5 reasons your daily shower could be HAZARDOUS to your health

21 Nov

There is no better way to start my day than with a hot, relaxing shower. Just to sniff in the fresh scents and deep breath the wonderful steamy air is calming, yet still invigorating enough to psych myself up for the day. As I was lathering up the other morning, I thought to myself just how many decisions we make that impact the health of our shower experience.

A lot of times it’s hard to know how to prioritize the non-toxic/sustainable/eco-friendly changes to make in your life. Since you can’t do it all, sometimes it’s best to start with the things that can impact your life the most. The things that affect your body every day. So, let’s start with this: Is your shower dangerous to your health? Let’s assess the situation!

1.  Does your shampoo, conditioner, and face wash contain toxic chemicals? What types of products are you using on your kids?

Look for products that are free of parabens, mineral oil, dye, fragrance (essential oils are okay), phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate. We could talk all day about the problems these chemicals cause, so I won’t get into the details, but some chemicals in our body products are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Not good to be slathering on your skin and breathing in each morning!

It’s best to skip products that are promoted as being anti-bacterial. In general, it’s best to choose bar soap over liquid soap because bar soap is usually made with fewer chemicals. Instead of using a traditional shaving cream when I shave my legs, I use the same conditioner I use on my hair and just smear it on my legs. It’s already passed my test of being free from chemicals is is just the right consistency for shaving.

Need some non toxic DIY shower product ideas? Try our recipes for an oatmeal and sea salt scrub, hair conditioner made with baobab oil, olive oil body scrub, and lavender honey body scrub.

2.  How do you keep your shower clean?

If you are using the any traditional cleaning sprays, you could be coating your shower walls and blasting your bathroom air with toxic chemicals. Did you know that in 2000, cleaning products accounted for 10% of all toxic chemical exposures reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers?

Even if you use a non-toxic cleaning product to shine up your shower, be sure to give it a rinse off with water when you are done. If the next time you use the tub is to run a bath for your little one, you want the surface as clean as possible, without any product residue. Visit our posts on homemade shower spray.

 3.  Do you use toxic chemicals to clean out the shower drain?

If you are pouring chemicals down the drain to clear a clog, know that the fumes will enter the air in your bathroom to haunt you and it will likely also bubble up into your tub. Do your kids play by the drain? Lyla does. She loves spending time near the faucet to feel the water coming out. The last thing I want is her cute little butt cheeks to be covered in toxic chemicals! Check out our post on how to make your own drain cleaner or better yet, get your hubby to fish the dreadlock of hair that formed in the pipe exiting your shower. Sick! Not my hair…

 4.  Do you need to have your water tested?

Sure, you’re not supposed to take swigs of soapy water while you’re in the shower or bath, but I have caught my daughter taking little sips out of the cups she plays with in the bathtub. Yuck. The risk is not just in drinking the water, but also in the steamy air that comes out of the hot faucet. If there are chemicals in your water, you’ll breathe them in.

I’m certainly not an expert on water testing, but here are some items that we have tested our well water for recently: coliform bacteria, nitrate, VOCs, fluoride, lead, chlorine, and arsenic. The water-testing lab we went through gave us the option to test for a whole panel of heavy metals.

Ask your local health department what are common problems in your area, at least for a place to start. Based on what you find you can decide to take the next step of a filtration system, if necessary.

5.  Is your shower curtain bad for your health?

If your shower curtain is made of PVC, replace it today. That PVC shower curtain is emitting toxic chemicals and VOCs into the air in your home.  VOCs can affect your nervous system, respiratory system, lead to kidney and liver problems, promote allergic skin reactions, and induce nausea, among other awful things. On Dr. Weil’s website, he mentions that over the course of seven days, one new PVC shower curtain releases VOCs that exceed the guidelines for indoor air quality established by the U.S. Green Building Council. Imagine if you move into a new home and throw up more than one of those toxic shower curtains?!

PVC-free shower curtains are easy to find, just be sure you are reading labels. I found a great shower curtain at Home Goods. When it gets grimy and is in need of a good cleaning, I throw it in the washing machine with a cup of vinegar, laundry detergent, and a big bath towel. Does the trick every time!

What have you changed in your shower to reduce yours and your family’s exposure to toxins and harmful chemicals?


These tips were shared on Whole Foods Wednesdays, and Real Food Wednesday.


PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for us to support our blogging activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

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  1. Lotion Whipped with Coconut Oil | Whole Green Love - February 22, 2013

    [...] toxic chemicals…some are known carcinogen and endocrine disruptors. Our post about reasons that your shower could be hazardous to your health includes some information about choosing non-toxic body care [...]

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