With a push towards healthier lifestyles all around us, we often forget about our environment at home. Often initial changes come with our nutrition and are closely followed by our physical and mental health. But our home can be a large part of our equation as well. We can either create a home that promotes health and wellness, or we can create a home where toxins burden our bodies and prevent us from fully restoring to natural health.
So often families are completely overwhelmed by the thought of changing their home and habits that they never even begin. These changes feel really big and like major lifestyle changes, when in truth, by breaking down the changes, it’s relatively simple. I’ve made some improvements to my own home and over time I’ve snowballed my changes. Using this tactic helps not only helps break your journey down into steps, but you start to gain momentum as you continue to improve your surroundings.
I’m a planner at heart, which is just how I help my clients and homeowners. We break down creating a healthier home environment down into a few different categories and stages. To start, the biggest thing you can do to create a healthier home today is avoiding toxins you introduce to your home environment. I like to call this being the keeper of your home. Basically it boils down to the fact that YOU can control and limit what comes into your home in the first place. By doing this you’ll prevent problems before they take hold and become a hazard to your home.
The second step is removing the toxins currently present in your home. This step requires more planning and and making long term goals. Toxins are present in anything from the shampoo you use to the synthetic carpet covering your home’s floor surface. IN order to remove these toxins, it takes planning to make product changes or do home renovations. This process is best done when you plan out the easiest place to make a product change first. Once you have your list of products and habits to change, you’ll want to make an action plan for each one in order to keep on track. My sheet below can help you work through any habit or product change in your home:
The final thing you can do with toxins is dilute the air inside. Obviously not all toxins can be removed from a house, and for that reason, dilution is key. By bringing in fresh air from outside, the polluted indoor air can be drastically improved. Through the steps below, you can begin to create your healthiest home.
1. Properly Ventilating Your Toxin Free Home
Natural and mechanical ventilation can play a key role in reducing the amount of toxins that stay indoors and creating a toxin free home. Due to the fact that our homes are so tightly sealed, many of the toxins present in our homes never get a chance to leave or escape. This is why it’s so important to manually bring fresh air into our homes. You can do this a few different ways:
- Open windows on a regular basis to naturally ventilate. Even in winter months, you can rotate through your home one room at a time to open the windows for 5-10 minutes.
- Run HVAC fans frequently to move air around your home
- Run ceiling fans on a regular basis to push air throughout your room and home, circulating it to leaks and gaps near windows and corners.
- Run vented fans in the kitchen, bath and laundry to pull polluted air out of your home.
2. Reduce Toxic Chemicals in Cleaning Solutions
Cleaning products and solvents often contain large amounts of chemicals and toxins that we add to our indoor air and spread around our indoor surfaces. These toxins can cause problems ranging from short term respiratory irritation to disruption of important hormones within our bodies. Studies have found that these chemicals are winding up in our house dust and staying inside our home for extremely long periods of time. One way to avoid these toxic cleaners is to remove what you have currently that rates poorly on Environmental Working Group’s website and replace them with safe alternatives. You can read all about safe alternatives to toxic cleaners in this post.
You can also use my Ditch & Switch Worksheet page that will help you make a list of all the cleaners and products in your home you want to eventually change over to a safer alternative. By making a plan to create a toxin free home, you’ll be setting yourself up for REAL success and solid changes.
3. Implement a No-Shoe Policy
Our shoes travel throughout many locations in just a single day. Think of the places you’ve walked through this week: school, work, public restrooms, grass with pesticides on it, etc. The list could go on and on. All that you walk through ends up on the bottom of your shoes and tracked into your home if you wear shoes through your house. Studies reveal that house dust actually contains trace amounts of pesticides, which are thought to be entering the home through our shoes and pets.
For this reason, it’s best to implement a no-shoe policy in your home. Having a designated spot to leave your shoes when you enter the house is a simple way to remind your family and guests that shoes stay at the door.
4. Reduce High Humidity
Humidity inside a home can fluctuate from season to season and even from time to time throughout just one day. There are a few reasons humidity at home should remain on the lower end of the spectrum. First, toxins and VOCs off gas at a much higher rate when humidity levels are high. Second, high humidity is an environment that promotes the growth of mold and mildew as well as reproduction of dust mites. Whichever reason you may choose, reducing your humidity levels to a level between 35% and 40% is ideal when it comes to the health of your home. You can find more tools and tips for reducing humidity in this post about the Perfect Humidity Levels.
5. Reduce Plastic Use
Plastics, especially in the kitchen and near food can be hazardous to the health of our bodies and our air. Pthalates (plasticizers) that are present in all plastics and are harmful to the endocrine system, nervous system and developmental parts of the brain as discussed in this overview by he CDC. When plastic is heated and warmed, it releases even more toxins into the air and into anything touching it such as food. This is why using glass, steel or other sustainable materials is so important.
Going through your home and kitchen, take a glance to see just how many plastic items you own. Next, look at the number of items you could potentially change or swap next time you are looking to purchase new. Start a list of items you want to swap out in your own toxin free home and make the start to replacing toxic plastics. You can read more about how to Reduce Plastic in Your Home here and follow up with Six Ways to Easily Replace Plastic in Your Kitchen here.
6. Reduce Synthetic Fragrances for a Toxin Free Home
Synthetic fragrances refer to any product in your home that has added scents to it. Items generally range from personal care product to cleaning product to candles and air fresheners. Generally synthetic fragrances are made up of a variety of chemicals that are used to mask the smell of a product in the first place. Unfortunately, we often have no idea what make sup these synthetic fragrances as there is no legal requirement to disclose their make up to the public. Trade secret protects companies from having to release information about what chemicals and toxins are used to create their scents.
As consumers, we must also be careful when we reading misleading packaging. Just because a product states it uses and oil or natural element, does not mean the product is truly healthy or safe. These terms are not regulated at all and can be open to interpretation. This is why checking your product on the Environmental Working Group website can help you understand exactly what is in a particular product and if it’s safe for your toxin free home. You can use my worksheet and read more about Where Synthetic Fragrances are Hiding In Your Home here.
7. Reduce Dust in Your Home
Dust is not only a nuisance, but as mentioned earlier, it also contains toxic particles from cleaners and pesticides. While dust is a natural part of even a toxin free home, it should be reduced as much as possible. This is especially true if you have young children in your home who play near the ground or who have poor hand to mouth habits. Dust can be ingested quite easily and each of the toxins present in the dust travels directly to the bloodstream.
Dust also contains allergens and dust mites which can be extremely irritating to those living in a dusty environment, which is another reason to rid your home of as much dust as possible. Some ideas for keeping your toxin free home free of dust are:
- Use a wet dusting method to ensure dust doesn’t become airborne
- Dust forgotten about places like ceiling fans and HVAC vents
- Wet mop floors on a regular basis and get those corners
- Vacuum with a HEPA filter vacuum at least once a week to reduce dust
(1) Make sure your home is properly ventilated by using your whole house fan and windows. (2) Reduce toxic chemicals in cleaning solutions by choosing safe and green options. (3) Implement a no-shoe policy to reduce toxins being tracked in. (4) Reduce humidity levels, and (5) Reduce plastic use. (6) Stop using synthetic fragrances for a toxin free home and opt for essential oils for scent instead. (7) Remove dust on a regular basis.