5 Ways I Avoid Chlorine In My Home

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How to avoid chlorine in the home
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I’ve always been sensitive to the smell of chlorine. In hotels, I could always tell as soon as the elevator door started to open if the pool was on that level of the hotel. A visit to a highly-chlorinated indoor waterpark once left me foggy for days. For this reason, I’ve always been careful to avoid chlorine while swimming, but after hearing a respected doctor talk about the connection between chlorine exposure and various health problems (including thyroid problems), I started to research chlorine in much greater detail.

What is Chlorine?

Chlorine is a common disinfectant that is a gas at room temperature, but it is often pressurized and made into a liquid for transport. Chlorine is an ingredient in many types of household bleach (though not all) and is also often used in water treatment and pool sanitation.

Chlorine is toxic even in small amounts. When chlorine gas is inhaled, it combines with moisture in the respiratory system to make hypochlorous and hydrochloric acids that can harm tissue.

What we call “bleach” is actually sodium hypochlorite, which is diluted to a small percentage for household use. This can also be toxic in small amounts and is extremely dangerous when it mixes with other chemicals, especially ammonia (if you ever do this accidentally, leave your home and call the poison control center immediately!)

Why Avoid Chlorine Exposure?

Chlorine can be extremely harmful, even in small amounts. Symptoms of exposure can begin immediately and include wheezing, difficulty breathing, eye or skin irritation, tightness in chest, lightheadedness, and other problems. Severe problems include things like build up of fluid in the lungs.

While most of us are thankfully not exposed to concentrated sources of chlorine gas, many of us do encounter chlorine on a daily basis from drinking water, swimming pools or common household cleaners.

The most common source of exposure is drinking water, as chlorine is used to disinfect water for human use. Certainly, this is an important step in creating clean drinking water, but with emerging research showing a link between chlorine exposure and dementia (amongst other problems), it seems important to take a critical look at chlorine use in drinking water (1). In fact, the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality found that overall cancer risk is 93% higher in people who drink chlorinated water.

It is definitely easier to avoid chlorine in swimming pools and other non-essential sources, but drinking water is a necessity and many municipal water supplies add chlorine. Exposure to chlorine from pools has been linked to asthma, skin/eye irritation and even erosion of tooth enamel. (2, 3, 4)

Baths and showers are another source of major chlorine exposure. It wouldn’t seem at first glance that we’d absorb as much from a bath or shower as we would from drinking water, but since chlorine vaporizes more quickly than water and can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin, we can actually absorb much more chlorine from showering than from drinking water!

Chlorine also creates byproducts when it enters water, air or our bodies, including:

  • Dichloro acidic acid (linked to liver cancer)
  • Trihalomethanes or THMs including Chloroform (increase free radical production, speed aging and linked to cancer- found in high amounts in women with breast cancer)
  • Dioxin
  • PCBs
  • Unknown mutagens

How to Avoid Chlorine in the Home

Chlorine is added to most municipal water supplies and is in the water most people have in their homes. While it serves the very important purpose of disinfecting the water (though there are other more effective and more expensive ways now), it does have some potentially serious health consequences.

Since we largely can’t control what is in the water supply, the only option I’ve found to help avoid chlorine exposure in our home is to take measures to reduce or remove the chlorine coming in so we aren’t drinking or bathing in it.

Unfortunately, these means are not inexpensive or easy, but I considered them a priority for our family since we drink so much water daily. These are the steps I took (in order) to reduce our chlorine exposure at home:

1.Using Safe Laundry Products

We have to use laundry products anyway so this was an easy switch to make (and one that saved money). We switched away from chlorine containing laundry products (like bleach) and started making our own laundry soap. With little kids, I was glad not to have the more toxic laundry products in the house, and the homemade alternatives have worked really well for us.

2. Shower Filter

Another switch that was relatively inexpensive and simple to make: using a shower filter. I prioritized this over our sink filter, since statistically, we absorb more chlorine from a warm shower than from drinking water.

