This is not the episode that I thought I would be writing when I restarted this podcast back in August. I told you in the Season 02 teaser that I had big plans for what I would share, what we would learn and how we would better our lives with small changes in our homes. But what do they say about the best laid plans?


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This is not the episode that I thought I would be writing when I restarted this podcast back in August. I told you in the Season 02 teaser that I had big plans for what I would share, what we would learn and how we would better our lives with small changes in our homes.

But what do they say about the best laid plans?

Sometimes shit just gets derailed… or something like that.

And so here we are, 10 episodes in with 2023 coming to a close and I’m writing the Season 02 finale. Even though, if I’m being honest, there was so much more I wanted to share with you.

So what happened? Why did I go radio silent for over a month with no explanation?

I guess you could say, motherhood happened. And it’s not a complaint – but when people tell women that “you can do it all” or “have it all” – you can have a career and be a full-time mom – that may be true, but you can’t also have a free podcast. And spoiler: you still can’t have it all without a shit-ton of work and behind the scenes help.

When I started working on Season 02 over the summer, we had a full-time nanny for my kids. And then at the end of August she moved to LA. I spent the next four months interviewing replacements until I finally hired someone in mid-November. I felt like I was back on track, I no longer had to fit all of my “real work” running my business, Factory45, into a two-hour nap window and I would have more time to invest in researching, writing and recording new episodes of this podcast. Even with an editor, each episode takes 3-4 hours to create.

And then, on the sixth day of this new nanny’s job she left my 19-month-old daughter alone on top of the changing table while she went into another room to dry heave over changing a dirty diaper. I know this because she called me upstairs to change the diaper for her.

So, yeah. After a four-month-long search, we are back to no childcare. For those of you parents who have figured out a way to run a business, work a free side hustle and be a stay at home parent at the same time, I applaud you. But I haven’t figured it out yet.

I still have plans in the back of my mind – I think this podcast could be a great HGTV show, something between The Home Edit and Fixer Upper but we go into people’s homes and tell them which products to switch out and educate them on things like seed oils and deodorant and VOCs – so I’ll put that out into the universe. But yeah, for now my plans will have to remain.. Just that… plans.

This is all just a long-winded way of saying thank you, I appreciate you and I’m sorry I left you hanging. I know it’s not a very juicy or interesting explanation. To be honest it’s probably the explanation that stands the test of time. Motherhood is demanding. But if that’s the season you’re in right now, too, then just know you’re not alone.

I’m wishing you all the happiest, healthiest holiday season – wherever you are in the world – and an even better new year ahead. I’m so grateful to each and every one of you for being a listener. It means more than you know. Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.



This episode started with an Instagram DM from a friend. Her message linked to an article with a note that said: “This would be a good topic for the podcast.” To which I replied, “Do you think? I feel like people already know this…” It was her response back that really blew me away. So in this episode, we’re talking about plastic.

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Solid Starts

Feeding Littles


Stainless steel food storage containers

Glass food storage containers




This episode started with an Instagram DM from a friend. Her message said: “This would be a good topic for the podcast” with a link to an article, to which I replied, “Do you think? I feel like people already know this…” It was her response back to me, though, that really blew me away. So in this episode, we’re talking about plastic.

The article that my friend linked me to was from the website WIRED with the headline: “For the Love of God, Stop Microwaving Plastic.” And when I said to her that people already know not to microwave plastic, she replied: “We have meals for the kids in our fridge right now, that’s packaged in plastic with directions to microwave it.”

What the…

I mean, I understand that we live in a plastic world. It’s everywhere, from shampoo bottles to toothbrushes to fresh fruit that’s wrapped in plastic – it is the most durable and convenient way to package just about anything.

But even though I know all of this, it honestly never would have crossed my mind that an organic food company, marketed as a kids meal, would suggest microwaving the meal in plastic. This really did blow me away. And then, upon further research, I found out that, actually, the majority of baby food containers recommend microwaving. 

So why is this all so alarming to me? 

Well, when plastic is heated (in the microwave, in the oven, even a water bottle that’s left in a hot car), it leaches millions of bits of plastic (called microplastics and nanoplastics), as well as phthalates and BPA into the food or drink inside of it. So then, when you (or your kid or baby) go to consume that food, you are all ingesting that plastic, and phthalates and BPA.

You’re probably already familiar with all of those terms – especially if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know they’re problematic yet everyday occurrences in our lives. They’re virtually unavoidable so our goal is to reduce our exposure as much as we can. But one new term I want to introduce you to, that I haven’t talked about before, are leachates. Leachates refer to the specifically toxic chemical components of plastic.

According to scientists, leachates quite literally “leach” out of the plastic and are able to coat themselves with proteins already in your body. By coating themselves with proteins in your body, they are able to slip past your immune system, basically, incognito. One professor of chemistry compared them to “Trojan horses.” What happens is that our organs, specifically the ones like our kidneys or livers that are there to remove waste from our bodies, are essentially on the front lines of exposure to these plastic contaminants. 

Scientists say that while we may be able to filter and excrete some of the bigger microplastics, the smaller nanoplastics are able to cross cell membranes – effectively sneaking past our body’s defense systems. And what do they do?

They sabotage our hormones and endocrine systems.

These endocrine disruptors will already sound familiar if you’ve listened to the skincare episode from season 2 and the fragrance or makeup episodes from season 1. Having even a small quantity of a foreign chemical affecting the hormones in your body has the potential to affect anything from your fertility to puberty to menopause to your metabolism. 

You may not specifically have baby food containers or kids meals to microwave, so I should clarify that this applies to any plastic – whether it’s Tupperware with leftovers in it, a takeout container from your favorite Thai restaurant, baby bottles, plastic bowls or plates – there is no such thing as microwave-safe plastic. 

I’ll say that again, there is no such thing as microwave-safe plastic.

When something says “microwave safe” it just means that it won’t melt – it doesn’t mean that it won’t leach hormone-disrupting chemicals into your food.

Surprising absolutely no one, the FDA is extremely behind in their own recommendations of “microwavable” plastic based on what the science is telling us.

In order for a food packaging manufacturer to get approved by the FDA, it needs to submit a limited amount of self-reported data to be deemed acceptable for food or beverage packaging. However, the FDA doesn’t have the resources to test the safety of every plastic product that is submitted before it goes on grocery store shelves.

At this point, it’s basically on the shoulders of the corporations and businesses to do the right thing, by not using plastic packaging, because there is no regulation or government entity telling them to do otherwise. And of course, using plastic is far cheaper than using glass or silicone. 

So what are we to do if our food packaging isn’t going to change anytime soon? Well first, even if the label recommends microwaving the food contents, we need to take it upon ourselves to stop putting plastic in the microwave – obviously. Side note: plastic, of any kind, really shouldn’t go in the dishwasher either. Also, it’s important that we’re not pouring hot liquids or hot foods into plastic containers. Let it cool before your store it but ideally, you want to switch to glass or stainless steel food storage containers – I’ll link to some of my favorites in the show notes at

The bottom line is: microwavable baby food is the easiest option – what parent wants to add one more step only for most of the food to likely end up on the front of a bib, the floor, or in my house, the wall? But this is one suggestion that I don’t take lightly in recommending a change. The negative effects far outweigh the extra few minutes of meal prep time and this is not a situation where it’s “maybe bad for you” – the science is undeniable. When it comes to kids meals or baby food specifically, baby-led weaning can be an even better solution, because it requires no purees, no plastic containers and just a little bit of prep. I’ll link to some of my favorite baby-led weaning resources in the show notes, as well.

