Detoxifying Your Home
You all know how much I love sharing bone broth benefits and restoring collagen for a happier gut and more radiant skin. But there’s another area I’d like to cover with you that needs some addressing. So today I’d like to switch gears a bit and explore other ways you can work on your healthy living goals. Along with what we are putting into our bodies to help boost our immune system and fight off the signs of aging, our home environment should be another priority on our list.
Did you know that the quality of air inside your home could actually be two to five times more harmful to you than the air outside? That's a scary thought if you're already battling asthma, allergies, or a variety of other medical conditions, making it difficult for your lungs to do their job. We usually think of dust and pet dander as some of the leading pollutants in our home, but it doesn't stop there. In fact, there are many items in your home that could be lowering your air quality and may lead to a variety of possible health issues.
Carcinogens in your cleaning products, as well as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) found in particular carpets, paints, and furniture materials, are all contributors to reduced air quality and health. Let's take a look at several items and products you may be using that could be keeping you from ensuring healthy living.
There are many things you can do to be proactive and ensure you’re on the right path to healthy living. There may even be a few helpful tips here that you haven’t considered yet.Even starting with a few small changes is a great start to improving your health and home.
Not So Clean Cleaning Products
I know. Some of you are wondering how all your cleaning efforts could actually be doing damage to your health. But they are. Choose cleaning supplies that are made with natural ingredients instead of harmful synthetic chemicals. Many of your cleaners are creating fumes that cause damage to your lungs. Ammonia, bleach, and your favorite scented air deodorizers are releasing dangerous levels of VOCs into your home. Instead, try switching to safe, all-natural cleaners you can find for every area in your home. Healthy living is all about making changes, right? Here are a few suggestions to help get you started.
Wipes are always perfect to have on hand throughout the house. You’ll disinfect and cut through grime and grease while leaving behind a fresh scent of sage and citrus. Check out my favorite go-to natural wipes.
Aromatherapy for the Bathroom
I love the fresh scent of lemon verbena, so I'm a huge fan of an all-natural cleaner that will have my bathroom sparkling with the added bonus of fresh lemons. My bathroom is my self-care haven, so getting rid of hard water stains, soap scum, and build-up is a must. You won't find chlorine or formaldehyde in this tub and tile cleaner!
Even your laundry detergent may be cause for alarm. Think of the chemicals you’ve been using to wash your clothing, towels, and bedding. The items that are then touching your skin you’ve been working so hard to protect. If you love lavender as much as I do, I have an amazing natural laundry detergent you may want to try.
Plants can dramatically improve your indoor air quality. In fact, a NASA study from 1989 reported that indoor plants could help remove many VOCs. This was vital in finding a safe way to send astronauts to live in a space station unable to get fresh air. From this study, NASA recommended one indoor plant for every 100 square feet of space. And besides, what's better than combing healthy living routines with a little home decor? Some of the most commonly used household plants include:
- Boston Fern
- Spider Plant
- Lady Palm
- Snake Plant
- Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
- English Ivy
- Red-Edged Dracaena
Are you guilty of not changing out your air filters regularly? Your air filter works as a trap for small particles while your air conditioner works as a filtration system, so take advantage of these healthy living helpers. Running your AC will help with ventilation by pulling out pollutants and bringing in clean outdoor air. Changing your filter often and considering upgrades to your typical filter choices can help remove VOCs more efficiently and improve your home's air quality.
Along with regular air filter changing, the EPA also recommends using air purifiers. You can find a variety of sizes to fit your rooms’ needs. These portable purifiers work as an additional way to reduce pollutants in the room, trapping particles in easily replaced filters. Consider adding them throughout your home.
Do I really need to say it? Just don’t do it. It poses too many horrible health risks. And why would you want to add icky wrinkles and aging skin on top of it? You already know that second-hand smoke is just as toxic for non-smokers, so just don’t allow it in or around your home. Period.
Try your best to avoid heating from wood burning fireplaces, natural gas, or coal-burning stoves. You may want to consider electric heat instead.
We don’t often think about it, but furniture can release toxic chemicals into the air we breathe. Sometimes you may notice that smell of "newness" coming from your recent purchase, while other times, there may be no smell at all. Regardless, it's important to be aware of furniture off-gassing. Remember to air out your home when adding new furniture pieces by opening windows often and run your AC.
Avoiding Off-Gassing Furniture
When possible, try to steer clear of off-gassing furniture pieces. Not sure how? Take a look at these helpful tips for your next furniture shopping spree:
- Buy locally sourced, solid wood furniture.
- Buy GREENGUARD certified furniture. This certification lets you know your furniture has met standards for low emissions of VOCs in indoor areas.
- Buy second-hand furniture. The levels of VOCs reduce after several years, so this helps to cut down on your exposure to furniture off-gassing.
