Detoxify Your Home: A Guide to Healthy Living

Apr 15, 2024 | Health and Wellness

By Dr. Alyssa Burnham

Naturopathic Doctor at Wise Woman Wellness

With spring in the air, now is the perfect time to give your home a refresh. However, the last thing we want to do is to load our homes and bodies with the potentially harmful chemicals found in many conventional cleaning products. This article covers the do’s and don’ts of deep cleaning your home naturally.

Toxins & Your Health

Recent studies have shown how many chemicals the average American is exposed to daily, and how harmful this can be to the body over time. The human bodies contains a network of glands called the endocrine system which produces our hormones. Hormones impact many biological processes such as sleep, growth, fertility, and reproduction. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, endocrine-disrupting chemicals are present in dozens of household items. Exposure to these chemicals, even in low amounts, can alter the body’s sensitive hormonal systems and lead to several health problems.

The chemicals found in cleaning products can also negatively impact your respiratory system. Several studies have found that people working in the domestic cleaning industry have higher rates of asthma and respiratory illness. Studies have also found that professional cleaners experience higher rates of dermatitis, due to frequent exposure to skin irritants and allergens found in cleaning products.

The importance of switching to less harsh chemicals is clear, not just for professional cleaners but also for cleaning at home.

Health and wellness is about more than just your diet and exercise – your environment and exposure to toxins also play a large role. While we can’t avoid them altogether, we can take action to become aware of them and to replace them with gentler alternatives whenever possible.

Common Household Items with Harmful Chemicals

Cleaning Products

Typical household cleaning and laundry products are full of chemicals that we inhale and our skin absorbs. Many products contain phthalates, a class of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and fragrances last longer. Phthalates are associated with endocrine disruption and immune system dysfunction. Another chemical to avoid is ammonia – found in most polishing agents for bathrooms and also in glass cleaners.

Air Fresheners & Scented Candles

To protect your health, resist the urge to mask stubborn household odors with chemically-laden scented products. Studies have found that scented air fresheners and candles can release more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including some that are considered toxic or hazardous by federal laws. VOCs lead to indoor air pollution and can lead to a range of issues, such as headaches, nausea, and asthma.

Plastics and Food Storage

Plastic food containers are great for keeping fridges tidy and organized. However, they are not so great for our health. Most plastic containers contain chemicals that can seep into our food and cause health issues. Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine-disrupting chemical found in many plastic food containers. Even aluminum or metal water bottles may be lined with BPA to improve the water’s taste.

Natural Alternatives and Spring Cleaning Tips

DIY All-purpose Cleaner

With just a few easy steps, you can make a homemade batch of all-purpose surface cleaners that contain zero phthalates or artificial fragrances. All you need is equal parts distilled white vinegar, which contains acetic acid that dissolves mineral deposits and greasy smudges, and water. You can add essential oils or lemon juice for scent.  Lightly mist surfaces with your all-purpose cleaner and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.

Natural Home Fragrances

Look for candles made of natural waxes, such as beeswax, and scented with essential oils or consider an essential oil diffuser. You can also make a simmer pot with spices and fruits to fragrance your home naturally. Add your choice of aromatics – such as cinnamon, cloves, and orange slices – to a small saucepan with water. Bring the pot to a boil then simmer for the next couple hours and enjoy!

Plastic Swaps

When shopping for food or food storage containers, always opt for glass over plastic. Ceramic or stainless steel is another safe option for storing food.

Improving Air Quality

It is important to regularly ventilate your home by opening the windows for at least ten minutes a day. The fresh air and light will not only boost your mood but will help improve the air quality of your space. Research has found a correlation between open windows and a more diversified gut microbiome! Investing in an air purifier can also be effective for keeping indoor air clean. At Wise Woman Wellness, we sell a wonderful brand, Austin Air, that is made in America, comes with a five-year warranty and no need to change the filter for 5 years with normal use. It’s Medical Grade HEPA technology is proven to remove up to 95% of all airborne contaminants as small as 0.1 microns. This includes viruses, bacteria, dust, dander and allergens. The carbon blend used in this filter will also effectively remove chemicals, gases and odors.

Not only do plants look great, but many varieties have air-filtering qualities that can help freshen up your home. Snake plants are low maintenance and great air purifiers.

I hope you are feeling inspired to refresh your space this spring using our non-toxic cleaning tips. Bid farewell to harsh chemicals that harm your health, and welcome a healthier home environment by opting for eco-friendly alternatives like vinegar, essential oils, and herbs.

If you have questions about toxins, or healthy alternatives for cleaning products, or would like more tips on keeping your home fresh naturally, feel free to reach out to us. We are committed to supporting your wellness journey, one step at a time.

Sources:

Lee I, Ji K. Identification of combinations of endocrine disrupting chemicals in household chemical products that require mixture toxicity testing. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2022 Jul 15;240:113677. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2022.113677. Epub 2022 May 26. PMID: 35642859.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, “Endocrine Disruptors,” https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine

Medina-Ramón M, Zock JP, Kogevinas M, Sunyer J, Antó JM. Asthma symptoms in women employed in domestic cleaning: a community based study. Thorax. 2003 Nov;58(11):950-4. doi: 10.1136/thorax.58.11.950. PMID: 14586047; PMCID: PMC1746523.

DermNet, “Skin Problems in Professional Cleaners,” https://dermnetnz.org/topics/skin-problems-in-professional-cleaners

Harris CA, Henttu P, Parker MG, Sumpter JP. The estrogenic activity of phthalate esters in vitro. Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Aug;105(8):802-11. doi: 10.1289/ehp.97105802. PMID: 9347895; PMCID: PMC1470189.

Bornehag CG, Sundell J, Weschler CJ, Sigsgaard T, Lundgren B, Hasselgren M, Hägerhed-Engman L. The association between asthma and allergic symptoms in children and phthalates in house dust: a nested case-control study. Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Oct;112(14):1393-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.7187. PMID: 15471731; PMCID: PMC1247566.

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Kembel SW, Jones E, Kline J, Northcutt D, Stenson J, Womack AM, Bohannan BJ, Brown GZ, Green JL. Architectural design influences the diversity and structure of the built environment microbiome. ISME J. 2012 Aug;6(8):1469-79. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.211. Epub 2012 Jan 26. PMID: 22278670; PMCID: PMC3400407.