And for those of you who aren’t feeding kids or babies, start to pay attention to the food containers you receive from your favorite takeout restaurants, or get at the grocery store or use to put your leftovers in the fridge. As much as we can, and I know – we love convenience, but as much as we can, we can all try to limit the amount of plastic in our lives. Not just for the environment but for our own health and wellbeing. 

Thanks for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast, I’m your host Shannon Lohr. Who’s the person in your life still microwaving plastic? We all know someone. If you can take a minute to share this episode with them (without feeling like a Judgy Judy), I would so appreciate it. Sharing the podcast is one way to show your support of the podcast and gives me the boost I need to continue creating more episodes. Thank you in advance.





 In this teaser episode for Season 02, I want to illustrate a bigger point. And it’s one that I’ve been thinking about a lot in the two years since pausing this podcast, since having a second baby and since having conversations with friends. And it’s what I call “The Wellness Burden.”

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I’m looking at a newspaper advertisement from 1947. I see a black and white photo of a woman, wearing a gingham top, peering over at a baby who’s just woken up from a nap. The ad shows a cozy crib, with a framed picture of a cat on the wall, and there’s patterned wallpaper with flowers and cartoon characters on it. 

The headline on the advertisement reads: “Protect your children against disease-carrying insects!”

Can you guess which of the products in the photo will protect a sleeping baby from disease-carrying insects?


It’s the wallpaper. It’s wallpaper that’s covered in the insecticide, DDT.

The ad goes on to read: [quote] “NO SPRAYS! NO LIQUIDS! NO POWDERS! So convenient, so safe because the DDT is fixed to the paper. It can’t rub off!” [end-quote]


Do you know what else the ad says?


[quote] “Certified to be absolutely safe for home use.” And then there’s a seal of approval placed over the photo from the Consumer Service Bureau that says, “Tested and Commended by Parents Magazine.”


When this advertisement ran in 1947, DDT was one of the most widely-used insecticides in the United States. It was used on cotton crops, peanuts, soybeans, and yes, it could even be used on the wallpaper of children’s bedrooms across the country.


According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, scientists started voicing their concerns about the harmful effects of DDT in the 1940s, but it took 30 years for the U.S. government to ban its use after initially being approved by the FDA in 1945.


DDT was discovered to be a human carcinogen and one of the most damaging environmental pollutants in existence. We are still dealing with the effects of it in our soil and water systems today.


Since 1972, when DDT was finally banned from being used, studies showed that the insecticide was associated with adverse health outcomes such as breast cancer, diabetes, decreased semen quality, spontaneous abortion, and impaired neurodevelopment in children.


So, why am I telling you about an insecticide that hasn’t been used for over 50 years?


Because I want to illustrate a bigger point. And it’s one that I’ve been thinking about a lot in the two years since pausing this podcast, since having a second baby and since having conversations with family and friends.


And it’s what I call The Wellness Burden.


The Wellness Burden is the pressure and expectation that falls on us as parents, as consumers, as the people, that requires us to do our own research and discern our own truth.


And that’s a scary place to find ourselves. The pandemic made the information crisis worse, social media has made the information crisis worse but you know what else has made it worse?


The organizations that were put in place to protect us – organizations like the FDA or the AAP or the USDA. The organizations that would approve a man-made chemical to adorn our homes, be used to grow our food and allowed to seep into our water systems, only to ban it decades later. We are living in a world where the burden of research and decision making, when it comes to our own health and the health of our families, falls on us and us alone.


And here’s the crazy thing: there was a time when what I’m saying would be written off as conspiracy-theory talk or fringe, off-the-grid, alt nonsense… but I know you know what I’m talking about.


These aren’t taboo topics anymore, we now know that insecticides like DDT and Round-Up cause cancer, respiratory issues and worse. We now know that our drinking water is so intoxicated with PFAs that we have to buy expensive, fancy filters for our homes. We now know that our beauty and skincare routines are causing infertility and breast cancer. 


And if you don’t know these things, then that’s why you’re here.


I am not trying to embolden a mutiny of distrusting consumers and citizens, but it’s not a secret anymore: the products and foods that are supposedly safe, and approved and certified and recommended by our leadership and consumer safety organizations are not always in our best interest.


In the 1950s doctors were encouraged to prescribe cigarettes to ease asthma symptoms. 


Prior to the 1970s, it was considered safe to use lead paint in our homes.


It wasn’t even that long ago that baby powder was considered safe, despite containing talc with asbestos in it.


And just as it wasn’t safe to wallpaper our babies rooms with DDT in the 1940s, it again, falls on us to detox our bathrooms, kitchens and medicine cabinets from parabens, sulfates, pesticides and endocrine disruptors.


It’s exhausting, isn’t it?


This story isn’t new, though. Our grandmothers will tell us how they lit up a pack a day, with a martini in one hand, when they were pregnant with our mothers. They’ll say, “Eh, we didn’t worry about that stuff – she turned out just fine.”


But as I’ve shared in Season 01 and will continue to bring to light in Season 02, our grandmothers were not facing the same level of toxic load. And just as corporations knew back then, and continue to exploit today (maybe even tenfold), it’s that healthy people aren’t profitable. 


The pharmaceutical companies don’t make money when we use lemons and onions to boost our immune systems. Or when we cook our food with pots and pans that don’t leach teflon chemical byproducts into our bodies. Or when we use hand soap that protects our microbiomes instead of stripping away the natural oil barriers that fight germs.


Nope, healthy people aren’t profitable. 


And so, the burden falls on us.


It falls on us if we have the time, resources, disposable income, access, interest and energy to put into educating ourselves, seeking out better products, adjusting our budgets and getting the rest of the family to adapt to the changes.


Ask a single mother of three, who works two jobs, to do the same and it shines a light on what I really mean when I say, “burden.” Ask her if the system is rigged. Ask her if she’s set up to give her kids the healthiest life possible.


This fires me up. It’s the inequities, the system, the privilege I can see from my own white, straight, married, affluent cis-woman lens that keeps me up at night. And it’s the reason I had to bring The Clean Living Podcast back.

My goal with the episodes you’ll hear this season is to try and democratize the wellness space, so that it’s accessible to anyone with an internet connection and 10 minutes – (I know, it’s not perfect but it’s about the closest we can get to easy and free). I will also do my best to recommend cleaner products at a range of price points and to speak about these issues in a way that considers all of us – from Cohasset, Massachusetts to Fort Scott, Kansas to Detroit, Michigan – even if I do it imperfectly. And spoiler, I will probably do it imperfectly. But we have to start somewhere.

As I said, in Season 01, and I’ll say again now: I truly believe that cleaner living is about progress over perfection — and taking charge of the toxins, pollutants and health in your own family is a huge step in changing the world. Each small change we make individually has the power to create a movement. 

So, let’s start again, shall we?

