Since your home is your castle, shouldn’t it be a safe haven away from the troubles of the world, including environmental troubles? This list not not inclusive, but rather a bunch of simple ways that I, along with many others, try to follow in order to keep our house free of chemicals, synthetic materials and other dangerous toxins. Of course, you could go all out and use solar energy, gray water, and straw bale construction, but not all of us are made of that kind of money!
1. Use safe, non-toxic cleaners throughout the home. This includes bathrooms, kitchens and those shiny wood floors you have. You can either make them yourself, as I have posted about before, or buy over-the-counter cleaners from companies like Method or Seventh Generation.
2. Avoid synthetic carpets, furnishings and clothing. This one is harder to do, as it is difficult sometimes to find these things at reasonable prices. But it is easy to find organic cotton mattresses, for example, or organic cotton jeans, like the ones I purchased the other day.
3. Open windows and/or skylights often. Some people will tell you NOT to do this as it lets in dirty air from outside, but nothing could be worse than trapping any bad air inside the house and not airing it out. Imagine sitting in a freshly painted room – you would not be able to breathe. So open up your house!
4. Relating to number 4, be sure to use low or no-VOC paints and glues. These can be found anywhere paint is sold, and the quality is exactly the same as regular old toxic paint. Paint fumes can be a killer, and they off-gas for quite some time after going up.
5. Make sure your bathroom has a window you can open while showering, or at least a fan that pulls the steam out of the air. Wet, humid bathrooms make a good home for mold, which while in small amounts probably won’t hurt you, a build up can be very dangerous.
6. Keep your home clean and mess-free. I know in our house we are constantly chasing dust bunnies everywhere, especially since our cat has been shedding like mad lately with summer coming. The more stuff you don’t have floating around, the cleaner your air will be.
7. Be sure to have your furnaces and or water heaters checked on a regular basis to for leaks or other problems. Natural gas leaks can kill you, if not by fumes alone, then by an explosion that would take out the entire building. Sure, the gas company ads that lovely smell to the gas to alert you of this, but it might be a real slow leak you do not even notice. Also, if they are not burning cleanly like they are supposed to, it can release carbon monoxide into your house, which is even more deadly.
8. In regards to number 7, make sure you have smoke and CO2 detectors in several places in your house. Have you seen the ad on TV where the couple lost 2 of their 3 kids to CO2 poisoning in the middle of the night? I did. And even if it does not get you that way, the gas could be making you very sick.
9. Turn off all electronics when you are not using them. Everything that gets plugged in emits EMF’s that while not 100% proven to be dangerous to you, why keep things on if you are not using them and take the chance? Besides, you will notice the savings immediately on your electric bill.
10. Install CFL’s – with a twist. And I don’t mean that in the way they look. We just bought new CFL bulbs coated in titanium dioxide, which when heated up actually neutralize odors in the house. These odors could be from the litter box, a dirty garage, your Uncle Bob’s cigar smoke…whatever it is in the air, these bulbs help to get rid of the smell. The light is exactly the same as regular CFL bulbs, and while you are cleaning up the air, you are also lowering your power bill and using less fossil fuels to light up your house.
BONUS – 11. Buy plants and lots of them. They clean the air and pump oxygen into your house. You can find a list of the best plants to have in your house in a previous post of mine.
Like I said, these 10 are not the be-all/end-all to keeping your home healthy, but it sure is a nice way to start!