Home Detox

Make Your Home a Healthier Place for Everyone Who Lives There


By Daniella Chace, MSc, CN

Foreword by Joel Fuhrman, MD

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A professional toxicologist and health writer offers an enlightening and accessible room-by-room guide to identifying and removing potentially toxic items, along with suggestions for safe, affordable alternatives.

From the bedroom mattress and pillows to daily cleaning products for the kitchen and bath, toothbrushes, and even furniture and clothing, toxins are embedded in many products and items used regularly in the home—and they are making us sick. Home Detox is a practical, accessible guide to understanding the problem and how we can address it in our own homes in a manageable and affordable way. Daniella Chace, a professional toxicologist and health writer, teaches readers how to identify potential toxins, with an easy-to-follow, room-by-room evaluation of the "Toxic Ten" in each space. She explains the connection between toxins in everyday objects and chronic health issues such as headaches, asthma, high cholesterol, skin problems, and sleep problems and offers strategies for eliminating toxins, along with easy recipes for effective homemade cleaning solutions using essential oils, baking soda, vinegar, and other ingredients that are natural, affordable, and effective.


Dedicated to

Riley Revallier, my stalwart research assistant, who is truly living an eco-lifestyle for health and planet


Foreword by Joel Fuhrman, MD

Introduction Our Homes and Our Health

Chapter One The Home Detox Method

Chapter Two Kitchen

Chapter Three Bathroom

Chapter Four Bedroom

Chapter Five Living Room

Chapter Six Laundry Room

Chapter Seven Kids' Room

Chapter Eight Home Office

Chapter Nine Garage and Basement

Chapter Ten Yard and Garden

Your Nontoxic Lifestyle


Further Reading





Additional Photography Credits

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In our modern lives, there are many sources of chemicals and toxic elements that can interfere with maintaining excellent health. We need to be aware of this now more than ever. Good nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise are sometimes still not enough to resolve symptoms and restore health. The detective work to uncover causes of poor health must include environmental toxins and sensitivities to these toxins. Many people have realized the importance of minimizing dietary exposure to chemical toxins. However, it is also an unforgiving reality that our homes can be a source of toxic compounds that can contribute to symptomatic health conditions.

Daniella Chace has not only thoroughly researched these issues but also supplied the practical advice we need to keep our homes safe. Now, with this book, we have a guide for taking control of our health that addresses the hidden toxins in our homes.

It's important to realize that our exposure to toxins increases our risk for health problems. The likelihood that we, as individuals, will become ill from exposure depends largely on the types of toxins, the variety, and the length of exposure. In recent years we have become more knowledgeable about the fact that our homes contain elements that complicate our biological processes in ways that interfere with healing and can perpetuate illness.

One common, and ultimately most significant, way that these exposures affect our health is in their ability to cause inflammation. Inflammation can happen when foreign substances enter the bloodstream, and the immune system reacts by rushing aid to the location of the invader. However, chronic exposure can lead to chronic inflammation, which can worsen and perpetuate chronic disease such as autoimmune diseases and even increase risk of cancer. By eliminating chronic exposures, many cases of these types of disease could be avoided and the healing power of our bodies enhanced. It is also worth mentioning that some common hazardous household contaminants can damage DNA in ways that lead to premature aging and overall reduced life span.

Although the research is clear in making the connection between toxicity and human health risks, the answers have not always been straightforward. Daniella Chace provides answers to our modern questions. This book offers a well-researched program and a practical guide to help us locate the sources of toxins that carry the highest risk in our homes today. This is a daunting job, as the average home contains many thousands of items, each needing to be vetted for their various ingredients and materials. Taking the steps to remediate toxicity reduces the burden on our bodies and allows biological processes to function properly. Those who don't have an awareness of these negative health impacts and the sources of toxins in our homes won't stand a chance in avoiding them.

This book has the potential to help millions of people prevent exposure and subsequently illness. Simply put, removing the things that cause illness is a way to allow self-healing, to avoid needless suffering, and to improve quality of life. The goal of cleaner living is a worthwhile effort. This book offers an important contribution to improve your health, and to take a positive step toward the health of the planet to protect future generations.

