Detoxing Your Home:
How to Eliminate Cancer-Causing Toxins From Your House
BY KAMEA CHAYNE
just because your home is clean, doesn’t mean its free of toxins. in order to create a truly healthy, cancer-free space, you need to consciously detox your home of not-so-obvious synthetic chemicals that are often lurking throughout your house. photo: tiberio frascari
There is no place like home—the warm, memory-filled dwelling you grew up in, the place you return to at the end of a long day, and the sanctuary that rejuvenates you before you go back to face the outside world. Of course, you want this place to be safe, peaceful and free from household toxins—a place that helps you de-stress and unwind from the fast-paced modern world.
You spray some air freshener to freshen up the air in your home, and then you calmly take a deep breath to inhale the lavender, lemon-infused scent. But beware: You are probably also taking in some volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—substances that can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat, damage your central nervous system and other organs, and might even be carcinogenic. Unfortunately, VOCs—which ideally are the first and easiest things to detox from your home—come not only from typical air fresheners, but also from paints and building supplies, toilet deodorizers, mothballs, other aerosol spray products (e.g., hairspray, aerosol sunscreen), chlorine bleach, detergent, cheap candles, and dry-cleaning chemical residues. Indoor air pollution can also come from dust (some is shed from garment fibers); lead from wall paint or drinking water; formaldehyde from pressed wood products, combustion sources, or even clothing; and smoke from residential wood, cheap candles, or incense burning, among many, many others.
According to the World Health Organization, 3.8 million premature deaths every year from noncommunicable diseases such as stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and lung cancer can be attributed to exposure to household air pollution. Can your safe haven be slowly damaging your health? Clearly there is good reason to detox your home.
Many of us overlook the problem of air pollution by thinking it is only a problem for the outdoors. However, the air inside your office and home can also be polluted by various sources: household products, pesticides, materials used in the building, etc. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), indoor air can be more seriously polluted with household toxins than outdoor air, even in the most industrialized cities. Since most of us spend a lot of our time indoors, we need to shop mindfully for our home products: cleaning supplies, furniture, home decor, wall paint, etc. and make every effort to detox our homes.
Healthy Home Habits
To help you get started, here is a list of tips to help you reduce indoor air pollution and detox your home:
+ Do not smoke inside.
+ Avoid burning wood, cheap and scented candles and non-natural, low-quality incense indoors.
+ Use high-quality soy or beeswax-based candles over cheap ones made with paraffin wax.
+ Cover your trash, and do not leave food out in the open.
+ Ventilate your home often.
Conscious Lifestyle Recommends:
100% Natural, Raw Beeswax Air Cleaning Candle
Beeswax candles have been proving to clean the air in your house by releasing negative ions when they burn, which then bind to VOC’s and other aerosol toxins making them completely inert and harmless. Beautifully and naturally fragrant, beeswax candles clean your air as they provide gentle mood lighting.
Detox Your Home Care
+ Avoid aerosol spray cans for air fresheners and household cleaners.
+ Avoid pesticides within your home, and address the source of the problem instead (i.e., not leaving food out).
+ Look for simple, biodegradable household cleaning products that disclose all ingredients used.
Conscious Lifestyle Recommends:
Seventh Generation Biodegradable Free & Clear All-Purpose Cleaner
Toxin-free, 100% biodegradable all-purpose household cleaner (that actually works and cleans deeply!) perfect for detoxing your home. Affordable, high-quality, safe for you, your family, your pets and the planet.
+ Look for household cleaning products labeled “no fragrance.”
+ Toss out expired or unneeded chemicals and products safely.
+ Vacuum and dust your home frequently.
+ Get your tap water tested for lead and other chemical pollutants. While most city water is tested and is free of contaminants, pollutants can enter your tap water from old pipes or household plumbing.
Conscious Lifestyle Recommends:
Aquagear Countertop Water Purifier & Filter: Removes Lead, Flouride, Chlorine and More
Five-stage, long-lasting water filter removes lead, heavy metals, pesticides, chemicals, pollutants and other contaminants from your water while leaving health boosting minerals. Perfect to use for detoxifying your tap water. Filters and pitcher are 100% BPA free and made of food-grade materials. Convenient, quick-fill design makes purifying your water affordable and simple.
