Healthy Children Project is a project of the
Learning Disabilities Association of America
Phone: (888) 300-6710
Take steps to minimize your family’s risks of toxic chemical exposures
Cleaning your home and family
- Buy or make non-toxic cleaning products.
- Dust and vacuum regularly; remove shoes when entering your home; minimize use of carpets.
- Do not use anti-bacterial soap; it contains a pesticide (triclosan) that may promote antibiotic-resistant bacteria and disrupt the endocrine system. Regular soap works fine.
- Look for non-toxic personal care products, such as shampoos, soaps, lotions and cosmetics. Avoid products containing lead, mercury and phthalates (often listed as "fragrance"). For more information, see The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.
Make non-toxic cleaning products
It’s easy and inexpensive to keep your family healthy and your house clean using products such as baking soda, club soda, lemon juice, baby oil, and water.
- Clean windows and mirrors: Use one-fourth cup vinegar mixed with one quart water, or use club soda. Wipe with newspaper.
- Clean drains: Use a half cup baking soda and half cup vinegar. Pour baking soda followed by vinegar down drain, flush with hot water.
- Remove spots from carpet: Use club soda and salt, or a 3-to-1 mixture of vinegar and water. Pour onto stains. Allow to bubble, and dab dry.
- Clean wood furniture or wooden, tile, and linoleum floors : Mix a few drops of vinegar and a capful of baby oil in a bucket of water.
- Plastics: Never use plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave. Minimize use of plastics with food and drink. Do NOT use polycarbonate (7), polyvinyl chloride (3) or polystyrene(6) with food or drink; they can leach toxic chemicals. Safer plastics are PETE (1), HDPE (2), LDPE (4) and polypropylene (5).
Avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (3) in toys, teethers, building materials, shower curtains, and other items.
Avoid use of polycarbonate plastic (7), especially with food and drink. Use glass or non-polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, and stainless steel or non-polycarbonate sippy cups.
- Food: Buy organic and/or locally grown food when possible. Farmers markets can be a good source of inexpensive, local, and organic produce. Eat a diet low in animal fats, with lots of fruits and vegetables. Some toxic chemicals accumulate in fatty tissues of animals and then in people. Some fish contain high levels of mercury, PCBs and other toxic chemicals. Choose fish low in mercury and salmon that is wild or canned rather than farm-raised. For guidance see the Natural Resources Defense Council’s website on mercury contamination.
- Teflon and non-stick pans: Avoid using non-stick (Teflon and other trademarks) pots and pans. Dispose of non-stick pans when the coating is peeling, cracked, or flaking.
- Pesticides: Minimize, or avoid all together any use of pesticides in your home and garden or on your lawn. For help, advice, and alternatives, see the Beyond Pesticides website.
- Testing: Get children tested for lead levels at ages one and two. Test water supplies for lead. Test private wells for arsenic and other contaminants on a regular basis.
For further information on minimizing toxic chemical risks at home, see: