Green Cleaning: How to Detoxify Your Home

Green Cleaning: How to Detoxify Your HomeSometimes we’re so focused on eating healthy that we forget about living healthy. We watch what goes into our mouths to make sure we’re not ingesting unnecessary chemicals, but forget to keep tabs on what we bring into our homes.

Yet a 2009 study in Environmental Science & Technology journal says that the average household contains about 400 chemicals, some of which are toxic to our health.

So even if you’ve decided you want to lower your exposure to these chemicals and the health risks they pose, you may not know where to start. Is it just a matter of swapping normal chemical cleaners like bleach and ammonia for more natural products? Something more?

We’ve sorted through the chaos to find you easy-to-implement ideas that will give you a big breath of fresher air.

Leave Your Shoes at the Door

Mom might’ve told you to do this as kid because she didn’t want your dirty feet mucking up her clean carpets.

But did you know that your shoes track in about 80% of everything they step in, including road sealant, pesticides and lead dust? Yikes!

Open the Windows More Frequently

Despite what you may think, the air inside your home can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. So freshen up the air in your home as much as the weather (and your heating / cooling costs) allow!

Stop Using Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets leave a chemical residue on your clothes. This residue contains stuff like quaternary ammonium compounds, which have been linked to the development of asthma, and acetone, which is the active ingredient in your nail polish remover. (Your towels will also be a lot more absorbent without the chemical coating!)

Air Out Dry Cleaning

Or better yet, switch to a “green” dry cleaning service that uses a liquid carbon dioxide wash or the wet-cleaning method.

A solvent used during the cleaning process, called perchloroethylene, clings to fibers. When it’s inhaled, it can cause respiratory and eye irritation, headaches, dizziness and vision problems.

If you have dry-cleaned items hanging in storage, take them out of the bags and let the clothes air out for a day or two to get rid of some of the solvent.

Replace Products Containing VOCs

If you have a vinyl shower curtain, you may want to consider swapping it out for one made of another material like cotton, polyester or EVA or PEVA plastic.

A 2008 study found that vinyl curtains release 108 volatile organic compounds. VOCs are chemicals that become gaseous at room temperature, which means that they have the potential to cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and irritate eyes and throats.

They’re also found in most paint. So if you’re planning a future remodel or repainting, look for cans with a low or zero VOC label.

Give Up on Pesticides

Exposure to these products may lead to nerve, skin and eye damage as well as headaches and nausea. They are designed to kill pests after all, which means they’re probably not so great for you either.

Decide whether the pest is a nuisance or a health concern. For ants, just patch any holes where they’re entering your home and keep the floor and counter cleaner.

If you can’t ditch pesticides altogether, look for less toxic brands and pay attention to warning labels. They go from lower to higher toxicity: Caution. Warning. Danger. Caution is the least toxic, while danger is the most.

For disease carrying pests like fleas, rodents and cockroaches, call in a professional who knows how to handle these products and properly fumigate your home. The cost is worth your health.

Get Familiar With Plastics

They’re not all created equal. Some plastic containers release a chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA), which can affect your hormones.

The FDA actually banned plastics with BPA from being used in baby bottles and sippy cups.

But just because you’ve grown up a bit doesn’t mean you should put yourself at risk. So while BPA passes out of the body quickly, other research shows that BPA may be associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease and other adult conditions.

How can you tell if the plastic item you’re using contains BPA? Look for a symbol containing the number 7. These items should never be put in the microwave or dishwasher because the chemical is more likely to be released with heat.

Also beware of tin cans with BPA, as acidic and oily foods stored in them are more likely to contain it.

Make Your Own Natural Cleaners

We’ve written about this extensively! (link) From deodorizers and air fresheners to all-natural cleaners you can make yourself, you can get the same powerful clean without all the harsh chemicals.

Use Microfiber Cloths Instead of Dust Sprays

Dust sprays just add to the amount of chemicals in your home. If you want to dust really well without scattering it everywhere, just use a microfiber cloth instead.

For a green clean you can trust, call in the professionals at 1st Class Cleaning. We provide residential and commercial cleaning services to the greater NYC area and would love to show you how our people-, pet- and environment-friendly products can give you a safe, thorough clean.

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