We like to think of home as a safe haven — a protective place for retreat and relaxation. But danger can lurk. From every day cleaners containing chemicals that can make us sick to pet products containing toxins, our homes can be hazardous to our health. But there are ways of protecting ourselves and our pets from indoor air pollution and other household ills. 1. Open the windows
A lack of sufficient ventilation in your home can result in mold. Moisture condensation on the walls and windows, smelly or stuffy air, dirty central heating and air conditioning equipment, or areas where mold grows on shoes and books are signs your home is not adequately ventilated, the Environmental Protection Agency warns. Increase outdoor air ventilation by opening windows and doors, running window and attic fans when weather allows, or a window air conditioner with the vent control open.
[--pageBreak:"Purify Air With Plants"--] 2. Purify air with plants
Air-cleaning plants such as English ivy, Boston fern, and spider and rubber plants naturally remove pollutants like benzene in pesticides, plastics and synthetic fibers, formaldehyde in carpets and upholstery, and trichloroethylene in paint removers and rug-cleaning solutions. Healthline.com recommends using 15 to 20 plants in 6-inch pots or larger in a 2,000-square-foot house. Display the plants in groups rather than scattering them throughout the house for maximum effect.
[--pageBreak:"Protect Dogs With Herbs"--] 3. Protect Dogs With Herbs
If the warnings on some of your dog’s anti-pest products give you pause, consider more natural ways of protecting Fido from nasty ticks and fleas. Add garlic or brewer’s yeast to your pet’s food to make him less inviting to fleas and ticks. Sprinkle fennel, rue, rosemary, or eucalyptus seeds or leaves around your dog’s bed. Add a drop or two of the essential oil of eucalyptus and rosemary on a canvas or fabric-covered collar, advises howstuffworks.com.
[--pageBreak:"Clean With Nature"--] 4. Clean With Nature
The cleaning products we use often contain chemicals hazardous to humans and the environment. If you want to skip the chlorine bleach, phosphates, and phenols but still have a sparkling house, follow these alternatives from realsimple.com. For whitening laundry, substitute chlorine beach with half a cup of lemon juice in the rinse cycle for a normal-size load. Replace your regular toilet bowl cleaner with a mix of tea tree oil and water. To remove rust stains, pour borax in the bowl and let it sit overnight.
[--pageBreak:"Safeguard Clothes Naturally"--] 5. Safeguard Clothes Naturally
Nix the mothballs. They can contain volatile organic compounds that cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, and even damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system, warns epa.gov. Instead, protect your woolens by placing cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint, or white peppercorns in your closets and drawers. Your clothes will smell a whole lot better, too.