Is your home in need of a detox? While it might be clean enough to eat your dinner off the floor, your home might not actually be particularly healthy. Things you probably haven’t even have considered, such as the chemicals in wall paints, additives in your soft furnishings, and everyday cleaning products could be emitting harmful toxins into the air that cause headaches, asthma and other health problems.
But there is a lot you can do to minimis e these invisible toxins in your home and improve the air quality – from little things such as opening the windows whenever possible to ventilate your interiors, and switching over to natural, non toxic home cleaning products, to bigger decisions such as choosing natural, untreated furnishings.
First step to a healthy home? Ditch the commercial cleaning products. They might give your home a sparkling shine, but they can leave chemical nasties behind. Switch to natural, non toxic home cleaners instead; you can buy them in store or online, or save money by making your own with things you probably already have at home – all you’ll need are a couple of spray bottles and away you go.
Vinegar is a versatile home cleaner; mix one part vinegar with one part water and pour into a spray bottle to clean and disinfect kitchen benchtops, stovetop and bathrooms (but don’t use on marble as it could stain).
Lemon is another star performer. Mix lemon with a little salt to rub away stubborn stains in home furnishings or clothes. Or remove any lingering smells in the fridge by popping half a cut lemon on the shelf overnight.
Our grandmothers couldn’t have done their household chores without bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and it’s easy to see why; it’s a powerful, natural cleaner for kitchen benchtops and bathroom surfaces, it removes burnt on food at the bottom of pots, and it even cleans and freshens carpet.
Studies show that the air inside your home could be up to five times as polluted as the air outside. Breathe fresh air into your living spaces by opening up the windows as often as possible and adding a few indoor plants to help purify the air. Air pillows and bedding regularly, and vacuum mattress surfaces with the upholstery attachment. It’s also worth cutting down on your reliance on artificial heating and cooling at home which has been shown to trigger colds and asthma.
Electrical devices such as computers, printers and scanners emit harmful rays that you’d probably rather not expose your little ones to, plus they pose a safety hazard. Limit the number of electrical items you keep in your main living spaces to just the essentials, such as the television and DVD player, and keep the rest elsewhere in the home. Make the most of natural light that’s gentle on the eyes and soothing for the soul, rather than rely on harsh, artificial lighting (you’ll save money too!)
Ever wondered where that freshly painted smell actually comes from? It’s the toxic chemicals in paint, which can be released into your home’s atmosphere for years after application. Fortunately most of the major paint names have now released great quality, eco friendly paint ranges that won’t harm the environment or your family’s health. Look for labels that state low VOC (volatile organic compound), low- or non- toxic, or choose completely natural, organic paints. When it comes to woodwork and furniture stains, opt for non toxic, water based finishes.
Most furniture, bedding and soft furnishings that you bring into your home has been chemically treated in some way, and can release harmful chemicals into the environment for years after you’ve lugged in that new sofa or pile of cushions. Seek out natural, environmentally friendly alternatives – untreated, organic cotton and linen coloured with natural dyes, and solid timbers rather than pressed wood, which is often treated with dangerous formaldehyde. If you’ve decided to go down the wall to wall carpet route at home, choose untreated pure wool or other natural flooring such as sisal or jute, rather than chemically treated synthetics.
If anyone in your home suffers from asthma or respiratory problems, be vigilant about keeping dust at bay. Vacuum your home regularly with a cleaner fitted with a high-efficiency HEP filter, which will remove more invisible allergens and dust than a regular cleaner, and dust furniture with a damp cloth. And don’t forget about those easy to overlook dust traps, such as behind the fridge and dryer. It’s also a good idea to invest in pillow and mattress protectors to stop dust mites from getting into bedding.
Keep dust, dirt and other nasties outside by asking guests to remove their shoes before them come into your home. Or at the very least, lay a doormat outside the front door.
A healthy home is one that’s dry, clean and free from toxins. Mould and mildew produce harmful bacteria, but they will only grow in moist areas of the home, so mop up any damp spots around sinks, showers and baths, and keep an eye out for leaky taps and pipes. Consider installing an extractor fan in high moisture areas such as the bathroom, kitchen and laundry. And watch out for signs of moisture build up around the home such as lifting floorboards and bubbling paint and wallpaper.