Chances are you've tried a diet detox to try to reboot your wellness through supplements and clean eating but what about a home detox for the space where you live and breath each day?
When it comes to our home, detoxing our space feels more overwhelming that following a diet plan. There are a lot more factors to consider in our living space
But just like a diet, what we put inside, matters.
The most important step to a home detox is to begin. Over time, the small changes we make can have a significant impact on our wellbeing and the environment.
Years ago, when I was first beginning to assess my family's home environment, I thought I would never be able to get through my wish list of changes. But here I am, seven years later, with a significantly reduced list of changes and healthier habits that are second nature to my entire family.
Each time we change something in our life and then choose to repeat the action we are creating a new habit.
This cycle eventually leads towards the ultimate goal of creating a healthier home.
Where To Begin Your Home Detox
Deciding where to begin your home detox is the most challenging aspect of the process. There are so many choices that can be made but ultimately, you want to start by focusing on big impact changes.
What products are you and your family using all of the time? Where do you spend the most time in your home?
For the majority of us, working on these five home detox areas will have the most significant impact on creating a healthier home:
- Cleaning products
- Beauty/Personal care products
- Our bedrooms
- Indoor air quality
Cleaning products and beauty products are the items we are using most often and when changed can boost our wellness.
Our bedrooms, especially our children's, are where the most significant amount of time is spent.
Finally, to round out a home detox, we'll need to look at our food and examine our home's indoor air quality.
A Good Reason To Detox Your Home
Environmental Defence tested the umbilical cord blood of 3 newborns in Greater Toronto area for common chemicals linked to health hazards; out of the 310 chemicals tested for, a total of 137 were found in the three babies. These chemicals included PBDEs (flame retardants), PCBs (a banned chemicals), PFCs (found in non-stick coatings), mercury, and lead.
The numbers are worrisome but you have the power to make a difference by limiting how you and your child(ren) are exposed to chemicals.
When assessing which items in your home are worth keeping or should be put on your list to swap out, you’ll need to assess the current state of your life.
It's easiest to start a home detox by address one area at a time to avoid total overwhelm.
Step One: Detox Your Cleaning Products
Let's start by detoxing your cleaning products.
Cleaning with better products is a simple way to up the green quotient of your living space and positively impact the health of those inside by improving the indoor air quality.
In a 2015 study, Environmental Defence found that even green cleaners impacted a home's indoor air quality, but it was significantly less so than conventional cleaning products.
How to detox your cleaning products
- Set aside 1-2 hours to perform a household product audit. You'll be investigating the status of your cleaners with the purpose of knowing which ones you can continue to use with confidence and which are better to replace.
- Gather up all your cleaning products in a well-ventilated space.
- Open up EWG's Guide To Healthy Cleaners to discover your cleaning products toxicity ratings.
Detoxing your cleaning supplies usually results in one of two feelings. Either you feel relief that your products are not so bad or you feel annoyed and upset that your products rate poorly.
The good news is that after this exercise, you will know just how to shop for products that are a healthier choice for your family. You may even feel inspired to make your own green cleaners, but don't worry, do-it-yourself cleaners are not a requirement for detoxing your home.
The next step to detoxing your home is to look at the other items your family uses on a daily basis, their personal care and beauty products.
Step Two: Detox Your Personal Care Products
The average Canadian is exposed to over 100 toxic ingredients each morning through their personal care routine.
The ingredients in conventional beauty products can include petrochemicals, lead, phthalates, parabens, and more. And when used in the approximately 15+ products we reach for daily, can significantly add to our bodies chemical load.
Rather than risk the possible consequences of these toxic ingredients (increased hormones, allergies and more) detoxing your family's personal care items is a smart, precautionary move.
The simplest way to detox your home's personal care products:
- Gather up all your beauty products.
- Scan them using ThinkDirty app or the Skin Deep database.
- Decide which to keep and which to replace.
A word of caution: If you've never detoxed your beauty products than you'll likely find many with negative toxicity scores. Try to avoid the temptation to toss out all your beauty supplies when you come across these negative scores.
Rather replace them as they are empty, starting with the products you use most often like toothpaste, moisturizer and hand soap.
Remember it's the items we use daily that are first in line to be detoxed since they'll have more of an impact on our overall wellness.
