In case you haven't heard, the air inside our homes is often dirtier than the air outdoors, and our furniture, accessories, heating and cooling systems, and even cleaning products can emit potentially harmful chemicals. Freshen your home and protect against more serious problems like sick building syndrome (which we recently learned can be incredibly debilitating through a first-person account by Alan Bell) using the following techniques:
No. 8: Buy a houseplant.
Decades ago, NASA justified our love for houseplants with a study proving that they're amazing detoxifiers and recommending one per every 100 square foot of indoor space. A new study out of the State University of New York found that bromeliad plants are the most effective at filtering out Volatile Organic Compounds (they can remove up to 80 percent of em!). Other great options include spider plants, snake plants, and assorted ferns.
No. 7: Ditch chemical cleaners.
Those really long words you see on the labels of conventional cleaners claim to disinfect and clear surfaces of viruses and bacteria, but they actually might do more harm than good. Some of these ingredients have been linked to asthma, respiratory infection, and even certain cancers, so swap them with more natural options (more on those below).
No. 6: Protect against mold.
Nearly half of American buildings are damp enough to promote mold growth, which can prove extremely dangerous to our health (think allergies, sinus irritations, and even nervous system damage). In order to keep mold-prone rooms like the kitchen and bathroom dry, invest in a dehumidifier and run ceiling and exhaust vents whenever you're cooking or bathing.
No. 5: Don't forget about your beauty products.
A true home detox means going below the surface and making sure the products that live on your shelves are clean too. The beauty industry is a notoriously murky one, with many chemicals hiding unlabeled in the creams, serums, and soaps we use every day. Parabens linked to endocrine disruption, phthalates linked to cancer, and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) irritate skin are among the most common culprits. Do your research on which brands prioritize ingredient transparency (our green beauty section is a great place to start!) and trash the ones that don't.
No. 4: Tackle the hidden spots.
Take the time to make a list of those areas you don't usually get to during a quick surface clean, starting with doorknobs, bookshelf tops, the inside of cabinets, etc. Then, spend 20 minutes tackling them with natural cleanser. We love baking soda mixed with water for a scrubbing paste, and lemon and vinegar for an antiseptic surface cleaner.
No. 3: Get new filters.
Make sure that your drinking water is clean as can be with a reverse-osmosis filter that removes irritants like chromium-6 as well as arsenic, barium, copper, lead, and fluoride. In terms of air purification, invest in a HEPA filter that traps things like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, especially if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Replace these every six months.
No. 2: Make essential oils your new best friend.
No. 1: Implement new habits.
Enforce a new normal for your home by establishing policies that promote a clean space. Ask guests to take their shoes off outside, open the windows for ventilation whenever possible, and reserve dusting time in your weekly routine.