There are dozens of toxins that can be found in the home, some of which can cause health issues such as respiratory problems, headaches, tummy bugs and even damage to bodily organs. Follow our top tips to help you eliminate indoor toxins and create a safe living space.
1. Start with healthy home basics
One simple way to practise hygiene in the home is to take your shoes off at the front door. By changing into a pair of house slippers you’ll ensure the dirt stays outside. If you have wall-to-wall carpeting make sure you are vacuuming once a week to remove dirt, dust-mites and toxins – a hoover with a HEPA filter (a type of air purifier) will capture 99 per cent of particles and reduce allergen exposure. Don’t forget to give upholstery the once over as well.
Your cleaning routine should also include remote controls, which are especially prone to collecting dirt. Rubbing alcohol applied with a cloth or cotton bud should do the trick. You can also read our handy guide on how often you really need to clean your house for more tips.
2. Keep your room air clean
While insulation and double glazing are great for energy efficiency they also keep air trapped in the home. This quickly goes stale, trapping toxins in the room. Hence, even in the cooler months it’s important to open up a window or two to allow for proper ventilation. You might also want to consider air filters for the home as well. These work by circulating air and capturing pollutants with a filter. There are UV versions, which kill bacteria with ultraviolet light, and ionisers that use negative molecules to bond with dust and dirt in the air.
Don’t forget that a few indoor plants naturally purify air and should be used on the frontline for tackling home toxins.
3. Watch out for mould in the home
Mould is the cause of a number of health issues – inflammation, wheezing and throat irritation to name just a few. It thrives around moisture and is often found in the bathroom, so check around your tub and sink. Ventilation is key here: run an extractor fan or open a window to help reduce humidity. If you’re home is particularly susceptible to moisture a dehumidifier can help.
Damp walls and ceilings are also a haven for mould and you should tackle any signs of growth immediately. Spray warm water and soap onto the wall and carefully wipe off. If you’re hit with black toxic mould, seek professional help – the last thing you want to do is disturb it which causes the spores to spread through the air. Read on here for more tips on how to remove mould and mildew from walls.
4. Switch up your products
If you are serious in wanting to detox your home consider the types of cleaning products you use – many contain toxic chemicals, synthetic fragrances and dyes. Switch to greener alternatives or, better still give homemade products a try (we’ve got 10 genius uses for baking soda to get you started). To get rid of nasty odours don’t use a commercial air freshener. Instead, make your own by combining essential oils or crushing dried herbs to create a DIY potpourri.
5. Declutter your kitchen cabinets
Having old foods around is one sure way to invite bacteria and mould into your kitchen. Regularly check your cabinets and pantry to see what’s expired and needs chucking – don’t forget to inspect your spices as they don’t last forever. While you’re at it, replace any plastic containers that could have been made with toxic chemicals with glass or stainless steel options.
6. Install a water filter
Though the water supply in Britain is stringently regulated it is still possible that it can be contaminated with toxins (lead, for example, can leach into the water as it moves through old pipes). Using a water filter will cut out these and other chemical nasties. For similar reasons, consider installing a shower head filter as well.
7. Choose non-toxic beds and bedding
Unfortunately, what you are sleeping on may contain toxins. Depending on what your mattress is made of it may comprise a number of chemicals, such as polyurethane and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardant) that you don’t want accumulating in your body.
Some, known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, will seep into your bedroom over time. Sheets and duvet covers can also be problematic – even standard cotton ones can contain pesticides and the dying process can imbue them with heavy metals. Your best bet is to opt for mattresses and bedding that are made from organic cotton, where possible.
Looking for more low-chemical home ideas? Browse our favourite eco-friendly sustainable home designs.