Healthy Living

10 Common Household Items That May Worsen Your Autoimmune Disease

If you’re living with autoimmune disease, you know how important it is to eat a whole-food anti-inflammatory diet.

But even if you’ve cut out junk food entirely, there are some household items that could be secretly worsening those symptoms right under your nose.

Here’s a list of 10 household items I recommend eliminating if you struggle with chronic illness:

1. Microwave Oven

If you have an autoimmune disease, you should flood your body with as much healing nutrition as possible. Microwave ovens have been shown to significantly reduce the nutritional content of food, even if you’re just re-heating it.

One study revealed that food cooked in microwave decreases hemoglobin and lymphocytes while raising your white blood cells.

A high white cell count is often a tell-tale indicator of allergies, autoimmune disease, and even cancer. If your white cell count is already high as a result of your condition, eating food cooked in a microwave may only worsen it.

Re-heat your food in a toaster oven instead.

2. Air Fresheners


If you use conventional air fresheners and you have an autoimmune disease, I highly recommend discontinuing.

Air fresheners often contain sodium laurel sulfate, which has been shown to degenerate cell membranes, and cause your immune system to malfunction.

Apinine, a common sensitizer in these scented products, can damage your immune system and lead to a condition called multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS).

Try this instead: Simmer a pot of fresh orange peels and cinnamon to freshen your home.

3. Non-Stick Cookware

Non-stick cookware may offer convenience but they may also worsen your autoimmune disease because of the chemicals they emit.

According to a study published by the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, women who had elevated levels of non-stick perfluorinated compounds like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in their blood were more likely to have arthritis.

Experimental scientific studies suggest that PFOA and PFOS may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis by altering the balance of the hormones involved in inflammation and cartilage repair.

Switch to cast iron, stainless steel, or carbon steel instead.

4. Plastic Storage Containers

Many plastic storage containers contain an endocrine-disrupting chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) that has been shown to have a negative effect on your immune system.

Japanese animal studies showed that mice with a genetic predisposition toward the development of lupus came down the disease. Continued exposure to these endocrine-disruptors may worsen your condition over time.

Store your food in glass containers or plastic ones labeled BPA-free€. Never heat your food in plastic, no matter what type it is.

5. Fluorescent Bulbs

If you already have an autoimmune disease, fluorescent light bulbs may make it worse. Ultraviolet lights have been shown to trigger lupus flare-ups.

Also, florescent bulbs contain mercury, which is a known immunotoxin.

If one breaks in your home, the official guidelines state that you must wear gloves and vent the room for hours. If your immune system is already compromised, even this minute exposure could quickly worsen your health.

Spend as much time in natural light as possible and avoid sitting directly under fluorescent bulbs.

6. Bathroom Tiles

Your bathroom (and your basement as well) could be harboring mold, which produces mycotoxins that have been shown to be even more toxic than heavy metals.

Exposure to mold can be especially dangerous because fungi have an incredible ability to elude your immune system, while at the same time producing chemicals that suppress its natural function.

If you have an autoimmune disease, it’s important to get rid of lingering mold. If you find a patch or two, neutralize it with a solution of water and white vinegar.

Be sure to wear gloves and a face mask when doing this. If you find an extensive amount of mold under your carpet or behind a wall, get expert help from a professional.

7. Dryer Sheets

Those living with autoimmune disease often find doing everyday household chores like laundry difficult enough to manage as it is. The synthetic chemicals in conventional dryer sheets definitely don’t help.

Just one dryer sheet contains benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, limonene, A-Terpineol, ethyl acetate, camphor, chloroform, linalool, and pentane, all of which can damage both your immune and nervous system while leaving you vulnerable to the development of cancer.

Add baking soda to your wash cycle to reduce static cling naturally.

8. Feminine Products

Even feminine care products could worsen the symptoms of autoimmune disease. Conventional pads and tampons are bleached with chlorine, which turns into a dangerous chemical called dioxin.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that dioxin harms your immune system by reducing the number of B cells and T cells and interfering with normal endocrine function.

Switch to organic, bleach-free products instead.

9. Cleaning Products

What you clean your home with can also worsen your chronic condition.

According to a study published in the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology, parabens can mimic estrogen and disrupt your body’s delicate hormonal balance. Triclosan, a synthetic antibacterial agent, has chlorinated structures that bind to your thyroid gland, which displaces central iodine, and causes chronic inflammation.

Clean your home with white vinegar, baking soda, lemon oil, or castile soap instead.

10. Cosmetics10-items-that-may-worsen-autoimmune-disease

Conventional cosmetics often contain parabens, phthalates, mercury, lead, and aluminum that have all been shown to disrupt the function of your immune system. The same goes for perfume.

The best thing you can do for your health is switch to organic cosmetics and essential oils in the place of perfume.

If you have an autoimmune disease, your home should be your safe haven.

I recommend cleaning as many potential immune system toxins out of your immediate environment as possible. After a few short months, you may notice a rise in your energy levels and a significant decrease in your flare-ups.

About the author


Dr. Craig Maxwell

Dr. Maxwell is an osteopathic physician who is board certified in integrative medicine, family medicine and osteopathic medicine. For more information and a private consultation, please visit AskDrMaxwell


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  • I never really thought about any of this. I’m really careful about the food I feed my family but I never really considered our environment like this. Great article, Dr. Maxwell!

    • Most people, especially those living in “wealthier” countries, don’t have a clue about the harmful chemicals they ingest on a regular basis – often in the name of good health.

      Thanks for your feedback Janelle!

  • Great article. Have read about each of these threats over the years. But so nice to have them summarized in one place! Easy to share with those we care about. Thank you!

  • Great tips! Autoimmune hepatitis resulted in a liver transplant for me. Just found this site. Very accurate information presented in an easy and quick reading format. Love it :)

  • Good morning. I have recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Now, my room mate and my dog have both been diagnosed with having autoimmune disease as well. Could our home be making us all sick?