Many of us are spending a lot more time at home these days, which means it's more important than ever that our living spaces be clean and comfortable. Maybe you've undertaken a big decluttering project and have done some rearranging to make room for a pleasant work-from-home space. But have you thought about ways to rid your home of germs and toxins on surfaces and in the air1?
A home detox is a lot easier to execute than one of those extreme body detoxes—there's no fasting involved, for one thing! Here are 10 small changes you could make today to protect your family from germs and indoor toxins.
- Go natural with cleaning products. Replace commercial, chemical cleaning products with safer, "green" ones, or better yet homemade products. It's not that hard to make your own cleaners with essential oils2; they work well, and you get to customize the scents!
- Let in the fresh air. Most home heating and cooling systems don't bring in much outside air,3 which is essential for venting indoor pollutants. Three ways to bring in more fresh air: using window-mounted air conditioners; adding outdoor air intakes to your HVAC system; or just throwing the windows open wide anytime the outdoor temperature permits it—and sometimes when it doesn't.
- Filter out toxins. Another means of having fresher, cleaner air: just clean the recycled air. You can use HVAC air filters (but consider the MERV rating4 carefully) and/or air purifiers. These come in a variety of sizes and efficiency ratings; the SoClean Air Purifier5 is a portable one that is up to 3,000 times more effective than HEPA standards.
- Switch to natural home scents. You probably like your home to smell good, but most spray and plug-in air fresheners are full of chemicals. Consider switching to diffusers that use essential oils for their scent. Also, swap out regular scented candles for safer ones with cotton wicks, nontoxic wax or soy bases, and natural scents.
- Switch from dryer sheets to dryer balls. Regular dryer sheets contain synthetic fragrances, but you can get the same fabric-softening effect—as well as faster drying time—with wool dryer balls. If you like, these can even be scented with a few drops of essential oil.6
- Filter your drinking water. Water contamination can happen anywhere along the line from the treatment plant to your tap, so be sure you're filtering your drinking and cooking water. You can use a pitcher-style filter, or a filter installed in your refrigerator or at the tap.
- Consider safer cookware. Nonstick cooking surfaces can release dangerous chemicals into the air when heated at high temperatures, or into your food when scratched with metal utensils. Be sure to use your cookware appropriately, and consider the pros and cons of different types.7
- Replace shower curtains. Shower curtain liners can be made of hemp, linen or cotton, not just plastic and vinyl! These natural materials are more expensive, but they're also washable, repel water well and don't emit volatile organic compounds.8
- Make high-touch objects safer. Germs can spread on our hands—and everything we touch. To make sure you aren't bringing outside germs into the house, consider investing in a SoClean Device Disinfector.9 You can toss your key fob, earbuds, phone and sunglasses inside when you return home, and they'll be ready with highly efficient ozone in a matter of minutes.*
- Clean high-traffic areas. Light switches, countertops, doorknobs and any other frequently touched areas deserve some extra TLC. Simple soap and water10 are very effective for a wipe-down and may help you prevent colds and other viral sicknesses.
It's worth the effort to make your home a healthy oasis from the chemicals and germs of the outside world. You'll sleep better and breathe easier!
* The SoClean Device Disinfector is effective at killing 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria on many items at the longest cycle time.
- "Indoor Air Pollutants and Health," American Lung Association, updated March 2020.
- "Essential Oils: 9 Best Cleaning Recipes," SherryStrong.org., accessed August 2020.
- "Improving Indoor Air Quality," Environmental Protection Agency, accessed August 2020.
- "The Furnace and Air Conditioner Filters We Would Buy," by Tim Heffernan, The Wirecutter, May 2019.
- SoClean Air Purifier.
- "How to: Create a Signature Scent for Your Laundry with Essential Oils and Wool Dryer Balls," Echoview Fiber Mill, accessed August 2020.
- "Can Cookware Be Toxic? What to Know and How to Choose Pots and Pans," Healthline, September 2019.
- "The 'New Shower Curtain Smell' May Be Toxic to Your Health," Healthy Building Network, July 2008.
- SoClean Device Disinfector.
- "Why Soap Works," by Ferris Jabr, The New York Times, March 2020.