10 Household Products to Detox

building materials children cleaning indoor air interior design self-care Apr 10, 2018

by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée


Household productslike cleaners, paints, and fragrancescontribute to half of our urban air pollution, according to a study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (1)  

What makes up the other 50%? Vehicle-related emissions.

With such significant amounts of air pollution coming from popular products, your home probably contains some too. 

Below are 10 household products that are probably contaminating your indoor air quality and burdening your bodies. (They're listed in no particular order.)

10. Air Fresheners and Candles

As of April 2017, the World Health Organization estimated that 235 million people were suffering from asthma. (2)  Air fresheners and candles are two sources of asthma triggers that the American Lung Association advises against using due to the volatile organic compound (VOC) chemicals that are typically used to make these products.  (3)(4)

9. Aerosol and Spray Products

What do spray deodorant and spray paint have in common? They are both aerosol products. Chemicalslike methylene chloride and formaldehydeare added to aerosol products and may contribute to short-term mental confusion, lightheadedness, headache, nausea, or long-term damage to the nervous system or cancer. (5)

8. Cleaning Products

While cleaning fights debris and chemicals found in common household dust, the very products used to clean may be creating another problem: Oftentimes, cleaning products contain chlorine, formaldehyde, pesticides, and phthalates to name a few of the many chemicals. Health riskssuch as cancer, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, and asthmaare examples of potential health effects from chemicals found in standard cleaning products.

7. Curtains

Dyes and fabric treatments found on drapes and curtains often contain toxic chemicals that can contaminate indoor air and dust. (6)

6. Cushioned Furniture

Furniture that is cushy for your tushie might be a pain in the air. Polyurethane foam, popular in cushioned furniture, has been found to release chemicals into the indoor air and household dust. These chemicals may contribute to asthma, loss of coordination, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. (7)

5. Composite or Pressed-Wood Furniture

Take a bunch of wood dust and particles, and blend them with adhesives or resins, and you have composite wood, often times called “pressed-wood” on furniture labels. Examples of pressed-wood are plywood, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Not only is the wood made with adhesives or resins, the finish layer is often glued on using adhesives and can be made from vinyl, plastic or solid wood.

4. Paints and Finishes

Paints and finishes often contain VOCs and other harmful chemicals that can also contaminate indoor air. These chemicals can be found in the base-color paint as well as pigment colors, stains, and sealers.

3. Soaps & Shampoos

How can such an innocent productsoap or shampoobe harmful? They often contain phthalates, glycols, preservatives, surfactants/sulfates, synthetic colors, fragrances, and triclosanan antibacterial and disinfectant that was found to have no advantage over plain soap, but to affect thyroid function, reproductive hormones and liver. (8)  

2. Cosmetics

At the time of this article, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics listed 39 Chemicals of Concern that are commonly found cosmetics. (9) Each of the 39 chemicals has been linked to health concernssuch as cancer,(10) development and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, cellular and neurological damage, and irritation (11). And that’s just the health concerns from the first two chemicals on the list.

1. Baby Bottles

Oh, baby! Turns out, baby bottles often contain BPA and phthalates, while bottle nipples, pacifiers and teethers can be made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)one of the most toxic materials. (12)(13)


Are there any products that aren’t hazardous to health?

Learning about toxic chemicals in household products can be overwhelming. However, in doing so, we learn about simple ways to reduce our exposures.

Take your overwhelmed feelings and turn it into action! Start with the things that you are able to change easily. 


Get More Tipsand Support!for Detoxing Your Home!

Enroll in the D-Tox Academy to detox your home and life at a pace that’s comfortable for you.

The D-Tox Academy gives subscribers access to specific brands of products, and tips for how to use and maintain products.  The academy includes short videos and checklists that are helpful when making healthier changes.



(1) Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

(2) World Health Organization

(3) American Lung Association – Indoor Air Pollutants

(4) American Lung Association - Candles

(5)(7)(8) A to Z of D-Toxing, Works Cited Part 2

(6)(12) A to Z of D-Toxing, Works Cited Part 3 and 4

(9) Safe Cosmetics – Chemicals of Concern

(10) Safe Cosmetics – 1,4-dioxane

(11) Safe Cosmetics - Acrylates

(13) A to Z of D-Toxing, Works Cited Part 1

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About Ruan Living

Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


This article is for informational purposes only. This information is provided “as is” without warranty.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ruan Living.

In no event will Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living be liable for any damages or loss of any kind resulting from the use of this website. Anyone relying upon or making use of the information on this website does so at his or her own risk.

Some of the services and products recommended on this website provide compensation to Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living. All recommendations are based foremost upon an honest belief that the product, service, or site will benefit our site visitors in some way.  

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