— Joel Fuhrman, MD #1 New York Times best-selling author of Eat to Live


Our Homes and Our Health

In my work tracking down the triggers of disease, I have discovered that most are right under our noses. In fact, we are exposed to more toxins indoors than out. Our homes have become our number one source of toxicity, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Our indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than the air outside. One reason for this is that more than 40,000 chemicals are used to manu­facture common consumer goods. Because we spend most of our time indoors, we are exposed to these chemicals daily, and they have a greater impact on our health than outdoor environmental pollution.

A Path to Health

Welcome to a whole new world of insight into the causes of disease and a direct path to improved health. In my career as a toxicology clinician, I have been fortunate to help thousands of clients stem the devastating effects of environmental toxins. I draw from that experience to take you through a simple program to remove toxins from your home.

As a health practitioner, I work closely with my clients to make incremental changes with the goal of improving health issues and helping them feel strong and energetic. I have learned that the most direct route to this healthy state is through eating a diet rich in plant foods and removing toxins from the home that cause disease. My home detox program offers the actionable steps that have had the greatest positive impact for my clients through the years.

Many people reach out to me after their doctor has told them that they have a degenerative or chronic disease and there is nothing much to be done about it. The truth is that our bodies are making new cells around the clock, so we are constantly healing. When someone comes to me with a chronic illness, I use lab tests to evaluate urine, stool, and blood to look for nutrient deficiencies, infections, and toxins in the body. I often discover elevated levels of heavy metals, pesticides, phthalates, immune-suppressing fungi, or pathogenic bacteria. Then we get to work boosting nutrients, treating infections, and removing toxins. With each small change, we are correcting imbalances and restoring health.

Toxins are linked to thousands of common health conditions and diseases. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-treated substances from nonstick coatings on cooking pans (like Teflon) can raise cholesterol levels. Heavy metals can affect blood pressure. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause migraines. Rest assured, our bodies have a powerful natural detoxification system, enlisting the liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph, gastrointestinal tract, and even our sweat to excrete toxins. Our bodies are always actively working to remove harmful substances. We are miraculous this way. As soon as the compounds that are interfering with our biological processes are cleaned out, our bodies can begin to heal.

Whether members of your household are currently experiencing illness, or you are thinking ahead about protection from disease, removing toxins from your home supports prevention and lasting health. The first step in removing toxins is locating them, which is the heart of the program. Each recommendation is a step we would take together if I were right there with you in your home. This is a method for removing toxins and a path toward a nontoxic lifestyle. My wish is that you will feel the joy and power that comes with taking control and making changes that improve your wellbeing. I hope that you will soon be feeling the benefits of living a nontoxic life.

Toxins Are Everywhere

We are exposed to toxins through items we touch, like clothes and toys, and through products we put on our skin, like lotions and perfume. We sit in disruptive electrical fields emitted from our modems, cell phones, and other devices. We breathe in noxious gases and airborne spores. We ingest toxins with our food, such as plastic from cutting boards. And one of the most surprising and common ways we take in toxins is by breathing in chemicals that have become stuck to the dust that permeates our indoor environments.

This consistent exposure to a combination of toxic substances can overwhelm our immune systems and interfere with biological functions. For example, studies have proven that chronic low exposures to common VOCs may be a significant health issue. VOCs are found in items that we come in contact with daily, such as oil-based paints, paint strippers, nail polish remover, adhesives, wood finishes, Teflon-coated pans, and air fresheners. They arise from specific chemicals used in those products, including acetaldehyde, acetone, formaldehyde, hexane, and toluene, and evaporate into the air in our homes. They wreak havoc on the inner workings of our cells; they can stop cells from replicating properly, interfere with cellular repair and development, and reduce the ability to make energy efficiently. Daily exposure to common household items that emit VOCs can promote the development of health conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, premature aging, and cancer.

Become a Toxin Detective

I will show you how to find hidden sources of toxins, remove them, and avoid bringing others into your home. My clients often notice quick improvement in their symptoms after they've removed a trigger from their home. As you learn more about how toxins interfere with health, this cause-and-effect relationship becomes very clear.

