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Clean the Air (In Your Home)

—  found in  Well-being  —

Clean indoor air means healthier lungs and microbiome, fewer illnesses and better sleep , among many other benefits. And since we spend more of our time indoors (especially in chilly Canada), clean indoor air is just as important as clean outdoor air!

The scary truth is that irritants (like dust and mold) and airborne chemicals from cleaning products and off-gassing of furniture (like volatile organic compounds, or VOCs) are trapped indoors with us, and we breathe them in.

Overall, the air indoors can be more polluted than the air outdoors – up to 10 times more so!

The good news is there’s plenty that can be done to drastically reduce the level of irritants and chemicals in your home. 

Here are my top 8 ways to clean the air in your home

1. Open windows to allow fresh air to move into the house (even in the cold months). Even just 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening can drastically improve the air quality in your home by helping to rid the home of accumulated volatile organic compounds, mold spores, dust, smoke, radon, viruses and bacteria. In addition, move potential air contaminants out by using the vent fan in the kitchen.

2. Detox your house cleaners. Take a look at your cleaning products in the kitchen and bathroom. If they have labels that say “danger,” “caution,” or “warning,” get that stuff out of your house! Call your recycling center to find out the date of the next hazardous pickup to responsibly dispose of any toxic products you have lying around. Replace your cleaning products with the non-toxic, natural variety, so you never have to worry about your kiddos’ safety when it comes to cleaning.

  • Your kitchen cabinets are likely full of ingredients that can tackle a nasty mess! Vinegar is a versatile cleaner that can do just about anything—dilute it with water for a simple, nontoxic window cleaner; mix with baking soda to remove the most stubborn carpet stains, and try it out as a shampoo alternative to get rid of product build up. Baking soda works wonders on dirty floors and tarnished silver – mix it with a bit of water to make a paste and do a little scrubbing for sparkling results.
  • And what CAN'T you do with Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap? Wash your clothes, use it as shampoo and even brush your teeth with this all-natural soap! Check out its dilution cheat sheet for an extensive list of all the ways you can use it. Bonus: a little goes a long way, so one bottle will last you for months, saving you time and money.
  • Some other brands I use and love: Seventh Generation Dish Soap + Pods, Attitude Dishwashing Soap and Norwex Cloths!

3. Detox your personal care products. Sprays and aerosols, especially, waft toxic hormone-disrupting chemicals into the air. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned a study and looked at 17 popular fragrances and each contained an average of four hormone-disrupting ingredients (including synthetic musks and diethyl phthalate). Read more about the reasons I don't wear perfume here .

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4. Invest in an air filter. Air filters can detect and remove dust, allergens or other airborne concerns, like mold, pet dander, formaldehyde and VOCs. They're helpful if you suffer from allergies, asthma or have difficulty breathing. I recommend the Alen BreatheSmart FLEX Air Purifier, and community manager Amanda loves her Dyson Pure HEPA Air Purifier.

5. Limit home fragrances. You just don't need air fresheners and artificially scented candles! Plus, 86 percent of synthetic air fresheners contain dangerous hormone-disrupting phthalates and neuro-and- immunotoxins such as: butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), acetaldehyde and propylene glycol. That means you're breathing these harmful chemicals. There are so many lovely essential oils that'll give your rooms a pleasant welcoming scent minus the unwelcome toxins! 

  • Sweet Orange: This is such a pleasant, happy scent that can help boost your mood and alleviate anxiety.
  • Lavender: This relaxing de-stressing aroma smells like a field of fresh flowers.
  • Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus has the ability to kill fungus, bacteria, insects, mites and weeds.
  • Lemongrass: Lemongrass is antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial, so it can be used as a powerful disinfectant. Plus, it can repel bugs, just like eucalyptus.
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6. Switch to clean-burning candles. Paraffin- and petroleum-derived waxes release chemicals into the air when burned. Instead, choose clean-burning soy wax or beeswax, with 100 percent indicated on the labels, and, when possible, select wax that's naturally derived or sustainably sourced. In addition, check for a wick that's made of cotton or wood. As for the scent, go for products that specify they've used 100 percent naturally derived essential oils and are phthalate-free. 

7. Smudge with sage! Smudging is an ancient ceremony in which a dried sage bundle is burned, and the resulting smoke is wafted throughout a space (or around someone’s body) to clear the energy (and even the air). While this may sound hippie-dippie, the smoke from dried sage actually changes the ionic composition of the air, and can have a direct effect on reducing our stress response. Sage, in addition, is antibacterial! You can buy a sage smudge from your local health food store.

8. Fill your home with plants! Plants are an affordable and beautiful addition to your home. I'm a huge fan of plants because not only do they add a beautiful green colour to your home but they are excellent air purifiers and the support a healthy microbiome at home. Some the best plants for cleaning the air are: spider plants, aloe and peace lilies and more. I talk about more of the health benefits of plants in your home in this video. 

Have a joyous day!

Joy xo

Melissa   •   April 9, 2019

Hi Joy, what's a good clean and safe solution to clean hardwood floors with? Water and vinegar? Is there others?

Joy McCarthy   •   April 10, 2019

Rachel D’Amico   •   April 9, 2019

Great article! I want to know more about purifying water. You mentioned that you use filters for your shower because you live in a condo. Well we moved into our condo about a year ago and my skin has never been so dry. I would love your perspective on how to filter our water in our homes as well as our drinking water.

Joy McCarthy   •   April 10, 2019

Julie   •   April 9, 2019

Great read! Easy to digest content. Thank you for sharing 🙏😁


Kristy   •   April 9, 2019

Thanks for the tips! I’m going to save that Castile soap dilution tip sheet - so helpful! Another tip: have your furnace and ducts cleaned every couple of years :) (we had ours cleaned a few days ago, so it’s fresh in my mind!)

Joy McCarthy   •   April 10, 2019

Vesna M.   •   April 11, 2019

Hi Joy, In regards to having plants in your home, are plants safe to have in children’s rooms as well? (i.e. baby and toddlers room) Thank you!

Joy McCarthy   •   April 12, 2019

Karen LaRue   •   May 27, 2019

Thanks for the great info. If I also have outdoor allergies to various pollen, is it still advisable to open doors or windows a couple times a day? I’ve been trying to keep the outdoor air out of my home.

Joy McCarthy   •   May 27, 2019

Andrea Rocca   •   July 11, 2019

We are replacing our carpet in our bedrooms and can't decide what to replace it with. I like the look of laminate or vinyl but heard that it releases harmful chemicals into the air. Just wondering what you thought about these two products.

Joy McCarthy   •   July 12, 2019

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