When we think of detoxification or hear it mentioned, we think first of our bodies and what we must do to eliminate toxins and other unwanted waste lingering inside of us. And when we talk about detoxifying our bodies, the conversation typically zeroes in on our liver, which is our body's most important cleansing organ. Being aware of and acting on the need to frequently detoxify your body – and thus enhance your health – is one thing, but it's not the whole equation. Detoxifying your home and whatever else constitutes our immediate environment (office space, the inside of your car or SUV, etc.) is every bit as important as cleaning out our bodies, and the at-home part can take a lot more work and an awareness of what does what inside our four walls.
Home Is Where the Chemicals AreYou like numbers? Here are a couple of numbers to chew on, although be careful what you put in your mouth: per bewell.com, the average home contains anywhere from 500 to 1,000 chemicals, and most likely you are unable to smell, taste, or even see them. But they are lurking pretty much everywhere, and any of them could – in the right (or, actually, wrong) amount and under the right circumstances – be hazardous to your health, if not in the near term then over the long haul through sustained exposure. Here's a for instance worth pondering: indoor air is typically two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. The culprits? They are many, but we can start with home insulation – which helps keep us warm in winter and cool in the summer – and wall-to-wall carpet, which although dated in most homes nowadays, provides us comfort and coziness. The former keeps fresh air out (meaning we keep breathing and re-breathing the same stale air); the latter can trap dirt, dust, mites, lead, and fleas (just for starters), none of which belong in our (planned) health regimens. And cleaning products? Don't even get us started – the potential toxins are practically omnipresent. Just check out the labels, keeping in mind that not all toxic agents contained in such products ever see the light of a label's day. Ditto personal-care products, pesticides designed for homes' and gardens' use, many of which have been known to cause cancer and nervous system poisoning. Per cleanplates.com, 95 percent of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum, including a variety of toxic substances linked to headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions, respiratory issues, reproductive problems, and central nervous system disorders.
How to Detox Your HomeConsidering all the unhealthy junk, stuff, and chemicals we have floating around or lingering in our homes, it's time to exercise some counter-measures. Following are some things you can add to your checklist to work toward when detoxifying your home and getting it all spic-and-span:
- Carpets. More and more, homeowners are switching to hardwoods/laminate, but many rooms still are lined with air-polluting carpets. Subbing natural-fiber carpets for the traditional kind can help, as can wood or tile floors. Sure, there's an expense, but what is your health and the health of your family members worth to you?
- Plastics. This goes beyond just the paper or plastics? question at the grocery store. Much of the stuff in most homes is made from plastic, and many plastics contain BPA, which can disrupt your endocrine system (adrenal glands, pancreas, sex hormones, thyroid gland, etc.), per wholenewmom.com. Remedy: start by replacing plastic containers with metal ones.
- Pets. Our dogs and cats need pet-care products, too, and better safe than sorry when choosing such products.
- Household cleaners. Spray-on window cleaners (we'll avoid the obvious brand name here) typically bear warnings to avoid contact with eyes, skin, and clothing, and that warning is not to be taken lightly. Yes, toxic chemicals are present. Go online and find instructions/recipes for homemade, water-based cleaners that are much less toxic, if toxic at all.
- Tap water. Per the New York Times, the Safe Drinking Water Act regulates 91 contaminants, although tap water contains more than 60,000 chemicals, untold dozens of which can cause disease. Do yourself a favor and buy a water-filtration device for any faucet from which you drink water. And that alleged tooth-saving fluorine to prevent cavities? It's been shown to do a number on the teeth in children and infants.
- Nonstick cookware. Teflon contains perfluorinated (PFC) chemicals that have been linked to cancer and developmental problems, per bewell.com. Yes, they are easier to clean post-cooking, but . . .
- Pesticides. Simple – replace toxic lawn and garden pesticides and herbicides with safer natural ones.
- Indoor air. Leave screen-guarded windows and doors open whenever practical to help ventilate the house. Also, consider placing green plants around the house as natural air detoxifiers.
- Carbon monoxide, radon, methane, etc. Start by getting your home tested for these odorless, sightless gases.
- Shoes. Even if they look clean, they can track dirt, pesticides, and unhealthy lead throughout your house. Take them off upon entering the house, leave by the door, and switch to slippers inside the house. Tip: position floor mats by main-door entrances vertically to help keep dirt and other residue wiped from shoes outside.
- Dry cleaning. As soon as you pick up dry-cleaned clothes, remove and dispose of the plastic covering before storing your clothes, because the plastic traps dry-cleaning chemicals on your clothes. In fact, consider asking the dry cleaner not to enclose your cleaned clothes in plastic in the first place.
- Dryer sheets (laundry). Full of toxins such as benzyl acetate and terpines, per organicauthority.com.