Our home should be our safe haven. The place where we can relax and not worry about our environment. But did you know that the air inside our homes is 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside? This is due to things like chemical cleaners, building materials, paints, and carpets. The good news is that there are so many things we can do to create a non-toxic home.
We’re all at a different place in our health journey. So whether all of this information is brand new to you, or you’ve already checked off most of this list, that’s ok! Please don’t let this make you feel overwhelmed or discouraged with where you are, because we all started in the same place!
I am in no way saying you *have* to do all of these things, they are just things I believe help to make your home a safe & clean environment and things I have personally done to create a non-toxic home.
This is something I’ve been passionate about for years. Fragrance truly is the new second hand smoke as it contributes to endless health issues. Fragrance is an endocrine disrupter, can cause allergies & asthma, weakens our immune systems, and is unsafe for pets & children.
We’ve been taught that “Clean” has a smell – bleach, windex, mr clean, lysol, Febreeze are associated with having a clean home. The opposite is actually true, and these cleaners are doing more harm than good for you.
I wrote an entire post on the harm of fragrances, so I won’t go into it in detail here. But ditching products like Febreeze, Lysol, candles, dryer sheets, or other scented products will truly change your health and is one of the easiest steps to create a non-toxic home.
I use Essential Oils in place or air fresheners, dryer sheets, and candles. And I use baking soda, vinegar, and this cleaner in place of all other cleaning products!
Not only are these options safer for your body, but they are budget friendly in the long run and have so many purposes!
There was a famous study done by NASA in the 1980s that presented the idea that houseplants are able to filter the air, removing harmful particles.
Recently, this study was done which supports the NASA findings.
Having houseplants, especially large, leafy plants, in your home can improve oxygen levels, reduce VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and reduce Carbon Monoxide levels.
So go ahead, and turn your home into a mini jungle!
REDUCE EMF EXPOSURE
EMF, or electromagnetic fields have been around forever and even come from the Earth and Sun. However, in the past few decades, we have introduced a massive amount of devices into our homes as well as significantly increased the amount of hours/day we spend on those devices.
Science is just beginning to scratch the surface on EMF exposure and the long term effects it can have on our bodies. There is a correlation between high EMF exposure and cancer, and while researches don’t agree on this, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.
A few things you can do to limit EMF exposure:
- Don’t place your laptop directly on your lap
- Avoid bluetooth headphones which have very high EMF levels
- Wear *wired* headphones to talk on the phone – putting space between you & your phone
- Don’t place your WIFI router in an area you spend a lot of time
- Turn your WIFI router off at night
- Charge your phone at least 4 feet away from your body at night
- Utilize airplane mode when possible
- Heat leftovers on the stove instead of in the microwave
- Wear blue-light blocking glasses while using screens
New furniture, especially upholstered furniture is often sprayed with flame retardant or stain blocking chemicals which can be very harmful to your health. If you’ve ever noticed an odour with new furniture, that’s because it goes through a period of “off gassing” where those chemicals sprayed on it during manufacturing release into your home.
Similarly, faux wood furniture made of plywood, particle board, or composite wood use glues that contain and emit formaldehyde.
There are a few ways to avoid this to create a non-toxic home:
- Purchase used furniture in which these chemicals have worn off
- Avoid furniture with labels such as “flame retardant”, “Scotch guard” or “stain blocking”
- Stick to furniture made of 100% real, untreated wood
- Look for an FSC certification which means the wood was harvested from responsibly managed forests.
- Stick to wood furniture marked “formaldehyde free”
ZERO VOC PAINTS
I am definitely a fan of painting a home to help it feel clean & fresh. However, indoor paints can have a high level of VOCs such as formaldehyde, toluene and acetone which are harmful to breathe in.
Thankfully paints have come a long way, and most brands make a low VOC option. There are other measures we can take to protect ourselves from VOCs, specifically in paints:
- Always be sure to open windows, and paint in a well ventilated area – even if it’s winter time!
- Take breaks while painting and move to a clean area.
