Dive Into a Non-Toxic Fall with these 3 Tips

As we leave the long, sunny days of summer behind us and usher in the fall, we naturally spend more time inside our homes. Since we’re all using non-toxic cleaning products now (right? right!) that should mean we’re safer than ever. Well, maybe not. From what we track indoors on our feet, to how we wash our clothes, to innocuous-seeming choices like how we control the temperature and scent our homes, we can unintentionally increase our families’ exposure to toxic chemicals. Taking a fresh look at reducing our toxic exposure at home is a great place to focus our attention at this time of year, so that we can feel good about spending more time indoors throughout the coming months. Here are three simple ways to make sure your family is all set for a non-toxic Fall.

1. Clean up your indoor air

Indoor air pollution is a real – and serious – thing. In fact, indoor air quality can be a larger issue than outdoor air pollution. Cooking, cleaning products, candles and (don’t hate us!) that cozy, crackling wood-fire, can release dangerous compounds into the air for us to inhale, increasing the risk of a variety of health problems including respiratory diseases and asthma.

Luckily there are lots of ways to improve your indoor air quality. One of the best ways to improve our indoor air quality is to let the outside in! Without proper ventilation, activities like cooking and painting indoors can release toxic fumes into the air. Similarly, many households have forced-air heating and cooling systems, which do not automatically pull fresh air in. A simple fix: take advantage of the moderate fall temperatures to open up doors and windows and let that crisp air into your home. Changing out your air filters and even adding in a few household plants can help improve the quality of our air. It may sound too simple, but it’s actually a space-age solution recommended by NASA. Plants like the ones in this round-up can help clean up your indoor air by absorbing harmful toxins as they take in carbon dioxide to convert to oxygen. Bonus: they’re pretty and just generally make people feel good!

Using proper ventilation while cooking is another great way to reduce your toxic exposure at home, as it reduces the amount of moisture and gasses that are absorbed into the air. So making sure your kitchen ventilation, like your range hood, is high performing is important, as they can vary in their effectiveness. Use your ventilation system whenever you are cooking or using the oven – not just to remove cooking-smells and smoke! – or crack your kitchen window to allow some fresh air in as you’re braising and baking.

2. Give shoes the boot!

This is one of the easiest, most painless ways to reduce the influx of nasties into your house, given all kinds of toxins and germs, like antibiotic-resistant C.Diff bacteria, walk right in our front door on the bottoms of our shoes. So, go ahead and pin your heart out on this one. Shoe solutions abound, like this and this and this! Whatever you have to do to keep them outside (or by the door) — and not tracking gross and hazardous toxins throughout your home where your children and pets crawl, eat, walk, sleep and play — do it!

3. Handle odors & scents with care.

Fall has its own set of odors to conquer (Hello, Stinky Sports Gear, Uniforms, & Camping Stuff, we mean YOU).  Deodorizing is a major battle in the home, and a great place to start fighting it is in the laundry room. Between school clothes, outerwear, sports gear and after-school play clothes, this season brings with it piles and piles of laundry. You’re probably already hip to avoiding ingredients like bleach, but the sad truth is that it’s hard to judge how safe your detergent is given manufacturers are not required to disclose their full ingredients on product labels. Learn to identify and avoid the worst offender ingredients like fragrances, preservatives, phthalates and SLS, in our article on how to find a toxic chemical free laundry detergent. Dealing with athletic gear stink? The dirty secret is that your detergents and fabric softeners may be making it worse. Use these tips to fight the battle of sports gear stink and win it, for good!

On to making your home smell better outside the laundry room…Don’t be tempted by typical air fresheners or deodorizers. They are covering up smells with toxic chemicals. They contain phthalates, which are used in fragranced products to make the masking scents last longer. You won’t even be able to tell if your air freshener or deodorizer has phthalates because these hormone-disruptors are not listed on labels. The best thing to do is to avoid any air freshener or deodorizer that is fragranced. The safer option is to remove the odor at the source vs masking it. For that you’ll want a deodorizer free from toxic chemicals like Force of Nature. It’s as effective as bleach, but with no harmful chemicals or fumes.

Once you’ve found an effective way to eliminate odors in your home, you may find you don’t need to rely on synthetic fragrances to make your home smell great. From cinnamon stick to douglas fir, fall and winter smells are some of the closest to our hearts. But, as we broke it down for you in this post on the toxic nature of scented candles, there is just too much downside to be spritzing and scenting your home with synthetic fragrance. Fragrance ingredients are considered trade secrets. This means that all kinds of nasties can be hiding in your “Glazed Sugar Cookie” room spray, including preservatives and even petroleum and coal tar, which are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream and can contribute to a host of health issues.  Don’t trust that “unscented” or “natural” fragrances are any safer, and seek out products that are fragrance-free to be safe. For safer ways to get your house smelling great, check out our suggestions here.

This season is filled with so many simple joys. From decorating pumpkins, to slow-cooking chili and watching football, it’s a time of year where spending time with family and friends at home just feels right. With just a few simple changes, you can turn your home into a non-toxic retreat from the world. And if you need help, we’re always here with our family-friendly cleaning system that harnesses the power of simple ingredients like water, vinegar and salt, to create a powerful cleaner and deodorizer to take on anything you throw at it this Fall and all year long.

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