It’s safe to assume that we all want to create the healthiest home we can for our families. That’s one of the biggest reasons I started this blog and what motivates me to keep researching. But I know it can seem overwhelming if you’re just starting down this path. Or even if you’ve been on it for a while. The good news is that a handful of changes can actually have a big impact. Are you ready to hear what those are? Good, because today I’m sharing 5 swaps for a healthier home!
A quick note: Some of these are easy changes and some may be more long term goals. I never want someone to feel discouraged because they don’t have all the right things or they can’t afford something like a fancy air purifier. Please know that every little step forward counts and it’s never going to be perfect, no matter how much money you spend. I’ll share some hacks and more affordable options, too, but keep in mind: progress over perfection!!
5 Swaps For A Healthier Home
One. Filter Your Water
All photos (except last) by Emmalo.co
Water water everywhere, and it’s full of agricultural runoff, PFAS, industrial bi-products, and more. While our water treatment plants in the US do get certain things out of our water, some of these are impossible for them to remove and wind up coming out of your tap.
Find out what’s in your local water here.
Depending on where you live and what’s in your water, you may want a filter that targets certain things. We’ve been really happy with our Berkey. It’s one of the most robust filters you can buy. We use the black charcoal filters and the fluoride filters and between them both, it covers out bases. You can read my full review here.
Not ready to take the plunge on a large water filter just yet? Consider buying a cheaper filter, which won’t get everything out of the water but it will be better than straight from the tap. Or buy purified water in bulk at the grocery store. Just be sure you’re buying purified and not just bottled water which is usually bottled tap water.
Two. Ditch The Fragrances
You may not realize just how many things in your home have synthetic fragrance. From laundry detergent to trash bags, it’s hard to avoid. But going fragrance free not only improves your air quality, it also can helps reduce your families exposure to phthalates and many other toxic chemicals.
Did you know that synthetic fragrance has been named as one of the top allergens and is linked to asthma attacks? Not only that, manufacturers do not have to disclose what ingredients were used to make the fragrance since it’s considered proprietary. You can read more about fragrance and why to avoid it here.
FYI: Fragrance-free and unscented are not the same. Many times unscented has scent that’s been added to mask other smells, so to you the product smells “unscented”.
Look for products that are fragrance free or that are scented from natural sources like herbs or essential oils. Most mainstream brands offer fragrance-free versions of products like laundry detergent. And any truly natural product won’t have fake fragrance added. Once you’ve kicked out all the fake scented products, you will be amazed at how your sense of smell changes, too!
Three. Improve Indoor Air
Speaking of air quality, ditching fragrance isn’t the only thing that can really improve indoor air. Many of the items we bring into our homes off-gas VOCs and other substances. Flame retardants that are in almost all electronics break down into dust that gets into the air and settles on surfaces. Not to mention, the building materials for houses present their own problems.
“Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.” -The EPA
The biggest thing you can do to improve air quality is to invest in a good air purifier. We love our AirDoctor and after a lot of research, I think it’s the best quality you can find for the price. You can check out my review here and buying through the links will automatically give you a discount.
We saved up and researched air purifiers for years. So if you’re not ready to buy, I get it. In one of my podcast episodes all about healthier homes, my expert guest shared the perfect hack for this! She said to get a box fan and attach the highest quality air filter you can buy (the allergen air filter you use for your air intakes) to the back of it. Bam! You’ve MacGyvered yourself and air purifier. Check out the full podcast episode here.
Four. Ban PFAS
PFAS are ubiquitous these days. They’ve infiltrated our water, soil, and so many home products. PFAS are a group of chemical compounds, also called the “forever chemicals” since they don’t break down in the environment. Which is bad, because they’re incredibly toxic. This was brought to light in a very Erin Brockovich-ish type story, but typical of big chemical companies, they keep making new ones after previous versions have been banned. If you want to learn more, I have a slide show with infographics about PFAs on Instagram.
Did you know studies have found that PFAS have even been added to some floss brands?
One of the sneaky ways this comes into our homes is through furnishings. Any carpet, rugs, or furniture that has been treated to be stain or water resistant likely has been treated with PFAS. I have kids and a dog, so trust me, I know how convenient these make life. But the overall risk of having these in your home isn’t worth it. Look for natural fibers or untreated man made fibers. Home Depot and Lowes have agreed to stop selling carpet with PFAS but it is still very prevalent, so do your research before buying.
Five. Swap Your Cookware
Certainly not the easiest or cheapest thing on this list, but what you cook with can pollute indoor air quality and add toxic substances to your food. I’m sure you’re well aware of Teflon and the dangers it poses (Teflon also happens to be part of the PFAS family), but other coatings and materials can also pose a risk. Since the Teflon debacle, several so-called “green coatings” have popped up. Many of these have later been shown to also be harmful.
Turns out DuPont knew the ingredients in Teflon were extremely toxic since the 60s but still manufactured it and dumped the waste into the surrounding waterways for decades. Then continued to lie about its safety even as more and more people and wildlife got sicker and died.
What to buy instead? You don’t have to spend a ton but if you choose to, you can invest in a pricier cookware line. Stick to the classics, like good quality stainless steel, cast iron, and pure ceramic. I have a blog post outlining what to look for and what to avoid and it also lists my favorites. Check that out here.
Baby steps make a big difference, so even if you just pick a couple of these to work on over the next year, think of the difference it will make! What’s next on your list to create a healthier home?
*Some affiliate links used. All thoughts and opinions are always my own.