Now that spring is on its way, its a perfect time to give your home a head-to-toe clean. But have you considered whether the cleaning products you use are safe or healthy? It’s amazing what harmful chemicals some of us will introduce into our homes for the sake of keeping them “clean”. With cases of eczema and asthma ever on the increase, maybe it’s time to ditch your usual spring clean, and opt for a spring detox instead.
Commercial cleaning products have been a key health and environmental concern in recent years. Many everyday products are sources of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and even arsenic, which can build up to create a toxic cocktail in your home. These chemicals have been shown to be a factor in the steady increase in cases of eczema, asthma, allergies and auto immune diseases, and can also contribute to headaches, dizziness and blurred vision. There has also been a link shown between cleaning chemicals and the development of certain cancers and conditions of the nervous system.
Because of the rise in the use of chemical cleaners, as well as the levels of solvents in paints and home furnishings, David Santillo, researcher at the University of Exeter says that homes represent a “significant source of chemical exposure”, a great concern to anyone who considers their home to be a safe place for themselves and their family.
Over the past 20 years, clever advertising has led us to believe that we need commercial cleaning problems in order for our homes and families to be “safe” from germs, but this simply isn’t the case. In fact, natural cleaners such as vinegar, lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda and soap are safer, cheaper and just as effective, and were the go-to cleaners of choice some 30 years ago.
How to detox your home
Vacuum more often. Carpets and soft furnishings can harbour many harmful chemicals which they absorb from the air around your home, as well as gathering dust which can trigger allergies. Regular vacuuming helps to keep this to a minimum, helping to maintain better quality air around the home.
Add house plants around the home. Many house plants have naturally detoxifying properties, and can help to absorb harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde from the air. Place them in the kitchen to absorb strong food smells, bedrooms and even garages to keep the air feeling fresh and clean.
Switch furniture polish for natural oils. Rubbing wood with a small amount of olive oil is a great way to bring out its natural shine without the need for solvents.
Replace your surface cleaners with natural alternatives. A spray bottle of diluted distilled vinegar makes a perfect all-purpose antibacterial cleaner for use on surfaces all around the house. For removing surface stains, use neat vinegar or lemon juice, and add a little bicarbonate of soda before scrubbing clean.
Replace any damaged or scratched non stick pans. Non stick coatings can contain some nasty chemicals including PFCs, which have been linked with liver, pancreatic and testicular cancers in tests. These chemicals are more likely to contaminate your food if your pans are scratched or damaged, so replace them with stainless steel, enamel or crockery pans to avoid exposure.
If you plan on redecorating, choose VOC-free paint. VOCs can impact your health and cause headaches, shaking, blurred vision, dizziness and breathing difficulties. Paint which is free of these solvents may take longer to dry, but won’t contribute to the levels of harmful chemicals in your home. Redecorating also gives you a chance to replace any MDF furniture, which can contribute to levels of formaldehyde in the atmosphere.
Image sourced: Gnangarratagsbaking sodadetox your homelemon juicenatural cleaningvinegarvocs