The idea of upgrading your home to promote healthier living may sound daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Start with these eight simple strategies for creating a healthy indoor environment for your home. You can begin by introducing one strategy at a time and implement more techniques as you have the time and resources.
A cluttered home has the ability to stress you out. Have you ever walked into your home to find piles of mail, papers, toys, and other belongings layering every surface of your house? Then you know the sense of ease you get when you clear the clutter and put everything in its place. Beyond the mental toll clutter has on you, it can also be a source for allergens since all the objects lying around collect dust that is hard to clean.
Decluttering your home will send a mood boosting calmness through your mind. It shouldn’t stop at the piles of paper on the kitchen counter. Look around the house to see where you might have items, functional or decorative, piling up. Clear out decorative open shelving to highlight one or two special objects. Tackle your overloaded clothes closet that stresses you out every morning while deciding what to wear for the day. You might also notice that you are more productive and focused in an uncluttered room.
Check out my Stress Free Pinterest board for more ideas on how to clear the clutter.
It is common for the air inside your home to be more polluted than outside air. Your house is full of airborne pollutants that can come from many sources. Most items in your home will off-gas harmful chemicals that were used during the manufacturing process. Dust and mold spores float discretely through the air. Without proper air movement, houses trap these pollutants which can cause breathing issues, head aches, and fatigue.
Opening your windows provides many benefits for you and your wallet. It is an easy way to circulate indoor air and remove harmful pollutants. Bringing natural ventilation into your home can increase your productivity and energy levels, and making the connection to nature will bring you joy. Opening your windows is a healthy alternative to turning on your air conditioner, and will save you money on your energy bill.
Your indoor air quality can be negatively impacted by chemicals found in typical household finishes and products like furnishings, flooring, paper products, printers, and cleaners. Short term exposure to the toxins that these products off-gas can lead to headaches, nausea, drowsiness, and eye, nose, and throat irritation.
Introducing house plants into your home is a great way to filter the toxins floating around your air. NASA conducted a study that proved certain house plants are able to absorb low levels of toxins through tiny openings in their leaves. The spider plant and variegated snake plant are two toxin fighting house plants that are also easy to maintain.
When you walk into your home, the dirt on your shoes isn’t as innocent as you’d like to think. Your shoes are tracking in bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins. Purchasing an entry mat that effectively scrapes and traps the dirt from your shoes will contain those harmful contaminants and allow them to be easily removed. Entry mats also aid in safety by preventing a slippery floor on rainy and snowy days, and they help keep your floors much cleaner.
The best way to stop dirt at your door is to have an outdoor mat as the first line of defense to scrape away the bulk of the dirt and an indoor mat to pick up any lingering debris. Make sure the mat is large enough to cover the full width of the doorway and large enough to close the door behind you before stepping off the mat.
This Guardian Ecoguard mat is a good option for an indoor entry mat and comes in multiple sizes.
Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
Typical household cleaning products can contain harmful chemicals like chlorine or ammonia. If you have cleaned with these products before, you have probably experienced the restricting feeling in your lungs that is caused by the chemicals. For people with already sensitive lungs, these chemicals can be especially dangerous. Try replacing traditional cleaners with environmentally friendly ones to help everyone in your house breathe easier. Safe, planet friendly cleaners are often labeled as biodegradable, phosphate-free or petroleum-free.
You can also try making your own healthy cleaners. Check out some recipes here.
Whether you have a municipal water supply or your own well, the water coming into your home can contain unsafe levels of heavy metals and bacteria. Even bottled water has been found to contain antimony, an element that can cause lung and heart disease over long exposure, by leaching out of the plastic bottle. On top of healthy water, you also want water that tastes good so you will actually drink it!
If you want to know what is in your water you can have your water tested. If you have unsafe levels of contaminants or are unsure of your home’s water quality, there are plenty of options for filtering the water. Options range from whole house filtration systems to pitchers that fit in your refrigerator. In most cases, a pitcher or faucet mounted filter are effective methods for water filtration that are much more affordable than the whole house alternative.
I use the PUR faucet mounted water filter. If you love connecting household products to your smart phone, then this blue tooth enabled filter might just be for you.
Better sleep comes with being aligned with your biological clock (circadian rhythm). Humans have an internal clock that runs on roughly a 24-hour cycle and is controlled by the tones and levels of light received. The type of light you are exposed to at different times of the day effect how you feel through out the day and how you sleep at night. Your body wants bright light in the morning to suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone in your body that aids in sleep. In the evening, your body wants warm light and then darkness to start creating the melatonin again. When your body is exposed to bright, blue light (computer screens and smart phones) in the evening, the production of melatonin is disturbed which can lead to sleep issues.
If you have to wake up before the sun rises, as most people do the majority of the year, you can trick your body into thinking it’s getting sunlight by using a lighting system that mimics a sunrise. Expose yourself to bright, blue-rich light in the morning to help energize you for the day. As the sun sets, use warm, orange toned lights to relax the body. Filter out all exposure to blue light once the sun sets. Most phones and computers have a blue light filter setting.
The Philips Hue light series helps me wake to the ‘sun’ every morning and ease into restfulness at night.
Opening windows and adding house plants can help reduce air borne pollutants, but these strategies will not completely eliminate the pollutants. Air purifiers are designed to pull the harmful particles out of the air and let you breathe easier. When choosing an air purifier, there are a few things to consider such as what type of pollutants you need to filter out of your air. For instance, if you have a wood stove or fireplace, the burning wood is throwing particulate matter into the air so you would want to buy a purifier designed to filter out these particles. No matter what kind of purifier you buy, be sure to find one that uses a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and these filters will filter out over 99.9% of the most common particulates in your air, including dust mites, mold spores, pollen, and pet dander.
Air purifiers are the priciest healthy home strategy on this list, but if you suffer from constant allergies, asthma or bad odors in your home, the benefits can be worth the cost.