Reducing toxins in your home is the first, and most important step, in healing from multiple chemical sensitivity. There are many items in your home that are making you ill – and it’s easy to get rid of them.
Breathing hurt all the time.
No matter how much sleep I had, bags under my eyes made it clear that I wasn’t getting enough rest.
Without the energy to put together good meals, we were eating whatever I could pull together, and that was clearly making the situation worse.
It took a long time to realize that my multiple chemical sensitivity required more than just staying away from toxic environments, though, because – my home, where I spent my days and nights, was just as toxic as anywhere I could go!
Reducing Toxins in Your Home
What do you do when you realize that your pillow case and fabric softener, your shampoo and your dish detergent, are all working together to keep you sick and exhausted, unable to cope with the toxins outside your home?
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Maybe you’ve been told you have multiple chemical sensitivity by a natural or holistic doctor.
Maybe no one has officially told you but it’s obvious – perfumes give you headaches or you simply suffer through almost daily migraines. Walking down the cleaning aisle at the store leaves you with a sore chest and a foggy head, drugged into a weird stupor by … dish soap?
If artificial scents and chemical odors leave you babbling about the gnomes behind your fridge and the jackhammers in your head, then you might be chemically sensitive. Welcome to the Canary club – there are plenty of us and none of us want to be members.
Whatever made you realize that you can’t tolerate chemicals others consider normal, it’s time to reduce the toxic burden on your body by eliminating as many environmental chemicals in your life as you can.
Even those who are not dealing with multiple chemical sensitivity will appreciate the change. After we detoxxed our home, EJ started noticing pleasant scents that had been masked by the bombardment of environmental chemicals.
Start with your bedroom
But I don’t spend much time there! I can hear you saying it.
Even though you mostly “just” sleep there, you are in your bedroom for six to eight solid hours every day, without moving, and you are in direct contact with sheets and blankets and pillows that harbour more chemicals than you would expect. And while you think you’re only sleeping, the truth is that your body does its hardest work, self-healing and self-repairing, during sleep.
That makes the bedroom a great place to start. Removing anything that causes negative reactions will promote deeper sleep and faster healing, which will relieve MCS symptoms during daytime hours.
Go through your bedroom and remove:
Plastic space savers and storage bins can be very handy, and we have used them to store sealed jars full of canned food and other items. The problems is that cheap plastic is highly toxic. If you’re using these bins in your bedroom, then you’re breathing in harmful chemicals that cause reactions like hormone and endocrine disruption.
If you have no choice but to use these cheap plastic storage containers, you’ll want to do some serious reorganization. Use those bins to hold out of season items and things you don’t use often, and tuck them away in an attic or garage. In fact, the attic can be a great place – the summer heat of your attic will speed up the off-gassing of the chemicals in those plastic bins!
And don’t forget, you can make your room look nice with NON-PLASTIC organizing bins or baskets. (There are so many options – find one that fits your bedroom.)
Perfumes, colognes and nail polishes
If you’re using these, you are probably so used to the smells that you don’t even notice them anymore.
But so very many people develop migraines and neurological symptoms after being exposed to the aldehydes in synthetic perfumes and the solvents of nail polish. Even if you’re not getting those symptoms, do you really want something that harsh in your sleeping environment?
Ideally, you should get rid of them entirely. But if you can’t bear to do that, get them out of your bedroom and main living rooms, so that you’re not breathing them in all the time. Consider storing them in an air tight container with a tight fitting lid. When you do open them, after not breathing in those toxins constantly, you’ll really appreciate how strong they are.
Cheap plastic plus an overload of positively charged ions – it actually makes sense that being around computers constantly can make us tired, irritable, and unhealthier by aggravating our nervous system and keeping us on edge constantly.
What’s worse is that computer use is highly addictive to many people – compulsive searching, constant message checking, craving more ‘likes’ and ‘hearts’, or fixating on the latest Facebook drama.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use computers. Hey, I’m a blogger and I’d be lost without mine. But it does mean we should keep computers and devices out of our sleeping spaces!
Sheets, bedding, blankets, curtains and clothing that have been washed in scented laundry detergent and/or fabric softener all need to be removed and washed again.
Scent is a funny thing that people become emotionally attached to.
Even despite your symptoms, you may be like most — attached to a particular smell, like your laundry detergent. It’s your signature scent that you associate with clean laundry and comfort – despite the fact that it’s actually making you sick!
However, if you suffer from insomnia or have trouble falling/staying asleep; or if you experience frequent headaches, aching joints, and even mood changes such as irritability or depression, then you may want to experiment with this by switching to unscented, natural laundry products to see if your sleep and mood improve.
It’s possible that you can find a brand of laundry soap with a lighter scent that you may be able to tolerate. Additionally, there are now many pleasantly scented natural laundry detergents available such as Seventh Generation, that don’t leave a lingering chemical scent behind. Another you might like is All Free and Clear.
Recently, I told a friend that I was having trouble with the smell of our oil furnace. Her suggestion was to put air fresheners around the house. A lot of people turn to plug-in air fresheners or aerosol sprays to mask pet odors, deal with unpleasant smells like a damp basement, or just get rid of stale air.
The problem is that these synthetic freshers are actually known to cause neurological damage and endocrine function disruption. And there are many environmentally sound alternatives, so there’s really no reason to resort to the chemicals.
First step – get rid of the fake scents entirely. Bye bye, get rid of them. See if that improves how you feel. I’ll bet it helps a lot!
Later, if you really miss having a way to freshen the air in your bedroom, try an essential oils diffuser. Essential oils are 100% natural and they offer many health benefits – they’re often antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial … and the scents usually make us feel great. Let me get too close to someone with Fresh Mountain Breeze still clinging to their clothes and my eyes start to water, but I can have three different essential oils in the air without a problem.
If you believe that paraffin is the offending substance that makes you feel ill when you light candles, then you might try soy candles as a clean-burning alternative.
However, it can also be the candle’s fragrance itself! Personally, I find that ten minutes in the candle section of the department store leaves me feeling headachy, irritable, and honestly, just befuddled and confused. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m acting drugged because in many ways I am. The problem for me isn’t paraffin but the chemical scent. If I burn plain, unscented paraffin candles, I don’t get the same drugged reaction.
Regardless, paraffin isn’t really an environmentally healthy option. The best are beewax candles that are scented with pure essential oils. No toxic burden and no fossil fuels!
Chemical cleaning products
But, but, but … it’s just bleach!
It actually took a long time for me to accept that household cleaners I had grown up with were, in fact, making me sick.
My mom always used Mr. Clean liquid cleaner and Old Dutch scrubbing powder, and the smell of them meant ‘clean’ to me. They also made it difficult for me to breath and contributed to me being in a constant state of mild brain fog.
So what can you use to clean your house? Well, the surprising truth is that all natural, gentle cleaners are often just as effective. My cleaners of choice? Baking soda, vinegar, homemade citrus vinegar, Borax, castile soap, salt, essential oils. You can easily make your own orange and lemon scented oils, kill germs with thyme essential oil, and disinfect, unclog and deodorize with vinegar and baking soda.
What happens if you detoxify your house and clear out the chemicals?
The first and immediate change you’ll find is that your breathing will be easier.
You’ll start to notice that your head is clearer, your allergies less severe, and even family members who don’t have sensitivities will start to notice smells more. Be prepared for “Hey, did that ALWAYS smell like this? Why didn’t I notice it before?”0