How to make your home safer and healthier

In the last edition of our Newsletter we looked at the sources of toxins in our homes and what they can be doing to our health. In this edition we will give you some tips on how to modify your home environment to make it a safer and healthier place for you and your family.

There are three main ways to reduce the amount of toxins in your home:

  • Prevent the toxins from getting into your home or eliminate the source of toxins.
  • Ventilate your home so that excessive quantities of chemicals cannot accumulate.
  • The use of indoor plants to absorb the toxins out of the air.

Prevent the entry of toxins into your home

Prevention is always better than cure. Most of us are so accustomed to our regular life and routine that we don’t even think about the various chemicals we come in contact with. Here are some tips on keeping chemicals out of your home:

  • Take your shoes off as soon as you get home. A lot of dust and chemicals are brought into our home on our shoes, where they can stay in the carpet for a lifetime. Removing your shoes at the front door can reduce the microscopic dust in your house by up to 50 percent! Many European and Asian cultures do this routinely as habit.
  • Don’t leave your car idle and warming up in the garage. Carbon monoxide, benzene and other chemicals in exhaust fumes will drift into your home. It is best to drive your car out onto the driveway, some distance from your house and let it warm up there.
  • Don’t let excess moisture build up in your house; this will help to prevent the growth of mould. Leave the window of the bathroom open and use the fan each time you have a shower or bath. Remove any mould you can see; this can be with a ten percent bleach solution or a mixture of one cup of white vinegar, ¼ cup lemon juice and one litre of water. Look for areas of water damage in your home and have them fixed; this is a prime target for mould growth. Mould growth in your pillow can give you a blocked nose, sore throat or runny eyes; any pillow older than six months will have some mould inside. Hang your pillow on the clothes line in full sun for six to eight hours; beat it as hard as you can with a bat or similar object and then vacuum it. This is a good way to remove and destroy mould spores, plus a great way to deal with PMS symptoms!
  • Try to avoid using chemicals that aren’t absolutely essential. Using lots of chemicals to clean and “freshen” your home may be polluting your home and poisoning your body. Avoid the use of air fresheners and insect sprays in your home. Purchase toiletries that are “fragrance free” or “hypoallergenic”, as these will contain less chemicals. There are healthier, less toxic versions of all cleaning products and household chemicals. Choose plant or mineral based paints and varnishes rather than conventional petrochemical based ones. Non-toxic cleaning products and personal care products are now widely available. Try The Natural Paint Place for efficient alternatives.
  • If you get your clothes dry cleaned, make sure you air them out on the clothes line for several hours before you take them into your house. If you buy new soft furnishings such as curtains, blankets or a bed, it is best to air them outside first, so that some of the chemicals will out-gas outside, not in your home.

Ventilate your home

This is one of the most important points. Indoor air is so much more polluted than outdoor air because it is stagnant and doesn’t move. Open several windows regularly so there is a breeze in your house. This is one of the best ways to clear your home of accumulated chemicals.

Keep indoor plants in your house

Sydney researchers have found that indoor plants can reduce Volatile Organic Compounds by up to 100 percent in 24 hours, in a closed environment. This research was conducted at the University of Technology, Sydney and seven different species of common indoor potted plants were used. Surprisingly it was not the leaves of the plants that absorbed the toxins; it was the microorganisms in the soil, associated with the plant roots. Below is a list of the seven species of indoor plants that were used in this experiment:

  • Spathiphyllum “Petite” (Peace Lily)
  • Spathiphyllum “Sensation” (Peace Lily)
  • Howea forsteriana (Kentia Palm)
  • Epipremnum aureum (Devil’s Ivy)
  • Dracaena marginata (Red-edge Dracaena)
  • Dracaena deremensis (Janet Craig)
  • Schefflera amate (Qld Umbrella Tree)