Thursday, July 15, 2010

Toxic Shower Curtains

Could your shower be poisoning you? If you’re using a VINYL shower curtain or liner, then the answer is yes. Anything made of vinyl (aka polyvinylchloride or PVC) off-gasses harmful, cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting chemicals (aka phthalates) for the entire life of the product. NOT just when it is stinky and new (although – that is when it is most toxic and most negatively effecting the air quality in your home). In a bathroom, vinyl is more toxic than in any other room of your home because the steam you use to shower, bathe or shave makes it off-gas at a significantly higher rate.

A great, equally effective alternative to vinyl shower curtains and/or liners is a polyester liner or curtain. It keeps the water in the shower just as well as vinyl – and is much easier to clean. In one of my bathrooms, I use a polyester liner and a 100% cotton outer curtain. In the other, I use just a thick 100% cotton curtain. Cotton, hemp, bamboo, or canvas curtains can be used without any liner – but you do need to ring them out after each shower.

To prevent mildew, I toss all my shower curtains in the washer about once a month with a couple cups of distilled vinegar or a few drops of tea tree oil. Remember to use perfume-free detergent, since artificial fragrances contain phthalates as well. Just hang the curtains back on the curtain rod to dry and you’re good-to-go by morning.

TIP: Other vinyl items that will negatively affect the air quality in your home: toys, flooring, wall coverings, countertops, mini blinds, water pipes, window frames, etc.

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