On that note, if you find many of your baby's personal care products are rating as toxic, start by replacing their items.
Children's organs and respiratory, immune, and neurological systems are still developing making them more susceptible to the negative effects of chemical exposure.
Where to find better cleaners and beauty products
After you've detoxed your cleaning products and personal care products, you'll likely need to spend some time finding better alternatives.
Preparing yourself with alternatives, will help you be less likely to reach for your usual supplies and also minimize the time you spend in the grocery aisle trying to decipher the labels.
For cleaners, the EWG site has some great options.
For better beauty products, I also suggest using the ThinkDirty app, the Skin Deep database, or checking out our recommendations of the best natural beauty products.
Step Three: Detox Your Bedroom
Creating a healthy sleep space is one of the most impactful changes we can make towards a healthy home. After all, we spend hours in our bedrooms, where our bodies rest and rejuvenate while we sleep.
Detoxing bedrooms are most significant for young children, since they can spend up to 11-12 hours sleeping a night!
At the top of my list for a bedroom is choosing a non-toxic mattress. After all, our bodies are literally smushed into our bed as we sleep. But if replacing your mattress is a wish-list item, there are still plenty of changes you can make to your sleep space.
Simple changes to detox your bedroom:
- Declutter the bedroom. Simplify the sleep space as much as possible. Dust mites can be a problem in the bedroom as they thrive on dead skin cells and their excrement can trigger allergic reactions.
- Keep electronics out of the bedroom. Studies are still being done on the impact of radiation, but use precaution by keeping it out of the room and at least, away from your head.
- Use an organic or natural pillow and organic bedding. Next to the mattress, we're very intimate with our pillows and bedding. Start with replacing the pillow since we breathe it in deeply and then aim to switch the bedding.
- Sleep in organic cotton pyjamas. For children choose tight-fitting sleepwear that is not treated with flame-retardant chemicals by reading our shopping for safer sleepwear guide.
Step Four: Detox Your Food
Detoxing your food may be the easiest step in your home detox. While it would be nice to buy all organic food, that is free of pesticides, most of us have a grocery budget.
To reduce your family's exposure to pesticides found in fruits and vegetables, use the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists to choose where to direct your dollars.
Holistic nutritionist, Arja Pennanen Lytle, says,
Keep in mind that children have much smaller bodies than adults and a greater potential for chemical load. If there are foods that your child eat a lot of, I encourage you to make that organic too.
Try to reduce dairy and animal products in your family's diet. And when you do shop for them, choose organic to avoid xenoestrogens that come from antibiotics, pesticides, and growth hormones.
Step Five: Detox Your Indoor Air
Detoxing your indoor air makes the perfect last step for your home detox because by this point many of the changes you've implemented will already have led to an improvement in your home's air quality.
Detoxing your cleaning products and beauty products should mean that you reduced the toxins in your home significantly. There is still much you can do to breathe easier in your indoor space.
Here are three impactful suggestions for improving your indoor air:
- Open your windows. Opening your windows releases the VOCs built up in your home and freshens the air. Be sure to always open your windows when you clean your home to reduce the increase in VOCs that may occur due to cleaning.
- Remove shoes at the door. Never walk around with shoes in your home as they can track in all sorts of junk like pesticides, construction dust, salt, etc. This is especially important when you have young children who are playing on the ground. Remember they are still developing and are most susceptible to toxins.
- Stop using artificial fragrances. No more conventional candles, air fresheners, and perfumes. Switch to beeswax or coconut candles, homemade air fresheners or essential oil diffusers and if you must wear a scent, make sure it's made with essential oils. Fragrance, also known as parfum, can disrupt hormones, cause headaches and impact the respiratory system.
In Case You Feel Overwhelmed About Your Home Detox
Detoxing your home can feel overwhelming but don’t avoid the process. Instead choose to tackle one step at a time.
By becoming aware of the realities in your home and lifestyle you’ll be able to focus your energies and finances on high-impact changes to help you live well.
Focusing on the five steps to detoxing your home will help you create a better space to raise your family which will also make a greater space for you.
If you'd like more support with detoxing your home, you can use my free healthy home detox guide which is full of detailed checklists and charts to hold your hand through the home detox exercises.