Researchers at Columbia University found eight major ways that toxins affect our health. They cause genomic mutations, epigenetic alterations, mitochondrial dysfunction, endocrine disruption, inflammation from oxidative stress; they also alter intercellular communication, interrupt microbiome communities, and impair nervous system function. We know that exposure to pollutants in air, water, soil, and food is harmful to human health. We are now learning about the specific biological pathways through which these chemicals damage our bodies. It is also becoming clear that exposure to common chemicals can bring about serious illness, even at relatively modest concentrations.

And while everyone will benefit from the elimination of environmental toxins, some people are more susceptible than others to negative effects from exposure. Genetics play a role, as do preexisting conditions and age. About 40 percent of the population cannot clear heavy metals from their body very well and are more susceptible to developing dementia from exposure to lead, mercury, and aluminum. We become more susceptible to the effects of toxins when we have an existing illness or infection. The very young and the very old are also at higher risk, from the same exposure, than the rest of the population. This means that even when everyone under the same roof has the same exposures, those who are more susceptible may develop disease, while others may have only mild symptoms.

The home detox program supports anyone who wants to maintain or enhance their health and energy. For those who are particularly susceptible to harm from environmental toxins, such as children and the elderly, the program provides much-needed protection. And for those who are already immune compromised, chronically ill, or chemically sensitive, it provides a blueprint for making changes that support health. Removing toxic exposures will reduce the burden on your cells, DNA, and microbiome, and allow the body to heal itself naturally.

Real Life Home Detox

Toxins and Your Kidney Function

I worked with a mother and young daughter who had been diagnosed with reduced kidney function. When I arrived at their home, I discovered many fragranced products: plug-in air fresheners, air-freshening sprays, incense, perfumes, fragranced deodorant and menstrual care products, scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets, scented dishwasher soap, scented hand soap, scented candles, and fragranced cleaning products. This was the first clue to the cause of their health issues. Fragranced products contain a long list of toxins that directly affect the kidneys.

We spent several hours removing the fragranced products from the family home. The curtains and carpets were permeated with chemicals. We ran the curtains through several rounds of washing with unscented laundry soap and hot water before they were clean. We called in a carpet cleaning company that used natural enzymes to remove the chemicals from the carpets. All the surfaces in the house were thoroughly washed, including the walls, to remove the layers of chemical residue created by years of emissions from fragranced products. The entire process took about a week, but it was well worth the effort. Kidney function improved in both mother and daughter.

Why Are We Surrounded by Toxins?

The answer lies in the fact that corporations have so much power and lack proper regulation of toxins in their products. Cleaning products are a good example. They comprise a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry with giant advertising budgets devoted to convincing us that we need these products for our convenience and safety. Ads are constantly pushing highly toxic products made by behemoth chemical companies, including Dow, DuPont, and Bayer. At the same time, there is inadequate government oversight of their claims and the safety of their products.

The laws governing labels on products are also weak. For example, acetaldehyde and benzene emit VOCs considered by the EPA to be carcinogenic and are unsafe at any exposure level. But because manufacturers aren't required to disclose a full list of ingredients on, for example, air freshener packaging, they often sneak these chemicals in under broader terms like "odor eliminator" or "fragrance." When you buy a household product, it's often impossible to know what you're purchasing unless you investigate each ingredient through a nongovernmental agency such as the Environmental Working Group.

The benefit in understanding our current system is that you will be better prepared to be a discerning shopper. When you're shopping for a household product, read the labels. Consider your options. Ask yourself: Is this product necessary? Do I know what its ingredients are? Are they safe to have in my home? If you can't answer yes to all of these criteria, don't buy it.

The Path Forward

Clearly, we need safer options. Most of us want to reduce our use of toxins, yet our society is not set up to make this possible without a tremendous amount of effort going into every decision we make throughout the day. We may want to use less plastic, for example, but it can be difficult to find something as simple as a toothbrush that's not made of plastic. It's hard to do the right thing for our bodies and the planet because we lack the infrastructure to help us.

