Homes are meant to be lived in, but with people coming and going all the time, and all kinds of materials being brought in and out, our homes can actually collect a lot of potential allergens and triggers. For any families or households dealing with sensitivities and allergies, toxin-free living can become a lot more involved than switching up a few products here and there, so here are the top 5 tips I have learned for reducing allergens and creating a more eco-friendly home.
1. Leave your shoes at the door
Let's be honest, our shoes are filthy and may be covered in potential allergens. Pollen thrives in damp conditions, so allergens can become even worse when it's wet and rainy outside. To avoid tracking all that dirt and debris inside, don't wear your shoes in the house! By doing this, you'll not only reduce the amount of allergens brought into your home but your floors will also be cleaner, so you won't need to vacuum and mop as much (and that's reason enough for me!) If your allergies are acting up, it might be a good idea to change your clothes and maybe even shower when you get home, too.
2. Use eco-friendly cleaning products
If you haven't already made the switch to natural household cleaning products, now's the time. Mainstream cleaning products may contain loads of ingredients we can't even pronounce, like phthalates, butoxyethanol, triclosan and even chlorine. If you have allergies or sensitivities, some of these ingredients and fumes might wreak havoc on the air in our homes, irritate our skin and exacerbate conditions such as asthma.
My top 3 natural household cleaning products:
• The Dr Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soaps are the ultimate multitaskers – with a whopping 18 different uses, they can actually be used to clean anything from tables to toilets, and contain Coconut, Olive and Jojoba Oils for powerful cleansing action.
• The Ecostore Fragrance Free cleaning range is ideal for anyone with scent sensitivities – try the Glass & Surface Cleaner for common household surfaces and the Dish Liquid for the washing up. This range is actually approved by Sensitive Choice in Australia, meaning they are specially designed to be asthma and allergy-friendly.
• For a more unconventional approach to cleaning, check out the Counter Culture probiotic cleaners – this range includes all purpose cleaning sprays, air & fabric fresheners and floor cleaners, all designed to deliver millions of friendly bacteria to your home to help keep bad bacteria at bay. Rather than killing 99.9% of bacteria like mainstream brands, these goodies utilise the benefits of probiotics in cleaning products.
3. Invest in a vacuum with a HEPA filter
Just like feather dusters, standard vacuums can actually throw more dirt and dust to the air. What is a HEPA filter, I hear you ask? It stands for "high-efficiency particulate air' – vacuums with a HEPA filter work to trap dirt, pollutants and particles that aren't visible to the naked eye (such as pollen, dust mites, smoke and pet dander), rather than dispersing these allergens back into the air we breathe. If you're allergy-prone, this filter may be the best money you ever spend for fresh and clean air!
4. Wash your bedding once a week
If you wake up with itchy eyes or a congested nose, your bedding might be to blame. To help keep dust mites and dirt at bay, try to wash your sheets, blankets and pillowcases once a week. Drying them in the dryer may also help! Alexx Stuart from Low Tox Life says that our pillows are often breeding grounds for dust mites and mould – switch to a latex or pure organic cotton pillow, if you can, to help keep these allergens at bay. For an even better night's sleep, try eco bedding such as hypoallergenic and breathable bamboo sheets. Make sure you wash them in a hypoallergenic laundry detergent, like That Red House Organic Soapberries.
5. Address mould ASAP
Mould has a way of creeping up in the bathroom. The sooner you deal with it, the better. Instead of using harsh bleach or a mainstream mould cleaner, go down the natural route! Alexx Stuart from Low Tox Life recommends hydrogen peroxide as a powerful natural mould remover, as well as considering whether de-humidifiers may benefit your home. Try the fume-free Abode Mould Control Spray, which contains hydrogen peroxide solution, to safely and effectively clean away mould.