old paints and paint thinners? Reach out to the mom-and-pop hardware store, or to bigger chains like Lowe's or Home Depot for disposal assistance.

There might be special hazardous waste collection days through your municipal and/or county governments. Look on your local government's website or Google terms like "solid waste division" along with the name of your city or county to get more information on that front.

In this industrialized twenty-first century world, it's tough—if not impossible—to rid your home of chemicals entirely.

But taking a few of the small, simple steps described here could go a long way toward reducing the negative impact of these things on your health, and on the health of your family. So, in that sense, it's well worth the challenge.

Ready to start getting that house sparkly? Check out our tips for deep cleaning your home