Toxic Bedrooms: How to Save Your Health & Your Sleep by Detoxifying Your Bedroom

how toxic is your bedroom - sustainablesuburbia.netThis is a guest post from Phoebe Yu, from Ettitude. It is not a sponsored post (I don’t accept paid advertising or sponsored posts), but I also haven’t tried their products. However, there is definitely some interesting food for thought here. Have you thought about how to make your bedroom into a safe haven? Tell us in the comments what changes you have made! ~ Kirsten

If a person is getting their recommended eight hours of sleep per night, it’s estimated they will spend 229,961 hours of their life asleep. That’s a lot of time spent in the bedroom. In fact, besides your workplace, the bedroom may be the place where you spend the most time out of the day.

That’s why it’s so important to ensure the time you spend snoozing isn’t being intruded upon by dangerous and sometimes cancerous chemicals and pollutants. Your bedroom is your escape from the world, so make it an escape from the toxins we’re routinely exposed to in daily life as well.

The Bed

Think about it: would you sleep in a pool of petroleum or roll around in toxins and harmful chemicals? Probably not. But that’s exactly what you’re doing when you cover your bed (and your body) in sheets made from synthetic fibres and dyed using harsh man-made chemicals.

Bedsheets, mattresses, and pillows are often made from mixes of polyester, acrylic, and foam, all crude-oil derived plastics. Mattresses often contain fire-retardant chemicals such as boric acid and formaldehyde, the latter a known carcinogen which can affect your respiratory system.

The same goes for your pyjamas, which are often made from the very same synthetics as the sheets on your bed. Not only are the chemicals harmful, synthetic fibres don’t breathe and cause you to heat up in the night. As a result, you’re breathing in harmful plastic vapours released by the plastic, which heat up against your body in the night.

Instead, ditch the plastics and opt for a natural, organic material like bamboo. Not only are bamboo sheets considered the most comfortable, thanks to their silk-like softness and breathable quality, bamboo is a self-regenerating plant which uses far less water than cotton in order to grow. Ettitude, who make some of the world’s most comfortable bamboo bed sheets, like to call it “vegan silk”.

The Floor

Industrial carpeting is a big no-no if you’re looking to de-toxify the bedroom or indeed the rest of the house. Carpeting – everything from the fibres through to the dyes – is made using petroleum-based chemicals, with the effluent sometimes finding its way into local ecosystems and even when it doesn’t, having so many toxic chemicals right under your feet at all times isn’t doing wonders for your respiratory health. Traditional carpeting is famous for trapping dust particles, mites, and other nasties.

Even new carpeting won’t keep you safe from the numerous toxins found in carpeting, including toluene, benzene, formaldehyde, ethyl benzene, styrene, and acetone, just to name a few. That ‘new carpet smell’ you may be familiar with if you’ve ever been in a new office or had your carpets replaced is actually 4-Phenyl Cyclohexane (4-PC), which has been associated with upper respiratory tract infections.

Eschew traditional industrial carpeting in favour of sustainable wood flooring. There are several options for this route, from recycled and sustainably sourced wood to bamboo, just make sure you use a finish which is organic and doesn’t contain any toxins or petroleum-based ingredients. Add a touch of warmth to your floors by using environmentally friendly rugs made from natural fibres, such as wool or organic cotton.

The Air

You may have already switched all of your cleaning products to cleaner, eco-friendly alternatives. Perhaps you’ve even gone one better and are making your own cleaning products using ingredients you buy (something you definitely can and should do!) but are you still keeping your bedroom smelling fresh using aerosol deodorisers or electricity-guzzling diffusers?

House plants can help clean your air | SustainableSuburbia.netInstead of spending money and hurting the environment, clean the air in your room and make it smell fresh by adding a few household-friendly plants. Indoor plants are a great investment, which have not only been shown to improve mood and productivity, but which actually clean the air you breathe by sucking up the toxins and CO2 and releasing oxygen. Think of them as natural air fresheners. [Note from Kirsten: here is a list of suitable air cleaning plants.]

If you haven’t yet raided your cleaning closet and are still using traditional, petroleum-derived cleaning products and keeping your air smelling pleasant through the use of spray deodorants, you should probably know that a 2007 study on 74 common air fresheners found more than 350 different chemicals and allergens in their composition, including benzene, formaldehyde, styrene, and phthalates.

The Walls

It may not have occurred to you that even the coating on your walls could have an eco-friendly alternative, but the paint covering your entire house is likely one of the biggest sources of toxins in your home. Of course, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that house paint is filled with all sorts of man-made chemicals, most of them nasty and some which can even aggravate allergies and cause respiratory issues, as well as other worrying health problems.

Traditional paints release low level toxic emissions into the air due to the use of volatile organic compounds or VOCs. The best remedy is to look into having your walls repainted with non-toxic or natural, plant-based paints. Low-VOC paints are composed of harmless natural ingredients like linseed oil, milk, and balsam, which don’t release toxins into the air you breathe.

Don’t forget about your window furnishings, either. Curtains with stain treatments and flame retardants are a source of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and even those that aren’t a typically made from petroleum-based synthetics like polyester, nylon, and rayon. Opt instead for curtains made from natural fibers like cotton, wool (a naturally flame retardant material), linin, and silk.


Phoebe Yu - profile picPhoebe Yu is CEO & Founder of Ettitude, Australian bamboo bedding startup. She also founded 2 international sourcing companies, and has 15+ years experience in supply chain management and merchandising.

  2 comments for “Toxic Bedrooms: How to Save Your Health & Your Sleep by Detoxifying Your Bedroom

  1. Adam Sharpley
    August 31, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    This article was quite a revelation! I did not know, unknowingly I was inhaling so much of poison and bamboo sheets are something I did not know about.

  2. October 19, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Being eco-friendly surely is a great way to start saving your health from any kind of toxins. Personally, I use solar-powered items in my household not just to save money but also to be eco-friendly and to protect my kids from harmful chemicals emitted by some items that are not solar-powered. Anyways, thanks for sharing this wonderful article! Keep up the great work always.

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