Detoxing Your Home Furnishings
+ Choose non-PVC wall paint and floor finishes.
+ Choose solid wood over pressed wood.
+ Choose formaldehyde-free insulation and furnishing materials when remodeling your home.
+ Ventilate your home well when refurbishing.
To effectively detox your home, try to be more careful about what home products you buy. This means looking past the soothing appearances of the next paint color you want for your walls, the relaxing scents of your air deodorizers and household cleaners, and the stylish look of the new rug you want for your bedroom. Instead, ask these questions:
+ Is the brand transparent about what their products are made of?
+ Does the brand care about people and our planet’s health?
+ Are there any certifications, such as the “Safer Choice Label” recently developed by the U.S. EPA, that can affirm their safety record?
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Since companies are not required to list their ingredients, those that openly tell you what their products comprise are usually your most trusted options when it comes to detoxing your home. For example, Mrs. Meyer’s and Method are household supply brands that do an incredible job of disclosing every ingredient used in their products while also informing consumers of each ingredient’s function and properties.
After checking the ingredient list, look out for certifications indicating that the product is biodegradable and made without petroleum-based chemicals. Additionally, if the products have warning labels such as “DANGER” or “POISON,” you probably do not want them lurking in your house.
As the CPSC noted, source control is the most effective solution to indoor air pollution. Therefore, the best way to detox your home is to prevent polluting sources from entering it in the first place and eliminating potentially hazardous wastes from sitting around in your house. In other words, practice healthier home-care habits, shop mindfully for your self-care, fashion, and home products, simplify the number of household products you use, and find ones with simple, clearly labeled ingredient lists. Otherwise, try the following home remedies that have been tested as safe and effective by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute Laboratory so you won’t have to worry about any potential unknown pollutants.
Conscious Lifestyle Recommends:
Guardian Technologies Active Air Cleaning Filtration System
Powerful HEPA Filter captures 99.97% of chemicals and allergens as small as .3 microns such as household dust, pet dander, mold spores, VOC’s and plant pollens. Charcoal filter reduces common odors from pets, smoking and cooking. UV-C light technology works with Titanium Dioxide to eliminate airborne chemicals bacteria, viruses, germs and mold spores making it an essential component of detoxing your home.
All Natural Home Remedies for Household Cleaning
Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart warm water. Wipe and scrub to clean. No rinsing needed.
Add 2 tablespoons borax, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 2 cups hot water into a spray bottle. Spray and wipe to clean.
Metal surfaces (such as the oven)
Mix 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil soap, 2 tablespoons of borax, and 6 ounces warm water in a spray bottle. Spray on surface and use an abrasive pad for extra cleaning. Leave on for 20 minutes and wipe away.
Aluminum and copper surfaces (like those for pots and pans)
Soak in 50:50 water and vinegar mixture for at least 15 minutes (or overnight) and rinse.
Bathroom surfaces cleaner (such as ceramic, plastic, and metal)
Mix 1/4 cup vinegar in one gallon of water to wipe or scrub.
Window surfaces with glass and chrome
Mix 50:50 vinegar and water to wipe clean.
Lower Environmental Impact, Lower Utility Bills
To truly turn your home into an environmentally conscious, fully detoxed home, you must also minimize your energy and water use and the amount of waste you generate. The upside of this mindset is that it will be better for the environment, your health, and your savings account.
For example, you can save electricity by taking full advantage of natural daylight and going to sleep when it becomes dark outside. Slowly dimming your lights to mimic the gradual fading of natural daylight as it nears your bedtime can help you to sleep better. In addition, waking up to natural daylight can also help you wake up more easily in the morning. So, turn down your lights as the evening progresses, and open up all of your curtains during the day to take advantage of natural sunlight.
Conscious Lifestyle Recommends:
Arcadia Power: Sign Up For Free Clean Energy For Your Home & Apartment
Arcadia Power lets you access clean energy for your home or apartment in all 50 states. It only takes three minutes to setup and is free. For those interested in supporting renewable energy, this is a no-brainer.
