In this guide, we'll cover some of the obvious culprits, and we'll also dig into some personal care products that are found in most homes, like deodorants, soaps, and toothpaste.
These common bathroom items are all things you can look at in your own home and consider swapping out for more conscious alternatives. For each item, we have solutions for conscious swaps you can make today.
Chemical Air Fresheners
If you use chemical air fresheners like those from Glade and Febreze, you should know that they contain harsh chemicals. A study from the Natural Resources Defense Council found that 86% of chemical air fresheners contain hormone-disrupting chemicals, neurotoxins and immunotoxins that you inhale every time you use them.
The solution: Plant-based air fresheners now exist, most of which use essential oils rather than synthetic chemical fragrances to mask odors. Having said that, we would recommend keeping the use of essential oils to a minimum, but if you must use air fresheners, this is a safer alternative.
You might be surprised to learn that your humble shower curtain can be a source of toxins in the home. In 2008, researchers conducted a study of PVC shower curtains from Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart. The study found that PVC shower curtains can release up to 108 VOCs, seven of which are on the EPA's list of hazardous air pollutants.
The solution: Find a shower curtain made of PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate), a similar but stable vinyl material that is safe to use. You can even go further and find a shower curtain made from 100% cotton.
If you're not using a deodorant you know to be clean and natural, chances are that yours has some ingredients you'll want to avoid. They're also full of chemical fragrances, which can contain any number of synthetic chemicals that are hidden under the umbrella term of "fragrance" or "parfum". Deodorants also use a lot of plastic that ends up in the landfill.
Skip the antiperspirant, too—while these products stop you from sweating (and therefore stinking) the sweating process is an important part of your body's ability to get rid of toxins.
The solution: A natural deodorant that leaves out the harsh ingredients is the key. You can even find some that use fully plastic-free packaging, making them a great eco-conscious choice.
Soaps / Shampoos
As you might have guessed, your soaps and shampoos can be filled with harsh chemicals that include parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Polyethylene glycols, Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), synthetic fragrance, and more.
Soaps and shampoos are very similar in formulation, and this issues applies to both.
The solution: Use a clean and non-toxic soap and shampoo that doesn't contain any of these harsh ingredients.
Traditional toothpastes use a wide array of chemicals that we don't recommend having in your mouth. These include things like SLS, artificial sweeteners, polyethylene glycol, artificial colors, parabens, and triclosan.
The solution: Opt for a clean and natural toothpaste that skips these harsh ingredients with more gentle and natural ingredients instead.
Watch out for: Anecdotal evidence shows that people who completely avoid fluoride tend to get more cavities than those who don't. While it's a personal choice, consider using toothpaste to get topical fluoride on the teeth while avoiding drinking tap water.
Also watch out for charcoal toothpaste. These toothpastes are highly abrasive, and can cause permanent damage to the teeth if used too often.
Tampons and Pads
Traditional tampons and pads use heavily processed materials in their production. Traditional tampons
The solution: There are two ways you can make a conscious swap here. Your first option is reusable organic cotton pads, which you have to wash after using them. This is a good eco-conscious swap because it eliminates the waste, too. Other reusable options include period underwear, and menstrual cups and discs.
These solutions are understandably not for everyone, which leads us to our second option.
Organic cotton menstrual pads and tampons are now available, which cut out the toxic bleaches and dyes and often are made from 100% biodegradable materials. While they're more expensive, they're a good swap for a more conscious bathroom.
Much like tampons and pads, most toilet paper is heavily bleached, making it terrible for our environment and potentially for us, too. In America alone, we use over 7.5 million trees every year for toilet paper production.
The solution: There is no great solution to the toilet paper situation. Bamboo toilet paper is the best alternative, as bamboo is a sustainable material, fully biodegradable, and naturally hypoallergenic. On the other hand, most bamboo is shipped from China, which has an impact on its carbon footprint.
Solutions like reusable toilet paper alternatives exist, but let's be realistic: most people aren't going to use these products.
Mouthwash may kill some bacteria, but it's a killer that doesn't discriminate. Your mouth is full of helpful bacteria that defend your body from more dangerous bacteria. Furthermore, most mouthwashes are made from a cocktail of synthetic chemicals, along with strong alcohols that are toxic to swallow. Unlike your favorite alcoholic beverage, mouthwashes use denatured alcohol, which is highly toxic.
The solution: Stop using mouthwash. Not only is it unnecessary, but the natural versions available lack the harsh chemicals that kill bacteria, so you're essentially swishing flavored water around in your mouth.
Get a Showerhead Filter
Not only does your tap water have heavy metals, but it's also heavily chlorinated. You know the smell of a public swimming pool? Your tap water has nearly as much chlorine as that. The minerals and chlorine can dry out the hair and skin, causing breakouts, weaker hair and breakage, along with a dull hair color.
The solution: Invest in a good showerhead filter.
Even making a single one of these changes in your own bathroom can get the ball rolling with creating a more conscious home. As soon as you start making swaps, you'll be surprised at how the momentum builds, and it becomes even more fun and rewarding to create the non-toxic and conscious home that's perfect for you.