YOUR HOME is your sanctuary—a place where you should feel safe and relaxed, not harried and anxious. Follow these simple tips to eliminate chemicals, freshen the air, and restore restful energy to every room in the house.
CLEAN WITHOUT CHEMICALS
Avoid harsh detergents and chemicals in commercial cleaning products by making your own cleanser: mix one half-cup of vinegar with one half-gallon warm water, and fill a spray bottle. The mixture works wonders on wood floors, countertops, and appliances, says Nena Baker, author of The Body Toxic (North Point Press, 2008).
CHOOSE NATURAL FIBERS
Switch to organic cotton towels and bedding and avoid exposure to pesticide residue, which can cling to non-organic fabrics. Swap out your vinyl shower curtain and liner with ones made from organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo: A 2008 study showed that new vinyl curtains can emit volatile organic compounds, lead, phthalates, and other potentially toxic materials for at least one month.
PURIFY YOUR SHOWER WATER
Filter chlorine out of your shower, sink, and bath water and you’ll notice a softer touch to your hair and skin. You’ll also be protecting yourself from an increased risk of bladder cancer, according to a 2006 study that found risk of the disease nearly doubled for people in households where chlorine levels measured 49 micrograms per liter of tap water—a ratio that’s common in most industrialized nations.
FILTER YOUR DRINKING WATER
Use a filtering system to mimimize the amount of chemicals in your tap water, says Elson Haas, M.D., author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition (Celestial Arts, 2006). He recommends reverse osmosis systems, which can clear out agricultural pesticides, chlorine, and other toxins. Or, use a common carbon faucet filter like Brita. When on the go, tote your water in reusable stainless steel bottles. Unlike many plastic bottles, these are guaranteed BPA-free.
STORE FOOD IN GLASS CONTAINERS
Some plastic containers contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical which has been linked with behavioral and neurological problems. To avoid exposure, use plastic food containers with the recycling labels #1, #2, and #4 on the bottom, which are free of BPA, says Annie B. Bond, author of Home Enlightenment (Rodale, 2008), and green editor for Care2 (care2.com). To be safer still, use glass containers instead. As a general rule, recycle any scratched plastic containers to avoid having other chemicals leach into your food. Discard nonrecyclable plastics, or store non-food items in them.
EVERYDAY HOME DETOX
These three steps will help cut down on the amount of pesticides, allergens, and contaminants (not to mention grime) in your home, says Nena Baker.
1. Instill a “no-shoes indoors” policy.
2. Vacuum and dust regularly.
3. Buy an eco-friendly vacuum: Dyson (dyson.com), Miele (miele.com), and Bosch (bosch.com) each make energy efficient models that are bagless and feature a HEPA filter for extra protection against common allergens.
USE NATURAL FRAGRANCES
Add a fresh scent to your home with flowers instead of commercial air fresheners, which contain hormone-disrupting phthalates. In winter, fill a vase with dry lavender (the scent has a calming effect), or put a few drops of essential oil in a spray bottle and fill the rest with water.