Season 02 kicks off next week, September 13th, with a brand new episode. Before then, please share this teaser episode – maybe you have a friend who has been preaching this message for years and she doesn’t know about this podcast yet. Maybe your mom thinks you’re overreacting when it comes to the products you buy for your kids – send this episode to them. You don’t have to fight the good fight – I’ll do it for you : ) 

In the meantime, make sure you’re subscribed on your preferred podcast platform so you’re notified as soon as a new episode goes live. I’m so honored to have you here.



Sustainable baby clothing

ENCORE #2: Kids Clothing

Sustainable baby clothing

To piggyback onto the other encore episode I did on sustainable fashion, in this episode I want to talk about kids clothing specifically. What do you do when you want to buy sustainable clothing for your kids but you also know how fast they grow out of everything? Let’s explore, shall we…


Product Recommendations


Pure Colour Baby

Episodes Mentioned

Listen to the SUSTAINABLE FASHION episode here.

Listen to the LAUNDRY episode here.

Source List:


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Hello, everyone! I’m back with my last encore episode of Season 1 in promotion of my online business school for sustainable fashion brands that is currently open for enrollment until May 20th!

To piggyback onto the other encore episode I did on sustainable fashion, in this episode I want to talk about kids clothing specifically. What do you do when you want to buy sustainable clothing for your kids but you also know how fast they grow out of everything? Let’s explore, shall we…


Okay, so first, what’s the issue with traditionally-made children’s clothing from your widely-known mainstream brands?

Well, much like I shared in the laundry episode, there are more than 8,000 synthetic chemicals used to produce the clothing that most of us wear everyday. Scientific research and analysis has proven that many of them are both toxic and carcinogenic. 

Whether it’s pesticides from conventionally-grown cotton or petrochemicals from fabrics like polyester and nylon, there are new chemicals introduced at every stage of the clothing production process that leave residue eventually making it onto our skin.

So, that’s the potential health impact on our kids (rashes, allergies, asthma and even worse), but there’s also an environmental impact that we can’t discount:

Here are a few statistics, published by the UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

  • Every year, the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic metres of water – enough to meet the water needs of five million people.
  • Around 20% of wastewater worldwide comes from fabric dyeing and treatment.
  • Of the total fiber input used for clothing, 87% is incinerated or disposed of in a landfill.
  • The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions.
  • Every year, half a million tons of plastic microfibers are dumped in the ocean, the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.

And if that’s not enough, there’s also the human rights impact: Millions of people are employed in the clothing industry, often in developing countries where labor regulations are at a much lower standard than is safe for its workers. 

It is also estimated that 77 million agricultural workers suffer poisoning from pesticides each year growing conventional cotton. Exposure to azo dyes has been associated with cancer in textile workers.

And one of the most tragic stats of the traditional fashion industry is that conventional cotton farmers in India account for over 7% of the country’s overall suicide rate.

So, those are some of the reasons you may want to consider skipping The Children’s Place or Old Navy or the Gap, but what’s to be done?

I’ll tell you from experience, having a three year old, that I take a three-pronged approach.

  • The majority of the clothes my son wears are hand-me-downs from my nephew. (That’s in thanks to my mom who saved all of his clothes for five years.)
  • If there’s something specific we need (for example, a rash guard for the beach or a pair of shoes) I buy almost everything else on Kidizen. This is a second-hand kids clothing app where you can buy used clothing from individual sellers.
  • Then anything else I need to fill in or *have to have* I buy from small sustainable and ethical fashion brands that are independently owned.

My favorite one is a Canada-based brand that graduated from Factory45 called Pure Colour Baby. Everything is made in Toronto by the founder, Lindsay, and her team of sewers and all of the fabric is made from sustainable fabrics like organic cotton. The best part is that most of the clothing is designed to grow with your kid — which may sound hard to believe, but I can personally attest to this. My son wore a pair of harem pants from Pure Colour Baby from the age of 10 months until he turned three. The clever grow-with-you design definitely makes you feel like you got your money’s worth.

So, those are my suggestions for you — hand-me-downs from older siblings, friends, family members or Goodwill. Use Kidizen to fill in specific needs. And then make sure to support your favorite sustainable fashion kids brands (that are a higher price point) but can be purchased every once in a while because it’s something you love or something you’d love to give as a gift.

With the rate that little kids go through clothes, the planet will thank you.

If you’d like to get involved in being part of the sustainable fashion solution, beyond your impact as a shopper, applications to Factory45 are currently open! Factory45 is the online business school for fashion entrepreneurs and I work with people, just like you, to launch their own brands in a way that’s sustainably and ethically made. You can learn more about Factory45 at 

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. If you know someone who has an idea for a fashion brand but has been stuck at a dead-end or isn’t exactly sure where to get started, please send them this episode or a link to Factory45. I’d love to help them. Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.

Picture of Shannon Lohr

On A Personal Note

Picture of Shannon Lohr

How do you manage friends and relatives with different views? How do you make things ‘okay’ without surrendering your values? This is an unconventional episode with some personal stories about the challenges and rewards of “livin’ that eco life.”


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The episode for today is a little “meta,” but it was actually suggested by my father-in-law. Yes, my father-in-law listens to my podcast. And if he was here right now he would say something like, “yes, old dogs can learn new tricks.”

Anyway he said, “What about an episode on how to manage relatives, going to friends with different views; making things ‘OK’ without surrendering values?” Which may require me to share a lot of personal stories, but I’m up for it. So, that’s what I’m talking about in today’s episode, the challenges and rewards of livin’ that eco life.

The first thing you need to know about me is that I’m the oldest child. I’m going to make a sweeping generalization, but as the stereotype goes, it’s never been very hard for me to voice my opinion or stick to my convictions. That’s probably a combination of personality in addition to being the oldest.

Here’s an example: when I was in first grade I was allowed to walk to school with one of the 4th grade girls in the neighborhood. The only rule was that the older girl had to hold my hand to walk across the street. This was a rule I understood for my own safety and it made logical sense to me, so when we got to the first crosswalk and she wouldn’t hold my hand I was flabbergasted by her disregard of the rules.

The next day I refused to walk to school with her. As ridiculous as this now sounds, it is my very first childhood memory of having conviction.

As I grew up, this character trait presented itself in different ways: in elementary school, I often befriended the “underdog” (whether it was the girl with the single mom who had just moved to town and didn’t have any friends) or debating my high school history teacher on the Palestine-Israel conflict and getting kicked out of class.

Yes, I was a pain in the ass. My mom often tells stories about me “ruling the roost” in our house and things needing to be done to my exact satisfaction. She took me to therapy when I was four years old because I would go ballistic if my socks weren’t folded perfectly or if I colored outside of the lines.

So, yeah, that’s some background on where I stand in voicing opinions, holding my ground and sticking to my beliefs. 

Which begs the question, what does this look like as an adult living a lifestyle that could be considered somewhat “alternative” to the mainstream consumer?

And the answer is, it depends. It depends on what it is and how strongly I feel. And I have learned to pick my battles.

So, for example, when I first got interested in sustainable fashion I started learning about how terrible fast fashion is for the planet and people. So, I channeled all of those negative opinions into blog posts and marketing materials for the startup fashion brand I was creating at the time.

I hosted clothing swaps and documentary screenings for my friends but I didn’t push my opinions on them. I wasn’t going around condemning everyone for shopping at Forever21 and H&M (even if I was doing it privately in my head).

