Bathrooms are one area I’m convinced get completely forgotten when we start trying to clean up our living environment. Probably because we spend the least amount of time in this space in comparison to the rest of our home. But the bathroom can actually hold a number of toxins in not only the space itself but by the bathroom accessories we bring into it.
Bathroom accessories, bathroom rugs, towels and other components to the space are often areas that get the last change in our space. More importantly, we focus on the products being used on our skin and how we can clean up our routines.
While this part of the bathroom should probably get first focus, when you’re ready to move past it, cleaning up what you have inside your bathroom space can be just as important. And sometimes it can be a really easy space to control as it’s usually smaller and the products and bathroom accessories can easily be switched out for healthier counterparts.
This blog post is going to cover WHY the bathroom should be included in your non toxic house changes and then HOW to do this (without a remodel). If you’re ready to remodel, don’t miss this super in-depth post about making it a healthy project.
I’m also going to share with you healthy alternatives for bathroom accessories like rugs, towels, shower curtains, storage and countertop items. And to finish it up, I’ll share with you some additional habit changes you can make to clean up your space even more from toxins that may be inside.
So neglect the bathroom no longer! Take these simple swaps and easy habit changes and create a healthy space that is as free from toxins as possible for you and your family.
THE BATHROOM AS PART OF A HEALTHY HOUSE
You might be wondering why the bathroom even matters. Maybe you’re only spending a short time in this space per day getting ready. But because the bathroom is such a small place, and quite often it may not even have a window, toxins inside can become trapped inside this space.
Toxins in the air like VOCs need a place to escape and simultaneously need fresh air coming into the space to dilute the air. Bathrooms quite often have very little of these air exchanges going on. Unless you have the window open while showering and getting ready or you run your vented fan during use and for 20 minutes after, your bathroom probably has quite a few toxins getting trapped in the space.
You might also be wondering what harm some of these toxins could possibly have on our body. In general, bathrooms have VOCs present from products, materials, pesticides present from our linens and rugs as well as lots of plastic toxins from the bathroom accessories we choose. And the biggest offender? Shower curtains have toxic polyvinyl chloride and plastic toxins that off gas into the air.
With all these toxins looming in a tiny space with nowhere to go, we can expose ourselves to more toxins that we really care about, even with a short time period in the bathroom. Another condition that comes into play is that in general, bathrooms are both warm and humid from our use. A warm and humid environment encourages materials to off gas at a much higher rate when compared to a dry, cool climate.
But the good news is by swapping out a few bathroom accessories for non toxic alternatives and then by cleaning up some bathroom habits, you can very quickly turn your space into a healthier room of your home.
NON TOXIC BATHROOM ACCESSORIES
RUGS: Any linens we bring into our homes, rugs included, can also bring in pesticides. What I’ve learned about pesticides in cotton and other fabrics is that because the pesticides are used while the cotton is growing, it becomes embedded into the fibers of the material.
If you use a bright white rug, you can also introduce chlorine into your space and air due to the fact that the fibers were bleached to get them white, white.
And then there’s the back of the rug. Rubber backing on non-slip rug pads can contain formaldehyde and PVC toxins in the material and glue that adheres the material. These are all toxins I’d like to avoid if possible, especially on a surface I generally am barefoot on and in a small space where toxins can off gas at a higher rate.
Instead of just picking up any old rug for your non toxic bathroom, try to find a certified organic rug that is also GOTS certified. This will ensure everything from the dyes used to the back of the rug are safe and non toxic for your bathroom space.
Some of my top picks:
TOWELS: Towels are pretty much in the same family as the rugs, only their probably more important as we use towels directly on our skin. And more so because after a shower or bath, generally the warm water has opened up our pores to absorb even more of what goes onto our skin.
Towels can have the same toxins as rugs and bath mats: pesticides, chlorine bleach, heavy metals from dyes and formaldehyde. Formaldehyde in bath towels sounds odd, but it’s added to keep the color from fading in the dyes, prevent static cling, keep them mildew resistant and stain resistant. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and harmful to our brain and skin on top of that.
Look for 100% organic cotton towels, and finding a GOTS certified towel is even better. This ensures the fabric is all natural, the cotton is grown in a natural environment free from pesticides and there aren’t any added treatments to the towels, which can introduce chemicals to your product.
