Swap these 5 household objects as soon as possible to make your home less toxic

Try switching these items to benefit from a toxic-free environment

Three softly lit rooms featuring a variety of non toxic household objects
(Image credit: Nkuku / Ivyline / Industville)

When we think of our home the last word we want to associate with it is ‘toxic’. Nobody ever intentionally brings something toxic into their living space, however, harsh chemicals tend to creep into our homes without us even knowing. 

I stumbled across a television show a few years ago that was talking about everything you need to know about green cleaning and the hidden chemicals and harmful things people tend to have around their home. I naively thought this did not apply to me, until I took a closer look at the products and tools I was using and discovered I was a culprit, too. 

After completely overhauling my cleaning supplies and inspecting everything I brought through the threshold of my home, I am now relieved to say that my house is toxic-free and safe for me and anyone who visits. 

How to make a home less toxic

I discovered that these five household objects were the most likely causes of toxins in my home. This is how you can identify them and what to replace them with: 

1. Pots and Pans (especially the non-stick variety)

A range oven in a yellow rustic kitchen where food is being prepared

(Image credit: Future / Paul Massey)

Pots and pans are the last thing you want to contain harmful toxins, as we use them on a daily basis to cook and prepare the food we eat. Many non-stick pans are coated in Teflon which is a synthetic material, its chemical name is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Due to its strong resistance to the absorption of liquids, it has been a popular choice of cookware for decades. 

However, Teflon can be dangerous to our health, especially when heated at high temperatures and scratched, which is virtually impossible to prevent when washing and using sharp utensils.

A good alternative to Teflon and chemical-coated cookware is to choose anything that is made from cast iron, stainless steel, enamel, or copper. These materials are all-natural and do not contain synthetic substances that can leak into your food while cooking. Copper pans are beautiful options that will definitely add a timeless aesthetic to your kitchen. However, it is essential that you know how to clean copper pans so that they do not tarnish.    

If you still want to cook with a non-stick pan, it is worth investing in a ceramic-coated one. They can be used in the same ways as your traditional Teflon-coated pan but are toxin-free. I recently invested in a complete cookware set from Carraway, which includes four non-stick but non-toxic pots and pans and they are quickly becoming the most used thing in my home!   

2. Candles

LED candles

(Image credit: Ivyline)

There is nothing like a nicely scented home and burning candles is a great way to make a home smell nice while at the same time creating a relaxing and calm atmosphere. I have always been a candle enthusiast and I fell into the trap of buying any candle I thought smelt nice without ever looking at the ingredients list. 

Most mass-produced candles are made from paraffin wax, which is essentially a by-product of petroleum. When these are burnt, chemicals such as carcinogenic benzene and toluene can fill the air, which could be a risk to our indoor air quality, especially if you are asthmatic. According to Brandon Stevenson, CEO of Moment at Home, candles that are normally on the cheaper side also tend to contain synthetic/chemical-based fragrances that fill your room when burned. 

I now opt for candles that are made from natural-based waxes like soy, coconut, or beeswax. A brand that I always go back to is Glow Candle Co. I particularly love their Mediterranean fig-scented soy candles. Their candles use natural essential oils to fragrance the room instead of nasty chemicals and are primarily soy wax based, allowing you to have a clean 70-hour burn time without the toxins.  

3. Cleaning Products

Cleaning supplies

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

Cleaning products are notorious for having a list of ingredients as long as our arm, with many people not understanding anything that is listed, including me. How are we supposed to know what tetrachloroethylene is exactly or what it could be doing to our health? We aren't.

This used to fall into my extensive category of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ However, I decided to make the switch, and I have noticed a significant difference in my home since changing to eco-cleaning products. After a lot of research, I came across and purchased the Branch Basics Premium Starter Kit, which included everything I would need to clean around my home naturally. 

Since changing to this method of cleaning, I will never look back. The house no longer smells of overpowering synthetic smells (the kind where you have to evacuate the room). Natural products also give me peace of mind that I can continue to prepare food or do my makeup on a surface that has recently been cleaned without ingesting or applying chemicals to my face. The switch is so easy, and I have found that natural products clean as effectively as chemical-based alternatives. 

Method Citrus Multi-Purpose Spray | View at Amazon

Method Citrus Multi-Purpose Spray | View at Amazon
Another green option for cleaning household surfaces is Method cleaning spray. It kills 99% of household germs, and this particular variety has a lovely citrusy aroma. 

4. Food Storage Containers

A kitchen utility room with a Belfast style sink in stone, and open shelving above

(Image credit: Nkuku)

If you are anything like me, you want your home to be aesthetic and are all about the Home Edit craze. Everything has to have its place, and the thought of unsightly cereal boxes and supermarket packaging building up makes you want to scream. I have always used the decanting method for transporting food from an unaesthetic container into an aesthetic one, call me crazy but it really does make a difference to the overall look and organization of your panty.  

However, I have started to swap out all of my plastic containers for glass ones, so that my foods, which are often stored for longer than I choose to admit, will not absorb any of the chemicals from the containers I have put them in. 

XL Open Shelving Glass Jar |

XL Open Shelving Glass Jar |$30 at Saks Fifth Avenue
These glass storage containers by Neat Method come with airtight lids to stop your produce from going off. Their sleek look also gets my seal of approval.  

5. Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softeners

Industville Sleek Edison Wall Light - Brass image – a neutral laundry room with green and white wallpaper, and an entryway bench to the left

(Image credit: Industville)

This area was nonnegotiable for me, as I experienced negative side effects from using harsh laundry detergents. My skin started to become very dry and brittle when items of clothing that I had just washed rubbed up against it. I would start to come out in a rash, and my skin would become very sensitive. 

I changed my laundry detergent immediately to Molly Suds laundry powder from Walmart, which is made with only ten natural ingredients. This changed my skin sensitivity over time and also made my clothes feel softer once they had been dried. 

‘Changing to a natural plant-based detergent is a very easy transition and one that you will not regret,’ agrees Ryan Knoll, cleaning expert and Founder of Tidy Casa. 'I also have found that the scents of natural laundry detergents are much less pungent and overpowering; they usually have subtle scents of flowers and essential oils that tend to wear on your clothes better.’

Making the change to a toxic-free home may be daunting at first, but simple and easy swaps can make a huge amount of difference. My home is now a safe haven where I can enjoy myself, knowing that nothing I use is likely to affect my health negatively.   

Seraphina Di Mizzurati
Contributing Editor

Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.