Clean-living guru Sophia Gushée is the queen of healthy-home vibes—and she’s full of easy-to-implement ideas for detoxing your living environment. Here, the Well+Good Council member and toxic-exposure expert shares some smart, simple ways to create fresher air, a calmer vibe, and an all-around healthier place to live.
Since I detoxed my home, I’ve never felt better. When people ask me how to do it for themselves, there are a few things I recommend. Replacing typical cleaning products with healthier ones is a good place to start, since you can quickly swap toxic chemicals for inexpensive DIY formulas. (Get some of my “recipes” here.) I also advise banning shoes inside the home, since they can track in pesticides and lead. And when you can leave the windows open, please do—it lets fresh air circulate.
If you’re already doing that, though, here are five next-level tweaks that will help make your home as clean and healthy as it can be.
Freshen the air…naturally
Home odors happen to all of us, but I don’t use traditional air fresheners. First, they’re filled with chemicals—many of which may be harmful to human health. Furthermore, all they do is mask odor with a synthetic scent. I think it’s better to figure out the source of a bad smell, and once you’ve eliminated the cause, try this method for clearing the air. Get two Mason jars. Fill one with baking soda to absorb odors, and fill the other with dry rice and 10 drops of essential oils. I do this for a healthier, natural way to keep my home smelling good.
Speaking of scents, household products are loaded with synthetic fragrance. It’s in hair sprays, laundry detergent, dish soaps, even garbage bags—and plenty of fragrance ingredients are known to be harmful or irritating. I recommend minimizing scented products, especially if you don’t have an emotional attachment to them. (That goes for most candles, too!) Unless you love it or need it, then don’t have it—go fragrance-free.
Turn on your fan
You know that fan in your kitchen? It’s not just there to get rid of cooking smells. If you have a gas stove, gas evaporates into the air as you cook. So here’s a new habit to implement: As soon as you begin to cook, turn on the fan so it suctions air away into the vent. Simple.
Stay on top of dust
Dusting isn’t the most exciting activity, but it’s a quick and simple way to keep your home healthy. Dust can contain dozens of toxic chemicals and heavy metals, so it’s good to prioritize cleaning the stuff up. I’m a fan of wet dusting, which involves wiping surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth. (Microfiber is recommended because it tends to capture more of the dust.) Be sure that your cloth is damp, though—dry cloths only disrupt the dust before it resettles, but a damp cloth will capture it for good.
Upgrade your vacuum
Did you know that indoor air is typically more polluted than outdoor air? Even if you don’t have a standalone air filter, your vacuum can help improve your home’s air quality. Look for a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which is more effective in capturing smaller particles. In addition, HEPA filters minimize the amount of dust that’s being recirculated into the air. All of this means you’ll be breathing easy in no time.
Sophia Gushee is a sought-after toxic exposures expert, author of A to Z of D-Toxing, and founder of Practical Nontoxic Living, a multimedia company that produces podcasts and is incubating the D-Tox Academy, an online portal to make practical nontoxic living simple and accessible.
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