Healthier Home

Non-Toxic Laundry: Dryer Balls


Although they make your clothes feel soft and smell “fresh”, fabric softeners and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products. They add toxic chemicals to your laundry and, consequently, your body. Our skin is our largest organ and has a transdermal effect, so what we put on our body is just as important as what we put in it, which chemicals like these that stay on your clothes and have contact with your skin the majority of the day will have some effect on your health. Since fabric softeners are designed to stay on your clothes for extended periods of time, such chemicals can seep out gradually and be inhaled or absorbed directly through the skin. 

According to Scientific American, some of the most harmful ingredients in dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners include: 
-benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer)
-benzyl alcohol (an upper respiratory tract irritant)
-ethanol (linked to central nervous system disorders)
-chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen)
-limonene (carcinogen)
-surfactant nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) (reproductive problems)

The benefits of using dryer balls:
-natural/non-toxic
-reusable, can last up to 1,000 loads (once they start to unravel its time to replace)
-helps separate the clothes while in the dryer allows additional air flow through to dry clothes faster
-helps reduce wrinkles and static of clothing
-save you money on fabric softener and dryer sheets
-eco-friendly/biodegradeable 

How to use:
-use 2-3 dryer balls depending on size of load (they will work more efficiently with small to medium loads allowing the balls to bounce around and do their job) You will need more for larger loads

Most dryer balls are made of wool or bamboo fibers (these are the ones that you want to look for to purchase)

If you are looking for an added scent to your laundry, after the load is completely dried, take out the dyer balls and apply a desired amount of essential oil to each ball. Toss the dryer balls back into the dryer and run the load on “Air Fluff” for 10 minutes (no heat), so that the delicate essential oil is not damaged. 

I have created a list of recommendations of non-toxic laundry products with pictures of a few of my favorites here. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent is my most used detergent as it is the most economic of the non-toxic brands and does a great job!

Healthier Home, Nutrition

Reusable Non-Toxic Straws

🥤Reusable Non-Toxic Straws🥤

Some benefits:

🥤They are reusable! Not only is that good for the environment, saving our sea life from the pollution of plastic straws that ends up in the ocean but they are also good on your pocket! It will save you money in the long run if you are used to buying disposable straws.

🥤Plastic reusable straws start to build a film inside of them that are hard to clean and can build up bacteria or mold, can’t go in the dishwasher or they melt.

🥤Plastic leaches chemicals, even more so when exposed to extreme temperatures like freezing or heat, acidic beverages or UV light which of course posses a risk to our health since it can disrupt our hormones but even more so cause cancer. Most single-use plastic straws are made from polypropylene, a type of plastic commonly made from petroleum. 

Options for non-toxic reusable straws: glass, stainless steel, bamboo and silicone (which are perfect for small children or people with disabilities that need a bendable straw). 

🌾If you are needing single use non-toxic straws, for lets say a party or an event where you will need a great amount of straws, I recommend using these natural Hay Straws that are made from wheat stems. They are 100% compostable, so you can throw them in the compost and they will break down completely.

Personally, I like to use glass straws because I like to be able to see thru them and make sure that they have been fully cleaned out on the inside. Good quality straws are made sturdy enough where you do not have to worry about your children using them or breaking them. My favorite glass straws are from GlassDharma. I love that their glass is thick and very durable. I also love that their cleaning brush handle is made from stainless steel. Perfect combo with their soft hemp sleeve to hold the straw and be able to take it on the go! Glassdharma creates a variety of glass straws, including a nice collection of etched straws with inspirational words on them. They even make custom sized straws if you have a container you would like a specific length of a straw for. Best part is they have a lifetime guarantee!

⚠️Tip: make sure with any cleaning brush that you use, that the handle is all stainless steel (no aluminum). 

This reusable monkey print travel pouch is from Marley’s Monsters. The pouches are perfect to take your straws on the go! I also store my straws in the pouch inside my kitchen drawer to keep them clean in between uses. This pouch even has removable and washable interior wet bag to keep your dirty straws in. They have a wide variety of adorable prints to choose from, as well as different sizes to match the length of your straws. Their site has a variety of great non-toxic, reusable items aside from straws ranging from kitchen towels, napkins, facial washcloths, nursing pads, bibs, washable duster, dryer balls, shopping bags and food containers.

Here is a full list of my recommendations: https://amzn.to/2H7jzTI

Nutrition

Cooking in Cast Iron

Healthy eating is not just about the food itself that we ingest, it also matters what you use to cook it in!

I have always loved using non-stick cookware for the ease of cooking and the cleaning portion that comes thereafter but truly never realized that in order for it to be made that way it takes harsh chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid, that eventually leeks out into our food. According to the American Cancer Society, “PFOA has the potential to be a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies have found that it is present worldwide at very low levels in just about everyone’s blood. Animal studies have also presented a link between PFOA exposure and cancer development. Of course, something else that can cause cancer!