Below are some of my favorite picks:
SHOWER CURTAINS: Shower curtains flock most bathroom showers and bathtubs. Often these shower curtains contain plastic toxins, PVC toxins and other VOCs in the material to ensure that they are waterproof and to ensure that they don’t become subject to mold and mildew. In truth, you want to avoid both mold and mildew as well as toxins. It can be tricky to find exactly what you need in a toxin free material, but it can be done.
Hemp is a great alternative for shower a curtain material that is not only strong and durable, but is also naturally resistant to mold and mildew. It’s one of the best alternatives to a cotton or plastic shower curtain.
A second alternative would be an organic cotton canvas material. You would probably also want to have a toxin free liner with this one because it’s not 100 water proof or mildew resistant.
And what about the shower curtain liner — what do you opt for there? I haven’t found a 100% toxin free option other than hemp. Some secondary options would be nylon or polyester, but because they are made with petrochemicals, they will off gas somewhat.
Rawganique has a huge selection of organic hemp shower curtains that are completely affordable:
STORAGE: I love using the space under my sink for some much needed storage in our bathroom. But bringing in plastic storage or pressed wood storage is also going to bring in toxins. Pressed wood contains formaldehyde and other VOCs within the wood, adhesive and paint on the outside. These toxins will off gas into your bathroom space, and increase in off-gassing rates as the temperature and humidity in the room increases.
Cotton or cloth storage should be avoided in the bathroom because it easily absorbs moisture and can begin to grow mold and mildew.
Instead, opt for wire or metal storage that won’t hold on to moisture, but can still help organize your products and linens. Metal that is a wire basket or bin is great because it won’t hold on to extra moisture or have moisture condensate on the outside or inside of it.
Here are some of my favorite wire baskets:
COUNTERTOP ACCESSORIES: Many countertop accessory kits are made of plastic or acrylic, which are both man made materials containing toxins and VOCs. The nice thing about countertop accessories is that you can often find sets or make your own from glass materials or jars. It’s been a while since I’ve had a matching set in my bathroom accessories. I often use mason jars and little decorative bowls for things like makeup and beauty products that I want to leave out.
I have loved getting glass foaming soap dispensers from Grove Collaborative, and those live in all my bathrooms. By far those have been one of my favorite purchases because they have lasted a long time and broken under the massive amount of use they get. I also love that I can just add my own soap mixture to the bottle.
Try to find materials like glass, ceramic, wood or stone for your bathroom accessories.
BATHROOM IDEAS TO CREATE A HEALTHIER SPACE
If you’re looking to clean up your space through your habits instead of replacing your bathroom accessories, then you’ll want to keep in mind that the main focus of your habits is going to be to reduce your humidity levels as much as possible.
Run Bath Fans or Open Windows: Run a vented fan during use and for about 20 minutes after you’re done running water. This will help remove as much of the moisture from the air as possible. You can also shower with windows open or doors cracked to prevent a build up of moisture in your space, which can then sit on walls and floors afterwards.
Wipe Down Wet Surfaces: Surfaces in the bathroom are generally non porous, especially tile and tub surrounds and flooring. Wipe down any wet surfaces after your shower to ensure that the water isn’t allowed to sit and evaporate into the air, raising the humidity levels.
Add Plants: Plants are a GREAT way to add not only some life to your bathroom, but plants can also absorb moisture in the space.
These houseplants will help reduce moisture and create a healthier environment in your bathroom.
- Peace Lily: Reduce humidity and absorbs excess moisture (Cost Farms Peace Lily Plant)
- Boston Fern: Helps balance moisture levels in the air (American Plant Exchange Boston Fern)
- Palms: Helps filter air and remove pollutants such as formaldehyde. Absorbs moisture through their leaves to help regulate humidity. (Costa Farms Butterfly Palm)
- Chinese Evergreen: Can withstand high humidity levels and dry air (American Plant Exchange Chinese Evergreen)
WIth all these ideas, hopefully you can find a few to implement in your own bathroom or find a few items you could swap out to create a more balanced, healthier state. Take a look at the bathroom accessories you have and see where you can make even just one change to more non toxic.