Overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that the air in our homes is polluted, and illness caused by these pollutants can cause a serious threat to our health.
But detoxing your home doesn't have to be overwhelming. It can be affordable and simple. Just a couple of changes can improve the health of your home, everyone in it and the planet itself.
Removing this stress will give us the power - and the breathing room - to maintain our health or recover and heal.
1. Avoid or Limit Exposure to Harmful Chemicals
Cleaning products are one of the most toxic categories of products found in homes. These products are absorbed through the skin, inhaled into the lungs and ingested as chemical residue, which remains after dishes, laundry, or other household items have been washed.
They have been linked to congenital disabilities, asthma, cancer, headaches, learning difficulties, neurological problems and more.
How to tell if a cleaning product should be thrown out?
Look for these labels:
- CAUTION, WARNING or DANGER
- Warnings of EYE, SKIN or RESPIRATORY IRRITATION
- Directions recommending RUBBER GLOVES or MASK
- Directions that require VENTILATION while using the product
- Instructions for HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL
- A COMBUSTIBLE or FLAMMABLE warning
- CHLORINE BLEACH - Classified as a pesticide, it is highly irritating and corrosive to the skin, lungs and eyes.
- DISINFECTANT or SANITIZER
- FRAGRANCE or UNSCENTED - unscented products can still be highly toxic
- Parabens, phthalates, SLS
2. Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
After you've tossed out your cleaning supplies full of chemicals, it's time to look for "green" cleaners that don't contain chlorine or ammonia. Choose one that says "petroleum-free," "biodegradable," or "phosphate-free."
Or DIY a cleaner yourself with these tips:
- Use vinegar in substitute of bleach, baking soda to scrub tiles and hydrogen peroxide to remove stains.
- Vinegar is also suitable for removing grease and soap buildup.
- Try diluted lemon juice or vinegar as a window cleaner.
3. Get House Dust Under Control
House dust aggravates allergies. It also contains more hazardous chemicals than you may think, including lead, fire retardants, pesticides and other chemicals.
If you have wall-to-wall carpeting (aka a dust collector), you may want to think of changing your flooring to wood, cork, tile or non-vinyl linoleum. However, if that's not an option, you just need to vacuum meticulously - in the corners, along the floorboards and moving furniture to get those dust bunnies.
Make sure you have a strong suction vacuum with a HEPA filter. Be sure to frequently vacuum (2-3 times weekly) and empty the bag/filter every time, so dust doesn't spew back into the air.
4. Avoid Pesticides.
Pesticides kill unwanted insects around the house or in the lawn/garden. But overexposure and chronic small exposures can put children at risk of a range of health problems. Pesticides have been linked to causing asthma, learning disabilities, and problems with brain development.
Instead, learn about non-chemical ways of reducing indoor and lawn pests.
5. Filter your Tap Water.
Drinking tap water is recommended over drinking bottled water. Researchers from the Environmental Working Group tested 10 of the best-selling water bottle brands. They found mixtures of 38 contaminants, including bacteria, fertilizer and industrial chemicals - all at levels similar to those found in tap water.
Here's the kicker: Tap water is regulated by the EPA, which requires yearly reports identifying the contaminants found in local water sources. On the other hand, bottled water has no such requirement and is regulated by the FDA.
Although your local water company filters tap water, it still comes with contaminants, including lead, chlorine, E. coli and pesticides. Simply filtering your tap water can remove a lot of these pollutants.
Buy a water filter, change the filter regularly, and at the same time, you'll cut down on buying plastic bottles - and tossing them out.
6. Wash Your Hands
It's no surprise that frequent hand washing prevents germs from getting passed around. But for young children, hand-washing is essential, so toxins in house dust don't end up on a toddler's hands or in their mouth.
Tip: Skip antibacterial soap - As researchers believe, it leads to weakened immune systems and possibly more cases of asthma and allergies.
7. Stop Using Dryer Sheets
It's been found that fragrances in laundry products are linked to headaches, skin irritation, and breathing difficulties. Dryer sheets make clothes more flammable, less absorbent and harder to dry.
Wool-Dryer balls are an excellent, natural alternative. They go in the dryer with your clothes, and as the balls bounce around, they help air circulation to dry clothes faster, with less static.
Once that cycle is done, you can reuse the balls over and over. You’re getting over a year's use from one set!
8. Be Careful with Canned Foods and Plastic Bottles.
The safety of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics, is still being debated. These plastics are used in some water bottles, baby bottles, and epoxy resins that line metal products like canned foods.
The FDA claims BPA is safe for use. However, another government report shows concern about effects on the brain, prostate gland, and behaviour in fetuses, infants, and children.
What can you do to limit exposure to BPA?
- Look for safer water bottles or baby bottles. Choose either tempered glass bottles or plastic bottles made of cloudy plastics like polyethylene or polypropylene. Recycling symbols 1,2, or 5 are generally safe.
- Eat fewer canned foods.
- Don't microwave with cling wraps. Put food in a glass or ceramic dish, then cover with wax paper or paper towel.
- Don't microwave plastic food containers. Heat can break down plastic fibers.
- Use glass or ceramic containers to store or microwave foods.
9. Decorate with Plants
Bring nature indoors, and your lungs will thank you. Air-cleaning plants don't just make your rooms look pretty. They detox your home by removing pollutants like ammonia (found in cleaning products) and formaldehyde (found in furniture).
An assortment of 15-20 plants in a 2,000 sq foot house should do the trick. Create group displays in each room for maximum air-cleaning effect. Best antitoxin choices are spider plants, philodendrons and rubber plants.
10. Stop Smoking
If you're still a smoker, it's time to kick the habit. An estimated 40% of America's children are exposed to secondhand smoke at home, and it's the biggest trigger of asthma in those children.
A doctor or mental health professional can help suggest an approach to quitting smoking that best suits your needs. Set a quit date, and make sure you stick to it.
Written by: Melissa Ureten