Looking to make your home a healthier place for your family? Maybe the best solution is not to look at what else to do, but examine what you are already doing. The average home is a haven for toxins and chemicals that can be very damaging to health. Simply by making some small changes to your routine, you could dramatically improve the health and comfort of your home!
Bleach: Hazardous or Helpful?
Everyone has used bleach at sometime or another. It is a cheap, effective way to whiten clothes, disinfect, and kill mold and fungus. All around, bleach is a great product. The question is: what kind of bleach?
Typical chlorine bleaches can be hazardous. They are a known skin irritant and can cause people with respiratory problems, such as asthma or bronchitis, to have difficulty in breathing. In perfectly healthy people, inhalation of the fumes can cause nose and throat irritation.
So is there a better solution? Absolutely! There are non-chlorine bleaches on the market with safer chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide, like Clorox 2. Another alternative is to simply use hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar. White vinegar has been found to be an extremely effective disinfectant, with none of the health risks. Always remember though, never mix bleach or something containing bleach with other cleaners, as it can produce an extremely toxic gas.
Ammonia should be avoided. It’s unpleasant to use because of the irritation that the fumes cause to your nose and eyes. Listen to your body! If it’s irritating, it probably isn’t good for you. Many ammonia containing products contain strong fragrances to cover up the smell of the chemical. These can be just as, if not more, hazardous to children and adults with respiratory issues. Opt for an ammonia free cleaner: they are just as effective and way healthier.
Just Open a Can of Something… Or Not
The linings of metal cans contain Bisphenol-A, a toxin linked to many diseases. When food is stored in cans, the toxins in the lining can leech into food. Instead, go for fresh, frozen or dried foods. They are more flavorful, and completely safe.
In The Garden
So you come outside and look at your beautiful tomato plants and there are more weeds than plants, what to do? Reach for the weed killer? Bad idea. Weed killers contain poisons that get tracked back into the house. Not to worry, there are plenty of natural solutions for bugs and weeds in the garden.
To kill weeds, pour vinegar on them and watch them wilt and die within an hour, or pour boiling water on them. Be sure to avoid anything that is supposed to be growing there!
To get rid of pesky bugs that are ruining your garden, you can spray plants with a soap and water solution. The soap will have the bugs on the run in no time. Also, you can invite nature’s natural pesticides in: Assassin insects. An assassin insect is one who kills smaller insects, like aphids and other bugs who make a feast out of your garden. Try to include plants like anise, dill, thyme, gaura or tropical milkweed that encourage spiders and beetles to hang around and take care of aphids. Check out www.beyondpesticides .org for other tips.
Dust Got You Down?
Dust is a problem for everyone, and can become a health risk. Many older electronics, when gotten warm from use, emit PBDEs, a toxin found in the plastic. PBDEs infuse themselves into the dust settled on electronics and then are breathed in or in the case of small children, often gotten on hands and transferred to the face. Always damp dust electronics once a week to trap dust buildup.
Curtains and drapes are havens for dust and allergens. Wash them frequently in hot water (130 degrees F) to kill the allergens. Don’t forget sheets and blankets which hold allergens next to you at night.
Furniture should be vacuumed with a HEPA filter vacuum weekly to get allergens, which often carry toxins from stain guard and fire retardant chemicals common in sofas and other furniture.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Plants are nature’s air cleaners. They do a fantastic job of filtering air and making a room fresher. Instead of spraying an air freshener, consider a fern, spider plant or African violet, all of which are non-toxic to kids and pets.
With just a few small changes to your routine, you can dramatically cut the amount of harmful chemicals in your house, and make it a healthy place with all the coziness it has always had.
Jeanie Lerche Davis, “10 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Safer and Healthier”
WebMD, “Health e-Home”
Matthew Hoffman, MD, “The Best Non-Toxic Ways to Clean Your Home”