10 Ways To Detox Your Home
10 Ways To Detox Your Home
Designers, pro cleaners, and eco-friendly experts offer small steps to make your home cleaner, safer, and greener.
Expert: Ty Pennington, host of the ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
For peace of mind, get rid of clutter—electronics are the number one offender. I’ll walk into a home and see wires and remotes and blinking lights everywhere. How can anyone relax with all that distraction? I stay sane by chilling in my living room, so even though I love my electronics, I don’t want to see them.
I favor furniture with hidden phone-charging stations and storage panels for my DVDs and other digital paraphernalia. That way, the emphasis is on my art and accessories—things pleasing to my eye.
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Expert: Debra Johnson, training manager of Merry Maids
Microfiber cloths keep my home spotless. The weave grabs dirt and holds it instead of pushing it around, so surfaces stay cleaner longer. It works so well that I don’t have to use as much cleaner, meaning less exposure to all those chemicals. I use different color cloths for different tasks to prevent cross contamination. I even use microfiber mops (never string or sponge mops, which are friendly environments for bacteria). I like the kind with removable heads that can be tossed in the washer between cleanings, like the Libman Wonder Mop ($15, amazon.com ).
Expert: Leslie Segrete, host of the A&E lifestyle show $100 Makeover
Watch for volatile organic compounds. Furnishings with these VOCs off-gas harmful chemicals. Paints, foams, and carpets can also contain VOCs, so whenever possible, look for products that say they have zero VOCs, low odor, and no carcinogens. If you aren’t sure, just let your new furniture off-gas for one week in your garage before bringing it into the house.
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Expert: James Baldwin, MD, director of the Allergy and Immunology Training Program and clinical associate professor at the University of Michigan department of internal medicine
To breathe cleaner air, I use a Micro Allergen Reduction Filter (Microparticle Performance Rating of 1,000) and change it at least every three months. This prevents buildup and ensures that irritants like dust, mold spores, and pollen are adequately removed from the air. A clean filter also improves furnace efficiency, lowering your heating bills. (Is the air in your home toxic? Find out here .)
Expert: Chef Brad Barnes, associate dean of culinary education, the Culinary Institute of America
It’s a great way to show my kids where our food comes from and teach them the importance of freshness and pesticide-free purity. Anyone short on space just needs a few pots for a container garden. Now’s a great time to plant fall salad greens like leaf lettuce and spinach, as well as herbs—my favorites are rosemary (which can be taken in and will come back next year), sage, and parsley. Pots should have good drainage, be filled with quality potting mix, and be put in full sun.
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Expert: Christopher Chirafisi, senior technical instructor, American Home Inspectors Training Institute
A home hazard I commonly see is extension cords as permanent wiring. They should be used only temporarily and never coiled or covered, lest they overheat and create a fire hazard. The best move is to have an electrician add more outlets. But in the meantime, at least make sure you’re using extension cords (as well as surge protectors) that have UL certification and are large enough to handle your electrical load—compare the cord’s amp rating to that of what you’re plugging into it.
Expert: Amy Devers, host of the A&E lifestyle show Fix This Yard
I don’t want to put lawn chemicals in the earth or expose my body to it or worry about storing it safely (always read labels for storage instructions). I’ve made my yard mostly low-maintenance ground cover (ice plant) and wildflowers, so I don’t need chemicals. If you do need fertilization and weed control, corn gluten meal, which comes in spreadable granules, is a great organic option. For pesticides, Neem Oil, which can be diluted and sprayed, is another organic product that’s even safe on edibles.
Expert: Debra Johnson
Everyone’s always reaching for the fridge and then touching food, but cleaning the door handle is an afterthought for most people. I wipe handles with a multipurpose product every day as part of my after-dinner cleanup. (Check out these 10 other icky germ hot spots .)
Expert: Leslie Segrete
We keep our bathroom fan on for 15 minutes after showering. This reduces condensation, limiting the risk of mold growth.
Expert: James Baldwin, MD
Well-meaning cat owners typically vacuum right before allergic guests arrive. Regardless of the vacuum used, this will lift the cat allergen called Fel d 1, which is very light and will remain in the air for several hours. Your guests will actually suffer more than if you hadn’t vacuumed at all.
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Published October 2013, Prevention | Updated October, 2013