(EWG = Environmental Working Group)
Check your house for common toxic chemicals and choose safer alternatives with this simple
checklist for less toxic living. Online resources: ewg.org/healthy-home-tips/checklist
Do you cook with non-stick cookware? Replace with cast-iron, stainless steel, or glass
when possible. Stuck with it? Take care not to overheat it, which releases toxic fumes.
Do you use plastic food containers? We recommend glass over plastic. Never
microwave food in plastic containers. For baby, use glass or BPA-free plastic bottles.
Do you filter your tap water? Check EWG’s online tap water quality database for local
contaminants, then choose a filter that removes them, if needed.
Do you drink bottled water? Kick the habit. For water on-the-go, get a reusable water
bottle, like stainless steel (not plastic or aluminum lined with plastic).
Any canned food in the pantry? Cook with fresh or frozen whenever possible; most
food cans (including liquid infant formula) are lined with bisphenol-A (BPA), a toxic chemical
that leaches into the food.
Do you eat conventionally grown produce? Check EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to
Pesticides to be sure you buy organic when pesticide residues are highest.
Do you use iodized salt? You should. Iodine is necessary to maintain healthy thyroid
Do you eat high-mercury fish? Ask before eating and head for the lower-mercury types
(especially for pregnant women and young children).
Do you use air fresheners? Don’t! Most contain a number of toxic chemicals that
contaminate the air you breathe.
Is there fragrance in your personal care products? We don’t know what’s in
“fragrance,” so it’s safer to choose all fragrance-free personal-care products. Always check
ingredient lists to be sure.
What kind of toothpaste do you use? Choose fluoride-free for kids under 2 and teach
older kids to rinse and spit; fluoride is toxic if swallowed. Also, pick a paste without triclosan -
you’ll see it on the ingredient list.
Do you use liquid hand soap? If so, avoid anti-bacterials – the American Medical
Association recommends against using them at home.
What material is your shower curtain? Avoid vinyl shower curtains. If you get a new
curtain (whatever the material), leave it outside for several days before using.
Do you have extra products? Less is more. Skipping cosmetics like hair spray and
detangler, body sprays and powder is less toxic – and cheaper!
LAUNDRY & CLEANING CLOSET
Are your cleaners green? It’s hard to know without a full ingredient list, which most
products don’t have. Find out the ingredients by calling the manufacturer, avoid the toxic ones, and choose green-certified products whenever possible.
Do your product labels list all ingredients? Most don’t, but they should. Support
companies that disclose all ingredients by buying their products – you have a right to know.
Do you need all those products? Most homes can be safely cleaned with a few nontoxic
ingredients: vinegar (it’s anti-bacterial), baking soda, water, a HEPA vacuum, microfiber
mops and cloths - and some elbow grease! Skip laundry products you don’t need, like dryer
sheets, fabric softener, and chlorine bleach.
ALL AROUND THE HOUSE
Was your home built before 1978? If so, it probably contains lead paint. When
repainting, use a wet sanding technique to reduce dust, choose low VOC paints and always
paint with the windows open for good ventilation. Keep kids away from rehab dust and loose
Got foam furniture? Foam products (like stuffed furniture and mattresses) are often
treated with toxic fire retardants, so keep them well-covered. Ask whether a product is
treated before you buy and choose naturally fire-resistant materials like cotton and wool,
when possible. Don’t “protect” your fabrics and carpets with sprayed on chemical coatings –
simply clean spills quickly.
Do you use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)? They contain mercury and
should be handled and disposed of with care. Use them where there’s no danger of breaking
near children; clean up broken bulbs quickly and safely.
Do you use pesticides or insecticides? Try non-toxic alternatives first; pesticides are a
last resort. If you choose to use them, store them out of reach of children. Organic gardening
is healthier for kids and pets, since they live closer to the ground.
Do you have a wood deck, picnic table or playground set? Those made before
2005 likely contain arsenic. Test to confirm and either replace with safer wood or reduce your
exposure by sealing it, replacing high-use areas and washing hands after touching, especially
What materials are your kids’ toys made from? Top contaminants to avoid are:
lead paint, play make-up, cadmium and lead in play jewelry, and phthalates in soft plastics (like teethers and rubber duckies). Choosing non-toxic toys for young kids is especially important because so many end up in their mouths.)