You like to think of your home as a safe and comfortable environment. For the most part, it is. Unfortunately, there might be hidden toxins, and not so hidden toxins, in your home that could be adversely affecting your health. Let’s take a look at some of these toxins and how you can eliminate or reduce them to create a healthier habitat.
The Top Toxins in Your Home
Bleach, ammonia, and petrochemicals can be found in many commercial house cleaning products. Breathing these in can cause dizziness, headaches, and respiratory distress.
Benzenes are used in air fresheners and scented candles to make them smell like specific flowers or spices. These chemicals have been linked to headaches, sinus problems, and even digestive issues.
Parabens are commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizers. These synthetic preservatives can disturb the endocrine systems of your body.
Chlorinated tap water is likely what you are drinking if you are on a public water supply. Chlorine is a chemical used to kill microorganisms in our drinking water and swimming pools. According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, long term consumption of chlorinated water can lead to an increased risk in bladder cancer.
Mold and mildew are what allergy specialists like to call the silent killers. You might not know that your home has mold or mildew. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mold is common in buildings. It can be within your walls, under your floors, in your washing machine and dishwasher, and on damp surfaces. Mold spores are known to cause chronic fatigue, allergies, respiratory illnesses, and decreased immune function.
Dust Mites can be found in bedding and carpets. Breathing in these little bugs can cause symptoms very similar to hayfever and sinus infections. They can disrupt sleep.
Detecting Toxins in Your Home
Detecting toxins in your home is easy when you can read labels. It isn’t as clear when there are invisible or hidden toxins in your home.
Read the labels on your cleaning products, air fresheners, and body care products. All the ingredients have to be listed. If there are more than 10 ingredients, or you can’t pronounce most of them, chances are the ingredients are not good for you.
If you are drinking tap water from a public supply source, it’s a good bet that the water is treated with chlorine. If your water smells faintly like a swimming pool, it has been treated with chlorine. Another way to tell if your water is chlorinated is to see if your clothing color fades when washed.
Mold and mildew are difficult to detect without opening up walls or removing flooring. You can hire specialists who have equipment to measure the moisture.
Dust mites are generally present in most homes. You can’t see them. Just know that they are there.
6 Ways to Reduce Toxins in your Home
There are things you can do to immediately reduce toxins in your home. This is true for the clearly visible toxins. Hidden toxins in your home will take some patience and pro-active measures. Here are some solutions and suggestions.
- Throw out the commercial household cleaners. You can replace those with easy to find items that will likely cost less. Plain grocery store white vinegar is great for cleaning bathroom and kitchen surfaces, and for glass. Vinegar mixed with baking soda makes a paste that you can use to scrub the inside of your oven and to remove rust. Eucalyptus essential oil mixed with some water can be used to wipe down and disinfect toilets, sinks, faucets, and door knobs.
- Replace scented candles with natural soy based candles with plant derived fragrances. Get rid of the air fresheners. If you have carpets, make a mixture of 2 cups of baking soda with 15 drops of your favorite essential oils. An example is 5 drops of lemon, 5 of pine, and 5 of lavender. Mix well and sprinkle this on your carpets. Leave it for 3 to 12 hours. Vacuum it up in the morning. Your carpets and vacuum will smell great. You can store this mixture in a glass jar.
- Switch out your paraben laden body care products for pure soaps like Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castile with essential oils. Castile soap is multi-purpose. You can use it to wash yourself, your clothes, your dishes, and your pets. Try to use moisturizers that have only one ingredient. Coconut oil, jojoba oil, and argon oil are good options.
- Filter your water. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a whole house filtering system. A countertop filtering pitcher will do the job for drinking water. You will have to purchase replacement filters approximately every 60 days. If you are concerned about bacteria in your water, add a drop of food grade peppermint essential oil to the pitcher. For your shower, you can install a showerhead attachment with carbon filters. The filter will need to be replaced about once a year.
- Mold is tricky because it is often hidden. For surface mold, clean with vinegar. Investing in a dehumidifier will help. You will need to remember to empty it often. If you have issues with mold in your washing machine and dishwasher, add a few drops of thyme or clove oil to the soap dispenser before starting your wash. Clean the machines with vinegar and essential oils.
- Dust mites are actually easier to control than most people think. First, you do need to wash your bed linens and vacuum your carpets on a regular basis. Take the recipe for the carpet deodorizer in section 2 above and add 1 TBS of food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) to the mix. Shake this up well and use it on carpets and sturdy upholstery. DE dehydrates most insects that come in contact with it. This will help you control mites and other creepy crawling things.
There are many potential toxins in your home. You can take measures to detect and reduce these. Making a commitment to having a healthy home is not a massive undertaking. You can start by swapping out hazardous products for more natural ones. Detoxifying your home will result in better health for you and ultimately for the environment.