But over time, this strategy paid off. Whether it was people following me on social media, or reading my blog posts or coming to a sustainable fashion event that I co-hosted, I gradually became the girl who would be really proud of you for buying something second-hand.

In fact, during one of the speeches at my wedding, my maid of honor told a story about how everyone loves to come up to me and tell me that they bought something at Goodwill. 

That’s not to say everyone in my life has changed their ways when it comes to how they shop, but I have definitely seen a shift among the majority of my friends and family. So this is a testament to changing opinion and action without being forceful about it.

On the other hand, there are lifestyle choices that I’m not so subtle about. My family can probably remember a certain Thanksgiving when my mother-in-law tried to give my one-year-old son a muffin with refined sugar and I quite literally ran out of the room with him.

The “food stuff,” as I call it, is probably the topic that’s most difficult to communicate to friends and family. The idea of Grandma sneaking the kids sugar is such an ingrained and accepted part of our society. It’s almost a rite of passage to spoil your grandchildren with sweets and candy, but that was something my husband and I put the kibosh on as soon as our son started eating real food.

Most of my friends still can’t believe that my son is three and has never eaten refined sugar (he’s obviously had sugar in fruit and has had coconut sugar once or twice but no white sugar). And as he gets older it’s harder to find the line between “he doesn’t eat that yet” and not making him feel alienated from what other kids are eating. But for now, he’s far more inclined to go for a strawberry than he is a Skittle.

It’s funny now that I think about this, and examples to give you, because I don’t think of clean living or eco-living as challenging. What you may also find in this process is that the more steps you make, the more naturally the changes will come. Nowadays, I don’t think twice about using reusable grocery bags or looking at the ingredient list on a jar of peanut butter or avoiding the cosmetics section at CVS. And because I believe in cleaner living so much, I don’t feel bad about sticking to it or explaining why I do or buy something a certain way. 

What people don’t realize when they’re first starting out in this space is that your own lifestyle choices don’t have to reflect shame on others. What you do for yourself and your family isn’t an attack on anyone else. The majority of the time, people just don’t know — they haven’t done the research, they trust big corporations and the government to create safe products and they don’t have the time, energy or resources to think about an alternative. And that’s completely understandable.

What I’ve found is that trust and conviction in my choices comes from the confidence I’ve gained in doing my own research and having the information to back up my claims and reasons for doing things. It also helps to have a partner who for the most part, is fully on board with my needs to install an under-the-sink water filter and buy the more expensive, non-toxic sunscreen and know that if the blueberries at the grocery store aren’t organic then not to buy them.

And that’s what I’d recommend for you. If you are committed to detoxing your products, your food and your family, then the first thing I would recommend is education. Just by listening to the podcast, you’re already doing that. Many of the brands that I recommend in various episodes have their own blogs where you can deep dive further on specific topics, ingredients and products. It helps immensely to have the knowledge and research when certain situations come up that you know aren’t aligned with how you want to live.

The second thing is to get your partner or a friend on board. Even if your partner isn’t as committed as you to doing the research, it makes a big difference to have a conversation so that they “buy in” to the changes you want to make for your family. If you’re single, then finding a friend who can be your accountability buddy makes it a lot more fun and supportive to make both big and small changes.

So, confidence through knowledge and partner support — those are my first two suggestions on holding steadfast to a lifestyle change.

Because inevitably, uncomfortable situations are going to come up — especially if you have kids where the parent shaming can feel intense. I have no doubt that I’ve come across as rude or “high and mighty” in certain situations when I’ve declined a food that was offered to my kid or donated non-toxic cleaning supplies to the daycare or asked if my son can use our own hand sanitizer instead of the school’s. Honestly, I kind of cringe thinking about how “nice white parent” I can be (that’s another great podcast, on a totally different topic, if you haven’t listened to it). I often make fun of myself, definitely keep an air of humility, and I do pick my battles, but there are some things that I’m not willing to back down on.

It’s this constant balancing act that we as consumers shouldn’t have to make — we shouldn’t have to be the gatekeepers of toxic food and toxic products but that’s the world we’re living in until companies decide to put their customers first. Or until the government starts to get serious about lobbyist influence. I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent for a second, but the reason we need strict government oversight with food and consumer products is because right now, the cleaner, more sustainable, healthier options are more expensive. And that, very unfairly, alienates a huge segment of the population.

Because the truth is, “living that eco-life” is a privilege. It’s been created for the privileged and while yes, I always try to recommend alternative products at a range of accessible price pointS it’s not always easy — you may have noticed that in the Nut Butter episode. It’s practically 10 dollars more to buy peanut butter that does contain additives and other toxic ingredients.

So, as much as this has been a conversation about standing strong in my beliefs, I also know that I have the privilege of being able to do that. And I recognize that not everyone has that privilege — some people have to buy the 7 dollar mascara shampoo at the drugstore or the baby shampoo at Family Dollar. This should probably be a whole separate episode, but we need to recognize that there is an inherent privilege in even being able to listen to this podcast and buy the non-toxic products I suggest.

And that’s why I do feel so strongly about legislative change. Because the U.S. hasn’t updated its legislation on the personal care industry since 1938. And companies too often aren’t held liable when they add toxic ingredients to their products. But yeah, now I’m just ranting… 

So, that’s what I’ve got for you today. You do you. Knowledge is power, confidence is key and having the support of other people will further empower you. For healthier, more vibrant lives, and a cleaner, less toxic world, I think it’s worth it.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.

hand sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

hand sanitizer

At the time of recording this episode, we are still at the height of a global pandemic. The repeated mantra is: stay 6 feet apart, wear a mask and wash your hands. It’s no surprise then that a bottle of hand sanitizer has become a mainstay in every house, school, bag and car. So, in this episode, I want to explore what’s actually in the average hand sanitizer and why we need to be more careful about the brands we use.


Product Recommendations




Public Goods

Henry Rose

Grove Collaborative

Organic to Green

Episodes Mentioned

Listen to the LAUNDRY episode here.

Listen to the TOOTHPASTE episode here.

Listen to the SHAMPOO episode here.

Listen to the FRAGRANCE episode here.

Source List:

Search your brand of hand sanitizer via the FDA:


Subscribe on iTunes here.
Subscribe on Spotify here.
Subscribe on Google Podcasts here.


At the time of recording this episode, we are still at the height of a global pandemic. The repeated mantra is: stay 6 feet apart, wear a mask and wash your hands. It’s no surprise then that a bottle of hand sanitizer has become a mainstay in every house, school, bag and car. Many of us are using hand sanitizer several times a day, whether it’s going to the grocery store or bringing in the mail. So, in this episode, I want to explore what’s actually in the average hand sanitizer and why we need to be more careful about the brand we use.

If your child is in daycare, pre-school or any other type of school that is open, then one of the first things they likely have to do before entering the classroom is get their temperature taken and apply hand sanitizer. 

There is no doubt that it’s important to stop the spread of germs during this time. That’s not to say it doesn’t make me cringe every time hand sanitizer is sprayed on my three year old’s palms.

So, what’s my issue?

First, there are no hand sanitizers currently on the market that have actually been approved by the FDA.

On the Food and Drug Administration’s website, they warn that any brand or manufacturer claiming to have FDA approval is falsifying information.

