The hidden toxins you clean your house with

Part three 'around'

You may not have realised that by ridding your home of unwanted dirt and mess, you could actually be filling it with another kind of mess – nasty chemicals and toxins. These nasties are hidden in your cleaning products, and when you start listing all the products you use in the laundry, kitchen and bathroom, the number adds up! Did you know that the ingredients in these products could be affecting your health? Think about it, our skin absorbs everything it comes into contacts with(1) and our lungs breath in anything that's in the air, including chemical fumes(2). To know exactly what they are doing to your health, we are tackling some of the common toxins used around your home. A quick hello needs to be made to the repeat offenders; fragrancesphthalates, triclosanformaldehyde and heavy metals, which are used AROUND our homes, as well as products we use IN and ON our bodies.

1. Perchloroethylene (PCE)

PCE is used in dry cleaning, textile processing, metal-cleaning(3). It is considered to be a cancer causing agent(3,4) and can irritate your skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract. Swallowing PCE isn't a good idea as it will cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea(5), not to mention it's toxic to many of our vital organs. Our nervous system is the most affected if exposed to PCE for long periods; even at low doses, as it can negatively impact our vision, memory, cognition and reaction time(3,6)

2. Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QACs)

QACs are used in dishwashing liquids, hand soaps, window cleaners, “all-purpose” cleaners, floor products, baby-care products, disinfectant sprays and wipes and air fresheners(7). QACs can cause irritant and/or allergic contact dermatitis and can be bigger problem if you have open wounds, infections or eczema(8). Your skin can become dry, red, chapped and scaled or at worse it can swell, blister and chemically burn(9). Breathing in QACs is a problem as they are often used with fragrances and can cause asthma or trigger symptoms of existing asthma(8,10,11). Don't get this stuff in your eyes either as it can cause serious damage to your cornea(12,13).

3. 2-Butoxyethanol

2-Butoxyethanol is used in paints, paint thinners, glass-cleaning, surface-cleaning products, household cleaners, metal cleaners, spray lacquers, quick-dry lacquers, enamels, varnishes and varnish removers(14). Animal studies have shown that breathing in 2-Butoxyethanol increase some types of cancers(15). In humans it can cause difficulty breathing, runny nose, coughing, painful and tearing eyes and red, irritated dermatitis. It so toxic that our red blood cells can become fragile(16) and you can poisoned just through breathing it in(14)

4. Ammonia

Ammonia can be found in cleaning products for your car, windows, drains, toilet, bathroom, oven and stainless steel products(15,16). Just by cleaning your home with these products and using oven cleaning sprays you increase your risk for asthma(17). Ammonia's main toxic effects occur at the site of direct contact and effects depend on how much you are exposed to. For example, if you spill a product containing ammonia, the fumes may cause your eyes to water, but if you spill a bottle of concentrated ammonia your eyes could have serious vision loss(16). Mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia also creates a toxic gas that can cause short term or permanent breathing problems(18).

5. Chlorine bleach

Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is the most commonly used disinfecting and cleaning agent in the developed world(19) and is used in scouring powders, toilet cleaners, mould removers and laundry whiteners(20). Being around chlorine gas can cause your throat to burn, lungs, eye and nose irritation, asthma(21), chest tightness and coughing. It's not very nice for your skin either as direct contact can cause burning pain, inflammation and blisters (22).

6. Sodium Hydroxide aka Lye and Caustic Soda

Sodium hydroxide is found in aquarium products, drain cleaners, hair straighteners, metal polishes and oven cleaners(23). Sodium hydroxide is strongly irritating and corrosive and can cause severe burns and permanent damage to any tissue that it comes in contact with. Your eyes may burn and develop cataracts, glaucoma and blindness. If breathed in, it can result in asthma, a swollen voice box or persistent hoarseness(24). So really, its effects ain't pretty.

Home safer tips

Tips to make your home safer

Thankfully, we have some solid take home messages and safer alternatives to make cleaning your home a safer experience

1. Read the label. Just because a product says it's 'green' or 'environmentally friendly' doesn't necessarily mean it's safe for your health. Additionally, just because it includes lemon or bi-carbonate of soda as ingredients, they probably aren't the only ingredients in the product and may be added to chlorine bleach.

2. DIY cleaning recipes can be safer (and cheaper). Finding recipes that use ingredients like bi-carbonate of soda, lemon, salt, vinegar and essential oils are highly effective and safer for your family.

3. Use micro-fibre clothes and mops so you can clean with water and forget the chemicals.

4. Protect yourself by using gloves, face masks, eye masks to inhibit contact with any nasties.

5. Ventilation! If you have to or choose to continue using chemical cleaners make sure there is adequate airflow when you clean.

If you are wondering what brands are safe to buy, next week we will be sharing our absolute favourites we use to clean the bathroom, kitchen and laundry.  


The top beauty must-haves to clean up your bathroom cabinet

We are so happy to share with you our favourite skin, hair and beauty products. As discussed in our previous blog, we are exposed to an average of 515 synthetic chemicals everyday from our bathroom and beauty routine(1). Luckily, you can minimise this toxin exposure by choosing different products. The brands we would like to share with you are low or free of hidden toxins, so you can feel a little bit better about your bathroom routine. Make the swap to these safer alternative products when you can, as every little bit helps.

