The Starter Guide to Detoxifying Your Home
If you’re interested in creating a healthier, less-toxic environment inside your home, the following are five truly simple steps to get you started. Four out of five of these suggestions that will remove major toxins from your home merely involve swapping better-for-you products with items you’re already using. So, you’re not totally disrupting your routine; you’re simply subbing things out. Make sense?
Plus, to make it even more turnkey for you to make these changes, you can use the shopping list at the end of this article that summarizes our recommended swaps.
Why should you care about making your home less toxic? Well, you spend a lot of time there, for one. And environmental toxins are linked to neurological diseases like dementia and respiratory illnesses such as asthma, among plenty of other health issues.
While we won’t ever be able to wipe our lives clean of toxins, there are ways to minimize exposure, especially in controlled areas like our homes. So, maybe the question should be: why not?
Here is your Badass + Healthy starter guide to detoxifying your home:
1. Throw out scented dryer sheets.
Here’s why: Scented dryer sheets seem so small and innocent. They’re not. Studies have found that they pack a powerful, hazardous chemical punch, including known carcinogens acetaldehyde and benzene, that cling to your clothes, get on your skin and are breathed in by your nostrils all the livelong day. Side note: Manufacturers are not required by law to disclose the ingredients used in fragrances or laundry products so somehow they think it’s A-OK to just shove a bunch of crap in there that may smell good but can harm you.
What to replace them with: Simply swap dryer sheets out with reusable wool dryer balls, such as Woolzies Wool Dryer Balls, that you throw into the dryer to fluff clothes and remove static for up to around 100 loads. Add a few (however "scenty" you want it) drops of an essential oil such as lavender or lemon—Woolzies offers these as well—on the wool balls to get an au natural fragrance fix. It sounds a little weird, but trust me, it’s actually not a big deal...such a super-easy swap.
2. Get rid of chlorine bleach.
Here’s why: For one thing, you don’t need it to clean your home. Second, bleach is chlorine, and when you clean with it, it introduces chlorine gas into your home, which can be poisonous. A study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine suggests that there is a strong link between the chemical in the home and a higher chance of childhood respiratory illness and other infections. Here’s more about chlorine from the CDC.
What to replace it with: Oxygen bleach, often called non-chlorine bleach, is a safer alternative to chlorine bleach. It essentially cleans in exactly the same way, making everything whiter and brighter and killing bacteria, but it’s made of sodium percarbonate, a compound of natural soda crystals and hydrogen peroxide. There are several products out there to choose from. One we like is: Charlie's Soap Oxygen Bleach. (You can even use it on dark workout clothes to get the stink out.)
3. Buy a few houseplants.
Here’s why: Air-filtering houseplants are your secret weapon to combat your home’s indoor air pollution. Plants are natural miracle workers and can clear the air of benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia, which are “off-gassed” by household furniture and maintenance products, including paints, lacquers, varnishes, leather, window cleaners, plastics, glues and more. Sure, you can purchase a whole-home air purifier that does the same thing if you can afford it, but plants are a pretty cost-effective and easy solution to get you started! And they look nice.
What to get: The spider plant and snake plant are two hardy options—meaning, they don’t need a whole lot from you (an essential, in my book...I have an anti-green thumb and have managed to keep these guys alive). A NASA study that identified the best plants for fighting indoor air pollution suggested having at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space. That may be a lot of plants to introduce at once, though—you can start with a couple here and there. Everything counts!
4. Switch floor cleaner to this super-powered cloth.
Here’s why: Between your shoes and the stuff your animals trek in—and your drops-everything significant other—trying to keep your floor perfectly clean is, frankly, ridiculous. Your baby or fur baby crawling around down there is better off eating a little dirt than she is eating the chemicals you’re putting down to disinfect your floors once a week. Seriously, though…think about it.
What to replace it with: An E-cloth is a microfiber cloth that does an excellent job of picking up and removing bacteria instead of killing it. It works like a Velcro hook—it goes up under bacteria and holds onto it until you put the cloth in the washer, which you should do after cleaning your floors. You can use E-cloth’s dry or Damp Mop Head versions on your existing Swiffer base, or they have a mop you can purchase, too. So what do you clean with? Simple: just water. Missing the scent of your fave floor cleaner? Throw a few drops of essential oil on the cloth (you already have it from your new dryer balls routine above!).
5. Swap out the crazy-unhealthy insecticides.
Here’s why: Insecticides are a form of pesticides, inherently meant to “kill” insects. While there’s no doubt they’re effective in getting the job done, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Tox Town, different types of pesticides can affect your health in different ways as they contain ingredients like arsenic, ammonia, chlorine, dioxins, formaldehyde, methanol and benzene. Some pesticides contain carcinogens, known to cause cancer; others can irritate skin and eyes, cause birth defects, affect the nervous system or disrupt the body's hormones and endocrine system. Nasty stuff...and I don't mean that in a tongue-in-cheek "nasty woman" kind of way.
What to replace them with: Need to kill that ant invasion or rogue roach? Go for a nontoxic brand like EcoSmart, which has Organic Home Pest Control, a 100-percent organic insecticide for safe use around children and pets. It uses active ingredients like peppermint oil and rosemary oil to kill a plethora of insects. One thing to note: the scent is quite strong! But at least it’s coming from plants, not harsh chemicals.
Get the goods here:
4. Floor cleaner:
5. Pest control:
Congratulations! Making just these five easy changes has already made a serious dent in the toxicity of your home!