After an entire day of putting yourself at the mercy of traffic emissions, factory smoke, decaying garbage and landfill debris, you breathe a huge sigh of relief as you open the door to your home. Finally in the “safe” zone, right?
That lavender-scented air freshener you’re about to spray is full of volatile cancer-causing compounds. That so-called antibacterial handwash you’re reaching out for probably contains sodium lauryl sulfate, also used as an engine degreaser. The wall-to-wall carpeting that makes you feel so cozy is probably a breeding ground for fleas and dust-mites, not to mention all the dust that’s sitting trapped in between those fibers.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.3 million people a year die from the exposure to household air pollution while others face a higher risk of diseases and ailments like asthma, conjunctivitis, insulin resistance, and cancer.1 2
So enough with those green detox juices, it’s time to start thinking about detoxing your home for a greener, healthier lifestyle. No need to start ripping up your rugs or tossing out furniture though; let’s start with 6 baby steps.
1. Leave Your Shoes Outside
Sure, you can be grateful to your shoes for keeping you from treating on dust, road sealants, pesticides, and drainage water but that doesn’t mean you need to bring them into your house. Put your shoe stand outside the main door as a reminder to you and to your guests that outdoor shoes are not welcome inside your house.
2. Adopt Some Indoor Plants
Start adopting the succulent trend; it’s good for you.
Houseplants purify the air around you by giving you more oxygen to breathe and filtering out harmful toxins. Extensive research conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has revealed that houseplants can remove up to 87 percent of air toxin in just a span of 24 hours.3
Research also claims that active interaction with indoor plants suppresses the part of the nervous system that reacts to stress, and can thus help lower anxiety and boost your mood to make you feel more positive.
Avoid plants with flowers, especially if you have zero gardening experience, as they may require quite a bit of maintenance. Indoor ornamental plants like bonsai trees or hanging terrariums, however, can be perfect for the corner mantlepiece or a window sill!
3. Open Up Those Windows
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), outdoor air is much less polluted than indoor air.4 Unless you live by a freeway, open up your windows whenever the weather permits for some healthy air circulation.
4. Ditch Your Air Fresheners For Essential Oils
Air fresheners are nothing but a dangerous cocktail of all sorts of unlabeled toxic chemicals such as benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde, to name a few. Furthermore, the fragrance that reaches your nose is also loaded with harmful compounds that could also double up as pest-poison. Because the toxic particulate matter in air fresheners are microscopic in nature, they can lodge themselves deep into your body. For this reason, it may be years before you start noticing yourself falling a frequent victim to eye or skin irritations, headaches, and respiratory problems. On a much deeper level, you could even experience damaging effects on your hormones, heart, lungs, and central nervous system.5
Also, air fresheners don’t really make the air around you either fresh or clean; instead, they just mask the foul odors. Smells come from a source, and a more sustainable method of keeping your space odor-free is to get rid of that source. If, however, you enjoy a good scent in your home, opt for essential oils. You could use a plug-in aromatherapy diffuser or a reed diffuser to dissipate the fragrance around the rooms. Essential oils are completely natural sans any chemicals, and they not just repel insects but also help you relax and sleep well!
5. Make Your House A Non-Smoking Zone
Forget about the dangers of cigarette smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke. We now have thirdhand smoke to worry about and the problem is very, very real.
The sticky, toxic particulate matter like nicotine clings to walls, ceilings, and surrounding upholsteries, re-emit back into the air around us, and combine with the already existing environmental pollutants. Studies have found that residual nicotine can react with common indoor air pollutants to respectively form carcinogenic compounds and ultrafine particulate matter that can pass through the human tissue.6
Thirdhand may contribute to weaker immunity, brain and liver damage, genotoxicity, and an increased risk of cancer. What makes this worse is that the high level of toxicity caused by thirdhand smoke remains in the air around us long after the person has stopped. Once this smoke residue builds up, even measures such as opening the windows to air out rooms and routine cleanings are not enough to get rid of it.7 8
Therefore insist on making your home a non-smoking zone every day, no matter what the occasion is, or which guest you have over. Plus, if you’re a smoker yourself and you have to go out each time you need to indulge, chances are you’re going to stop smoking pretty soon (or so we hope!).
6. Ditch Store-Bought For DIY
Natural do-it-yourself (DIY) cleaners are chemical-free and will help you save money because they are so easy to make with stuff that you already have in your pantry!
- Mold eradicator: Tea tree oil is very helpful in getting rid of mold, one of the main contributors to poor indoor air quality. All you need to do is mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water in a plastic spray bottle, spray over the infected areas and wipe off with a rag.
- Carpet deodorizer: Bicarb soda can easily be used to deodorize your carpets. Sprinkle it around, run the vacuum machine over your carpet, and smell the difference!
- All purpose cleaning solution: Mix 3 parts water with 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle. Add in a few drops of tea tree oil and shake well. This will do a great job in cleaning up your kitchen counter and your dirty sink!
- Kitchenware cleaner: Peels from lemon, oranges, grapefruits, and limes can be used to scrub your dirty kitchenware to bring them to a sparkling shine.
|↑1||Household (Indoor) Air Pollution. World Health Organization.|
|↑2||Apte, Komalkirti, and Sundeep Salvi. “Household air pollution and its effects on health.” F1000Research 5 (2016).|
|↑3||Plants Clean Air and Water for Indoor Environments. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.|
|↑4||The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality. United States Environmental Protection Agency.|
|↑5||Kim, Sanghwa, Seong-Ho Hong, Choon-Keun Bong, and Myung-Haing Cho. “Characterization of air freshener emission: the potential health effects.” The Journal of toxicological sciences 40, no. 5 (2015): 535-550.|
|↑6, ↑8||Hang, Bo, Altaf H. Sarker, Christopher Havel, Saikat Saha, Tapas K. Hazra, Suzaynn Schick, Peyton Jacob III et al. “Thirdhand smoke causes DNA damage in human cells.” Mutagenesis 28, no. 4 (2013): 381-391.|
|↑7||Adhami, Neema, Yuxin Chen, and Manuela Martins-Green. “Biomarkers of disease can be detected in mice as early as 4 weeks after initiation of exposure to third-hand smoke levels equivalent to those found in homes of smokers.” Clinical Science 131, no. 19 (2017): 2409-2426.|