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Detox your home in 10 steps
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 01 - 02 - 2014

Selma Roth
Saudi Gazette
People living in big cities are often concerned about their exposure to air pollution levels, but not many people are aware of the air quality inside their homes, offices and schools, which often leaves much to be desired.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, indoor pollution is often two to five times worse than outside. Apart from obvious culprits like smoking indoors or spraying insecticides, indoor pollution is caused by chemicals like hairsprays, perfume, and cleaning products.
Other sources are materials that let off poisonous gasses, such as glues used in carpets, cabinets, and walls; shower curtains; paints; and computers. Molds and allergens like pollen and dust mites are another cause of bad air quality, especially in humid areas like bathrooms.
Here are 10 ways to clean your home from toxins.
1. Ventilate your home
Open windows and doors to refresh the air inside your home every day. Even if you live in a polluted city the air outside is usually cleaner than inside. Also make sure you have properly working exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen to remove humidity and particles from cooking, respectively. If you don't have any yet, install a range hood above your stove to remove airborne grease, combustion products, fumes, smoke, odors, heat, and steam from the air.
2. Buy plants
Having plants is a simple and effective way to improve the air quality inside your home or office. A famous NASA study from the late 1980s showed that having a variety of plants could detoxify up to 85 percent of indoor air pollution. Good plants to remove chemicals are palms, dracaenas, peace lilies, aloe vera, and Chinese evergreen. Most of these are easy to grow and readily available at garden centers.
3. Use natural cleaning products
Generally, it is not needed to employ aggressive products when cleaning your house. They often do more harm than good, resulting in irritated skin, allergies, or even asthma. Instead, use natural products like lemon, vinegar, baking soda, and tea tree oil, which will leave your house as disinfected as aggressive products but without the nasty chemicals.
4. Consider a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter
Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filter ensure to trap even very tiny particles that are invisible to the eye, such as pollen and dust mite feces, which regular vacuum cleaners may just recirculate back into the air of your home. Whether you need a HEPA filter is up to you to decide. If you or your children suffer from allergic reactions or asthma the filter is highly recommended. However, if none of you does the higher price of the filter may not be worth it.
5. Keep toxic materials out of your home
While you may not always know what paint was used on the walls or what glues in your cabinets, at least you can prevent more toxins from entering your house. Preferably, buy organic towels, bed linen, and clothes; use as little plastic products as possible; and get rid of non-stick pans, which have chemical coatings that are extremely toxic.
6. Check your home for water leaks and mold
Mold can grow on nearly any organic substance, and is often present when excessive moisture accumulates in bathrooms — sometimes as a result of leaking pipes. Inspect your bathroom, especially the shower curtain, and find out if there are any moist walls as a result of leaking pipes. Inhaling or touching molds can cause hay-fever symptoms or even trigger asthma-attacks.
7. Adjust humidity
The US Environment Protection Agency recommends keeping humidity levels inside your house between 30 and 50 percent, as the humidity inside can affect the concentrations of some indoor air pollutants. If your house is too dry, use a vaporizer or humidifier. If it is too humid, open the windows (if it is not too humid outside) or turn on the air conditioner.
8. Control pests
To prevent having to spray insecticides inside your home, control pests by not leaving out any foods and storing food inside airtight containers. Also make sure to seal off small gaps through which pests may enter your house. Repel ants with natural products such as vinegar, lemon, cloves, or bay leaves.
9. Burn less candles
Yes, they are romantic and create a homey atmosphere, but burning candles also release smoky toxins into the air. In one study, researchers at Carolina State University found that paraffin-based candles – the most common kind – emitted toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene, while vegetable-source candles, such as soybean and beeswax, did not. Lighting candles from time to time may not put your health immediately in jeopardy, but try to limit the use of candles. And always ventilate your house while and after burning them.
10. Clean the filters of your air conditioners
The filters of your air conditioners help trap dust and other pollutants, but it is important to clean them regularly so as to not make the air quality inside your home actually worse. Besides, cleaning your ACs on a regular basis also prolongs their life and makes them work more efficiently. A win-win-win situation, isn't it? Follow the instructions on the manual or hire a technician to clean them.

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