After much research, I ordered this New Century Shower Filter for our shower and it only took five minutes to install (even for me!).

3 De-chlorinating Bath Ball

When I ordered the shower filter, I also ordered a chlorine-removing bath ball for use in the kids’ baths. This neutralizes chlorine, chloramines and chlorine gas in about 5 minutes. I just add the bath ball to bath water as I fill the tub and leave for about five minutes before the kids get in.

Also, check out these other tips for reducing chemicals in bath water.

4. Kitchen Sink Filter + Water Bottles

I research everything before I buy it, and the bigger the purchase, the longer the research. I researched water filters for over a year before finally deciding on one and I’m so happy with my decision. There are a lot of great water filter options available, but not all are created equal. Regular reverse osmosis removes chlorine, fluoride and other contaminants but also strips out beneficial minerals (plus, it wastes a lot of water!). Other types (like pitchers) are not completely effective and may contain plastic chemicals as well.

The two filters we have personally used in our home are:

I love the convenience of the under-the sink 14 stage filter we use now, but our Berkey served us well for years. Both remove chlorine and with the added fluoride filters, the Berkey removes fluoride as well.

Since we now have filtered water at our kitchen sink, we use plastic-free reusable water bottles when we travel, exercise, or are not home to save money (and avoid plastic use). This way, we always have filtered (chlorine-free) water with us.

5. A Whole House Filter

The gold standard of chlorine and other contaminant removal is a high-quality whole-house filter. We waited years to finally get one and now that we are living in a home that we hope to stay in for a long time, we made the jump to a whole-house filter.

This type of filter installs at the water main where water enters the house (ours is in the garage) and filters out chlorine, fluoride and dozens of other contaminants. It technically removes the need for other types of filters, like bath and shower filters, and is a very effective way to filter all water that enters the house.

If I could have afforded it at the time, I would have started with this option, but it is more expensive and difficult to install, though now that we have it, I wish I’d prioritized it years earlier.

Do you avoid chlorine? What methods do you use?

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

75 responses to “5 Ways I Avoid Chlorine In My Home”

  1. Shauna Avatar

    Is it important to get the series 6 whole house filter? Or is the series 4 is sufficient to remove the majority of chemicals?

  2. Amy Avatar

    Hi. How long does the century shower filter last for? I saw that is $61.00. Does it need to be changed every 6 month, like a water filter? Thank you for the information.

  3. Rachel Avatar

    What do you use to disinfect in your kitchen after working with raw meat? I’m always afraid of cross contamination, but I’m not happy about having bleach with toddlers in the house.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I use hydrogen peroxide or just a really good wash with soap and water if possible. I’m also read that using white vinegar and then hydrogen peroxide can be as effective as bleach.

  4. Nikki Lee Avatar
    Nikki Lee

    Hello!!!! What about swimming? Is it better to take our family swimming in a chlorinated pool or a bacteria filled lake? ?

  5. Joel Gold Avatar
    Joel Gold

    I have a shower filter installed. The shower is separate from the bathtub where I am so I purchased a longer tube for the shower filter, enabling the shower head to reach as far as the tub and fill it with filtered water. However, it takes a long time to fill as the flow rate is far less than the bathtub faucet’s flow rate. I’d love to discover a filter that fits onto a bathtub faucet. Does anyone know of one?

  6. Andrea Avatar

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been researching for a good shower filter that takes care of the chloramine, which is the mix of chlorine and ammonia in the pipes, most filters don’t. So, does the one you recommend here filter chloramine? Thanks!

  7. Jenny Avatar

    We have hard water and use a water softener. Does this have any impact on the effectiveness of the filters whether just shower head or whole house?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I’m actually not sure since we don’t have a water softener, but I’d recommend calling and just asking their water experts since they were able to answer a lot of specific questions I had when we were researching options…

  8. Jack Ebner Avatar
    Jack Ebner

    I would suggest that if you’re going to address contaminants, you enlighten your readers about probably the worst contaminant of all – vaccines. One can be drinking and bathing in the cleanest water in the world but if they are unwittingly submitting to vaccinations, water quality becomes a moot point.

