This post covers less toxic options for all kitchen appliances including fridges, trash compactors, dishwashers, ovens, stoves, and washing machines. I also take a look at less toxic sinks.
This post contains affiliate links. Upon purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
A propane-powered refrigerator should be OK if you do not have enough amps to power an electric one. Propane-powered fridge vents fully to the outside and could be acceptable in a trailer with a small electrical load.
Consider using a bar-sized, or apartment-sized refrigerator to save on your electric bill. My fridge is 3.1 cubic feet and it’s a perfect size for me.
Offgas it First
I left mine running in a garage for a month before using it. Some people find stainless fridges offgas less than the plastic ones, others disagree.
Buying the floor model is beneficial for some people.
Washing out all residues from new fridges can help.
Brands that are Lower in Offgassing
Even top-of-the-line glass door fridges don’t necessarily offgas less than regular ones. You will want to sniff as many brands as you can.
Another very sensitive blogger, Janis, reports that Sunfrost Refrigerators use fiberglass instead of plastic. But, they will bake it at high heat before they ship it to offgas it in advance. Their fridge uses less electricity than a normal fridge (fewer EMFs). They are pricey at $3000-$4000.
Recently (2019) I have heard reports of GE being a more tolerable brand but I would go and sniff them yourself unless you are only mildly sensitive. In 2023, another reader reported the same.
Some like the Whirlpool brand two-door stainless models.
Some sensitive folks reported that the LG French Doors line has a lower chemical odor (source).
If you’re wondering why all fridges have a Prop 65 warning on them, this article explains that.
Less Toxic Dishwashers
Stainless Steel Interior
Dishwashers with a stainless steel interior like those made by Bosch, Miele, and Whirlpool use bitumen or asphalt as an insulation and sound-dampening layer. Though Miele’s bitumen should be fully encased (and some sensitive folks have done well with it).
Many sensitive folks can pick up offgassing odors from these.
Some bitumen layers are between blanket reflective sound barriers, others are baked or sprayed on.
They used to use fiberglass or mineral wool.
The other option is a plastic (polypropylene) interior. Not everybody sensitive has done better with the plastic option, and some do prefer the stainless steel dishwashers.
Polypropylene does not usually contain BPA, BPS, or phthalates. I consider this a safe plastic. This option should not have asphalt or bitumen sound insulation like the stainless steel interior options. They do often have fiberglass around the plastic.
It could pick up secondary orders more easily than stainless steel – so if you’re in a rental or if you’re buying secondhand this may not be ideal.
Some brands that sensitive folks have liked include Electrolux, Frigidaire, and GE Integrated models. I have the Frigidaire FFBD2406NB which is plastic on the interior with no bitumen on the exterior, only fiberglass (this was 2021).
Another very sensitive person recently found this model to be good: Samsung Storm Wash 24 stainless steel, model number: DW80R5061US.
Look for nylon-coated wire racks (not PVC). Most racks are now made with nylon.
Leak-Prevention on Dishwashers
Miele and Bosch have internal leak detectors. You should also install a metal pan with a drain under the dishwasher.
Some stainless steel sinks have a sound absorption layer under the sink which you can see very clearly when looking at the underside. It could be a foam and/or bitumen layer. It does completely offgas with time, in my experience. Other than that possibly being an issue when new for chemically sensitive folks, stainless steel sinks are great.
Porcelain and enameled cast iron sinks have glazing that can contain lead. Sinks made prior to the 1980s are a higher risk, but current-day sinks can still contain heavy metals. As the glazing wears down these toxins can leach. The lead testing post has more detail. If you test the sinks for heavy metals (as outlined in that post) this can be a great option.
Stone (marble etc.) sinks are great in theory. You just need to think about the sealer used there. Dark stones are ideal because then you can use an all-natural walnut oil sealer. Light stones require a synthetic sealer – the best one is listed here. (I personally would never go with a light stone sink, as they stain easily and the only sealer options are synthetic and they don’t always protect it from stains).
Composite sinks will be fine for most people, but the extremely sensitive will definitely want to check those out. They do offgas rather quickly, so it’s not a long-term problem. The countertop post goes over these composite materials and what they are made of.
I have no problem with copper sinks, though personally I do not drink or eat out of anything copper (like copper pipes, copper mugs, etc.), I’m fine with it as a sink.
Non-Toxic Trash Compactors
Many trash compactors come with a built-in deodorizing system that may contain VOCs in the form of formaldehyde, phenols, or paradichlorobenzene.
Less Toxic Ovens
All new ovens that I have seen have a fairly prominent offgassing odor. I have heard from one person that Mielle ovens have minimal offgassing.
If you’re in a rental I would certainly clean out any harsh cleaning products that may have been used before you turn on the oven.
If it’s brand new I would suggest that the chemically sensitive run this in a garage or outside of your space to offgas it for as long as needed. Before moving into my tiny house, my new oven was offgassed for a month. It needs to run to offgas. How many hours you need to run it would very much depend on your level of sensitivity. Be sure to take safety precautions and not run it for too many consecutive hours.
I do not know of any ovens that don’t have PFAS-based non-stick walls.
Two oven brands sold in North America are RoHS certified which is “Restriction of Hazardous Substances”, also known as Directive 2002/95/EC, originated in the European Union and restricts the use of specific hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products The substances banned under RoHS are lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (CrVI), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), and four different phthalates (DEHP, BBP, BBP, DIBP). The brands are Liebherr and Blomberg.
Self-cleaning ovens produce carcinogenic polynuclear aromatics.
Non-Toxic Toaster Ovens
My article on non-toxic toaster ovens looks at brands that don’t have PFAS coatings, don’t use aluminum in contact with food (or have easily replaceable aluminum parts), and even don’t have a Prop 65 warning.
The chemically sensitive person might want to avoid gas and propane appliances. Especially gas stoves, which will be the largest emitter of fumes.
While some highly EMF-sensitive folks prefer gas appliances, like gas stoves, most chemically sensitive folks prefer electric.
Note that natural gas used in such as some ranges, dryers, and hot water heaters, may emit benzene, carbon monoxide, or formaldehyde when in use. “Benzene is present in natural gas, and carbon monoxide and formaldehyde are created when natural gas is burned. Consumers may be exposed to significant amounts of these chemicals, especially if the appliances are not properly vented.” Prop 65 website.
Gas appliances can also release carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and nitrous oxides into the air.
It’s a good idea to have a range over your stove that vents to the outside to reduce humidity and prevent mold in the home.
Less Toxic Washing Machines
Although not necessarily in the kitchen, with washing machines it’s best to go with a top loader.
Though a front loader can be carefully maintained and cleaned in many cases for mold prevention.
For a top loader, it is best to use a model with a metal drum. Look for gear drive, not belt drive, if you’re super sensitive.
Some of the Samsung models have been recommended by chemically sensitive folks. Many very sensitive folks like the Speed Queen.
If you’re looking for brands without the Prop 65 warning, this post covers that.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.