After Anthony was diagnosed with cancer, this was one of the simple changes that I made. I stopped utilizing all non-stick cookware and started slowly changing out items in the kitchen, beginning with purchasing a cast iron skillet which I now use to cook all of his meals in. Because I knew that Anthony would start have iron deficiency anemia related to his cancer treatment secondary to reduced appetite, poor nutrition, potential gastrointestinal mucosal damage that results in blood loss and bone marrow suppression I resorted to using cast iron cookware. Iron is an essential nutrient for all the cells in our body. Iron’s main function in our body is to help transport oxygen through hemoglobin in the blood and myoglobin in muscles. 

As a registered nurse one of our education instructions to our patients is to use cast iron cookware to cook in as a way to help increase their iron levels and prevent or improve their iron deficiency!

Safe, non-toxic types of cookware include: cast iron, stainless steel, glass and copper. One of the cast iron skillets that I use the most, which is also incredibly priced is from Lodge. Taking it way back to one of the oldest, yet safest ways to cook!

The best part about a cast iron skillet, other than the health benefits are that it will last you a lifetime. That is of course, if you take care of it appropriately:

Cleaning Tips

  1. Wash cast iron by hand (avoid putting in dishwasher or using any metal scrubbers). For extra sticky situations, simmer a little water for 1 minute, then scrape after cooled.
  2. Dry promptly and thoroughly with a lint free cloth.
  3. Rub with a very light layer of oil, preferably while the cookware is still warm.
  4. Hang or store cookware in a dry place. 

Cooking Tips

  1. The great thing about cast iron is that it can be used on all types of stovetops, including in the oven!
  2. Cast iron heats up very quickly, so make sure to use a lower heat setting to pre-heat prior to adding food and to also prevent food from burning or sticking. 
  3. You can use any utensils you like on cast iron, but avoid using anything plastic or aluminum for toxic purposes! Bamboo utensils are always a great option as they are organic and will not scratch any surface.
  4. Make sure to use a hot handle mitt (remove if placing in oven!).

Seasoning Tips:

  1. Seasoning is a very important part of keeping your cast iron cookware working to its optimal state and preserving its condition. It is the act of baking oil onto the iron.
  2. Using the cookware regularly will help maintain its seasoning but if it not in use often, you will want to make sure to season it if you start to notice it is getting dull.
  3. Although essentially you can use any type of cooking oil to season, it is not recommended that you use any animal based fats as they can go rancid quickly which is a health concern.
  4. It is important to maintain the seasoning by applying a very thin layer of oil after each cleaning.
  5. At some point you may need to completely re-season your cast iron cookware, if so follow these instructions.

Purchasing all new cookware can definitely be a financial burden but it is a lifetime investment for your health and in the long run can save you a lot of money on potential medical care related to health conditions that may arise from using alternative cookware that expose you to hazardous toxins. Lodge has a nice array of cookware to choose from which is reasonably priced.

Health tip:

*Any application of the recommendations in this website is at the reader’s discretion.Information is provided for informational  purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.Please consult with physician prior to use.  

Non-Toxic Beauty Products

Cleaner and Safer Nails

One of the things that I stopped doing after my son, Anthony, was diagnosed with cancer was using nail polish on my nails. Not only did I bite them off that first night that we sat in the ED with him but since then I’ve been concerned about all the chemicals found in nail polish, as well as the risk of bacteria. Hand hygiene goes beyond just making sure to keep your hands clean, it actually extends to the nail polish we use and our nails themselves. Let’s face it, the most common way that we get sick is by the things we touch with our hands which we then transfer to our mouth, or other mucus membranes like our eyes.

Hand hygiene is of greater importance when dealing with someone who is immunocompromised, like cancer. These individuals do not have the level of immune response to fight off the simplest of germs and are therefore at higher risk for infection.

Tips to reduce the risk of bacteria related to nails:

  • Remove any chipped nail polish immediately (it can harbor bacteria in the chipped polish).
  • Avoid having nail polish worn for more than four days, it has been shown to foster the presence of microorganisms which resist removal by handwashing.
  • No artificial nails (they have a higher chance of harboring bacteria)
  • Keep natural nail tips less than ¼ inch long (long nails harbor more bacteria under nail).
  • When washing hands, making sure to clean the underside of the nails (with a scrub brush would be ideal to remove as much dirt)
  • Avoid biting or chewing on nails (our mouth is the dirtiest place on our body, believe it or not, and can leave germs on the nails or transfer germs from our nails to our mouth.
  • Make sure any nail grooming tools are clean prior to use or sterilized if sharing with others. (always a good idea to even bring your own tools to a nail salon)
  • Avoid cutting cuticles, as they act as barriers to prevent infection.
  • Never rip or bite a hangnail. Instead, clip it with a clean, sanitized nail trimmer (risk for paronychia infection)

Tips to reduce risk of exposure to toxins and increased risk for cancer:

  • Gel manicures pose an additional health risk associated with the UV radiation from the lamp used (tip: apply sunscreen on hands prior to use)
  • Avoid using toxic nail polishes and hand hygiene products (make sure to read labels and purchase products with full ingredient list disclosed)

Early on in my son’s cancer journey I started researching ways to live healthier lives, reduce our exposure to toxins and start trying out non-toxic products. This is when I came to find that there are non-toxic nail polishes out on the market. This meant that I could continue to paint my nails without having to compromise my son’s health, or my own.

