Under the kitchen sink or on a shelf in the garage can literally house a death arsenal. It’s my opinion that using safe and eco-friendly methods should always be our first approach for fixing, cleaning, etc. There are occasions, however, after all green fixes have failed, going after a serious problem with bigger chemical guns may be necessary–like ridding a house of an out of control insect infestation (similar to how I’ll use antibiotics for a threatening infection even though I generally seek alternate natural remedies).

That said, there are certain chemicals that just need to go away. They’re highly toxic and totally unnecessary since safe solutions are readily available. I especially cringe at household chemicals that release vapors, causing us to inhale them, sometimes unknowingly and unintentionally. Here are my top 3 common household products that have no business being in anyone’s home.

Mothballs (Naphthalene and Paradichlorobenzene)

These little white wrecking balls go from solid to 100% vapor, which means, when you smell them you’re inhaling toxins (even absorbing them through our skin), and Lord knows, they stink. The 2 active and too long to pronounce chemicals that make up mothballs may be linked to hemolytic anemia, kidney and liver damage, cancer, birth defects, and more. Use natural oils like lavender or cedar blocks to safely fend off moths and other cloth eating critters.



Bottle of chemical liquid with hazard symbolWhile ammonia is naturally found in the environment, the home cleaner version of this stuff is straight up poison. Direct contact or vapors from ammonia can cause burns to our skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. It can attack our central nervous system and cause loss of consciousness. Quite frankly, there’s a long medical list of how this poison can ultimately kill us. Yes, disinfecting home surfaces is important, but with a myriad of safe cleaning product options on the market today, just say no-mo-ammonia!

Oven Cleaners (Sodium Hydroxide a.k.a. Lye)

Anyone who has ever used this chemical bomb to clean their oven knows the noxious odors it releases into the air of your home. If you smell it, you’re breathing the toxins right into your body. Another laundry list of adverse effects to our skin, eyes, respiratory tract and central nervous system–nothing can justify subjecting your home and family to these sickening vapors. Use my safe oven-cleaning techniques (covered in a previous Fix-It Friday column) instead of this dangerous product.

There are plenty more chemical offenders we can add to this list, but if you want to get started cleaning up your home from totally toxic and completely uncalled-for chemicals, here’s a good place to start!

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Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.

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Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.