Detox Your Home: Best 5 First Steps

Tips to green your spring cleaning

Breathing furniture polish or having floor cleaner on your skin for a few minutes at a time may not make you sick. But green-cleaning queen Annie Bond says mounting research is raising questions about the cumulative effects of years of “normal” exposures like these to common household cleaning products that often contain known carcinogens.

The author of Clean & Green, Home Enlightenment and other books on keeping a health-friendly and earth-friendly abode, Bond says these five steps should be your first to detox your home.

Thinking about how to keep the kitchen chemical-free.

1. Switch to nontoxic cleaning products

Read up on what’s in the cleaning solutions and laundry products you use — then choose a natural brand you trust. When I wrote Clean & Green, you couldn’t buy a nontoxic commercial version of every product you need in the house. But there have been big breakthroughs. You can now find a nartural cleaning product for almost anything, and you don’t need to choose anything with warnings on the label stronger than “CAUTION.”

Or make your own, such as this simple multipurpose soft-scrub: Mix about 1/2 cup baking soda in a bowl with enough natural liquid soap or detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop onto a sponge and clean the bathtub or tiles. Rinse. It’s so versatile and so simple.

2. Stop dry cleaning clothes and using mothballs

They off-gas perchlorethelyne, a recognized carcinogen. Hand-wash items that are dry-clean only, or use an eco-friendly dry cleaning or wet cleaning service. I’ve learned how to hand-wash almost everything. At the very least, don’t bring clothes that have been around these chemicals into your bedroom or closet; air them out in an outdoor area first.

Use cedar chips, blocks, balls and hangers or sachets made with herbs like mint, rosemary, thyme or cloves to repel moths without harmful chemicals.

3. Choose foods with the fewest number of additives, and choose organic whenever you can

Besides the possible health risks of chemicals used on crops, there are very good environmental reasons. Those chemicals end up in runoff water that goes into our groundwater and oceans. There are also new studies showing that the nutrient value of organic food is higher.

4. Avoid products that contain synthetic fragrances

There are as many as 300 chemical ingredients in a single fragrance! Choose fragrance free cleaning products or made with essential oils rather than with artificial fragrances. Making this simple choice helps protect your health and your family’s health, and it’s more sensitive to other people —according to the FDA, fragrances are responsible for 30 percent of all allergic reactions.

5. Eighty-six the pesticides

You don’t need them. There are some really great, effective alternatives to chemical pesticides. For example, soap-based solutions have been used for centuries as all-purpose pesticides. They're nontoxic to the environment and to people — and they work on a wide variety of garden insects by disrupting their cell membranes and causing dehydration.

The key is not to use too much soap, or you'll also kill the vegetation near the pests. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid soap, such as Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap (do NOT use detergent) into 1 quart water in a bucket, then transfer to a spray bottle.

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