I have tried several non-toxic nail polish brands at this point and I will say that the one that overall lasts the longest, has the best application, ease of removal and a wide array of over 120 colors to choose from is Côte.

If you live in the Los Angeles or New York City area they also have two nail salons where you can get a manicure and/or pedicure utilizing all clean and safe beauty products, including a choice of their entire line of non-toxic nail polishes. They even go above and beyond to offer a personalized treatment in their Los Angeles location called “personal shop box” where you get to keep all of the tools that were used on you and only you, your own bottle of Côte’s base & top treatment and couple of a polish colors.

The most important part of why I choose Côte’s nail polishes and nail care treatment products, is because they are:

  • formaldehyde free (known carcinogen and skin allergen, often used as a preservative)
  • dibutyl phthalate (DBP) free (affect the reproductive system and linked to cancer)
  • toluene free (linked to impaired human reproduction and development, impaired breathing, being harmful to the nervous system and nausea)
  • camphor free (can cause allergic reactions in large doses, cause irritation, dizziness, nausea, and headaches)
  • formaldehyde resin free (often used as a hardener and in large doses can be a skin allergen)
  • triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) free (causes changes in hormone regulation, metabolism, and reproductive systems)
  • xylene free (known allergen and a possible carcinogen)
  • ethyl tosylamide/epoxy resin free (has antibiotic properties which raises concern for antibiotic resistance)
  • paraben free (estrogen-mimicking effects which may trigger hormonal problems)
  • gluten free (allergy concern for those with gluten intolerance)
One of my favorite shades of red, is Côte’s No. 28

You can purchase Côte’s products online on their website or through any of these online or retail locations.


Medical Products

Patch Strips

Shortly after our son Anthony was diagnosed with cancer, I tried searching for natural products to use on him to reduce the amount of toxins he would be exposed to. In doing so I came across Patch Strips

Anthony’s skin became so sensitive after radiation and one of the few things he dislikes is having to peel off bandages. He goes through enough pain with his procedures, removing a bandage shouldn’t have to be one of them. A cancer patient goes through hundreds of bandages during their course of treatment. Some even develop a sensitivity to them because of the the chemicals and materials they are made from. 

Going beyond just skin sensitivity is the important health care aspect of what we are actually exposing ourselves to. Our skin is the largest organ on our body. A lot of people don’t realize that what we put on our body is just as important as what we put in it!

Because Anthony’s skin became sensitive shortly after the start of treatment with radiation and one of the few things he has disliked is having to remove bandages off his skin, I went on a hunt for what could be best for his skin. He has gone through enough pain with his procedures, removing a bandage shouldn’t have to be one of them. Because he his implanted port is accessed routinely, he gets a bandage placed at least once every week. Upon conducting my search for something that could be not only sensitive to my son’s skin but also ideally made from non-toxic material I came across Patch Strips.Not only are they natural and safe for our skin but also the environment! Needless to say it was love at first try!

One of the things that I have tried to eliminate from our lives as much as possible is plastic. Most bandages out on the market are made from plastic.The adhesive portion of a bandage is usually made from a type of plastic, either PVC (polyvinyl chloride-the most toxic plastic for both our personal health and environment), polyethylene, or polyurethane. Our skin is the largest organ of our body, so what we put on it is just as important as what we put in it. If we are so concerned as to what we eat to maintain our health, what we put on our skin should be just as important. Even more so if we are covering an open wound, we have now lost that protective layer of skin and are at an increased risk of infection or perhaps an easier source of having toxic chemicals absorbed into our bodies.

Patch Strips was created by a dad on a mission to prevent nasty skin reactions that his son would get while using traditional band-aids. Once he discovered the array of chemicals that even goes into making a band-aid he wanted to create a natural alternative. Patch Strips are made from 100% organic bamboo fiber, aloe vera, coconut oil or activated charcoal. Not only is their product safe for our skin but also the environment! Their product is completely compostable from the bandage to the packaging itself. 


You can order a sample pack here of their natural bamboo or activated charcoal bandage if you would like to test them out prior to comitting to purchasing an entire tube. But I promise you, you will love them just as much as we do!