This essay was published in the
Silver City Daily Press Independent on September 24.

That naked man or woman (from last month’s column) still stands in the shower, this time with shampoo bubbles sliding down the body – containing known carcinogens.  This is especially troubling as the warmth of a bath opens one’s pores to drink up the chemicals from scalp to toes.  And it happens to millions every day America.

toothbrushOur Food and Drug Administration allows hundreds of toxic chemicals (banned in other nations) to be added to the products we pour on our bodies, wash our towels and sheets with, swish in our mouths, “clean” with, and consume – even with evidence mounting that, alone, they cause cancer and in combination we can only guess at their danger.  Even toothpaste tubes for children warn that the paste should not be swallowed and, if it is, Poison Control should be called!

Just holding flouride toothpaste in the mouth allows the chemical to be absorbed into the body, as it’s intended, despite studies showing it’s linked to neurological damage in children and adults.

Laundry soaps, fabric softeners, “cling”-abaters, odor cover-uppers, furniture polishes, upholstery and carpet foams, silver polishes, degreasers, and so on – many containing chemicals that cause cancer.

What’s a thinking home maker to do?  Consider these options.

1) Shop carefully, reading labels, avoiding everything with a strange-sounding name.  Downside:  research may be daunting, and you might not find much.

2) Change where you shop, seeking out your local “alternative” health food store or coop to find cleaning products with few and simple ingredients.  Downside:  They might cost a little more, and you might not find everything you’re looking for.

3) Best:  opt for simple ingredients in non-fancy packages, like pure soap, borax, washing soda (sodium carbonate – one of those chemical names you might not realize is okay when beginning your research), white vinegar, ammonia, baking soda, salt, hydrogen peroxide, cream of tartar, lemon juice, etc!  Then go online (or find a book, perhaps at your grandmother’s?) for recipes for cleaning just about anything. Downside: time to mix simple recipes – but less time than needed to pay for toxic products.  Besides, it’s fun, they work, and they’ll save a lot of money.

Recently I began to make my own baking soda toothpaste with coconut oil and peppermint – but also with Xylitol, which made it sweet and provided an extra abrasive, though I had concerns about its true “naturalness” and whether it would actually be non-toxic with a name like that.  Just before this paper’s deadline, I learned from an online Naturopath that Xylitol is not considered safe – and his alternative was bentonite clay, ironically what I’ve been using for years in my mouth in a different manner than toothpaste.  I use it like a poultice around any tooth that might feel sensitive, to help draw out bacteria.  I’ll soon mix up a new batch of toothpaste with bentonite clay, which both draws bacteria and can also help remineralize our teeth!

Downside of any coconut oil and baking soda toothpaste:  A little care to not mix it too greasy – though that’s an easy fix by adding more soda.  Second, we need to create a new habit for spitting, because the oil would clog up our home’s plumbing, so we need to get it instead inside the trash.  The up-sides win with cost, non-toxicity, and healing properties.

Recipes for cleaning nearly anything with non-toxic ingredients an be found with a web-search for “old-fashioned cleaning recipes,” “home-made toothpaste,” or shampoo, etc.   Take it little-by-little, but do it!

Detoxify your home, and keep the polluters from unloading their poisons into your home!  It’s clear that no one will do that but us.

(Take any toxic products you want to be rid of to the next hazardous waste collection, so they don’t wind up in our aquifer,  coming back later on our heads, thank you!)

Jean Eisenhower has been writing for local and international publications since the 1980s, winning a few awards along the way.  She writes on home and garden design and other subjects at and