- Utilize fans to increase air movement and help with ventilation.
- Store extra paint cans far away from your living space
- Look for the Green Seal-11 which is the highest recognized standard of low VOC products.
The actual building materials used in our homes can be extremely toxic. Obviously you can’t change to wood used to frame your home if you aren’t building a brand new home. But there are still things you can do to create a non-toxic home in your already built home!
- If you are doing renovations, be conscious of the products you source.
- Use an air filter to remove harmful pathogens from the air
- Look for certifications such as Green Seal-11, Greenguard Gold or FSC
I’m nowhere near a professional on this topic. But if you are in the process of building a home, I’d recommend looking into non-toxic options for each part of your home!
Depending on your climate, you may benefit from either a humidifier or a dehumidifier.
Optimal indoor humidity levels are around 40-50%. Low humidity can lower your immune system, lengthen the duration of illnesses or contribute to dry skin. High humidity levels can increase the risk of mold and mildew in your home.
I live in a very dry climate with long, cold winters so running a humidifier is important. I also use a humidity meter to monitor the humidity and ensure that it doesn’t get too high and case damage.
- Shower with the door open
- Boil a large pot of water on the stove
- Hang dry wet clothing
DON’T WEAR SHOES IN THE HOUSE
In Canada, where I live, it’s not a common practice to wear shoes in the house. Especially as a guest in someone’s house. However, I know that in many regions in the USA, this is very common! The most practical and FREE thing you can do today to create a non-toxic home…
STOP wearing outdoor shoes inside your house!
Think about everywhere those shoes have been. You may have unknowingly stepped in dog poop while walking around your neighbourhood, or picked up an airborne pathogen from the grocery store, a public washroom or anywhere else you have been in the past 2 weeks.
We all know that dust is unsightly, but did you know it also poses a risk to our health?
All these harmful chemicals we’ve been talking about are floating around in our air. The furniture off-gassing, chemical residue from cleaning products, etc is able to leach onto dust, and settle into our clothes, curtains, on our furniture, etc.
There are effective air filtration units but there are also a number of practical & free ways to reduce dust and create a non-toxic home!
- Dusting your furniture often (without using harmful chemicals!)
- Wash your linens regularly
- Houseplants 😉
Surprisingly, the water in many municipalities across North America is actually fill of nasty stuff – high levels of arsenic, chlorine, glyphosate, E. Coli, and so many other chemicals linked to cancer, fertility issues, hormone disruption, and brain development.
When it comes to what level of these substances is “Safe” in our drinking water the legal limits often significantly differs from the safe levels we see in research.
If you want to find out the quality of the water where you live, EWG has an incredible, free resource to do so! (If anyone has found a similar resource for Canada, let me know! I haven’t been able to find anything)
We actually live in an area with exceptionally clean drinking water, so while a water filter wouldn’t hurt, I haven’t prioritized purchasing one.
There are many types of water filters that filter different levels of contaminants. Popular filters such as Brita, or fridge filters aren’t very effective at filtering most things.
If, and when, I do decide to purchase a water filter I will most likely go with the Big Berkey Filter for the following reasons:
- It filters more contaminants than all of it’s competitors
- It filters lead, flouride (additional attachment), and chlorine which are the main concerns where I live
- It doesn’t waste water (reverse osmosis produces a lot of water waste)
- We do not plan on living in our home long term, so a whole home purification system isn’t a practical investment.
- It’s portable for travel
- It’s economical as the main filter lasts up to 5 years
This is another wish list item for our home. When we decide to invest in a new mattress, we will purchase one that is made of organic materials.
Similarly to furniture, mattresses are often sprayed with a flame retardant or water proofing solution. Our mattress is 5+ years old, so at this point I’m not overly concerned about off-gassing, but since we spend so much of our lives on our mattress, this is important!
I hope these tips were helpful. As I mentioned above, it is never my goal for you to feel overwhelmed. I hope you see this lifestyle as something that IS attainable if you start taking the baby steps today.
If this was helpful, be sure to pin it for later!