The decision to start detoxifying your home is not always an easy one. Many people feel overwhelmed and confused by the process. We often hear questions like: What exactly is a healthy home? Where do I begin? What might be toxic to me? What is best for my specific health condition?
Here are some basic guidelines to help you initiate the “clean up” program and encourage your growth toward a healthier home and lifestyle. Remember, changing to a healthier way of life is a learning process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Each move is a stepping stone toward the goal of a healthier living environment. Be patient. This should be an exciting and positive experience.
1. HEALTHY HOME BASIC STEPS
There are many easy steps that can be taken to begin the detoxification process. Start by unplugging or eliminating any artificial air freshening devices, candles, plug-in fragrances, or spray air fresheners. All of these products contain a multitude of chemicals that are known to be carcinogenic and contribute to asthma and allergies. For pet lovers, chemically-based cat litter may induce allergic reactions. Try converting over to sand or a natural-based litter. Fish tanks, cedar chips in animal cages, and dander can also be sources of allergens. Eliminate smoking of cigarettes and cigars in the house and try to refrain from using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. If you must use these items, be sure to have the chimney cleaned regularly. Clear out extra clutter! Basements filled with boxes, paper products, and stored items are a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Additionally, old magazines, newspapers, and books contain printed materials that are processed in petroleum-based product. Store all paints, stains, gas, and oil-and-gas powered equipment outside the house in a shed. An easy philosophy to remember is air flow needs space. If you have an overabundance of belongings, the natural air flow is inhibited and unable to cleanse all areas of the house. Keep things open and airy. Ventilation is the key. Due to negative pressure, the house holds on to contaminants longer than outside air. Open windows and doors regularly. Outside air, in most cases, is better than inside. Major systems such as furnaces, heat pumps, central air conditioning, and dryers should be inspected and routinely serviced. Make sure your dryer is piped to the outside and that you remove all lint regularly. Be sure to check the home for water damage. Examine refrigerators, ice makers, toilets, sinks, basement pipes, dishwashers, and air conditioning units, especially those with old condensation pans, for any water leaks that can contribute to mold growth. Try to avoid steam cleaning carpets; this promotes mold growth when the carpet and padding become wet. Simply, sprinkle baking soda on all carpeted surfaces for a few hours and vacuum. This will remove odors and leave your home smelling fresh without the risk of mold contamination. Outside the home, ground water should be piped away from the house. Gutters and downspouts should maintain a 15 percent positive grade away from your foundation. This will help to keep basements, crawl spaces, and foundations drier.
2. CHANGE TO HEALTHY HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS
This is a crucial step to detoxifying any home. Most commercial household cleaning and personal products are chemically-laden with known carcinogens and contaminants. First and foremost, change to fragrance free laundry detergents, use natural detergents that contain natural-based surfactants. Secondly, try switching to petroleum-free dish washing detergents. Residue from commercial dish and dishwasher detergents remains on our plates, dishes, and cookware. We end up ingesting these byproducts, known to cause intestinal problems. Discard or remove petroleum-based cleaning and household products, most importantly furniture polish and shoe polish. Use olive oil instead as a natural polish. It will also make your shoes shine nicely. Cleaning and dusting can be accomplished with vinegar and water or allnatural cleaning products. You can clean hardwood floors, tile, cabinets, windows, showers, baths, toilets, and glass. Vinegar is also a natural deterrent of bacteria and fungi. And no, your house will not smell like an Easter egg! The odor dissipates quickly and leaves your home smelling fresh, clean, and naturally antibacterial. Start examining the labels of all your personal products. You will be amazed by the list of chemicals. Begin changing over to natural-based cosmetics, shampoos, toothpaste, and lotions. If you cannot recognize the contents on the label, chances are, it isn’t healthy for you.
3. TESTING FOR HIDDEN OFFENDERS
After you begin the detox process, you may want to hunt for hidden toxins that you are unable to see or smell. When we live in an environment, we become immune to the smells that surround us. We adapt to things that may be unhealthy for us. It is important to test for molds and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, etc.) about every two years to insure our homes are safe from contaminants. Water leaks, new furniture, remodeling, malfunctioning septic systems, sewer blockages, and damp basements are all contributing factors that may contaminate our homes. It is important to check periodically to insure that your home has not acquired a toxic level of chemicals/ mold/bacteria that may be harmful to you and your family. Additionally, if you experience any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms such as headaches, asthma, allergies, muscle pain, or neurological symptoms, then it may be worth checking with your physician and he/she may order some home testing to see if contamination may be the culprit.
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