By Brooke Cline
You can’t throw a stone without hitting a yogi who is on a cleanse. Once you experience the benefits of asana, pranayama and meditation, a logical next step to improve your health is to be more mindful about what you put into your body. But have you considered what’s lurking in your home?
Staggering figures on the toxicity of indoor air estimate that it contains two to five
times more contaminants than outdoor air. Even more astonishing, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the air inside homes and buildings can be worse than the largest and most industrialized cities. Inadequate ventilation traps volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from carpeting, paint and building materials, as well as particulates from mold or dirt and dust tracked in from outdoors. Other contaminants that pollute indoor air comes from heating systems, upholstered furniture, pressed-wood products and phthalate-containing plastics and electronics.
Experts say long-term exposure to polluted indoor air could damage immune, reproductive, endocrine and respiratory systems and cause other health problems. The average person spends about 90 percent of their time indoors. So it makes sense to find ways to make the air you breathe in your home cleaner.
The good news is you can take steps to rid your home of toxic air just as you would eat whole foods to improve our health. Here are some ways:
- Leave shoes outside. They track in pesticides.
- Air out your home often by opening windows.
- Dust often and use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Clean from top to bottom (i.e. dust before sweeping).
- Reduce moisture to avoid mold accumulation. Bathrooms are the most common spots for mold.
- Carpet can be toxic. Replace carpet with hardwood floors, natural linoleum or ceramic tiles.
- Paint with low-VOC, water-based paint and keep windows open while painting.
- Check for radon in basements and consider a mitigation system where levels are elevated.
- Use eco-cleaning cloths, which are non-toxic, reusable and biodegradable.
- Grow house plants to clean and circulate the air in your home.
- Find a “green” cleaner for dry-cleaned clothes. To locate one in your area, visit ecovian.com
The EPA estimates that the average person receives 72 percent of his or her chemical exposure at home. You can significantly reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals by using safe cleaning products.
- Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda in toilet and add 1 cup lemon juice or white vinegar. Let sit for 1/2 hour, scrub and flush.
- Scouring Powder: Use baking soda with a damp sponge for stove tops, refrigerators, tubs and tiles.
- Glass/Window Cleaning: Mix four tablespoons of lemon juice with 1/2 gallon warm water, or mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 1 quart warm water.
- Mold and Mildew Remover: Use undiluted white vinegar or lemon juice and apply with sponge.
- Oven Cleaner: Spread 3/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup water throughout oven interior. Let sit overnight and then remove and wipe clean.
- Carpet Cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda on stain. Wait 10 minutes and vacuum. Next, mix 1 tablespoon dish soap, 1 tablespoon. white vinegar and 2 cups warm water. Apply to stain with sponge and blot until clean.
- Avoid cleaning products that come laden with warning labels.
- Select “non-toxic” or “green” cleaners that don’t contain ammonia, chlorine and triclosan.
- Look for products that are biodegradable and free from phosphates, petroleum and solvents.
- Consider non-toxic brands like Seventh Generation, Ecover, Mrs. Meyers and Earth Friendly (www.ewg.org).
Brooke Cline found yoga 9 years ago while trying to relieve lower back pain during pregnancy. She completed teacher training in 2010, and deeply values how the practice connects mind, body and spirit. Cline earned a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Iowa.