Did you know that the air inside our homes is two to five times more toxic than the air outside?
I know, I was shocked, too!
That stat was a little startling to me – particularly given the time of year and that we won’t be opening any windows for the next five to six months! According to the EPA, indoor air pollutants are one of the top five environmental risks to public health. When it comes to healing our bodies and staying healthy, it’s not just food and exercise that are important. The environment is key factor of achieving wellness. While it’s not necessarily easy to have a direct impact on our outside environment, it is very much possible to control the environment in our homes. That’s actually a really great thing because we spend over 80% of our time indoors! We should all be making a concerted effort to clean the air in our homes on a regular basis.
Our homes are filled with chemicals – cleaning supplies, personal care products, paint, carpets, furniture and a great deal more. Especially during the colder months, these chemicals get trapped inside our homes and we’re inside most of the time, taking them all in. Over time, toxins in our homes can make us sick, often times with us none the wiser until some major symptoms start showing up. Serious issues like autoimmune diseases are linked to toxins in homes and it’s important we start paying more attention to it.
These toxins are serious, but there are ways in which we can help clear them from our indoor environments. Here are five relatively easy and inexpensive ways to help clean the air in your home:
- Buy some house plants: I remember when I was a kid, our house was filled with plants, many different types and all over the house. Then when we were first married, I had a plant of two I had taken from home because I liked the greenery, but eventually life with kids got too busy and I managed to kill them all. (The plants, not the kids!) I’ve just recently started rebuilding my supply of house plants because they are an excellent way to purify the air in a home – plus, they look so nice in a room. Spider plants absorb chemicals released into the air and they’re easy to keep alive (bonus!). An aloe vera plant can do the work of nine air purifiers in a home(!), eliminating harmful microorganisms and absorbing dust in the air. Other excellent plant choices for detoxifying air include Dracaenas, English Ivy, and Bamboo Palm.
- Diffuse essential oils: Get rid of the artificial air fresheners and candles in your home! They might smell great, but they’re giving off a ton of chemical compounds that are harmful to you and your family…no joke. They’re full of synthetic musks and allergens that are not good for anyone – not that you can even find out what’s in then because there is no regulation that forces a company to list the ingredients. A much safer, non-toxic option is to diffuse essential oils. They not only provide a safe and pleasant scent, they can actually help to purify the air at the same time. Woodsy and citrus oils have antibacterial and energizing properties, tea tree (melaleuca) and eucalyptus can kill airborne flu viruses, and peppermint oil can help the the lungs to filter out toxins. Just remember to only use good quality oils, without fillers or other harmful chemicals.
- Take off your shoes: This one is super easy! It’s not just dirt that tracks in the house when you don’t take your shoes off. Shoes that are worn outside can bring in contaminants from the outside…over 400,000 per shoe, and E.coli is often one of them! Keep a pair of comfy slippers at your front door so you’re more inclined to take your shoes off when you come in the house.
- Make the change to “green” cleaning products: The typical products we use to clean our house negatively affect our health. In small doses, the chemicals in these products might not be dangerous (as the manufacturers will tell you), but we don’t just use them once. Years of chronic exposure adds to body’s toxic burden…they accumulate in the body and can cause damage to the lungs, liver, kidneys, respiratory and reproductive systems, blood, brain and a whole lot more. Even worse, many of the chemicals in these products are carcinogenic. With warning labels that state “hazardous to humans and pets”, one has to wonder why we even started using these things in the first place! Switching from chemical to green cleaning is a no-brainer…back to the way your grandma used to do it. Making the change takes a little time and maybe a little getting used to, but knowing what the alternative can do to your children, is there really any other choice? I’ve switched to using doTERRA’s cleaner concentrate for all of my green cleaning “recipes” (mixed with some of my favourite essential oils, water and a little castile soap), but you can also make safe and effective cleaners with vinegar, water and and castile soap (add 1/2 C vinegar, 2 C water, 1 tsp castile soap, and 20 drops of lemon essential oil. Shake well to combine. Spray onto surfaces and wipe clean with a damp cloth).
- Beware of mold! We all cringe when we find a spot where mold is growing on a surface in our home, but it’s something we really need to pay attention to. Beyond how dirty it looks, mold in our home can have some nasty effects on our health. Mold releases harmful toxins into the air, exacerbating allergies and asthma symptoms, but it’s also harmful to those of us without these conditions. Long term exposure to mold can cause breathing problems, sneezing, constant sinus congestion, watery eyes, headaches, and fatigue. It’s especially harmful to children. To help reduce mold growth in your home, install a good bathroom fan to draw out excess moisture in bathrooms and use a dehumidifier during the humid summer months. If you see mold growing on a surface, kill it (safely) with vinegar – spray vinegar on the affected surface, leave it sit for at least an hour, and then scrub the area with a scrub brush and warm water to remove. When finished, wipe the area clean with a damp cloth. The vinegar smell will initially be quite strong, but will dissipate in a short time.
There are so many more ways in which we can help detoxify the air in our homes, but these are great ways to get started. With things like allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, and cancer on the rise (at an alarming rate!), I think it’s super important that we’re aware of the dangers of a toxic home. And how awesome is it that we’re able to make a significant difference with some easy changes…I’m all about the easy!
So go out and get yourself some new house plants!