Many of us talk about wanting to live happier and healthier lives, but we don’t know where to start. Keeping a nutritious diet, getting the right amount of sleep, and regularly exercising are three things we associate with being “healthy”, but there is way more to it.
When you think about where you spend most of your time, you probably think of two places - work and home. While these used to be two separate places, they have now fused for most of us due to the pandemic. Working remotely has become a widely accepted norm and can easily be done from the comfort of your own home.
Because we are now spending even more time at home, we need to ensure that we are creating some healthy home habits to keep our health and well-being in check. Here is our list of the top five healthy home habits you need to know.
1. Take Care of Your Air Quality
Did you know that the average human breathes just over two thousand gallons of air daily? That’s A LOT of air. If you weren’t paying attention to your air quality before, this is your wake-up call to start. The air we breathe has a tremendous impact on our everyday health, and it's up to us to keep our eye on it.
To ensure that your air quality is healthy, it is crucial to invest in a high-efficiency furnace filter and air purification system. Your furnace filter will act as your main line of defense between you and the dirt, dust, and debris infiltrating your home. When looking for an air filter, it is important to look for one with a MERV rating of at least 7 or higher. Sticking to a solid replacement schedule is also essential to prevent build-up within your air filter.
If your filter becomes clogged with debris, it will not only harm your health, but also your AC unit. Your filter is responsible for cleaning the air, which gets passed through your AC coils and then back into the room. If the air is contaminated and dirty, your coils will eventually become that way as well. This can lead to hundreds of dollars wasted on AC repairs that can easily be avoided if you take the proper precautions. Whether you choose to buy your AC filter online or in the store, please be sure to pick one that fits your unit properly.
It may also be helpful to double down and invest in a high-quality air purifier to add to your bedrooms and living room. Air purifiers typically use HEPA air filters, which can remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any other household allergens with a size of 0.3 microns. These are extremely effective in keeping your air quality clean and purified.
When you combine a high-efficiency air filter with a high-quality air purifier, you reap the benefits from both, giving you the best air quality possible.
2. Declutter Your Space
It’s very easy (especially when we are busy) to allow household clutter to build up and take over. Clutter is not only harmful to our stress levels but also harmful to our health as well. This is because clutter can easily collect dust over time. Even worse, this dust accumulation often goes unnoticed as dust builds up in our home's hidden nooks and crannies.
How can you avoid this clutter catastrophe and keep your home healthy? Here are three ways:
2. One thing at a time. The thought of decluttering your home can make you feel slightly overwhelmed (especially if you have a ton of clutter). An easy way to combat these feelings is to tackle one area of your home at a time. Start off with your room, then tackle your child’s room, then your living room, etc. Staying focused on one room at a time will limit the overwhelm and keep you from starting and not finishing your cleaning spree. You also don’t have to tackle every area all in one day. Make a plan to set your decluttering days throughout the week so you can attack the clutter little by little.
3. Create healthier habits. One of the best things you could do to help limit the clutter is to create some new habits to prevent the clutter from appearing in the first place. One habit to consider is to put items away in a designated area once you are finished using them. For example, let’s say your child plays with several toys and leaves them scattered across your living room floor. Instead of leaving them to collect dust, try picking them up and putting them in a designated bin. This keeps your space clean and also prevents dust from finding new clutter to infiltrate.
Another healthy habit you can consider is to dust more frequently. If you are only dusting once a month, that may not be enough, which could hurt your health more than you realize. Try upping your dusting frequency to at least once every other week if possible. Also, be sure to use a microfiber cloth to ensure you are picking up as much dust as possible.
3. Review Your Cleaning Product Ingredients
Cleaning and dusting are essential in creating a healthy home; however, one more factor comes into play - the ingredients in your cleaning products. While cleaning products are necessary, not all of them are created equally. Many of the commonly used products are packaged in fun bottles and use buzz words on the packaging such as “All-Natural” or “Fragrance-Free”, but that doesn’t mean you should take this at face value.
It is imperative to always review the ingredients on the back of the products you want to use. A few toxic cleaning product ingredients to look out for include 2-BE (2-Butoxyethanol), Coal Tar Dyes, MEA (monoethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine), TEA(triethanolamine), and many others. Look for products that claim to have “low VOCs” or are “VOC-Free”, as these are very harmful to our health as well. If you are struggling to find clean products, you can always opt to create some of your own. Making homemade cleaning products ensures that the ingredients are clean and safe, giving you more peace of mind about what you expose yourself to at home.
4. Add Some Green to Your Home
It’s time to swap out some of your dust-collecting decor with something that adds color and helps improve your air quality. House plants are not only a stylish way to spruce up your home, but they provide so many health benefits as well. According to a 1989 NASA study, plants were shown to be able to purify the air of various toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde. Plants act as natural air cleaners, helping to cleanse our air just by being present in our homes. According to the NASA study author, the leafier and larger your plant the better.
Here are a few common house plants that can help keep your home healthy:
- Peace Lily - Known to clean the air of alcohols, acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde.
- English Ivy - A popular, hardy plant that is easy to grow. It removes most pollutants.
- Spider Plant - Powerful air purifiers. These plants can remove formaldehyde, a gas emitted by cigarette smoke, dry cleaning, synthetic carpeting, fingernail polish, and more.
- Philodendrons- One of the most popular houseplants. These are excellent air purifiers and also remove formaldehyde gases from the air.
- Bromeliads - These win a gold star for cleaning up most pollutants. They release oxygen and remove air pollutants at night while you sleep!
5. Don’t Use Air Fresheners
We tend to associate pleasant smells with cleanliness and have a positive emotional response to them. So what’s wrong with air fresheners then? The issue we run into with air fresheners is that they are typically made up of harmful chemicals that we shouldn’t be exposing ourselves to daily. Some studies suggest that exposure to small amounts of these chemicals may be harmless, but if you are exposing yourself for most of your day that is a whole other story.
One of health experts' biggest concerns about air fresheners is their widespread use of phthalates. According to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study, 86% of air fresheners tested contained phthalates. Phthalates are found in plastics, cosmetics, and fragrances and are notoriously disruptive to the body. These effects include causing reproductive harm and birth defects.
Using air fresheners can also be harmful because they are known to be overpowering and may be covering up a smell that could signal an issue in your home. For instance, if you have a mold issue in your home that is causing a foul odor and you decide to mask it with an air freshener, how will you know there is an issue? This can delay addressing the problem and, in turn, make it worse.
If you feel strongly about having a fragrant home, try opting for an essential oil diffuser. These oils are not harmful to our health, and many actually have their own health benefits.
These are just some of the many habits you can practice to make your home healthier. We know that change can be difficult, but taking a few small steps each day can make reaching the bigger goals easier. Healthy homes aren’t created overnight, but with time and consistent healthy habits, you will eventually achieve the home you’ve always wanted.