We get it. It’s starting to feel like all of our belongings — from personal care products to home goods — are “out to kill us” these days. It can feel pretty exhausting and defeating when it seems like every single day we’re learning about something new that we have to get rid of because it’s supposedly “toxic.”
We feel that pressure ourselves at Rescripted, which is why we’ve put together a starting point for swapping out your conventional goods for more body-safe options. It’s not about being perfect but doing the next best thing for us.
You don’t need to throw away all of the cleaning products, food, skincare, makeup, and furniture in your house. But slowly over time, you can begin to make small changes that will add up in the long run. Your home goods and personal care items are an amazing place to start, which is what we'll get into below.
Why the need to stop using conventional products?
According to the State of California, the U.S. has over 80,000 synthetic chemicals under commercial use across consumer goods categories, and only 45% of them have been formally studied for human safety.
And according to the Endocrine Society, at least 1,000 of these or more are endocrine disrupting, but because there’s such little formal research done in this space, it’s likely this number is higher.
Aside from disrupting your endocrine system (i.e. your hormones), the variety of chemicals found in your personal care, cleaning, and food products, can lead to poor indoor air quality, which can contribute to the development of allergies and respiratory problems.
When these products are disposed of, they can also cause harm to the environment by contaminating water sources, contributing to air pollution, and disrupting wildlife spaces.
For sensitive populations like pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and anyone with an underlying health condition, a surplus of synthetic chemicals should especially be avoided.
What is an endocrine disruptor?
An endocrine disruptor is a man-made chemical that can interfere with your body’s hormone synthesis, secretion, and metabolism because they mimic the chemical structure of naturally occurring hormones.
These “trick” your body in three main ways:
They can block the pathway between a naturally occurring hormone and a receptor
They can act directly on a gland, such as the thyroid, causing it to make too much or too little of a hormone
They can mimic a hormone, causing the body to overreact or react at the wrong time
Hormones are chemical messengers for biological reactions across your body including circulatory, metabolic, and immune functions to name a few — so the body is entirely dependent on a healthy endocrine system to stay alive and well.
Because hormones act in very small and delicate amounts, minor disruptions in your levels can have negative health impacts such as decreased sperm quality, menstrual irregularities, fertility issues, immune suppression, thyroid dysfunction, and more.
Where are endocrine disruptors found?
Endocrine disruptors are found in many everyday products, including cosmetics, hygienic products like deodorant and body wash, food and beverages (and their packaging), cleaning supplies, air fresheners, candles, furniture, toys, carpet, and more.
Chemicals that act as flame retardants (often found in furniture and mattresses), synthetic fragrances, petroleum-based candle waxes, and lead-core candle wicks are also endocrine disruptors.
The main culprits to avoid:
Atrazine: one of the most common herbicides in the world used on a variety of crops
Bisphenol A (BPA): commonly found in can lining, plastic water bottles and containers, toys, receipts, and more
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): a class of over 12,000 chemicals used across manufacturing and consumer good categories, including non-stick cookware, paper, foam, clothing, cleaning products, waterproof gear, and more
Phthalates: commonly found in personal care products such as lotions and perfumes, household items like paints and air fresheners, plastics, and toys
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs): otherwise known as flame retardants, these chemicals are used on a variety of clothing, furniture, mattress pads, and electronics
Fragrance: because the fragrance industry is highly unregulated, manufacturers don’t have to disclose which ingredients have gone into their “fragrance”; many modern fragrances are synthetics petrochemicals derived from crude oil that may carry potential carcinogens and even “natural” fragrance falls under this boat
Overwhelmed and don't know where to begin?
Here are our top 12 "clean" household swaps:
1. Bathroom cleaner
2. All-purpose cleaner
Six Gldn Gua Sha Rose Quartz Facial Massager & Luxe Mini Nourishing Face Oil
Blueland All-Purpose Cleaning Spray (with 4 refill tablets)
3. Dishwashing detergent
Look for: cast iron, stainless steel, ceramic, and enamel-coated cast iron (none of these have Teflon coating on them, which you want to avoid)
5. Food storage containers
Look for: glass, ceramic, stainless steel, silicone (avoid plastics)
Look for: 100% plant-based waxes such as soy, coconut, and beeswax (avoid paraffin wax, which is petroleum-based) and wicks made of 100% cotton, hemp, or wood
7. Laundry detergent
Get personalized women’s health content, tailored to your own unique experience.
Our best videos for you
Science-backed product recs
8. Dryer sheets
9. Wood and floor cleaner
Grove Collaborative Floor Cleaner Refill Concentrate (can be used with any refillable bottle)
10. Hand and dish soap
11. Body wash
12. Cutting boards
Look for: solid wood (maple, walnut, beech, teak) free of finishes or with natural finishes such as coconut or walnut oil; ceramic is a decent option too, but can potentially dull your blade’s sharpness
Avoid plastic, epicurean wood fiber, and bamboo (it’s often sealed with formaldehyde)
Remember, these changes don't need to happen all at once. Start with 1-3 swaps once you run out of what you currently have, and then slowly begin adding to your "clean" arsenal from there. It’s not about being perfect, but getting 1% better over time and working within your own personal budget. Fortunately, as the demand for non-toxic alternatives has gone up, the price point has evened out to be roughly equivalent or just slightly higher than conventional options, so you don’t have to sacrifice an arm and a leg to prioritize your health and well-being. And that is something to celebrate.
Caroline McMorrow is Rescripted's Content Manager.