When you think about detoxing, you may think first about your body. After all, detox diets are in these days, with many celebrities juicing with dandelion greens to cleanse the liver and lose weight.
There are other ways to detox, however, and in a world that's loaded with chemicals, it makes sense to take a moment every now and then to clean up.
The best place to start?
In your own home.
It may be hard to believe, but many everyday products in the home actually contain potentially harmful chemicals, some that are even linked to cancer.
Fortunately, with just a few adjustments, you can make your home much safer for you and your family.
Detox Your Kitchen
The family spends a lot of time here, and this is where you cook food, so this is a good place to start your home detox.
Canned foods, plastic containers, water bottles, and more may contain bisphenol-A (BPA), which has been linked with hormone disruption, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and developmental problems. Choose foods in boxes and glass containers or BPA-free containers.
Bleached paper products like coffee filters and parchment paper may be contaminated not only with bleach, but a by-product called "dioxins," which can also be carcinogenic. Use natural, unbleached paper products.
Tap water may be contaminated with chromium VI, which is a carcinogen. A 2010 study by the Environmental Working Group found the chemical in 31 out of the 34 American cities sampled. Look for either a carbon tap-mounted filter or pitcher, or a reverse osmosis filter.
Detox Your Bedroom
If you work outside of the home, the bedroom may be where you spend the most time in your house. Plus, you sleep there, so it's doubly important it be an environment that's good for your health.
Furniture can give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can pollute indoor air and lead to skin irritation and respiratory problems. Varnishes, finishes, particle board, and other materials are the biggest culprits. Look for furniture made from solid wood, or those that use low-VOC materials and finishes.
Candles, though soothing and romantic, can emit toxins like astoluene and benzene. Choose those made of natural waxes like vegetable, soybean, or beeswax, and those that are made with 100% essential oils—not synthetic fragrance.
Dust in the bedroom or any room in the house can contain phthalates, flame-retardants, disinfectants, pesticides, and other potentially toxic ingredients. Regularly wipe down furniture with a wet or microfiber cloth, and vacuum regularly. An air filter in your bedroom may also be a good idea, particularly if you suffer from allergies.
Detox Your Bathroom
You're likely aware of the danger of germs in the bathroom, but what about toxins? Here are a few to watch out for.
Air fresheners, according to a 2007 survey conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, have hormone-disrupting phthalates and can react with indoor air to produce even more dangerous toxins like benzene derivatives and aldehydes. Try an air purifier instead, natural candles, or essential oils.
Antibacterial hand soap often contains triclosan, which may be contributing to the formation of "super bugs" that are resistant to antibiotics. In addition, triclosan can also expose you to dioxins. The FDA says good old soap and water are just as effective in killing germs.
Mold anywhere in the house can lead to upper respiratory problems, sore throat, and skin irritation. It's most common in the bathroom, however, because of the moisture and limited ventilation. If you've painted over it and it keeps coming back, contact a mold remediation company in your area. They can test the air level of mold spore counts and suggest solutions.
Cleaners in your bathroom cabinets can be some of the most toxic products of all. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health (July 2010) found that everyday household cleaners and air fresheners could contribute to cancer risk. Choose safer cleansers and continue using vinegar and baking soda when you can.
Detox Your Garage
No big surprise here, right? Most of us store things like antifreeze, car batteries, pesticides, and gasoline in the garage. The problem is when they're within reach of children or pets. Be sure to store them carefully, and dispose of toxic products in recommended ways.
Picture courtesy Sujin Jetkasettakorn via freedigitalphotos.net.