When I first read that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air, I resolved to tackle that problem and reduce the toxin load in my home. I started researching just how many harmful chemicals most of us face in our homes each day. (Hint: a lot!)
This research turned into a several-year process in my own home. I certainly didn't make changes all at once, but little by little I found new ways to bring healthier products and materials into our home.
From this experience, I now realize that a few simple changes made the majority of the difference. The best part? These changes are simple to implement and often cost the same as (or less than) the less natural alternatives!
If you're ready to tackle detoxing your home, start with these five steps to get big results with minimal effort.
1. Clean green with eco-friendly natural cleaners.
Switching to an eco-friendly natural cleaning concentrate reduces chemical exposure and single-use plastic use, and it's easy to do!! Look for a single concentrate like Branch Basics or Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds that can be made into all-purpose household cleaner, used on laundry, and even diluted into a gentle face wash, baby shampoo, or makeup remover. Since it comes as a concentrate, it uses less plastic and you can reuse all bottles.
2. Put vitamin C powder in the bath to neutralize the chlorine.
Bath time can be a source of exposure, especially for children. The EPA has explained that a person can absorb more chlorine and other harmful substances from a bath or shower than even from drinking water containing the same chemicals. Getting a shower filter is easy enough, but purifying bath water is a little tougher.
A simple solution? Dump a little sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid (vitamin C powder) in with the bathwater! Just a teaspoon can neutralize the chlorine in an entire tub of water and is also good for the skin. For maximum effectiveness, add the vitamin C, stir, and wait about five minutes before anyone gets in.
3. Skip plastic, especially in the kitchen.
It was a gradual process, but we replaced most of the plastic in our house by:
- Opting for goods that are fresh or jarred in glass.
- Replacing bottles, sippy cups, and family drinking glasses with a stainless-steel or glass version.
- Investing in reusable grocery bags to avoid single-use plastics.
- Carrying a stainless-steel water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
- Buying foods that use little to no packaging whenever possible. Participating in food co-ops or shopping at your local farmers market means you're getting fresh, seasonal food (while building community in your area.)
- Using beeswax-covered cloths or a reusable lunch box instead of single-use plastic wrap and bags.
4. Purify the air with indoor plants.
While air filters are a good option, there are easy fixes to improve the air in your home that won't break the bank.
It's worth keeping some low-maintenance plants around the house. During photosynthesis, plants absorb not only carbon dioxide but also gases and chemicals in the air. In exchange, they add oxygen and even healthy moisture levels to the environment.
On top of that, they're beautiful and bring a little of the outdoors in!
Just a caution: Some indoor houseplants have toxic properties and are not ideal to have around small children and pets. These are just a few of the safe houseplants that purify the air and are relatively easy to find:
- Spider plant
- Boston fern
- Aloe vera (use it as a sunburn treatment too!)
- Bamboo palm
- Snake plant or Mother-in-law's tongue (sounds harmful, but isn't)
Check your local nursery, or even Amazon will deliver plants to your door!
5. Ditch the fragrances.
- Air Fresheners: Instead, open the windows, keep plants, or use an air filter. For those stink-prone areas like closets, laundry baskets, or the pile of shoes by the front door (ask me how I know), keep a bag of activated charcoal nearby. The charcoal will absorb the smells and many toxins, too.
- Candles: Natural beeswax candles release negative ions into the air, which bind to and eliminate toxins.
- Dryer Sheets: Try adding a cup of white vinegar with 1 to 20 drops of essential oils to the rinse cycle, or tumble wool dryer balls with your wet clothing. Both work to soften clothes without harsh chemicals.
To me, the bottom line is this: Our home should be our safe place. As you experiment with how to improve life and health within your four walls, be patient but proactive. A few small changes really can make a big difference for our families and the world.
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