How to Create a Greener, Cleaner, Healthier Home
Making a few changes to your routine can improve your breathing, sleep, and overall health.
Healthy Laundry Detergents continued...
Laundry detergents also contain chemicals called surfactants to
penetrate clothing and carry away dirt in the wash cycle. But while they may be
great at removing stains from your son's soccer shirt, studies show they are
easily absorbed through the skin and can disrupt the body's hormone signals
that regulate reproduction.
For healthier laundry options, look for products that leave the
harsh chemicals behind. Bark suggests a few alternatives:
- Trader Joe's Liquid Laundry Detergent with lavender oil and optical
brightener -- the stuff that keeps your whites white -- cleans clothes just as
well as your average detergent, Bark says. But it does it without phosphates --
which pollute the water -- or formaldehyde.
- Oxi-Brite Laundry Detergent uses oxygen instead of chlorine to effectively
remove stains and brighten clothes. According to Bark, oxygen-based cleaners
lift dirt and stains from material without the toxicity of chlorine
- Earth Friendly Ecos All Natural Laundry Detergent is made entirely from
plants and cleans without the use of harsh chemicals or synthetic aromas. You
can choose scents like lavender or lemongrass, which come from essential
Creating a Healthy Bedroom
Here's an unsettling thought: "Anything labeled as kids'
sleepwear or pajamas, by law, has to be treated with fire retardants, which are
carcinogenic," Bark says. Mattresses, it turns out, get the same chemical
treatment. These chemicals can protect people from burning in case of a fire.
But they are also toxic and environmentally harmful, Schettler says.
When shopping for your child's winter sleepwear, instead of
choosing clothing officially labeled "pajamas," look for tight-fitting,
organic, all-cotton, merino wool or bamboo long underwear. And, bamboo, says
Bark, is naturally flame-retardant. "That's what parents in the know buy for
In addition to fire retardants, new mattresses are packed with
formaldehyde. Bark says that for anywhere from seven months to a year and a
half after the purchase of a new mattress, formaldehyde is released into the
air and into the skin in the form of gas. And memory foam beds are even worse
than standard coil mattresses.
"They are made of synthetic foam rubber and latex, which do
mold to your body, but are made of toxic gases," says Bark. These gases are
given off for the life of the bed, she adds, and can cause headaches, muscle
aches, and a general ill and fatigued feeling.
What should you buy instead? Bark recommends mattresses made of
natural (not synthetic) rubber and covered with natural wool or organic cotton.
True, they will cost you more (about the same as a memory foam bed). But,
according to Bark, they last forever. Dust mites and other living organisms
that routinely collect in regular mattresses can't live in the natural wool and
rubber. "So, these beds are also naturally hypoallergenic," Bark says.
Finally, Bark notes that cotton is the most heavily
pesticide-sprayed crop in the world. That's why it's worth investing in sheets
made of organic cotton grown without pesticides. Bamboo sheets are toxin-free
For a greener night's sleep, Bark recommends trying the
- Lifekind natural rubber mattresses contain no fire retardants,
formaldehyde, or other harmful chemicals.
- Coyuchi organic cotton sheets are made with organic cotton that has been
grown without harmful pesticides.
- Bambooclothes.com offers comfortable organic bamboo sleepwear for young
children without the pesticides or chemicals used in most kids' PJs.