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Detox the Kitchen via Kitchen Remodeling

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Is it possible to detox the kitchen by doing kitchen remodeling? You bet! Considering we live, laugh, and love in the kitchen, we want it to be a healthy room for hanging out.  If someone has Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) or asthma, air quality is more crucial. An outdated kitchen can be toxic. Kitchen remodeling can make the room more toxic, or kitchen remodeling can make it more eco-friendly depending on the design and products selected. Here are some considerations to make your kitchen remodeling transform your home into a healthier place to live.

Why would having an eco-friendly kitchen be important?  People are spending more time indoors in airtight buildings, exposing themselves to VOCs (toxic chemicals) in the air. VOCs can be odorless, but that doesn’t mean they are any less harmful. If you see smog, that is from VOCs and there is an Air Quality Index to warn people of the level of toxicity outdoors. It would be nice to know that you can create a healthier home environment to retreat to.

If you have an older kitchen, you could have higher levels of VOCs (toxic chemicals) you’re breathing from manufactured wood products, adhesives, sealants, varnish and paint—even from gas stoves. The good news is that there are a lot of choices of products that have been made to have little to no VOCs.  A kitchen remodeling professional trained in “green building” practices can help design and specify products for an eco-friendly kitchen.

One of the biggest air quality offenders can be wood cabinetry. There are cabinets with low VOCs that have earned the Environmental Stewardship Program Seal of approval. You may want to plan for a walk in pantry to provide more storage so fewer cabinets are needed, and substitute some upper cabinets with shelving instead. You may also want to specify having two dishwashers for storing your everyday use dishes—one for what is clean, and the other for the dirty ones. Top the cabinets with countertop materials that are low VOC and do not need harsh chemicals to clean or maintain. Ask for the cabinets to be delivered early so sit in your garage unwrapped for a few days to air out.

The next offender can be fumes that come from having a gas stove. Consider replacing with an induction cooktop for rapid cooking, precise temperature control, and a cooler environment. Did you know the cooking of fat produces acrolein, a lung irritant? Adequate hood ventilation if very important to draw out fumes and oils out of the air. If you are using a cooktop, turn on the fan!

Specify no VOC paint. Formulas have improved, making this paint the same quality as the former kind.  There is even a commercial of a group of adults painting a baby’s nursery while the baby is sleeping to make that point!

Here are some DIY kitchen detox projects for you to complete the transformation to having an eco-friendly kitchen:

  • An “antibacterial” cutting board or other product may sound good, but it is probably treated with a hormone disrupter that is harmful to humans too. Use a slab of wood or bamboo instead.
  • Ditch the “nonstick” pans, the Teflon coating is toxic. Invest in high quality stainless steel, or ceramic coated that are cadmium and lead-free, or cast iron skillets.
  • Ban plastics that aren’t #2, #4, #5 and bpa/bph free. Serve and store in glass containers whenever possible. Plastics that are damaged, or heated, can leach carcinogenic compounds into the food.
  • Consider ditching the microwave and getting a steam oven instead to keep more nutrients in the food.
  • Do not use an oven cleaner—these chemicals remain in the oven and will taint food. Use warm soapy water and a scouring pad with baking soda to scrub baked on food.
  • Support your efforts for a healthier kitchen, with serving healthier food. Here is a resource  for what to avoid, and what to stock in your pantry.


Happy, Healthy Kitchen Remodeling!



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