The prevalence of disease, the obesity rate, and residual effects of a poor diet and personal habits have made Americans more aware of the food and drinks they consume and the air they breathe. There’s also a growing movement toward greener, more sustainable living and smaller, decluttered and efficient living environments. Indoor air quality and the presence of toxic components in carpeting and upholstery have spawned a new awareness of more healthful ways to decorate and arrange our homes. Worries over the chemicals in cleaning products that have been used for decades have been somewhat slower to take shape. However, there is abundant evidence proving that this is an area as worthy of concern as any other.
There are approximately 17,000 petrochemicals1 used in home-cleaning products today—about 30 percent of which have been tested for human and environmental safety. The average home contains more than 60 potentially harmful synthetic chemical substances. That paints a bleak picture for the average home interior, especially when one considers that the EPA allows indoor air pollution levels that are approximately 100 times higher than what it allows in the environment. Fortunately, there are many environmentally friendly cleaning products on the market today that can help you maintain a healthy and clean household without the toxins found in many “mainstream” products.
If you’re into using natural substances found in any household, there are a number of ways you can keep your home clean and smelling fresh. Vinegar is a remarkably versatile substance. Mixed with baking soda, vinegar can clean just about anything in your home, including pots and pans, shoes, your oven, tile and grout, and much more. You can also use vinegar2 to clean a toilet bowl, remove carpet stains, and get rid of lime buildup on faucet fixtures. Many people have learned how effective a mixture of vinegar and water can be in cleaning everything from leather furniture to dog urine.
If you need to freshen up a rug that’s not wearing well, trying sprinkling a light covering of baking soda on it, wait a few minutes and vacuum it up. Baking soda can even be used to fight dandruff if you think your shampoo isn’t getting the job done. The natural approach can also help you get rid of unpleasant indoor odors. Try laying out a bowl of vinegar or coffee beans to cover that musty pet smell that hits visitors in the face as soon as the front door opens. You can also try boiling cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, or other pungent-smelling herbs.
Tile and wood
Use natural substances to enhance the appeal of the wood and tile3 in your home. The next time you make yourself a cup of tea, hang on to the bags. They can be used to clean your hardwood floors. Pour boiling water over the bags, let it steep and apply it to your floor with a soft cloth. For ceramic tiles, HomeAdvisor4 states, “After removing as much dirt as you can with water, you can use baking soda with a little bit of vinegar to clean your grout or a pH-balanced cleaning solution.”
Balanced and peaceful
Amid our hectic daily lives, it’s easy to overlook the fact that our living environments can help promote healthy, happy living with a few simple changes. A truly holistic home5 features open spaces with plenty of flow-through, using environmentally friendly materials and cleaning substances free of harmful chemicals. Green plants, natural lighting, and mirrors that reflect light add a healthy element of feng shui. Perhaps most importantly, you need to rid yourself of clutter and chaos that produce anxiety and undermine your mental health and sense of well-being. Take some time to go through your belongings, room by room, and make separate piles dividing them into what you’ll keep, donate, or throw away.
Committing to change
Maintaining a green-friendly home environment that feeds your soul and keeps your family safe requires a lifestyle change. It’s well worth the time and effort to refresh the look and smell of a house that may be detracting from your sense of well-being. After all, your home should be your haven, not a place that contributes to stress.
1 Tree Hugger. How to green your cleaning routine. TreeHugger.com. Web. June 2014
2 AllYou.com. 45 Uses for Vinegar. AllYou.com. Web.
3 DIY Network. Tips for Cleaning Tile, Wood and Vinyl Floors. DIYNetwork.com. Web.
4 HomeAdvisor. Spring Cleaning Mistakes. HomeAdvisor.com. Web.
5 House Plans and More. Creating a Holistic Home – Living Your Best Life. HousePlansAndMore.com. Web.