Take off Your Shoes: One of the easiest ways to prevent outdoor chemicals from becoming indoor toxins is to leave your shoes at the door. Insist that everyone else does, too.
Open the Windows: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution is more dangerous than outdoor air pollution, even in the biggest and most industrialized cities. To help exchange and circulate the air inside your home, open your windows as often as you can. Individuals with chemical sensitivities should consider a high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) air filter.
Get a Countertop Water Distiller: Distillation is the most efficient way to insure pure drinking water, 99% free of impurities, including chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, bacterial and chemical contamination.
Get the Plastic Out: Replace plastic food and beverage containers with glass, stainless steel or ceramic containers. Avoid foods and drinks that have been packaged in plastic containers, cans and cartons unless they specify “BPA-Free” and “Phthalate-Free.” Avoid foods that have been packaged in foam material (polystyrene) like disposable cups, take-out containers and egg cartons. Replace plastic wrap with aluminum foil or parchment paper. And eliminate your need for plastic bags by bringing your own reusable shopping bags to the market.
Nix Non-Stick: Replace non-stick cookware with cast iron, stainless steel, copper, glass or ceramic. If non-stick pans are your only choice, never preheat them when they are empty, use only low heat, never put them in the oven, and discard them as soon as the surface become scratched.
Use Cleaner Cleaners: Replace chemical cleaners with essential oils, baking soda and vinegar. Pure essential oils are naturally anti-bacterial and tea tree essential oil is especially effective at removing mold and mildew (avoid synthetic and perfume oils).
Baking soda acts as an abrasive agent to remove residue and stains from glass, ceramic, stainless steel and silver. Add a few drops of water to make a baking soda paste for cleaning the stove, sink, counters, toilet and tub.
Use white vinegar to polish mirrors and wash windows and floors. Or use a steam mop to clean non-carpeted surfaces (steam mops use only water and steam to clean).
Remove rust stains by sprinkling salt over the area, squeezing fresh lemon juice on top and allowing it to sit for several hours before you wipe it off.
To unclog drains, first pour a quarter cup of baking soda down the drain, then pour in one cup of white vinegar. Wait for the foaming to reside, then flush with plenty of boiling hot water. Don’t forget to make use of drain snakes and plungers.
To polish wood furniture, mix three parts olive oil with one part freshly squeezed lemon juice and apply it with a soft cloth, rubbing briskly and allowing to air dry. (You may want to test a small area before you apply it to an entire piece of furniture.)
Non-Toxic All-Purpose Cleaner
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 5 drops tea tree essential oil
- 5 drops pure lavender or orange essential oil (avoid synthetic and perfume oils)
- 1/2 cup of water
Add the ingredients to a clean glass spray bottle and shake to combine them. Label the bottle with the ingredients and date. Shake it again gently before use to re-distribute the essential oils. Spray the cleaner on dirty surfaces and wipe it off with a clean wet sponge.
For tougher cleaning jobs, omit the water and leave the solution a few minutes longer before wiping it off.
Use this cleaner on counters, sinks, stove tops, appliances and tiles. Do not use it on wooden or delicate surfaces.
Avoid Dry Cleaned Clothes: Find a cleaner who uses wet cleaning, a water-based alternative to solvent-based dry cleaning. Wet cleaning uses biodegradable detergents and a humidity-controlled drying environment to preserve “dry clean only” clothes. If you can’t avoid dry cleaned clothes, store them in a well ventilated spot away from your living area (like the garage) and each time they’re treated, allow them to air out for at least two days before wearing them.
Avoid Fragrances: Get rid of air fresheners and all fragranced household products. Manufacturers are not required to disclose additives regarded as “fragrance,” and a single fragrance can contain several hundred ingredients. Remember that “unscented” doesn’t necessarily mean “fragrance-free” (chemicals may have been added to cover odors). As an alternative to air fresheners, use pure essential oil diffusers. In the laundry room, replace liquid fabric softeners with a half cup of white vinegar (mixed with 5 drops of pure lavender essential oil, if you wish to scent you clothes) and substitute wool or silicone dry balls for fragranced dryer sheets.
Research Your Personal Products: According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), we apply 126 unique ingredients to our skin daily and most of them have not been tested for safety. Use the Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database to learn what you’re putting on your skin (www.ewg.org/skindeep/). Search by product, ingredient or company to read safety reviews and make good choices when selecting items like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, eye drops, contact lens cleaner, bubble bath, skin creams, hair styling products, makeup, nailpolish, sunscreen and baby products.
Use Plants to Clean the Air: One 6-inch houseplant per 100 square feet of living area can greatly improve indoor air quality. Several species have been shown to filter harmful chemicals, including the Boston fern, English ivy, moth orchid, dendrobium orchid, ficus tree, gerbera daisy, heartleaf philodendron, peace lily, pot mum, snake plant, spider plant and several species of dracaena.
Test and Maintain: Have your home tested for mold, radon and lead. Install and maintain a carbon monoxide detector. Use furnace filters with a MERV 7-9 rating (minimum efficiency reporting value) and change them every six weeks. And don’t forget to clean out your air ducts and vents regularly. If you can’t do it yourself, hire professionals.