Another way to detox your home is to reduce your energy usage is to lessen your use of air conditioners and heaters. Do you ever find 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius) to be cold when summer first transitions into autumn, but hot when winter transitions into spring? This is because our bodies are capable of adjusting to varying temperatures to a certain extent, which means there is no one perfect room temperature you must maintain in your home.
be mindful of your body. Are you really burning up and need some cold air (i.e., you must use your air conditioner), or will it suffice to open the window or turn on the fan to gain a little ventilation? Are you really freezing, or can you just throw on another sweater and a pair of socks? Our bodies are extremely complex, and thermal regulation is one of their natural functions. So, mind your body and give it a few minutes to adjust to a new environment before deciding you need to turn on the air conditioning or heater.
In addition to minimizing your use of lights, AC, and heaters, here are some other tips on how to detox your home and save electricity:
+ Turn off your electronics when you are not using them. They can still use up to 60% of power when on “standby.”
+ Unplug your chargers from their sockets when not in use.
+ Use energy-efficient light bulbs, such as LED lighting.
+ Wash your clothes with cold water instead of hot water.
+ Air-dry your clothes instead of using the dryer, if possible.
+ Shower with warm, not hot, water (which is also healthier for your skin).
+ Do not leave your refrigerator doors open.
Conscious Lifestyle Recommends:
Energy Saving LED Natural Spectrum Light Bulbs
Warm, natural spectrum LED light bulbs are exceptionally long-lasting and use minimal electricity, helping you to save the planet effortlessly, just by making a simple switch.
If you are refurbishing your home, install better insulation into your walls so they will keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Creating An Eco-Sanctuary
To transform your home into a healthy and relaxing sanctuary, let us turn to the concept of biophilia, the theory backed by evidence that we have an innate need to affiliate with nature and can obtain health benefits from simple exposures to natural landscapes. If you are not going to be spending the majority of your time outdoors, maybe you can obtain similar benefits by inviting the outdoors into your newly detoxed home.
Why not recreate the soothing experience of being enveloped by nature inside of your toxin free home? For example, you can accessorize your interiors with air purifying indoor plants. Although they may not be able to get rid of all your indoor air pollutants, they can help to naturally freshen up your air! When shopping for plants, look for species endemic to your region to help preserve your local species diversity and prevent problems with invasive species, which are nonnative animals, plants, or pathogens to an ecosystem that are likely to cause harm if introduced.
The Air Purifying Plant Superpack
The good folks over at Emeritus Garden Plants have put together an Air Purifying Plants Superpack that contains all of the four NASA studied and approved air purifying plants. These are the most powerful air-cleaning and home detoxifying plants known to man.
When it comes to having air cleaning plants in your home, the rule of thumb is the more the better. Each plant pumps out loads of fresh oxygen and cleans toxins and harmful VOC’s out of the air just how nature intended. If you are ready to go all in and upgrade your indoor air quality, exponentially, this is for you.
Learn More: The Air Cleaning Plant Superpack
To simulate nature in your home in ways other than bringing in plants, you can decorate your indoor space with other elements from nature. For example, you can use wooden furniture or wooden home accessories for interior decor, or hang paintings or photographs reminiscent of nature. When buying forest products such as paper, notebooks, wooden furniture, or wooden accessories, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification to ensure the material was harvested from sustainably managed forests. Alternatively, look for toxin-free products made with reclaimed wood or post-consumer recycled materials. To avoid chemical pollutants such as formaldehyde from entering your detoxed house, choose minimally-finished wooden products made with solid wood over pressed wood, an engineered material made from artificially bonding wood shavings together.
This way, you will be inviting the outdoors in with minimal environmental and health impacts and keeping your home properly detoxed of harmful chemicals. Once you have detoxified your home, reduced the environmental impacts of your house, and styled your personal space with elements from nature, you will have built for yourself an eco-sanctuary you can return to every night for true rejuvenation and worry-free relaxation.
This article on detoxifying your home is excerpted with permission from Thrive: An Environmentally Conscious Lifestyle Guide to Better Health and True Wealth by Kamea Chayne.
About The Author
Kamea Chayne is the content curator of Kamea World and the author of Thrive, an evidence-based guide to healthy living. Through her multi-disciplinary studies and her multicultural background, she developed a particular interest in the relationship between human health and world sustainability. By proposing a broadened perspective on health—one that encompasses the health of the mind, body, and our collective environment—Chayne hopes to empower others to cultivate meaning and create sustainability in all areas of life. Visit her website: kchayne.com