7 Changes to Make Your Home Healthier
Your home should be your sanctuary—an inviting place where you can rest, rejuvenate and heal from life’s daily stressors. But creating your haven takes more than investing in trendy decorations and a security system. It also means getting serious about what you allow (and don’t allow) inside your home and saying “no” to harmful pollutants and chemicals. These simple yet powerful changes can transform the health and safety of your home without a ton of time or money.
1. Banish dust
A little dust can do a lot of harm. It can trigger allergies and cause respiratory distress, and it can contain traces of harmful chemicals such as lead, flame retardants and pesticides.¹ Invest in a quality vacuum with an efficient filtration system, such as a HEPA filter, and vacuum at least twice a week. Don’t just graze the floors either—use vacuum attachments to clean furniture, curtains and hard-to-reach places, like high corners and air filters. Empty and clean the filter after every use to prevent dust from spewing back out.
2. Bring the outdoors in
Houseplants can deliver multiple benefits to your home. The foliage brightens up your space and your mood while several studies suggest that plants may filter some level of toxins in the air. Though how significant plant absorption is in mitigating the presence of pollutants in your home is inconclusive², studies from NASA and the American Society for Horticulture Science give these animal-friendly plants high marks: Gerber daisy, spider plant and bamboo palm.³ Other pet-friendly plants include areca palms, money plants, purple waffle plants, variegated wax plants and Boston ferns.
3. Clean overlooked areas
Ceiling fans and baseboards can easily accumulate dirt and dust. Keep an eye out for grimy baseboards when sweeping, mopping or vacuuming, and clean your ceiling fans at least once every other month using either a vacuum extension or a microfiber cloth with mild dish soap and water. Don’t forget to empty out the lint trap after every dryer cycle! Lint can clog dryer vents and ductwork, which constricts air flow and causes humidity levels to rise. Excess moisture may also cause mold and mildew to form on surrounding areas. Plus, lint is a major fire hazard!
4. Choose better body products
Chemicals applied to the skin can easily seep through to the bloodstream, so be careful about what you put on your body. Since the FDA doesn’t monitor personal care items, it’s not enough to trust labels claiming a product’s health factor. Scan labels before purchasing to avoid ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, synthetic fragrances, petrolatum (also known as mineral oil, petroleum jelly, paraffin oil) and phthalates. When buying body wash, lotion or moisturizer, remember that less is more—truly natural products have few ingredients. Look for a USDA Organic label or the NSF/ANSI 305 seal, both of which require a high percentage of organic ingredients and prohibit synthetic ingredients.4
5. Go green
This mantra shouldn’t just apply to building materials. It is also valid for your everyday activities. Cut plastic consumption by bringing your own canvas bags to the grocery, using reusable water bottles (stainless steel when possible), choosing glass food containers over plastic ones and nixing plastic cutlery and straws. Already taking these steps? Great job! Try these additional creative ways to go green: Install a low-flow showerhead (you’ll use between 25 to 60 percent less water),5 invest in a pressure cooker (quicker cooking times and less energy used!) and start a compost pile. Composting helps eliminate food waste and can save you on chemical fertilizers for your own garden and houseplants.
7. Upgrade your flooring
A few carpeted rooms shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s best to limit your amount of carpet if you can. Carpet more easily traps dust, dirt and dust mites, which can aggravate allergies and conditions like asthma. Installing carpet may also introduce harmful VOC gases,6 which can impact respiratory health, irritate the eyes, nose and throat and may even cause damage to the kidneys and central nervous system.7 Play it safe when choosing flooring and consider easier-to-clean wood instead.
These changes may seem small, but collectively they can make a huge impact on the health of your home and your overall well-being. And given how inexpensive and simple they are, there’s really no excuse not to try them. Over time, you may find you are able to breathe easier and relax more deeply into your safe space.