Home, sweet home! It’s where you recharge, reboot, and rejuvenate for the outside world. Isn’t it about time you return the favor?
Not convinced? Consider this: the average home is host to almost 600 chemicals. That’s right, even the tidiest home may accidentally be inviting unwelcome toxins in seemingly innocuous forms.
Don’t worry – we’re not going to recommend a juice cleanse for your abode. Just follow these six simple steps to make sure your home is as healthy as it is happy.
1. Consider a no-shoes policy
The first step is the most literal: your shoes. In addition to the obvious dirt and mud, footwear can track significant unseen grime into your home.
Just think about all the places you’ve visited while out and about: gas stations, public restrooms, city streets, and so on. One study found there’s a 26.4% chance your kicks picked up a nasty, quick-spreading bacteria known as C. diff, while another study detected traces of E. coli in the soles of city slickers.
The best and easiest way to prevent toxins from coming inside is to leave your pumps at the doorstep. (Unfortunately, merely wiping at the doormat doesn’t effectively clean your shoe bottom, but rather increases exposure to pre-existing dirt.)
As an indoor alternative, you could go barefoot, or rock designated inside slippers. Here’s how to politely enforce a shoe-free rule in your home.
2. Get squeaky clean while going green
The key component of any detox is a thorough cleanse. But before you reach for the bleach, consider the potential impact of steady exposure to such ingredients. According to the Environmental Working Group, a number of conventional cleaning products pose health risks, ranging from triggering asthma to developing cancer and reproductive issues. Lingering fumes can enter the lungs and cause additional health issues.
Since cleaning companies aren’t legally required to include a list of ingredients in their products, your best bet is to stick with certified Green Seal or ECOLOGO varieties. Steer clear of products containing ammonia and chlorine, which may cause respiratory issues and skin irritation. (You can make your own cleaning staples with a few simple, natural ingredients.)
While cleaning, the EWG recommends leaving windows open to reduce air pollution – this should speed up the detoxing process as well.
3. Look before you lather
The same natural concept applies to your skin care as well. On any given day, we apply an average of 126 unique ingredients to the body’s largest organ: our skin. And though these various bath and grooming products are intended to nourish, many actually contain potentially harmful chemicals and toxins. Your skin acts like a sponge, absorbing the ingredients – which may consequently burden your immune system.
When shopping for skin care – essentially items ranging from soaps and shampoos to shaving creams, deodorant, lotions, and even baby powder – it’s helpful to be aware of any red-flag ingredients. The EWG has an ongoing database that ranks the hazard level of more than 60,000 products, in an effort to overcome what it dubs “deficiencies in cosmetics regulations.”
To stay on the safe side, in general the EWG recommends avoiding products that contain parabens, phthalates, fragrance mixtures, and various preservatives. As an alternative, consider opting for organic companies or making your own products. Here are DIY recipes for toothpaste, deodorant, and sunscreen.
4. Eliminate potential kitchen hazards
Despite all your clean-kitchen practices, your home’s hearth could be loaded with toxins you’re not even aware of.
Plastic, for example, contains bisphenol-A (commonly referred to as “BPA”). It’s been linked to a slew of issues, ranging from early-onset puberty in females to breast cancer and infertility. BPA is found in many plastic vessels, such as water bottles and food storage, as well as most canned goods.
To rid your kitchen of this near-ubiquitous chemical, consider making a couple switches. Glass containers are generally considered safer for food storage, and cling wrap can be swapped for reusable beeswax ones. And though about 90% of us have BPA in our system, it’s got a short lifespan and will exit shortly if eliminated.
If you’re interested in totally eliminating plastic, Onya Life put together a guide on how to do so in the kitchen and beyond.
Another potential source of chemicals, besides plastic?
Your eggs’ beloved non-stick pan.
Teflon contains perfluorinated chemicals, which have been suggested to be linked to cancer, thyroid diseases, and weakened immune systems. (When placed over high heat, the emitted chemicals also kills birds.) The safest high-heat alternatives are cast iron, ceramic, and glassware.
5. Quench your thirst with cleaner water
Don’t freak out: Tap water in the U.S. is still among the safest in the world. But relatively lax regulations allow for things like herbicides to seep into pipes and taint the quality of our most vital liquid. There have even been reports that the same chemicals found in Teflon recently contaminated the water in 27 states.
And bottled water threatens more than just BPA. One study found that 22% of tested brands contained chemicals that exceeded state health limits.
So what’s your best bet for keeping your kitchen pure, while also getting hydrated?
One option is to rely on a UV home water treatment. These install directly to the sink and ensure the water is safe for drinking. You could also use it in your pool for additional toxic prevention.
Other purifying options include a solid block carbon filter, which fits under the sink and eliminates harmful contaminates without sacrificing beneficial minerals. Or you could also opt for a traditional portable filter (here are the best, ranked).
You can even filter the water in your shower – here’s how (and why).
6. Take a deep, purified breath
The air inside your home can be two to five times more polluted than its outdoor counterpart. Opening the doors and windows is one way to clean the air in your home.
But when it’s wintertime (or summer, and the A/C is cranking!), did you know you can also enlist the help of your beloved fern to eliminate indoor pollutants? The Boston Fern removes more formaldehyde than any other plant. Other go-green greens include peace lilies and the near-indestructible Golden Pothos.
Take it a step further and clean out your vents and air ducts (here’s how). Particularly sensitive types may want to invest in an air purifier, too. Even carpets may trap particles and create additional discomfort.
Going forward, remember to ventilate while cooking, eliminate odors with baking soda rather than processed air fresheners, and pay special attention to the air during cleaning, when dust is more likely to rise.
These six simple steps will restore your home to the haven it is, and likely reduce health risks to boot.
Top image via A Beautiful Mess
This article was written by Marie Nieves, a student and a blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets, and creative ideas. For her articles, she often consults decor specialists, home organization experts, and other blogger experts.