Our Guide: How To Replace Toxic Pesticides

By Branch Basics |

featured image: Pesticide Guide

Pesticides and herbicides are among the most dangerous products in the home. The suffix "-cide" in a word on a label means kill. Pesticides, herbicides, biocides, fungicides, and mildewcides are made to kill.

Storing pesticides in the home creates a toxic low-level chemical soup that the body has to detoxify. Removing them from your home and attached garage improves the air quality and takes a tremendous load off the body’s detoxification system, allowing that energy to be used instead for regeneration and repair.

Multiple hazards are associated with pesticide use in the home. Low-dose, chronic exposure can negatively impact the nervous system, the respiratory system, and the reproductive system. Pesticide exposure has been linked to ADD/ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Asthma, Autism, Cancer, Parkinson’s, endocrine disruption and more.*

Step 1: Remove Pesticides

We always recommend making a clean sweep of pesticides from the home. There’s no reason to review labels, just remove them ALL out, take them ALL out! Remember, even if you are not using them, the contents are escaping and polluting your home’s air. 

Walk through your home and check in cabinets, under sinks, in bathrooms, in the laundry room, closets, and attached garage. Don’t forget herbicides and commercial fertilizers (destroy the microbiome of the soil) in attached garages. Once you have removed from indoors, dispose of pesticides properly

Next up? Replace with non-toxic alternatives. Check out our Non-Toxic Pesticides Alternatives List

Let's start from the beginning. Educating yourself and understanding information on pesticides is key. This as an opportunity to practice proactive preventative healthcare for your family. We'll take you step-by-step! 

Pesticides & Herbicides to Remove From the Home

Pesticides 

  • Research shows that there are widespread pesticide residues in most American homes, and the amount of pesticides found in the air in homes is typically greater than expected due to tracking in pesticides from outdoors.  Sadly, infants, toddlers, and pets are all traveling low to the ground so their exposure to any pesticides is much greater.
  • Remove all insect repellents, DEET, herbicides, mosquito sprays, ant, wasp, and roach sprays, flea and bed bug treatments, foggers, lice shampoos and treatments from the home and consider clean up measures described in the Replace section of this guide.

Herbicides 

  • Garden herbicide use has been increasing since 1995. Herbicides like Roundup are used to kill lawn weeds, used more than other pesticides, and are undermining our health. Remove them from your home and switch to alternative safe methods of lawn and garden care.

Conventional Fertilizers

  • Conventional fertilizers deplete the soil and kill a large percentage of the beneficial soil microorganisms. Remove from home and garage.

Products Labeled as Sanitizers or Disinfectant 

  • Many of these products contain EPA registered pesticides which are designed to kill. The use of antibacterial products is weakening our immune systems. Some exposure to germs is helpful since it allows our immune systems to build up its own resistance.
  • In fact, the CDC only recommends using sanitizers and disinfectants when absolutely necessary due to the spread of resistant superbugs. The National Cancer Institute estimates that there has been a 28% increase in childhood cancer since the addition of pesticides, biocides, fungicides, and mildewcides into household products.

Fungicides and Mildewcides

  • Unfortunately, many who have had their homes treated for mold have gotten sick from the products used for cleanup. Using a fungicide or mildewcide to remove mold is exchanging bad for bad.
  • For many people bleach is the go to mold killer. Bleach is highly irritating and corrosive to the skin, lungs, and eyes. Fumes from bleach can cause DNA damage, cancer, asthma, and a host of other illnesses. Neither the EPA or OSHA recommend using bleach for mold removal

Antibacterial Products (Especially Those Containing Triclosan) 

  • Although Triclosan is banned in soaps and body care products, it is still allowed in other products in your home. Read all your product labels!
  • Triclosan can lurk in toothpastes, mouthwashes, shaving creams, cosmetics, deodorants, socks, laundry detergents, etc. Learn more about the harmful health effects of Tricolsan

Lawn Care Services

  • Despite the growing evidence that the herbicides used by lawn care services are hazardous to public health and the environment, the use of these services is exploding. Children, pets and the environment need to be protected. Cancel your service.

Flea/Tick Collars, Flea Bombs and Treatments

  • Your pets deserve the best and they are very vulnerable to pet products intended to kill fleas and ticks. These pet products poison not only the pests, but also the pet and the owner. Pregnant women, young children, infants, the chronically ill, and the elderly are especially at risk to exposure.

Bed Bugs

  • Bed bugs have increased due to more travel, lack of knowledge about preventing infestation, increased resistance of bed bugs to pesticides, and the fact that bed bugs are difficult to eradicate.
  • When you travel check to see if hotel is treating for bed bugs. With that question you can discover if they are having an issue. If they are, ask how they treat for bed bugs. Stay in another place if the hotel is using toxic pesticides.

    Head Lice

    • There is a head lice epidemic in American schools today. The lice are becoming resistant to the pesticide treatments.
    • Do not use a pesticide to treat head lice. One of the most popular today, Nix, uses permethrins to treat children’s head lice. This is tragic because this can wipe out the bowel flora, trigger chemical sensitivity, and disrupt immune function. We'll review safe options. 

