Besides the fact that it as been rainy and almost in the low 50’s this week… it is winter and we have been spending more time inside. This is especially the case if there is a good amount of snow or ice, which keeps the heater going and the windows closed. Winter changes the environment of your home. It can become stuffy, dusty, and believe it or not: toxic. I’ve been going through my own process of making our home a safe haven this season, especially with the babe’s arrival and the status of our new living quarters. Here area few winter indoor living tips.
Most people who use chemical cleaners know they are toxic. The bottle says so. They have to wear gloves, open doors, and turn on vents to use the product. If I could recommend one life change, it would be get rid of your Clorox bleach. Your floors do not need it. Your kid’s toys do not need it. Your lungs do not need it. Now you can buy alternatives like Oxy-Clean (and I even found a bottle of “Non-chlorine bleach” aka 35% hydrogen peroxide). Some alternatives to chemical cleaning products are:
Vinegar. A simple 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water in a spray bottle does wonders. I use it as a window/glass/monitor cleaner. I can use it in my bathroom sinks, faucets, tubs, and toilets. It is an “all purpose cleaner” type of spray. You can add vinegar to your rinse cycle while washing to soften the clothing (I do not do this, but I know people who do).
Baking Soda. You can sprinkle this on your carpet, let it sit for 10-20 minutes and vacuum it up for an easy deodorizer. It also makes a healthy abrasive if you need to scrub something. Just make a paste with water and baking soda and you are good to get scrubbing.
Hydrogen Peroxide. I use this as my main bathroom cleaner. I pour it in my toilet and scrub away. I clean my sinks, counters, and tub/shower with it. I know people who use this as their “bleach” and clean toys, plastics, metals, etc with it daily (the 3% version you get at the store).
Dish Soap. I LOVE dish soap. This is what I use to clean my kitchen, floors, and toys. I mop the floor with a mixture of hot water and dish soap. I clean my counters and stove with dish soap and a cloth. I wash my daughter’s toys just like they were dishes themselves. I love using simple soap and water for everything I can. It is cheap, easy, and safe.
There are certian things you can have in your house for decoration that can help or hinder the air quality. This is especially important in the winter months when you will not have open windows or frequent trips outside the doors.
House Plants. I am just starting to grow my “house plant garden”. I have found the most effective house plants for counteracting off-gassed chemicals and some of them are: aloe vera, spider plants, rubber plant, weeping fig, english ivy, boston fern, lady palm, areca palm, peace lily, and janet craig dracaena. Do not expect one plant to rid all the toxins in your home, you will need to space them appropriately throughout.
HEPA air filters. We use a HEPA filter at night in our bedroom. It makes a nice hum and the air stays fresh and clean. Our machine actually has 2 filters inside it, one that needs changed every 3 months and one every 6. It is very important to change the filters, or you will get nothing from the machine. These work best when you get the right size for the room you are putting it in and you are consistent. You will notice a difference almost immediately, I guarantee you.
Candles. I love using candles. There is a lot of worry now about what candles are safe to use. In my research I have found that most US made candles no longer contain lead wicks. There is always room for some error, so remember that when buying a cheaper US made brand. (Not US made, don’t risk it- unless you split the wick yourself and see there is no metal piece.) Brands like Yankee state that they use only cotton wicks, which is nice to know, but they are still petroleum based wax and use scents that are chemically made. I have never had any breathing (asthma, allergies, etc) problems due to the burning of petroleum based candles, but some have. In that case, you might want to get 100% soy or beeswax (with essential oil scents). I have had soy candles before and to be honest I did not like the way they burned. There still is a lot of speculation about the real risk of using candles with chemical additives, so it is mostly preference that drives the choice.
Essential Oils/Diffusers. This is what I use to scent my bathroom. It is easy and painless and gives off no soot. The oils last a long time and you can use just as much counter space as a candle would. It is easy to find essential oils on the internet and specialty stores… and you can even mix your own lovely fragrances.
And lastly…open your windows. I wait to do this when I know no one will be going into that room for awhile. I open our bedroom window every other day and let fresh air (as long as it isn’t -10 degrees out) in our room for about 5 minutes. I then go room to room opening the windows. Yes the heat kicks on. But we have fresh air to breathe.
There are many other ways but these are just a few that I am trying to implement this season. If you have any recommendations please share!