We all want our homes to be a safe, healthy, and clean place for ourselves and the ones we love. Fortunately, there are some simple changes you can make that will make a big difference.
1) Dust with a damp cloth
This lowers allergens and removes dust, which is a common place for toxins to accumulate. Don't forget about the window sills because this is a common place for dust from air pollution to settle - and it often gets overlooked.
2) Make microfiber cloths your new best friend
The microfibers are so powerful that they act like a magnet for even the smallest, most microscopic dirt particles. They work so well that often you don't even need to use a cleaning product with them- just use them dry or with a little water. Bonus - they don't leave streaks on window or glass. If you are looking for something with a little more reach than just your arm span, you can find a variety of microfiber dusters (with a handle) at hardware stores or online.
3) Vacuum often, with a HEPA filter if possible
A HEPA filter basically catches and removes dust and small particles, instead of blowing them back out into the room. It's also much better for people living with allergies or asthma. Pro tip: Make sure the vacuum bag or container is not completely full to make sure you don't lose suction power.
4) Use safe cleaning products.
See our guide to making your own safe and effective cleaners or roundups of safe products you can buy.
5) Open the windows or turn a fan on for ventilation
Cleaning can kick up dust that isn't good for you to inhale and cleaning products can lower indoor air quality.
6) Disinfect only when necessary
You don't need to disinfect everything all the time. It's usually unnecessary and is actually bad for your health (think superbugs!). This doesn't mean you shouldn't disinfect sometimes. The best rule of thumb is to disinfect if there is a particularly yucky mess, especially in the kitchen from things like meat or eggs, or if someone is sick. If someone is sick, be sure to disinfect surfaces that get touched a lot, like doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, and faucets, to prevent others from getting sick. Our favorite disinfectant is just hydrogen peroxide from the store.
We're not trying to get all Martha Stewart on you for no reason. When it comes to cleaning, we want to make sure that we're getting rid of dirt, grease, dust, hair, as well as toxics that we track into our home or that get released from products in our home. But, many household cleaners have chemicals and other ingredients that aren't needed and can make us sick. Scientists know that many chemicals in cleaning products cause cancers, asthma, allergies, birth defects, developmental problems, and fertility problems. In particular, harsh chemicals, including bleach, have well documented negative impacts on air quality in the home. For women who use cleaning products regularly, scientists have shown that it is as damaging as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.(1) That's right, 20, or about a pack a day! A little bit of damage to the airways day after day, year after year really adds up.
Here's a shopping list of basic supplies to get you started!
- Microfiber cloths
- Spray bottles or squeeze bottles
- Scrub brush
- Sponge with scrubber
- Liquid Soap
- Hydrogen peroxide
- White Vinegar
- Baking Soda