But this isn’t my main concern. My main concern is the drying alcohol in hand sanitizer, which is the primary ingredient.

In order to be effective, and kill germs, hand sanitizing products must contain 60 percent alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And that’s a lot of alcohol to put on your skin. These drying alcohols not only irritate and dry out the skin, but they strip away your natural skin oils and acid mantle, dehydrating the cells and breaking down the skin’s natural immune barrier.

This disruption of natural barrier function reduces your skin’s ability to protect itself. In other words, when the world goes back to “normal” one day, we will have weakened the skin’s natural immune barrier to fight off germs without using sanitizer. It’s almost like we’re creating a dependency on it.

So that’s one thing to consider: the harm caused by the alcohol in hand sanitizer. But then there’s another common ingredient called Triclosan.

Triclosan is an antibacterial I’ve mentioned in the Laundry, Toothpaste and Shampoo episodes that is toxic and has been found in animal studies to disrupt hormone function. It’s also connected to the rise of so-called “superbugs”—  which are bacteria and viruses that can resist antibiotics. Triclosan has been banned in Europe and banned by the FDA for some products in the U.S. but is still found in various personal care products on the market, including many hand sanitizers.

And then there is the issue of many fragrances found in hand sanitizer — I did a whole separate episode on the harmful effects of synthetic fragrance. Since manufacturers are not required to list fragrance ingredients on the label, you don’t know what you’re exposing yourself to — the effects of chemical fragrance can range from allergy to hormone disruption to long-term health damage.

Okay, so that’s three things: alcohol, triclosan and fragrances. And then there’s this:

In August 2020, the FDA released a warning to consumers and health care providers that they’ve seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) and have tested positive for methanol contamination.

According to the FDA, “Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested.”

The statement on the FDA’s website goes on to say: “Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects. FDA’s investigation of methanol in certain hand sanitizers is ongoing.”

The agency says it’s aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that have led to recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations and death.

They went on to publish a 23 page chart listing all of the brands of hand sanitizer that they say consumers should not use. Thankfully, most of them have been recalled but I will post that chart in the show notes so you can search your own hand sanitizer and make sure it’s not on the list. Go to (all one word).

The truth of the matter is, and science supports, that soap and water do a far better job in actually cleaning our hands and is far less detrimental to our health. When we use a dollop of hand sanitizer, we think we’re reducing our risk of getting sick but we’re actually just weakening our immune systems further.

The FDA has also said that currently, there is no evidence that hand sanitizers are any more effective than regular soap and water in helping to prevent the spread of germs. 

Of course there are instances when you’re in a bind and you can’t get to a sink or running water. And especially now, it’s all of our individual responsibility to stop the spread of germs. So, in the show notes I’m going to recommend a few different hand sanitizers that have been verified by the Environmental Working Group and are far less harmful to our natural skin barrier than some of the products you’ll find on the market. Again, that’s at

Before I go, I just want to give a quick shout-out to my mom’s friend Susan who requested this episode topic. If you’d like to make your own episode request, and can’t go through my mom ; ), there is a survey link on the podcast website where you can submit your suggestion. Just go to

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend or family member — the person you know is addicted to their bottle of hand sanitizer (we all know someone). Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.

white bedding made with organic fabrics


white bedding made with organic fabrics

Ironically it wasn’t until several years into my career in sustainable fashion, and learning about eco-friendly fabrics, that I even thought about the fabric and materials used for bedding. We spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping and yet most of us don’t think about our sheets or pillowcases beyond how soft they are — or maybe what the thread count is. So in this episode, we’re talking about how to ensure non-toxic sleep…


Product Recommendations





Tuft & Needle (budget option)


Crib Mattress:



Sheets & Bedding:


American Blossom Linens

Under the Canopy


Boll & Branch







Sleep Goddess

Episodes Mentioned

Listen to the COOKWARE episode here.

Listen to the LAUNDRY episode here.



Subscribe on iTunes here.
Subscribe on Spotify here.
Subscribe on Google Podcasts here.


Ironically it wasn’t until several years into my career in sustainable fashion, and learning about eco-friendly fabrics, that I even thought about the fabric and materials used for bedding. We spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping and yet most of us don’t think about our sheets or pillowcases beyond how soft they are — or maybe what the thread count is. So in this episode, we’re talking about how to ensure non-toxic sleep…

A quick disclaimer here: Similar to the cookware episode I previously released, this is an “investment” episode. Meaning that after you listen to the next 10 minutes or so, you may feel compelled to overhaul your entire bedroom — including the mattress. But as you will find, sustainable bedding can add up very quickly. The goal in sharing this information is so that when the time comes, and you need a new sheet set or a new duvet or even a new mattress, that you’ll be armed with the information to make a non-toxic purchase.

I’m going to get into the specific components of non-toxic sleep, including mattresses, linens and pillows but first I want to give a general overview of what eco-friendly bedding is.

Generally speaking, sustainable sheets, duvets and pillowcases are made with fabrics that have natural moisture-wicking and antibacterial properties — instead of being coated with synthetic flame retardants and chemicals like formaldehyde. Eco-friendly bedding is typically easy to recycle, manufactured using less water and doesn’t require the use of other harsh chemicals like bleach, microplastics or pesticides.

If you’ve listened to this podcast before, then you know these chemical pollutants can end up in our drinking water, rain and soil, eventually entering our bodies. So when considering the pollution that is associated with nylon and polyester bedding, as well as the way those pollutants affect your body, sustainable bedding becomes a bit of a no brainer.

When looking for eco-friendly bedding, there are a few guidelines and labels to keep an eye out for that will help you distinguish actual sustainably-made bedding from the companies that may be greenwashing. Some of those certifications are the Global Organic Textile Standard, Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX, Cradle to Cradle, and Fair Trade. Each organization can give their individual stamps of approval on various products, ensuring that they meet certain benchmarks in order to be considered organic, ethically sourced, safe, and responsibly manufactured. To make sure everything is above board, fabrics go through rigorous chemical testing, and brands are reviewed in both the farming and manufacturing processes.

Additionally, some eco-friendly bedding brands practice sustainable production by reducing waste through closed-loop systems, using eco-friendly dyes and less water. In a closed-loop manufacturing process, 99 percent of chemicals, solvents and waste are recycled and used in the next production run of fabric, limiting the effect that manufacturing has on the environment.

Okay, so let’s get into the specifics starting with sheets and other bedding. The main thing here is to avoid synthetic fabrics — a synthetic fabric is usually petroleum or oil based and can be recognized as names like polyester, nylon and spandex. If we’ve learned anything about BPA, microplastic and endocrine disruption, I know I don’t want to be cozied up to a blanket of plastic every night.

What you’re looking for in your sheets and bedding is natural fibers — preferably organic as to avoid some of the chemicals I’ve already mentioned.

In order to be labeled “organic,” the cotton must be grown without using chemicals like fertilizers or pesticides or GMOs. By choosing organic sheets, you’re not only reducing the output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, you’re helping to protect the health of soil around the world. Fertile, carbon-rich soil helps more plants grow, and those plants, in turn, draw in more carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, continuing the beneficial cycle. It’s a win-win.