  9. Shawn Woodell Avatar
    Shawn Woodell

    How often do you have to change the filter and how much does it cost you? We are about to purchase a whole house system and I would love to get a little more information from you.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      For the whole house filter we have, it is my understanding that the filter is basically maintenance free and doesn’t need to be replaced. If we did need to replace the media inside the filter, it would cost several hundred dollars. I called the Radiant Life water expert before ordering to ask a lot of questions and I’d recommend that too…

  10. donique Avatar

    We have filters on our showers and an undercounter filtration system for drinking and cooking water in the kitchen but it’s making me miserable that I’m breathing in chlorine fumes while washing the dishes a couple of times each day..we’re old fashioned hand washers. Saving up for a whole house filter, especially as we are installing a vegetable garden over the winter!

  11. Rachel Avatar

    Do you have any suggestions for how a college student living in the dorms could avoid chlorine?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      A berkey filter would filter drinking water. Shower would be more difficult though, unless you were able to unscrew the shower head and add a filter each time.

  12. Cynthia Avatar

    My son swims competitively in a large county pool 4 days/week…he showers immediately afterwards, but do you recommend any other items for helping to remove additional chlorine he is exposed to? Thanks!

  13. Fred Avatar

    Regarding house filters, has anyone ever used or researched AquaSauna filters? Thanks

  14. Alma Avatar

    Regardless of what filter is used, chlorinated/treated water should be left sitting for a few days to burn off any residual chemicals not removed by the filters. If you don’t believe that, try leaving a gallon of pool chlorine on the ground for a few days. When you come back, it’s water. Same thing happens in a pool and why you have to keep buying chlorine for the pool. It burns off and evaporates. Chlorine dissipates naturally. It is a trade-off though, as water is naturally magnetic with energy. Have you ever seen stale, stagnate water left for awhile. It seems to lose the magnetic qualities/properties that make water the special revitalizing, healing, refreshing thing it is.

  15. dawa Avatar

    My understanding is the chlorine is volatile, and will be gone in 24 hours from a pot of tap water.

    So, I use two 6-quart stainless pots, each with a screen cover, and rotate them. While one is dissipating, I’m using the other to fill my Brita, which probably isn’t the best, but since we’re speaking mainly about chlorine, that’s it for now.

    I’ve lived in neighborhoods that were close to the location where the city adds chlorine to the water, and it burned my nose just standing at the sink and running the faucet.

    I wouldn’t go into a chlorinated pool if they paid me – even refused a free membership to the “you-know-what” because I could smell the chlorine even before I went into the building. When I suggested low-tech ceiling fans in the pool area to vent the chlorine out of the building, they got very defensive.

    Thank you for good article. And, as to laundry, I read that the Amish just soak their laundry in plain water for at least 24 hours, and the soil floats off. I do that alot in my bathtub . . . put an item in a large container with water, and a smaller container atop that, sometimes with only water, to act as a weight in case there are any crawling things . . . they will surely drown in24 hours.

    To drain, I use my dedicated folding steps and put the super wet items on it, and when they stop dripping, I hang them on hangers on the shower rod. I use a little bit of white vinegar in the rinse.

    I live in an apartment building and prefer to avoid a public laundry room.

    Thank you, Dawa

  16. chrysantha Avatar
    chrysantha

    Well-done Madam you are a great philanthropist. God bless you and your family
    Chrysantha

  17. Jill Avatar

    Would you still recommend using vitamin C powder to neutralize chlorine in bath water?

  18. Beth Avatar

    I’m on the town board in my town and have been arguing against the use of chemicals in our water, but with the state breathing down our necks to keep the arsenic levels under 10ppb (parts per billion), the only option available that we can afford is chlorine and sulfuric acid. I’m not totally convinced that the health concerns of the people living closest to the water plant aren’t due to the bigger concentration of chemicals in their supply. I would almost rather take my chances with arsenic as it comes from the wells.

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