- Avoid furniture that is made of composite materials. Many of their adhesives are known to off-gas.
- Avoid furniture with stain or water protectant.
- Buy an organic mattress or a mattress pad that filters out potentially harmful chemicals and gasses your mattress can give off.
There are many substitutions you can make to get you on your way to detoxing your home. Here are a few more helpful tips for you to consider in your quest for healthy living.
- Open your windows for a few minutes every few days to let some of that fresh air in.
- Use your exhaust fans as much as possible to help pull out toxins.
- Vacuum with a HEPA filter to trap those pesky dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and pollen. You’ll do your allergies and asthma a world of good!
- Look for formaldehyde-free products.
- Use charcoal filters.
- Use baking soda to help remove furniture odors.
- Switch to household paper products such as Earth Friendly Treeless Toilet Paper or Recycled Paper Towels.
What Are VOCs?
So, what are VOCs? In a nutshell, they are harmful compounds found in a variety of products that turn to gas or vapor. Products you may use daily to rid your home of odors, such as air fresheners, are giving off VOCs and ultimately doing you more harm than good. You’re probably racking your brain right now, trying to recall the last time you sprayed your favorite scent around the room. While you thought you were being productive by disinfecting your home, many of your cleaning supplies were affecting your air quality and your healthy living.
Some of these products are even believed to be carcinogenic; posing risks of cancer. That should be enough to make you want to rethink what you bring into your home. There are additional VOCs that can be harmful if they are mixed with certain chemicals as gasses. Unfortunately, there are thousands of chemicals on the market that are allowed to be used in products and materials for use in your home, and many of us just aren't aware. The biggest VOC culprits are:
- Chemical flame retardants
- Methylene chloride
- Perchloroethylene (found in dry cleaning solutions)
Where Do VOCs Come from?
Have you heard of off-gassing? VOCs can off-gas, or emit harmful chemicals in gas form, from many different materials. Some of the most common VOCs you will find around your home are:
- Paints and painting supplies
- Cleaning supplies
- Craft or hobby supplies, including glues, adhesives, paint strippers, and varnishes
- Aerosol sprays
- Building materials
- Moth repellents
- Copiers and printers
- Burning wood, coal, or natural gas
- Smoking (which you shouldn’t be doing anyway, right?)
Choosing Low VOC Items
Before you panic and start throwing out everything you just read on this list, let me add that not all of these may give off harmful VOCs. If they do, there are many substitutions you can make to help ensure you are on the right path to healthy living. For instance, look for non-toxic milk paint instead of latex paint. Don't forget to open those windows for ventilation while you work! Selecting a natural sisal area rug for your room, rather than going with wall-to-wall synthetic fiber carpeting, will drastically reduce the VOC potential.
I also want to point out that some paint may market itself as Low-VOC or No-VOC because the base itself doesn’t off-gas, but you should know that the tint added to it could be an off-gassing culprit. Just make sure to do your research, so you are aware of what you are bringing into your home. Another helpful tip is to practice buying only what you need if it is possibly a high-VOC product. For instance, many projects require you to use paint stripper. Storing these types of products, even if you plan to keep them in your garage, can release VOCs into the air impact your healthy living. Reduce your risk of exposure by buying only what is needed.
Off-Gassing and Your Health
As strange as it may sound to some, energy efficient homes may be doing us more harm. Think about it - in an attempt to reduce the amount of air that may escape from inside our house, we are preventing fresh air from coming in to help flush out toxins. So what could this mean to our health? Indoor allergies and asthma are on the rise.
It’s estimated that at least one out of every 12 Americans has asthma. And many of us are conditioned to stay indoors to help prevent flare-ups when, in reality, we are trapping ourselves in a more polluted environment — not a great way to help our healthy living journey. Asthma and allergies aren’t the only health issues you could run into by being exposed to off-gassing. Additional short term health symptoms include:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Problems with vision
- Memory problems
- Respiratory problems
- Heart disease
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
- Central nervous system damage
Unfortunately, off-gassing doesn't always have an easily recognizable smell or any odor for that matter. Scents can vary, and your body may react differently from someone else's. Often, people are unaware of the harm being done until they are already experiencing many symptoms, so be aware of the potential risks to healthy living already in your home.
Healthy living is definitely a lifestyle change, but one worth making. If you’ve been with me a while, chances are, you’ve put in a lot of hard work and effort into restoring your health. We’ve worked together towards a happy gut, meeting weight loss goals, and combatting dull, wrinkled skin concerns. But we can’t stop there. No matter where you are in your home detoxing journey, it’s never too late to start improving your home environment and daily habits. Your body will thank you for the changes you make. Head over to find out more on how you can make positive changes for healthy living.
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!