An alternative to organic cotton bedding is hemp or linen, both are natural fibers that are up to eight times stronger than cotton. When both fabrics are certified organic, they’re made from 100% natural fiber and manufactured in environments without harmful chemicals. Because heavy chemicals, like bleach, are required to achieve bright white hemp sheets, look for undyed or more natural colors, and the impact on the environment will be much smaller.

But my favorite alternative to organic cotton, hemp and linen is a fabric called Tencel (you may also hear it referred to as Lyocell, Modal or eucalyptus). This is a fabric made from wood fibers derived from birch, beech or eucalyptus trees and it’s the bedding that I have in my own house. The reason I love it so much is not only does it have the silkiest feel to it (without boiling silkworms), but it’s naturally moisture-wicking, shrink resistant, antimicrobial and antibacterial. It’s also one of the easiest fabrics to find manufactured using the closed loop system I mentioned earlier. This is a textile that’s completely recyclable and has made a much smaller impact on the environment through its closed-loop production process — especially if the Tencel is made from organically-grown eucalyptus as it requires 10 times less water to grow than cotton.

Clearly, I could nerd out on fabrics all day as this is what I do in my “real job” but I do want to leave some time to talk about mattresses. So for now, I’ll leave you with the show notes page where you can see all of my recommendations for sustainable bedding. That’s at

If you look at my list of recommendations and get a bit of a sticker shock from the prices, there is an alternative. When my husband (then boyfriend) and I first moved in together and we were both at the early stages of starting each of our businesses, I knew I wanted to buy sustainably-made sheets but we really couldn’t afford it. That is until I was in Marshall’s one day browsing through the sheets section and came across brands selling 100% tencel sheets or 100% organic cotton sheets that were basically on clearance. I got them for a fraction of the price and if you look closely in stores like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx or Home Goods you may be able to find the same.

Of course I have to mention that if you are in a position to buy directly from these sustainable brands, instead of outlet stores, then that makes a big difference in your purchasing power and goes a long way. Whenever possible, it pays in the long run to shop small.

Okay, so mattresses. As I mentioned in the intro, we spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping, yet the average mattress contains 5-10 different toxic chemicals. Those include:

  • Flame Retardants. Many flame-retardant chemicals used in mattresses have been banned in countries outside of the U.S.
  • Boric Acid is used to prevent bacteria growth and pests from living in the mattress — I talked about the dangers of boric acid (or borax) in the laundry episode
  • Formaldehyde. Long-term exposure can lead to health issues, including cancer.
  • Glues or Adhesives. Solvent-based glues and adhesives can contain up to 48 different toxic chemicals.
  • Antimony. Similar to arsenic, this poisonous chemical has been proven to cause reproductive health issues.
  • Synthetic Latex. Synthetic latex is made using chemicals, and is commonly known for its off-gassing properties.
  • Polyurethane Foam. Polyurethane foam is made using petroleum by-products, releasing harmful chemicals into the air.
  • Off-Gassing. Occurs when volatile organic compounds break down, omitting an odor.

Each of these chemicals have been reported to cause health problems, ranging from tumors to hearing loss and depression.

So, if you are in the market for a new mattress or if you’ll need one in the foreseeable future, my recommendation is to look for eco-friendly mattresses that use natural fibers like organic cotton, organic wool and organic latex. 

Wait, organic latex? I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t zoned out on me… 

But yes, organic latex is another natural bedding material made from certified rubber sap and poured into molds to make a firm foam that fills mattresses. Organic latex is naturally mildew, mold, bacteria AND dust resistant which reduces your exposure to nighttime air pollutants and bacteria that take hold of our bedrooms.

In the show notes, I’ve linked to my favorite sustainable mattress options — in a range of prices. The mattress that we have in our home is the Nest and we have the Naturepedic mattress for my son.

And the last item I want to mention is pillows. Generally, you want to avoid polyurethane foam, polyfill or other petroleum-based synthetic materials that make up the majority of the pillows on the market. Think about it, do you really want to be laying on oil-derived plastic for 6-10 hours a night? Even if there’s an organic cotton pillowcase between you, any petroleum-based material off gasses for up to several years — meaning that the material is releasing hazardous VOCs into the air where you’re sleeping. Upgrading your pillow to organic latex or organic cotton is worth a good night’s sleep.

Again, all of my bedding and mattress recommendations can be found on

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. Did you know that there’s a survey on the podcast website where you can give me suggestions for upcoming episodes? Just go to and click on the button to submit your topic idea. Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.

Stainless steel pot


Stainless steel pot

So many of us are cooking clean, organic, healthy food and yet, we’re not thinking about the cookware we’re using every day. So in this episode, I’m going to share all of the research I’ve done about this topic so you can start detoxing your pots and pans.

Product Recommendations

Cast Iron

Non-Toxic Ceramic 

Slow Cooker

Storage Containers

Cutting Boards

Episodes Mentioned

Listen to the PSA episode here.

Listen to the ORGANIC FOOD episode here.

Listen to the DEODORANT episode here.



Subscribe on iTunes here.
Subscribe on Spotify here.
Subscribe on Google Podcasts here.


Let me start by saying, this episode was a doozy. It took me an entire working day to research, outline and write the bulk of the information I’m about to share, and I still wasn’t able to get to everything. So many of us are cooking clean, organic, healthy food and yet, we’re not thinking about the cookware we’re using every day. So in this episode, I’m going to share all of the research I’ve done about this topic so you can start detoxing your pots and pans.

I will preface this by saying, I do not have a perfect non-toxic kitchen when it comes to cookware. My family spends half of the year in Massachusetts and half of the year in California, and we have renters coming and going, so that’s two kitchens that I’m trying to slowly furnish with better options. It is an ongoing work in progress and I’m telling you this so that you don’t get overwhelmed by this information. 

But I am going to start with the one thing that I would recommend changing as soon as you can and that’s the use of conventional non-stick pans. I recently found out that non-stick pans, later coined as “Teflon,” were accidentally discovered by Dr. Roy Plunkett while working with the DuPont company in the 1930s.

This coating material, used on pans so that ingredients don’t stick, polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE material, was first used during WWII to make seals “resistant to the uranium hexafluoride gas used in development of the atomic bomb.” When they discovered its powerful, non-stick properties, they started using it commercially in cookware in the mid-1940s. 

Okay, so this coating is atomic bomb resistant, but the other problem with using it for non-stick cookware is that it’s made with an acid called PFOA. These PFOA chemicals have been shown in numerous studies to potentially cause breast cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, heart attack, stroke, immune system damage, and pituitary gland damage. It’s so toxic that even the FDA is pressuring manufacturers to phase this chemical out due to its health and environmental concerns. And if you’ve listened to the PSA or Organic Food episodes, you know how I feel about the FDA… it speaks volumes that they’re pressuring the removal of this material.

Okay, so any Teflon or conventional non-stick pots and pans (they’re usually smooth and black in color) should be phased out of your kitchen at your earliest convenience.

Then there is the heavy metal cookware — think aluminum, copper and stainless steel. All have varying degrees of concern and properties you want to be aware of, so let’s start from worst to best.

The worst is Aluminum cookware. And in addition to Teflon or nonstick, it’s also something you’ll want to phase out of your kitchen. As I already discussed early on in the podcast during the episode on Deodorant, aluminum is classified as a health-jeopardizing toxin by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Most notably, studies have shown evidence connecting high levels of aluminum in the brain to Alzheimer’s Disease.

