The Dirty Dozen of Your Home

Have you ever seen the “Dirty Dozen” list for food? It’s a great list! It basically tells you what produce is the top priority to buy organic instead of conventional. Lots of the conventional fruits and veggies on the list really soak in the chemical-based pesticides sprayed on them because of their soft skin so the dirty dozen list tells you what you make sure you buy organic. Here’s the list if you are interested in reading more about them.

I had a friend comment that I should do a “Dirty Dozen” for your home… in my opinion, what I think are the top 12 things in your home that are toxic and should be changed out or gotten rid of if at all possible. I thought it was a great idea! So here is my list of “Dirty Dozen” in your home. Some of the items on my list might cost more to replace, but I’ve tried make sure most of the items that are toxic can be easily replaced with budget-friendly options.

1 | Teflon & non-stick cookware. This goes for pans, baking sheets, pie pans, and any other kitchen cookware. Teflon is what most non-stick cookware is made of, and it is very scary stuff! I read this book, and they talked a lot about Teflon. I immediately threw out the one pan I had. They tell a story in that book of how if you overheat a Teflon pan without putting food in it, the fumes it releases can actually kill a canary that is in the room. Yikes!

2 | Mattresses. Read my blog post about mattresses here. This is a higher priced item to replace, but one I highly recommend saving up for!

3 | Carpet. Again, this is a high dollar item to replace, but I’ve read that new carpet is the most toxic thing in your home. If possible, just have your old carpet cleaned (do not get the stain guard option!) by an eco-friendly company if possible. If you want to replace flooring, go with wool carpet, tile, or wood flooring.

4 | Flame retardant. This is usually found on children’s pajamas and cloth toys (teepees, etc.), couches and chairs, and mattresses. I wrote an article here on alternative options to children’s pajamas that are covered in flame retardant.

5 | BPA plastic. I’m not a fan of plastic of any kind, but BPA plastic is one of the worse. Look for ways to start eliminating it from your home. Buy wood or metal toys for your children and look for plastic alternatives for your kitchenware.

6 | Deodorant. Try my super simple DIY recipe or get on EWG’s website to find some alternatives you can buy in stores that don’t have aluminum or harmful fragrances.

7 | Air fresheners. By air fresheners, I mean the synthetic type. Anything that involves “fragrance” is highly toxic. But good news is there are some great alternatives out there! 100% beeswax candles smell amazing. Or grab a $50-70 difuser off of Amazon, and get a few essential oils. My favorite is orange essential oil, because it makes my house smell so fresh.

8 | Microwave. You really don’t need it. I’m serious! It’s amazing how creative you get on re-heating leftovers when you simply don’t have a microwave.

9 | Paint. There are some great low-VOC option house paints now. I also love to use Old Fashion Milk Paint for paint projects with the kids or painting a new piece of furniture.

10 | Bedding. One simple way to get rid of toxins is to change your sheets out to 100% organic cotton sheets that are ideally un-dyed. I like to buy the “natural” color, because it’s the least likely to be dyed with toxic dyes. You spend 6-10 hours a day on your bed. Make sure what you are breathing in and lying on is safe.

11 | Laundry detergent. We often associate “clean” with smelling clean. The problem is most of that detergent “clean” smell is actually fragrance that is highly toxic. You are rubbing it on your skin all day and walking around breathing in the fumes. Check out EWG’s product guide to find a safer (and still effective!) laundry detergent.

12 | Perfume & cologne. Perfume is FULL of really terrible chemicals. I highly suggest getting rid of it altogether unless it is made of 100% essential oils (which is rare and expensive). I’ve gotten real perfume made from essential oils from this company. It was expensive but smelled amazing and was completely safe for me.

I completely understand this is a lot of stuff! But remember to take it one step at a time. Pick one of the dirty dozen that doesn’t feel overwhelming to change, and make that change! Then next week or next month, pick another. Within a year you will have made some drastic changes to you and your family’s health!


  1. Cynthia on April 27, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Carpet being toxic is so true! I knew it and we still bought a new area rug for our living room. It caused my son’s eczema to flare up out of control! Needless to say, it’s now rolled up in the garage. Lesson learned the hard way. 🙁

  2. suzanne thazrad on June 23, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Lauren! Do you have a good advice for candles? Maybe a cheap way to get beeswax candles in Redding? I wonder which type of candles last the longest. I have started to not use electricity in the evening, only candles and it feels so great ^^ I have heard that your body releases melatonin when seeing the red light of the sun in the evening and the light bulbs in the house make your body clock believe it is noon and not release melatonin^^ So interesting.

    • Lauren Dahl on July 19, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      I get beeswax from a local beekeeper for $3.50/pound. Beeswax candles are great but expensive to buy in a store. I’m just starting to make them myself. You can get a metal mold and cotton wicks off Amazon. If you don’t want to make one and need it to be reasonably priced, a soy based candle with no fragrance would probably be a good alternative, but I can’t say I’ve researched it a ton yet.

Leave a Comment