With little ones around the house, most of us do our bit to keep things non-toxic, or so I'd like to think. We update our cleaning cupboards, and remove all the damaging stuff, opting instead, for eco-friendly options which don't leave our little ones at risk of exposure. I've certainly boarded onto the method cleaning hype, I love their stuff and couldn't recommend it more, sure it's a little pricier but I find the bottles are huge and last a lot longer compared to their rivals, in addition to all their other health benefits. In truth though, I try my best here and there but I know there are many more toxins in our homes than just disinfectants, it doesn't start and end with an anti-bacterial spray and I'm certainly not increasing our years, one method product at a time. In fact, I was so shocked to read you may be exposing yourself and your children to chemicals without even realising it. You could, of course, argue that they can't be that harmful if they're in every home. And to some extent, you'd be right in assuming that few of us experience the side effects. I certainly haven't, or so I'd like to think. But that's not to say that we'll all come through such exposure unscathed. Are you willing to take the risk?

If not, then consider these unexpectedly toxic household items.

The majority of us have candles in the home due to attempts to make our house a home, damn I don't know if there is a room in our home (bar the boys) that doesn't contain one, granted I have the memory of a goldfish and they're rarely lit. Candles always signify to me, warm, cosy, hygge, relaxation but they're all connotations. The truth behind candles isn't all fairy lights and cosy couch snuggles. A closer look reveals that having candles around might not be as good as you thought. In truth, the majority of candles on the market are made from paraffin wax. This bad boy releases TWO toxic chemicals - benzene and toluene. Before even looking into what they are, I know they sound pretty horrific, could you imagine saying 'I'm just going to burn some benzene in the living room' not the vibe you go for really, is it? And all of that is before you even consider any artificial scents included. To put this into perspective, these are the same toxins found in diesel fuel. Lighting candles means releasing them in a confined space. That being said there are much lower levels than you'd expect to find in your exhaust, of course. But, it's still not what you'd want in a family home, right? There are some non-toxic alternatives, most of these contain essential oils which actually have health benefits.

You may have ditched the bleach from your cleaning cupboard, but bleach is present a lot more than many of us think. I'm actually really guilty of falling for a good bleach product, especially when it comes to the bathroom, I think something about bleach screams *kills every germ* to me. When in reality, it's probably causing a lot more harm than it's causing. I remember at work we weren't allowed to use bleach unless it was a Friday evening when everyone had gone, because it would weaken over a weekend. There's no prizes for guessing why, it's pretty damaging. We live in a world in which white is perceived as clean, so manufacturers turn to bleach a lot to produce the desired effect and consumers (or suckers) like me buy into it. What I didn't realise is that bleach too, is in so much more than the yellow bottle by the toilet, it can be in anything from your mattress to your tea bags! How alarming is that? Overcoming this issue involves lots and lots of small changes. You could swap your mattress for something like Avocado green mattress, which uses natural, bleach-free cotton. You could swap your tea bags for organic versions, like those offered by Clipper. Piece by piece, you can phase bleach out of the home altogether, which is definitely something I'm hoping to do this year.

You may be thinking that dust isn't a toxin. And, to some extend, you would be right. This is a natural aspect in any home environment. You couldn't stop it if you tried. But, studies suggest that dust contains up to ten chemicals known to harm human health. These come from everything, including cosmetics and toys. And, we then inhale those chemicals on a daily basis. Naturally cutting toxins from other areas can reduce the risk. But it's worth dusting at least once a day to ensure these chemicals don't build up and wreak havoc.

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