Whether you’re aware of it or not, your home may be in serious need of a detox. In reality, many toxins abound in every household—and are unknowingly put there by us. I’m not talking about undergoing any major construction projects here, but why not reduce the variety of toxins that thrive in the home?
So if you’re looking to rejuvenate your home, take these initial steps to begin “greenifying” your home and live more safely, naturally, and mindfully.
Reduce Toxins- 5 Focus Areas:
- Cleaning Products. It boggles the mind how we clean our houses with products that are harmful to our bodies. Bleach, for example, emits an obnoxious, toxic smell which makes us crinkle up our nose (and through inhalation can cause nausea and headaches for some). This is a natural warning alarm our bodies have in place to recognize unsafe substances. Pay heed to such biological responses since they offer us protection. Instead of bleach, if you want to whiten your t-shirts, mix lemon juice and water in a small basin and soak the shirt for an hour. Allow it to dry in the sun (if possible). And to take the place of bathroom disinfectant, use the eucalyptus spray recipe below.
- Household Products. Air fresheners usually have quite the list of chemicals in them, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as nitrogen dioxide. Do you really want to release those things into the air? Instead, try using essential oils in a diffuser or spritz a natural room spray (psst…you can even make your own! Just see the lemon air freshener recipe below). Also, you can burn natural candles made of soy or beeswax. Antibacterial soap and toothpaste are products that are deemed as “clean.” However, I encourage you to read the ingredients on the package since some contain triclosan, a known pesticide (among other harmful substances). Stick to all-natural bar soaps and toothpaste instead.
- Personal Care Products. The list in this category could go on for pages. Makeup, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion…all these items traditionally contain loads of chemicals, such as phthalates—a dangerous endocrine disrupter. It can get rather scary when you factor in the synergistic effect that multiple chemicals produce when mixed together. Your best bet? Go natural and organic, with as few ingredients as possible.
- Air. Especially during the winter, the indoor air quality gets highly compromised. This is because of the low circulation of fresh air from outside (not too many people are willing to open their windows in the dead of winter). One solution is to bring in some houseplants, as they help to take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Not all plants are created equal when it comes to filtering the air (succulents are not nearly as effective, whereas spider plants are a great option).
- Electricity. Just because an electrical device is turned off doesn’t mean it isn’t using any power. Electronics may be on “standby mode.” Try unplugging to save money, energy, and our bodies from unnecessary electromagnetic field (EMF) pollution. EMF overexposure produces such side effects as dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and concentration difficulties. Not cool. So be aware that now it’s possible to go super green by opting to buy a solar charger for your electronic devices! Pretty awesome in my book.
Home detoxification may likely be a process that you complete over time in stages. For one, it can get mighty expensive throwing out groups of products all at once. Begin replacing them with less harsh, eco-conscious and organic alternatives as you use them up or phase out one product category at a time. Just know that anything you do to decrease the amount of toxic substances in your house will directly impact your family’s health and safety.
And it goes way beyond chemicals and pollutants. Not only is it important to rid your home of toxins, but also to clear your home of clutter and negative energy. These things may unwittingly cause anxiety and emotional distress.
Declutter the piles. Sometimes it seems we accumulate things at such a fast rate, we have trouble ourselves keeping up with it! This tends to amount in an overflow of random “things” to various piles all around the house. You find them in the corners, on tables, in the drawers—everywhere. Talk about a snowball affect—they keep growing and growing until all of a sudden you have an abominable snowman. A lot of it may be stuff you don’t need or could simply re-organize. Notice how you feel after you take care of those piles. Don’t forget to donate higher quality items that may be of use to others and recycle as much as you can.
Dissipate negative energy. Have you ever walked into a room and sensed right away that someone just had an argument or was in a particularly foul mood? Energetically, negative emotions can affect the “feel” of our home space. Harmonize the room by sending out positive vibrations through good intentions, clearing visualizations, ringing a bell or chimes, playing a singing bowl, burning sage, or spraying smokeless smudge.
Reuse: The Joy of Upcycling: Upcycle odds and ends to give new value to old or unused items. I recently made use of vintage teacups and saucers by transforming them into stylish soy and beeswax candles. Old dressers and furniture can be used as creative plant holders in the garden. Glass food jars can hold items like makeup brushes or toothbrushes. And so forth. The possibilities are endless!
Recycle: This Should be Second Nature: Check out your local recycling center to learn more about how to properly dispose of hazardous waste. Through this valuable resource you should be able to find community drop-off sites for toxic products (don’t just assume you can pour everything down the drain).
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Celebrate your personal sanctuary by cleaning and greening it up. Vote with your dollars by buying eco-friendly products. It’s no secret that chemically laden products sneakily find their way back into the earth and our water supply. Let’s do our part to reduce this as much as possible. Be mindful and take back control of your residence. Detox your home to cleanse your life.
Lemon Air Freshener
(taken from the book, Salt, Lemons, Vinegar, and Baking Soda by Shea Zukowski.)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 cups hot water
½ cup lemon juice
Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water, then add the lemon juice and transfer to a clean spray bottle. This freshener helps clear the air of dust after cleaning.
Eucalyptus Bathroom Sanitizer Spray
(taken from the book, Lavender, Parsley, Peppermint, and Sage by Shea Zukowski.)
2 cups distilled water
¼ cup vodka
½ teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil
Combine ingredients in a spray water and shake well. Lightly spray the surfaces you want to disinfect, and then let air-dry. Eucalyptus has natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties, making it an excellent choice for sanitation.
Barnouin, K. (2011). Skinny bitch: Home, beauty, & style. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press.
Ryan, E. and Lowry, A. (2008). Squeaky green: The method guide to detoxing your home. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.