    Moths

    • Never use moth balls. They are very toxic and especially toxic to animals.

    Rodent Poisons 

    • Remove baits from the home as they are poisonous to dogs, cats and humans. 

    Mosquito Abatement Systems - Yard Insect Foggers  

    • Misting systems installed around the perimeter of the home to kill insects should not be used.
    • These systems use pyrethrins and pyrethroids and piperonyl butoxide – all have been implicated in chemical injury to infants, children, people with weakened immune systems and the elderly.
    • Do not be deceived by the misinformation about pyrethrum related products that come from the chrysanthemum plant that are touted as being less toxic or non-toxic. Pyrethrum and related products are neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors.

    Tubes in Wall Pest Control

    • Unfortunately, this is becoming popular in newly built homes and is touted as being called “the cleanest, greenest, most effective and convenient pest control system ever”. If you are in a home that has these tubes, stop the service.

    Stop All Reoccurring Pest Control Services

    • The most popular pesticides being used in the home by exterminators are pyrethrins and pyrethroids (synthetic) - based on the chrysanthemum plant mixed with PBO (piperonyl butoxide which is a common synthetic synergist that reduces an insect’s ability to detoxify pyrethrum).
    • Many people are deceived by the misinformation put out by the pesticide companies. They state that they are using a natural, therefore safe product. Natural does not always mean safe - i.e. lead, arsenic, mercury, etc.
    • Synthetic pyrethroids that have a similar structure and mode of action to pyrethrins are also used. Some of the common pyrethroids are Ambush, Ammo, Aztec, Pounce, Scourge, and Warrior.
    • These pesticides are endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic, and can trigger allergic reactions. The residue will need to be cleaned up (more to come on that)! 

    Step 2: Replace Pesticides

    After completing the removal of all pesticides, you have already dramatically improved your air quality and your health! Now you are ready to “Replace” with safe healthy alternatives.

    After removing all pesticide products in the home, there are four steps to take:

    1. Take General Measures to Reduce Exposure to Pesticides

    To get started, check out these 25 Tips for Controlling Pests In and Around Your Home.

    It's best to have a welcome mat at the front door for people to wipe their feet on before entering. Even better, consider having people remove shoes when they come in your home. 

    2. Reduce Entry of Pests Into Home

    Remove all ground cover, wood chips, or any potential insect habitats from around the home.

    • Check that you have appropriate grading and drainage and make sure openings (such as soffit vents) are blocked with tight screen or mesh where appropriate.
    • Weather tightness is important. Caulk areas to prevent insect entrance. Great non-toxic economical caulk that fills up to 1 inch gaps, is paintable & comes in many colors Titebond Weathermaster Sealant. 
    • Provide for the prevention of excess moisture buildup from within, including humidity regulation that discourages condensation, extraction fans and windows that allow cross ventilation. 
    • Make sure to always clean up areas leaving no food or crumbs around
    • Integrated Pest Management – the non-toxic options we suggest may take care of your needs, but if you need professional help always specify "non-toxic pest control", not just "least toxic" when using an exterminator.
    • Avoid all pyrethrin/pyrethroid/chrysanthemum flower-based pesticides. Research all materials proposed. 

    3. Replace With Only Non-Toxic Alternatives

    Click to check out our full list of Non-Toxic Alternatives

    4. Clean Up Pesticide Residue Left In The Home

    The following will help to reduce the pesticide load in your home if it has a pesticide history. Each time you clean the house - it will help to reduce the levels. Also consider a complete deep clean of the home as an option if serious contamination is an issue.

    Woman HEPA vacuuming

    Steps to Remove Pesticide Residue

    Step 1 

    HEPA vacuum all surfaces. Pesticides ride on dust and this first step will lower the level. Did you know conventional vacuums typically make the air quality worse after vacuuming? Read more about why HEPA vacuums are ideal. If you don’t have a good vacuum, skip to step 2 and purchase a good HEPA vacuum when possible.

    Ideally, start with the ceiling, then the walls, and last the floors. Vacuum all surfaces in the home - furniture, knick knacks, books on the way. 

    Step 2 

    Pay attention to baseboards. Typically when a home is treated by a pesticide service, the baseboards are treated. 

    • Enviro - One - If your house was built before 1988, you will need to clean with Enviro - One. This is a fragrance-free proprietary blend formula that breaks down chlorinated pesticides like Chlordane, Heptachor, Dieldrin and more that were used at this time. 
    • Super Washing Soda – If your home was built before 2005, you'll want to use a sodium carbonate solution that breaks down organophosphate pesticides. To use, mix 2.4 teaspoons of Super Washing Soda per gallon of distilled water and let it dissolve together. Clean all surfaces with the mixture and then wipe down all surfaces with distilled water if there is residue. 
    • Branch Basics Concentrate – If your house was built after 2005, clean your baseboards and surfaces with Branch Basics, as it will remove the pyrethrin/permethrin-based pesticides being used today.