That's where the home detox method can help. I've developed this system through decades of work helping people remove toxins and health threats from their homes. The work is grounded in evidence-based environmental health research. My intention in creating this simple method is to provide you with the best options for making your transformation to healthier living possible by removing toxins from your home and making cleaning simple and effective.

Abbreviations for chemicals

Chemicals are in so many common household products and they are often abbreviated into acronyms, which further obscures them. Here is a handy list of many of the common chemicals present in our homes, along with their acronyms.

Acronyms for chemical compounds

BFRs brominated flame retardants

OPFRs organophosphate flame retardants

BPA bisphenol A

PDCB paradichlorobenzene

BBP benzyl butyl phthalate

PFOA perfluorooctanoic acid

CO carbon monoxide

PBDE polybrominated diphenyl ether

DBP dibutyl phthalate

PAH polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon

DEA diethanolamine

PFAS polyfluoroalkyl substances

DEG diethylene glycol

PTFE polytetrafluoroethylene

DEHP di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate

PVC polyvinyl chloride

DEGME diethylene glycol monomethyl ether

SLS sodium lauryl sulfate

DINP diisononyl phthalate

TCE trichloroethylene

EDC endocrine-disrupting chemical

TCC triclocarban

EGME ethylene glycol monomethyl ether

TCS triclosan

HAP hazardous air pollutants

TEA triethanolamine

MEK methyl ethyl ketone

VOCs volatile organic compounds


The Home Detox Method

Detox cleaning is a method for removing pathogens and toxic residue on surfaces, in fabrics, and in the air. Let's go over the natural cleaning tools that can help you get each job done easily. I've included recipes for simple, natural cleaning solutions that effectively remove grease, grime, and harmful particulates. Some of these formulas, like Tub Scrub and Tea Tree Wash, are disinfectants that rely on proven antimicrobial ingredients, like tea tree essential oil, to eliminate viruses, fungi, and bacteria—without a single toxic ingredient. These homemade cleansers can replace the toxin-filled cleaning products you'll find at the grocery store.

Clean, not Chemical

Most commercial cleaning products are full of highly caustic chemicals. Even the EPA notes that many common household cleaners contain VOCs, formaldehyde, and harsh acids. These products do damage to our bodies and the environment. Many of the degreasers used in these products, for example, can cause developmental, endocrine, reproductive, genetic, nervous system, and digestive system damage. When we stop to look at the research, it seems unfathomable that these products are legal. Until we have better governmental oversight for household products, we simply need to take matters into our own hands.

Toxins in Our Cleaning Products

Common commercial cleaning products are a significant source of toxins in our homes. Glass cleaners contain ethanolamine, isopropyl alcohol, and propylene glycol. Drain cleaners contain butoxyethanol, diethanolamine (DEA), sodium hydroxide, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), or triethanolamine (TEA). Surface cleaners contain butoxyethanol or diethylene glycol monomethyl ether (DEGME). Tile cleaners contain alcohol ethoxylates, alkylbenzene sulfonates, or sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Toilet cleaners contain ethanolamine, hydrofluoric acid, parabens, or propylene glycol. Avoiding these chemicals is one of the great benefits of making your own cleaning formulas at home.

Cleaning Tools

First, let's review your cleaning tools, as they will be doing the bulk of the hard work for you. You may already have a few of the most helpful items, like scrub sponges, bristle brushes, and a vacuum that will filter the dust so that you aren't kicking it up into your lungs as you're cleaning. Use what you have and purchase the items you need so that your tools are ready when you begin your room-by-room home detox.

Air Purifiers


On Sale
Jan 31, 2023
Page Count
208 pages

Daniella Chace, MSc, CN

About the Author

Daniella Chace, MSc, CN, is a nationally recognized clinical practitioner, author, and educator. She is a leader in the field of medical nutrition therapy, and has written books, columns, and patient care materials, appeared on radio and television, and is the creator and host of Nutrition Matters, a health science program covering hot topics in toxicology, medicine, and nutrition, that is aired on NPR stations nationwide. She lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Learn more about this author