The Non-Toxic Home

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Written by: Katie Tarr

It is common knowledge that living a healthy lifestyle requires you to eat healthy, move your body, and monitor what else you put in your body, right? But what about the products you put on or around your body?

My name is Katie Tarr and I’ve been diagnosed with MS since 2017. At that time, I was working as a pediatric physical therapist. I had two children under the age of 5. I had started to dabble in non-toxic household/cleaning products when I was pregnant with my first child because I wanted to ensure a safe environment for him, but it wasn’t until my MS diagnosis that I finally committed to making the full switch. I had a conversation with my first MS specialist and I asked him, “So what do you think causes MS?”

He sighed and replied, “Well, kid, I think it’s a lot of different factors. But what I think is your genetics can pre-dispose you to this illness, but it’s not until you are exposed to certain toxins and/or viruses over time that you will start to develop full-blown MS.” He proceeded to give me advice and told me one of the most important things I could do to avoid further toxic body burden was to eliminate any and all toxic chemicals from my personal care routine and my home. That short conversation prompted me to start researching. And let me tell ya…the information is out there! A few stats that have always stuck with me…

There are 85,000 chemicals in use today, but less than 200 of them have been studied to analyze the effects on human health.

Cleaning once a week using common household cleaners is as impactful on your health as smoking 20 cigarettes per day. 

The cord blood of a newborn infant born today contains over 200 toxic chemicals- some of which were banned from use hundreds of years ago. 

Like I said, I had already been dabbling in “natural cleaners” so as soon as I read these statistics, I assumed the products I was using were excluded. However, what I went on to find is that most of the products that I thought were labeled as safe, gentle, even hypoallergenic, actually contained just as many harmful fragrances, dyes, and chemicals as other non-natural products. I learned quickly about the term “greenwashing” and started to shop using the Think Dirty app- an app that will help you find safe products. 

Further into my MS journey, I started to get serious about healing my liver and detoxing my system in my efforts to reduce MS symptoms and the health of my growing family. I learned that normally our liver and other detox pathways are really great at detoxing our systems. However, because there are so many chemicals and toxins that we come in contact on a daily basis, that our liver cannot keep up with demand and toxins end up building up. This term is referred to as Body Burden.

Many companies will argue that the amount of a certain chemical in their product is considered “safe” for humans in small doses, however, they are not taking into account this toxic load on our liver and body and the fact that people use these products over and over again for years- often addicted to the smell of a certain product (more toxins!). 

It’s overwhelming…trust me, I know. Especially when you’re battling a chronic illness like MS daily and it seems like just another worry on the never-ending worry list. But I assure you, making some simple swaps can make such a difference for not only you, but your entire family as well. When we switched to all non-toxic products, I noticed more energy, better sleep, less headaches, less skin irritation for myself and my kids, and I was able to clean easier and faster than ever before. So I wanted to made it simple for you…if you’re looking to rid unnecessary toxins from your home, we should talk. But for now, here is what I suggest you prioritize: 

  1. Ditch toxic laundry detergents, fabric softeners, & dryer sheets. These products contain toxic ingredients including sulfates, fragrance, fillers, dyes, etc. and these chemicals have been linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, central nervous system dysfunction, skin irritation, headaches, etc. Avoid laundry detergent with fragrance at all costs and opt for a detergent free from sulfates/phosphates, bleach, fragrance, fillers/dye, and SLES/SLS. I also found that when I use a clean detergent, I no longer needed a fabric softener because my clothes (not to mention my machine) were no longer coated in chemical. We swapped dryer sheets for dryer balls which also eliminated hundreds of toxic chemicals as well. If you haven’t already watched the documentary called “Stink”, check it out. It’s very eye opening.
     
  2. Swap toxic sprays and chemical-laden wipes for mechanical cleaning and enzyme sprays. Did you know that you can remove up to 99% of bacteria from a surface with a microfiber cloth and water alone? Yep! It’s just a different form a cleaning called mechanical cleaning and it leaves no residue behind. You can clean faster with much less waste than with chemical sprays. Plus, most chemical sprays require a long dwell time to actually kill germs. So if you’re not actually reading the back of the bottle and following procedures, you’re prob just spraying a chemical around your house for no reason. Whoops! Enzyme cleaners are super effective because they utilize naturally-occurring enzymes that target and break down stains and odors instead of masking them with fragrance.

  3. Avoid candles and air fresheners. Did you know that the word “fragrance” is code word for thousands of different chemicals? It’s a trade secret so they don’t have to disclose what chemicals make up that ingredient. Fragrance has been linked to endocrine disruption and reproductive toxicity. Air freshener sprays also release volatile organic compounds into the air that get ingested through respiration and then re-settle on all of your surfaces. Clean is not a smell, it’s a feeling. Opt for essential oils or homemade natural potpourris instead. 

  4. Become a plant lady. Plants will naturally purify the air from toxins. Plus they have been proven to improve mood, calm the nervous system, and they make great decor. Plants that can detoxify include snake plants, spider plants, and golden pothos.

  5. Opt for a natural deodorant to avoid aluminum. Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s, breast cancer and other central nervous system disorders, including MS. There are so many natural options out there to try instead. And remember, sweating is detoxing. Don’t stop it. It may take some time but pretty soon, your body will catch up and you won’t sweat as much because your body isn’t constantly trying to rid itself of toxins. Trust the process. 

For the last 5 years, I’ve been working full-time as a “healthy home educator”and I’ve helped thousands of people create non-toxic safe havens for themselves and their families. It is my passion to help you seek healing and create an environment that allows healing to occur. Please reach out to me if you have any questions about this topic and I look forward to connecting with all of you here in MyMSPear. 

Katie Tarr

Instagram: @katie.elissa.tarr