At Narayani Wellness, we are so passionate about healthy holistic skin care that we have made the switch to dermaviduals. Have you heard of it? dermaviduals follows corneotherapy principles by offering individually formulated products for your personal needs, using all natural ingredients and none of the nasty stuff. Their range covers face and body washes, moisturises, anti-aging products, personalised colour match foundation, eye liner and so much more! We now stock this amazing nourishing brand and offer holistic skin naturopathy consultations and delicious facials

Read the label and know what you are buying. 

  • The Chemical Maze by Bill Statham is a brilliant guide to help decipher the numbers and names on your product's ingredient list. This way you know what you are buying and their effect on your health.

Wash time.

Looking for soft, smooth skin?

  • For sunscreen that offers protection without the unnecessary chemicals we like Wotnot, Soléo Organics and of course dermaviduals
  • We love the certified organic body lotions and moisturisers from Vanessa Megan and Mukti. They use luxurious and nourishing ingredients to help hydrate your skin.
  • If you want your skin to have a beautiful natural looking golden glow, especially as we come into the warmer months, we love EcoTan.  
  • For babies, Wotnot have an affordable range and Weleda does a beautiful cream for baby bums.

Make-up must haves.

  • Zuii Organic and Inika are certified organic brands and Ere Perez is toxin free. These three brands have got all of your face and eye needs covered. We are talking foundations, bronzers, concealers, eyeshadows and mascara! Of course we have to mention dermaviduals as they colour match your foundation. 
  • After a brand that specialises in eye make-up? We love Eye of Horus Cosmetics as they offer the most amazing colours.
  • Take care of those luscious lips with Hurraw lip balms. This brand has used organic ingredients to come up with range to suits your personal lip needs. Give your lips a pop of colour with Dusk by Adele and Dr Hauschka

Smell great, ditch the perfume!

Nailed it.

We are so lucky to have some healthier options these days - what brands and products are your favourites? What new, ethical and chemical free alternatives can you tell us about? 

Our top 23 recommendations to avoid the hidden toxins in your diet

We had such a great response to our part one blog series looking at the hidden toxins you may be putting IN your body. We left you with some healthier alternatives to help you reduce your exposure. The post had us all brainstorming, sharing and discussing what we do in our own homes that help keep our toxin consumption to a minimum. We were so excited about our new learnings that we thought "why not share this with everyone?!" So here you are. These are some of our favourite brands, products and places we shop that will help you get through this modern day chemical maze.  

1. Additive free foods. For a lot of us this is particularly hard to find alternatives in the snack department, as it's so easy to grab a packet of something and run out the door. Try these instead:

  • You have probably heard of bliss/energy/protein balls and have been handed several DIY recipes, but what if you don't have the time or creativity? Funch has made it so much easier. All you need to do is add one or two ingredients and you are done.
  • If you want the most delicious nuts and seeds, try 2die4. Based in Byron Bay, these guys have a wide range to choose from single types, mixed, paleo and tamari. Yum! 
  • Botanical Cuisine, a Melbourne company, has nailed the market of raw, vegan, preservative free dips that are perfect for veggie sticks. Some of their dips can also be used as a dressing, spread or added to scrambled eggs! 

2. Clean cooking with perfluorochemical free cookware.

  • Le Creuset has a massive range of cookware from pots, pans and bakeware in a variety of materials.
  • If you are after a slow cooker for soups, stews or bone broths try this one by Breville.

3. Glass containers and jars to store and reheat food.

  • Buying things in jars mean you have jars to re-use for storage. Looking in our pantries, we all laughed about the over-abundance of glass jars we have in our homes!
  • Alternatively, IKEA and Kmart have affordable options.

4. To avoid trans fat you need to throw out the margarine and anything called a 'vegetable spread', think Nuttelex and Flora. Store bought and packaged baked goods are also hidden sources. Alternative products include:

  • Butter from Organic Dairy Farmers as it is certified organic and supports local farmers. Other alternatives for spreads we love are avocado, Spiral's unhulled tahini, or Artisana's deliciously creamy cashew butter.
  • For those times you want to treat yourself, get inspired by one of the many margarine free recipes by The Healthy Chef!   

5. Healthy cooking oils we are a fan of:

  • SOL Ghee is made from 100% certified organic unsalted butter from Australian and New Zealand grass fed cows.
  • Coconut oil options are endless! You want to buy the least modified oil, look for these words on the packaging: certified organic, virgin, extra-virgin or unrefined, unbleached, expeller, centrifuge or cold pressed. We also prefer glass packaging to avoid BPA. Brands that tick all these boxes include Loving Earth and Niugini Organics.

6. Our go-to fish and sea vegetable products are:

  • This Fish is a health and environmentally conscious brand. They are organic and use sustainable source for their products. 
  • Power Super Foods have a great range organic sea vegetables including dulse, wakame and nori.
  • If you like making your own sushi Gold Mine have excellent nori sheets!

7.  The best organic whole food stores in Melbourne. They are stockists for so many of the products we have mentioned.

  • Visit Apples and Sage Organic Wholefoods, this is an amazing, certified organic, family owned business located in Balwyn. Known in the area as a friendly, affordable, one stop shop destination.
  • Terra Madre Organics is a local favourite and organic institution, known for its huge bulk range at bulk prices.
  • Wild Things in Fitzroy values everything we do; community, local, organics and the environment. 


  • Looking for a great water filter? Southern Cross Pottery have filters of all shapes and sizes to remove some of the nasties in your water. Waters Co Bio Mineral offer great compact, portable water filter jugs too. 

If have any products, shops and brands you passionate about we would love you to share it with us!