You’ve done the dirty work tidying, vacuuming and organising your home until it’s shiny and looking like something out of a chic catalogue. However, whilst it may look like you’ve stepped into your favourite interior stylists instagram account, little known toxicities are likely hiding in the most innocent of places.

We’ve uncovered some of the main culprits to ensure that next time you employ your standard cleaning routine you’ll eliminate all of the toxic things in your home and not just those you can pick up with your dyson.

The air we breathe

When we think of air pollution smoggy cities and factory fumes often come to mind, however, the air in our homes can often be just and much, if not more, toxic. A collaborative research effort lead by the University of Surrey has discovered that there are multiple things in our homes that have a negative effect on air quality. Dr Prashant Kumar of the University of Surrey explains, “From cooking residue to paints, varnishes and fungal spores, the air we breathe indoors is often more polluted than that outside.”

Often the use of coal and wood for cooking and microbial contaminants including bacteria and viruses can prompt respiratory disease and reduced cognitive function – things we’d no doubt do well to avoid wherever possible. Additionally, with people living in urban areas spending around 90 per cent of their time indoors it’s essential that we find ways to negate the pollution in the air and give our bodies a break.

So how do we fix it? According to Dr Kumar sometimes the solution is as simple as opening a window, however, he emphasises that without the knowledge of the right time to do so these simple steps are often skipped. The research points to a big picture solution of more considered town planning that distanced dwellings from high pollution areas like intersections, with Dr Kumar concluding, “a combination of policy and technology will help ensure that while we are hard at work our buildings are also working to protect us from harmful pollutants that affects both body and mind.”

If moving house seems a little dramatic, try airing your home out more often, especially in the presence of cooking and cleaning product fumes.

Frying pans

Don’t panic, there’s no need to cull all of your trusty fry pans – just any with a Teflon non-stick coating. Whilst this handy little laboratory invention makes cooking anything with the slightest ‘stick’ factor a complete breeze, it’s not worth the risk it poses to our health. When you heat Teflon coated pans a chemical carcinogen is released that can potentially cause all sorts of problems for us – from birth defects and cancer to hormones disruption and high cholesterol. Thankfully, the company that created and provides Teflon to pan manufacturers all but admitted its toxicity a few years back and vowed to phase it out by 2015. This means any pans purchased after then will be fine but if you’re still holding onto a trusty old faithful it’s time to let it go and invest in a new, non-toxic pan.

Lathering up

This one makes a lot of sense when you put it into perspective. Our skin is after-all the largest organ in our body, which is why it comes as no surprise that it soaks up a large amount (about 60 per cent) of the substance we use on it and feeds them into our bloodstreams. Whilst this is no problem if you’re using all-natural, organic products it can be if you’re using products with additives. According to Erin Zaikis, founder of organic, sulfate and paraben free soap company Sundara, these are the top additives to look our for and avoid:

  • Fragrance

Usually synthetic chemicals and toxins.

Constant exposure has been shown to negatively impact the central nervous system and can trigger allergies, asthma symptoms and migraines.

  • Parabens

Mimic estrogen, which the body them mistakes them for.

When the body thinks there’s too much estrogen in the bloodstream it responds by decreasing muscle mass, increasing fat deposits, entering puberty early and/or stimulating reproductive issues in women and men.

  • Sulfates

Added to products to produce bubbles and a good lather.

Strip the skin of natural oils which increases penetration below the surface, also irritating for sensitive skin or eczema.

  • Triclosan

Usually found in anti-bacterial soaps.

Promotes the emergence and growth of bacteria resistant to antibiotic cleansers, also creates carcinogens that negatively impact the endocrine (hormone) system and thyroid function.

Baby powder

Whether you use it for it’s intended or whenever you run out of dry shampoo, baby powder is undoubtedly a multifunctional product. Considering it’s marketed for use on babies you would expect it to be 100 per cent free of toxic ingredients, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. A large amount of baby powders are talcum powder based and according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), talc in its natural form contains cancer-causing asbestos. Whilst asbestos-free talc has been used in baby powders since the 1970’s, the ACS notes that the evidence surrounding cancer-causing or contributing properties in these widely used asbestos-free talc products is unclear. For peace-of-mind eliminate talc containing formulas entirely and switch to one of the all-natural alternatives available.

Go forth and purge you home

Whilst these toxic things likely hidden in your home aren’t going to have an immediate effect on your health and wellbeing today, they could impact it in the future. For this reason why not err on the side of caution and implement the tips to improve the things you can’t completely change and remove the toxic products that you can? Cranking open a window is the easiest thing you’ll do all day, plus with all of the wonderful all-natural and environmentally friendly products available to replace the old toxic ones there’s really no excuse not to.

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Romy Daly

Romy is a journalist and writer with an avid love of food, fashion, beauty, travel, music and books. You’ll often find her in the kitchen trying out new recipes or tweaking old favourites to incorporate whatever her current food obsession is. In her spare time Romy enjoys reading anything and everything – nine times out of ten with a cup of tea in hand. As a fashion devotee she loves pretty much anything she can wear be it clothes, shoes or bags. On the weekends Romy enjoys a relaxed day with friends at one of the many nearby wineries in her native Adelaide Hills.