Many people are concerned about outdoor air pollution, but has it occurred to you that your indoor environment should also be clean and contaminant-free? Allergens and chemicals can be as prevalent indoors as they are outdoors, and once they enter your home they remain for a long time, trapped by windows and walls, and settling on the surfaces of furniture and floors.
Do a quick check to gauge where your home stands now in terms of some common indoor contaminants. Take our online Indoor Air Quality Quiz. Are there contaminants you’d love to remove from your home?
It’s tough to keep everything from dust to daily cleaners our of our modern-day houses, but there are steps you can take to detox your environment. Here are some tips:
- Don’t smoke or allow smoking in your home.
- Never idle your car in an indoor garage.
- Avoid the use of fragrances, such as perfumes or fragrance-laden soaps, bathwater additives, and cleaners.
- Schedule regular air duct cleanings.
- Don’t use chemical air fresheners. In 2006, the National Institutes of Health reported that 1,4 dichlorobenzene (or 1,4 DCB), “a chemical compound found in many air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners, mothballs and other deodorizing products, may be harmful to the lungs.” The National Resources Defense Council has also reported that “an analysis of more than a dozen common household air fresheners found that most contain chemicals that may affect hormones and reproductive development, particularly in babies [...].”
- Try candles scented with essential oils, like those offered by BsaB Candles instead of candles made with synthetic fragrances.
- Buy organic fruits and vegetables, to avoid ingesting chemical pesticides.
- If you’re interested in filtering chlorine or other substances out of your tap water, attach a water filter to your faucet instead of buying bottled water. You’ll avoid the toxin BPA, which can leach from plastic bottles, and prevent those wasted bottles from ending up in landfills.
- Use eco-friendly cleaners. Here’s a quick (and surprising) list of natural cleaners:
- Lemons – Especially effective when used with salt, lemons make a great souring paste for countertops, cutting boards, dishes, and more.
- Liquid Castile Soap – Plant-based and efficient, this soap can be used to clean anything from your floors, sinks, and stovetops, to your car.
- Borax – Add to a laundry wash to makes detergent more effective, or use to clean china or refresh a sour-smelling dishwasher. It can also get rid of rust stains in toilets overnight.
- Vinegar – Distilled white vinegar inhibits mold, mildew, and some bacteria. Use it to clean your coffeemaker, dishwasher, and drains – even windows!
- Baking and Washing Soda – Both absorb odors, although washing soda can’t be ingested, and you should wear rubber gloves when handling it. Use to clean can openers, concrete surfaces, garden tools, stained teacups, and coffee mugs.
- Table salt can be used for scouring.
- White bread can help you dust a painting.
- Cooking oil can remove scuff marks.
- Ketchup will remove tarnish from copper and brass cookware.
- Use eco-friendly paints in your home. Look for paints certified by Green Seal, a nonprofit group that tests paints for such substances as VOCs that can release cancer-causing toxins.
- Whenever possible, avoid buying clothes that require dry cleaning. Many dry cleaners use perchloroethylene, or perc, which is classified by the EPA as an air contaminant. Some dry cleaners now use more environmentally-friendly cleaners such as GreenEarth, a modified liquid silicone labeled “non-toxic” as determined by EPA study protocol. Look for an eco-friendly dry cleaner, and ask questions about their cleaning methods.
- Avoid toys and other items that use PVC plastics, or vinyl, whenever possible. Read more about the dangers of PVC at the HealthyChild.org blog.
- And what about the lawn just outside your front or back door? It’s possible to maintain a chemical free lawn, and to keep lawn chemicals from being tracked indoors. Organic Lawncare 101 offers plenty of information, tips, and how-to articles.
If you’re interested in public information about chemicals offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, check this web page for links to data and reports.
COIT believes in making our cleaning processes as environmentally friendly as possible. We want to be your partner in maintaining a clean and healthy home.