As I’ve also mentioned before, in most cases, exposure to small amounts of aluminum is probably not harmful and also unavoidable, but we are exposed to far more than previous generations ever were. Which is why you’re better off avoiding any additional exposure when cooking your food.

The next metal cookware to be aware of is copper, which can leach into your food when heated on the stove or in the oven. While copper is a mineral that is necessary for our health and well-being, it can become toxic when the body is overexposed to it. It’s also far more common to have too much copper than be copper deficient and cause issues like schizophrenia, Tourette’s, autism and bipolar disorder. I know this sounds extreme but unless you’re regularly getting your mineral levels checked, it’s better to avoid potential copper toxicity. 

Also, if you are using copper pots and pans to cook, don’t throw them out! Take a decorating note from my grandmother who has a display of antique copper pots hanging on the wall in her kitchen. They’re beautiful to look at and make for great decor.

And the third metal cookware I want to mention is stainless steel. There is some disagreement about the safety of using stainless steel and the general consensus I’ve come to is that the level of safety depends on the manufacturer. 

The main concern with stainless steel is that the metals usually include aluminum, as well as chromium, nickel, titanium and other differing percentages of heavy metals that can leach into your food when heated. Other sources say that the metal alloy used for stainless steel is particularly stable so leaching is of low concern.

So, here’s my take: don’t skimp on the stainless steel pots and pans you do buy. If a magnet doesn’t stick to it, then that means the aluminum levels are too high. Stainless steel leaches the highest amount of metals during the first 6-10 cooking cycles and while cooking acidic foods. So, if you are using stainless steel pans now, you don’t necessarily need to get rid of them. Just do the magnet test and save them for foods with short cook times so that they don’t get overheated.

So, what about ceramic coating or pots and pans with enamel? Again, depending on the source, they may be manufactured with lead. Lead is a neurotoxin that you probably already know you don’t want to mess around with. Make sure to look for specifically non-toxic ceramic cookware and if the enamel or coating does start to chip off, then you’ll want to stop using it. 

And before we get into the This for That segment of this episode, just a quick note on storage containers. Stay away from plastic! I repeat, do not store hot food in plastic containers. The heating of plastic releases phthalates and BPA that has shown to cause cancer and other major health defects and diseases. Always let your food cool before storing, store in glass containers and never heat up plastic in the microwave or oven, or freeze it in the freezer.

Okay, so let’s get into the This for That segment. I’m going to go one by one and I will link to all of my product recommendations in the show notes at

As a review, the pots and pans we’re replacing are anything that’s Teflon, conventional non-stick, aluminum, copper and maybe stainless steel, depending on what you have.

The first alternative is the trusty old… 

  • CAST IRON – Which is still a great choice for non-toxic cookware. They’re pretty inexpensive because they last a lifetime or in the case of heirlooms or antiques, last multiple lifetimes. The great thing is if a cast iron pan is seasoned properly, then it’s virtually non-stick. 
  • The only reason you wouldn’t want to use cast iron is if your iron levels are already too high. In some cases, that means menopausal or post-menopausal women, as well as some men, should probably stay away from cast iron to avoid any extra iron. 
  • The alternative cheaper option to your traditional cast-iron is an enameled cast-iron but you have to be careful about the source because the enamel can contain lead. I’ll link to a both a traditional cast-iron skillet and a safe enamel cast iron in the show notes.
  • If you use stainless steel pots and pans that pass the magnet test, then you can continue to use them for short cook times. If not, then I recommend switching to non-toxic ceramic cookware for everyday use. And I’ve linked to my two favorite brands in the show notes as well.
  • The best slow cooker I’ve found that doesn’t risk leaching heavy metals is the Vitaclay.
  • And for storage containers, I’ve linked to several glass storage options in the show notes, including wooden cooking utensils instead of plastic or silicone, as well as  bamboo and FSC-certified wood cutting boards instead of plastic.

Again, all of my product recommendations can be found at

You know how people talk about investment pieces? This is an investment episode. The point being, you may feel right now like spending all of your money to change over the cookware in your kitchen. But it’s going to get very expensive, very fast. That’s all to say, if you’re budget conscious (as most of us are) and don’t have the upfront cash to overhaul every single one of your kitchen supplies that’s okay. You can do this one piece at a time and eventually, you’ll have a kitchen full of nontoxic cookware that will quite possibly last you decades and maybe even become heirloom pieces for your children. Some things are worth the wait.

Before I go, I wanted to let my most dedicated listeners know that the podcast will be taking a two week break for the end of the year. I’ll be back on January 4th with the first episode of 2021. I’m wishing you all a very happy and healthy holiday!

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. If you learned something from this episode, please share with a friend — maybe the person who you know loves to cook. Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.

Brown laundry basket against white wall


Brown laundry basket against white wall

After visiting a friend and her newborn, I went down a rabbit hole of laundry detergent research — starting with a popular brand marketed for babies. In this episode, I’m recommending that you toss the Tide (and others) and switch to these clean detergents instead.


Product Recommendations

Seventh Generation Zero Plastic Laundry Detergent Tablets, Fragrance Free

Whole Foods Organic Laundry Detergent 

Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear

Dinobi Laundry Detergent 

The Simply Co. Laundry Detergent

Episodes Mentioned

Listen to the BLEACH episode here.



Subscribe on iTunes here.
Subscribe on Spotify here.
Subscribe on Google Podcasts here.


I remember going over to a friend’s house a few years ago to visit her brand new baby girl. The baby was sleeping in a little bassinet in the living room and my friend was folding laundry while we talked. She brought this adorable little onesies to her face, and with a big inhale said, “Isn’t Dreft just the best smell.” She was referring to the very popular and commonly used laundry detergent exclusively made for baby clothing. And that’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode, laundry.

At the time I was visiting this friend I did not know nearly as much as I do now about chemicals and toxins. Ah, those were such simpler times.

I did know, though, that anything artificially scented probably wasn’t great. But this is always the moral dilemma I have around friends — in no scenario was I going to tell this new mother, four weeks postpartum, that she needed to change her laundry detergent. And maybe I was wrong — maybe I should have just leaned into the discomfort, or shown up with a new bottle of detergent the next day, but at the time I didn’t have all of the facts so it seemed harmless enough to let the moment pass.

As you’ve probably noticed, though, this interaction occurred years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. When I became a mom I found that one of the most common issues that other moms talk about is their baby’s skin. Baby Emma has this weird rash on her back… Little Ryan is dealing with some eczema right now… the doctor says that baby Tori has some mild psoriasis. It’s all skin rashes in the first year of life.

Am I about to tell you that baby skin issues are the result of the wrong laundry detergent? No… well not entirely. Skin rashes can be caused by allergy to other things, dryness, the wrong kind of baby wipe, a whole slew of other explanations. But when I went to research more about Dreft Liquid Laundry Detergent for babies, the first thing I did was look up its rating on the Environmental Working Group’s website.

I’m not usually phased nowadays when it comes to doing this kind of research. I’ve done this long enough to know that I’m almost always going to be disappointed by a brand or company. I was fully expecting Dreft to have a C rating by the EWG, definitely not great but not the worst.

