Updated 24 April 2014

Detox your bathroom

We continue the household toxic tour with a critical look the bathroom - it's here that we deliberately apply hundreds of chemicals to our skin.

The main source of toxins in this part of the home is the bathroom shelf - typically groaning with the weight of all those grooming products we love to pamper ourselves with.

If you're female, you apply around 168 chemicals, many of them known toxins, to your body each day. If you're male, you apply about 85.

Read: What price pretty? The 'chemical load' of cosmetics

The amount of each toxin in a product is slight, and single small doses are hard to link definitively to health problems in humans. But we give  ourselves thousands of doses of hundreds of different compounds over a lifetime; the cumulative impact may well have negative effects on health and the environment when we wash products off.

Detox your bathroom shelf

* Use less
. You don't need to deny yourself your favourite body products entirely, but we tend to use far too much. A coin-sized dollop of shampoo worked into the roots, for example, is all that's needed for shiny hair - not a whole headful of lather.

Simple soap and water is humanity's best basic hygiene tool, but a little plain soap goes a long way. Skip anti-bacterial soaps (and anti-bacterial products generally). They've been shown to be not particularly effective at destroying germs, and may encourage the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There's also concern they could interfere with the endocrine (hormonal) system in humans and other animals.

* Try non-toxic alternatives, at least occasionally, to give your body a break. Your kitchen is likely already well stocked with natural cleansers, conditioners, deodorisers, fragrances - like bicarb, lemon, rosemary, oatmeal, egg, cucumber and cornflour.

A peeled lemon blended with half a cucumber, for example, makes a quick simple shampoo-and-conditioner. Or try this bicarb recipe for squeaky-clean hair.  

Read: Make your own non-toxic fragrances

* Try toxin-free commercial alternatives if you don't fancy the DIY approach, such as the products listed on these toxin- and cruelty-free databases

Read: Deodorants: do we really need them?

Detox your toilet

It's important to keep the toilet clean, of course, but this can be achieved perfectly adequately without excessive use of harmful chemicals. Try this brilliant, cheap, utterly green toilet cleaner recipe:

¼ cup bicarbonate of soda plus
¼ cup vinegar. Leave in bowl for 30 minutes, scrub and flush.

Detox bathroom surfaces

As in the kitchen, you can lower toxicity on bathroom surfaces by diluting cleaning products, and using safe homemade options. Vinegar, for example, is a great natural disinfectant for the bathroom: use it straight on tile grouting, or half-and-half with water as a general cleaner.

Make a habit of always wiping out the tub as soon as you've finished bathing to avoid buildup of a grimy ring that might need lots of chemical cleaner (and elbow grease) to remove.

Follow us in the coming weeks, as we detox the rest of the house. The idea for doing a "Toxic Tour" of the home comes from groundWork.

Read more:
The B.O. Wars

Cake of soap recipe: make your own and save

Olivia Rose-Innes is Health24’s EnviroHealth Editor. Read more of her columns and articles or post a question to her expert forum.


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