And then I watched as my computer screen pulled up the search results. Seven different Dreft products came up — with a picture of the detergent, the pink cap on the bottle, the little sleeping baby on the label — and next to six out of the seven products was a big, fat red F rating. 

The one product that wasn’t rated an F was rated a D instead and is discontinued.

As I said, these discoveries don’t usually phase me but in that moment I felt so much rage. I was mad at myself for not just sucking it up and bringing my friend a bottle of non-toxic laundry detergent after the fact. But most of all, I was infuriated at Proctor & Gamble, the company that owns Dreft, for allowing this product to be marketed to pregnant mothers and used for newborn babies.

So, let’s look closer at the problematic issues with Dreft. The ingredient with the most cause for concern is Sodium Borate. You may know it as Borax. It is a white, powdery toxic mineral used to clean toilet bowls, remove mold and mildew around the house and even kill insects, such as ants.

The EWG gives Sodium Borate an F rating in itself and the irony is that Borax is often marketed as an all-natural, safe ingredient. The problem is, something can be “all-natural” and still not be safe. The lava flowing from a volcano could be labeled as “all-natural” — that doesn’t mean you should touch it.

And in case I need to go on, if an ingredient is toxic enough to kill insects or remove mildew is that an ingredient you want on your newborn baby’s skin?

So yes, despite what you may see marketed, Sodium Borate or Borax is, in fact, toxic and can cause health issues such as: 

  • Fertility damage
  • Organ system toxicity
  • Endocrine and hormone disruption
  • Skin allergy and skin rash
  • Eye irritation
  • Damage to male reproductive system
  • Respiratory irritation

Canada has restricted the use of Sodium Borate in cosmetics and yet, here we are in the U.S. using it to clean baby clothes.

Some of the other ingredients of concern, not only in Dreft but other conventional laundry detergents, are artificial fragrance which I talk more about in the episode on Fragrance, as well as fabric brighteners and an ingredient called Dimethicone which is linked to cancer, digestive system effects, respiratory effects and of course, skin irritation and allergy.

There is a whole slew of other concerning ingredients but I think you get the picture. 

That’s all to say, you’re not in the clear if you’re not cleaning your clothes with Dreft. Some of these other common laundry detergents get a similar rating: Every single Tide product gets a D or F rating (even their Tide “Purclean” detergent gets a D) and yes, even the detergents that have bleach alternatives. Arm & Hammer laundry detergent products range in ratings from C to F. All Cheer laundry detergent products get a D or F rating. Even Mrs. Meyer’s laundry detergent is rated a C through F, depending on the scent, and ironically it’s the one labeled “scent free” that gets the F rating. 

You can go to the EWG’s website and search your own laundry detergent if I haven’t mentioned it yet.

And while we’re on the subject, and if it’s not obvious by now, we need to stop using dryer sheets. These things are coated with a cocktail of chemicals and fragrance and their single-use is just an environmental nightmare, not to mention the potent toxins that are being released into the air from our dryer vents. 

You don’t need fabric softener either. Some of the most harmful ingredients in both dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener include benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer), benzyl alcohol (an upper respiratory tract irritant), ethanol (linked to central nervous system disorders), limonene (a known carcinogen) and chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen), among others.

As always, my source list is linked on the show notes page at

I’ll close out this episode with a “This for That” segment suggesting some healthier, cleaner laundry detergent alternatives. There are quite a few options, but I’m going to focus on the ones readily available in grocery stores like Whole Foods and Target. 

The first is Seventh Generation, specifically the Zero Plastic Laundry Detergent Tablets that are fragrance free. Most of the Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs get an A rating but you start to get into C territory with the liquid detergents from a bottle. And then the other is Whole Foods Organic Laundry Detergent (I hate to refer an Amazon brand but I know it’s what’s most accessible to many of us.) 

For a more extensive list of small batch options from independent brands, go to the show notes at

You may have also noticed that I didn’t talk about bleach or bleach alternatives in this episode. I did a whole separate episode on bleach that you can listen to — it’s at

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. If there’s a topic that I haven’t covered on the podcast that you want to know more about, I have a survey page where you can offer suggestions for upcoming episodes. You can find that at Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.

Brown bottles of cleaner


Brown bottles of cleaner

There are many reasons to keep bleach out of your house — from accidental poisoning of kids and pets to highly reactive toxicity when combined with other chemicals — but for the purpose of this episode, I want to talk about what it does to our overall health and wellness.


Product Recommendations

Hydrogen Peroxide

Baking Soda



Castile Soap

Oxygen Whitener from Clean Mama (use code ‘CLP’ for 15% off)

Episodes Mentioned

Listen to the CLEANING SUPPLIES episode here.



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In one of the very first episodes of this podcast about Cleaning Supplies, I mentioned some concern about the household cleaners that were being used in my son’s daycare and specifically named bleach. 

I wasn’t necessarily worried about him being one of the 250,000 children a year who are rushed to the ER after drinking bleach — I was thinking more about the effect on his developing gut microbiome and the long term effects it could have.

So, that’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode — why you and your family should steer clear of bleach.

There are many reasons to keep bleach out of your house — from accidental poisoning of kids and pets to highly reactive toxicity when combined with other chemicals — but for the purpose of this episode, I want to talk about what it does to our overall health and wellness.

The human microbiome is made up of all of the good bacteria, microorganisms, fungi and even viruses that live in and on our bodies in perfect symbiosis. These microorganisms help us stay healthy in a variety of ways and a diverse microbiome supports our immune system in ways even researchers are still working to understand. 

There are several reasons that your microbiome may be unhealthy, leading to leaky gut, allergies, asthma and other inflammatory diseases — but one of them is the overuse of disinfectants.

I will say this first, I am not saying that we should stop cleaning our homes, our bodies, our children or our pets. And yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic so it is still important to stop the spread of germs, to wash your hands, clean your countertops, etc. 

This episode is not an attack on sanitation and cleanliness. It is more of a suggestion to be mindful of what you’re using to accomplish that cleanliness. 

Because as you’ve probably picked up from this podcast by now, there is almost always a healthier, safer, less toxic alternative to what giant marketing engines have been telling us is the better and only way.

So, here are some natural ingredients that accomplish the same whitening and disinfecting goals that bleach does:

  1. Hydrogen Peroxide: Is a great bleach alternative thanks to its properties as a disinfectant. We think of hydrogen peroxide when we have to clean a cut or a wound but it can actually be mixed with water to clean surfaces. It will even go so far as to fight salmonella. You can also use it to whiten your laundry whites — just add a cup to your laundry machine. 
  2. White Vinegar: It’s around 80% effective against viruses and mold bacteria, which makes it a great choice for a natural disinfectant. It can also brighten your clothing and even help remove soap residue. Just pour into your washing machine as you would with bleach or simply soak your clothes in a mix of vinegar and hot water to help remove stains.
  3. Castile soap: You can use castile soap to keep almost everything clean in your home. It’s vegetable based, natural, and a very gentle soap that is safe to use around children and pets.

So, in this episode’s “This for That” segment, I’m suggesting the natural alternatives that I just mentioned and I’ll recap them again in the show notes. I’ve also linked to an Oxygen Whitenered from Clean Mama as well as a discount code. Go to

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. If you learned something today make sure to subscribe on the podcast platform of your choice, so you don’t miss an episode. Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.