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Healthy at Home

Today I’m joined again by Dr. Anne Kennard an Integrative Medicine and OB/GYN physician who also holds the credentials as a yoga instructor, herbalist and nutritionist and cook. She has a new cookbook that was just released that blends these worlds into one easy to follow, hand-held guide. You can check it out here. She did a great post for us a 2 months ago on healthful beauty products. If you didn’t catch it, be sure to go back and read it here.

Today’s post highlights key things to look for in healthy home products. Plus it includes 2 home recipes to get your started on your healthy home journey. Enjoy!

P.S. – we use Grove to purchase save home cleaners and beauty products. I LOVE them so much. They offer a free 5-piece gift set to new subscribers. Check it out here: Grove Link


Our home is where we sleep, eat and raise our families. It’s also where a majority of toxic exposures can occur – in our cleaning and personal care products, furniture, carpets and paints. Here are some suggestions to minimize toxic home exposures and a few of my personal nontoxic clean recipes. A good resource for more information is the Environmental Working Group at www.ewg.org. They even maintain a registry of specific personal care and home cleaning products, to help make informed choices.

Furniture

You are spending at least 1/3 of your life on your mattress and couch. Make sure the foam is Certi-Pur certified and avoid polyurethane foam when possible. “Memory foam” tends to emit gas more and should be avoided unless Certi-Pur certified and from non petroleum sources. Latex is a safe choice, although more expensive. Pocketed coil technology has improved the feel of innerspring mattresses and is a safe choice. Choose non-chemical fire retardants such as wool, silica and rayon in a mattress. Greenguard and Greenguard Gold certifications are a top choice in mattress ratings. This is especially important for children’s mattresses, as children exhibit higher levels of flame retardants than adults after blood testing. 

Look for GOTS, GOLS and Oeko-Tex certifications to make the safest choices for textiles. These have become more available in recent years, with Ikea and Target offering several choices with these certifications. Avoid any stain pretreatment or “Scotch Guard” on fabrics. 

Choose solid wood over wood laminate and particle board/pressed board when possible. The composite woods are typically pressed together with formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. Pay particular attention to cribs and other children’s furniture items, as children’s bedrooms often exceed safe formaldehyde levels.

Flooring

Carpeting should be low VOC, preferably Greenguard certified. Padding should be wool or felt, when possible and secured with a low VOC adhesive to avoid PFC, PVC and phthalates exposure. Avoid any stain or waterproofing treatment products as these contain perflourinated chemicals, which are classified as a likely carcinogen. Tile and natural wood flooring are preferable. Look for a low VOC sealant on wood flooring. As with furniture, avoid composite woods that emit formaldehyde. These recommendations are especially important for families with young children, as babies spend more time in direct contact with the floor and have been shown to exhibit these chemicals in relatively high concentration by the age of two. 

Paint

Look for Green Seal-11 certified paint, water based latex paints and low or no VOC paints. Avoid any formaldehyde releasing paints. When painting, work in a well-ventilated area. Consider “milk paints” for painting children’s furniture. 

Kitchen Items

Use glass or stainless steel water bottles to avoid petroleum chemicals that can leach into the water of single-use water bottles and to avoid contributing to plastics pollution on the earth. I prefer these over even BPA-free reusable bottles, as these may still have harmful plastic chemicals. 

Never heat in plastic. Use glass. Replace a plastic microwave steamer with a glass Pyrex bowl or a silicone “steamer” lid. Use stainless steel reusable containers for kids’ lunch items. They are dishwasher safe and virtually indestructible. Reusable produce bags are inexpensive and help keep produce fresher and avoid single-use plastic.

Avoid all nonstick pans, regardless of safety claims. Once scratched, these release fluorinated chemicals into your food. A well-seasoned cast iron pan is naturally nonstick and inexpensive. Cook foods in stainless steel, cast iron or enameled cast iron. Bake in silicone or stainless steel trays covered with parchment paper for ease of cleaning.

Food

Food can linings often contain BPA or BPS. Avoid canned foods when possible, especially acidic food like tomatoes. Choose jarred or boxed versions or a trusted canning company like Eden Foods and Westbrae Naturals that does not use plasticized liners. 

Use a carbon water filter. They are inexpensive and can be the kind in a separate pitcher or installed in a refrigerator water and ice system.

Home Products

Avoid any added fragrances to cleaning supplies or laundry detergents. Avoid dryer sheets as these are particularly loaded with harmful chemicals. Use natural wool balls in the dryer instead. If you prefer a scent to your clothing, sprinkle a few drops of an essential oil of your choice onto the wool balls prior to drying. 

Avoid wall “plug-ins”, spray air fresheners, and heated wax fragrances for home fragrance, along with car air fresheners. A reed or ultrasonic diffuser with natural essential oils eliminates the chemical concerns, although may still contribute to indoor pollution for a sensitive person like those with asthma or allergies. 

Mop with a steam mop, sprinkling a few drops of lemon and tea tree essential oils on the mop surface. This will effectively disinfect and clean floors without harmful chemicals. 

Avoid fragranced garbage bags. Vacuum carpets with a HEPA filter to reduce dust pollution as much as possible. 

Most surfaces (countertops, bathroom and kitchen) can be cleaned with very simple, nontoxic home recipes included here. For purchased products, look for recommendations in the EWG Guide to Healthy Cleaning, as there are many good nontoxic options.

Home Recipes

HEALTHY HOME CLEANER

I use this spray on my kitchen countertops, bathroom sinks, toilets and tile floors. It’s a workhorse that cleans well with no toxic ingredients. 

  • 16 oz spray bottle
  • 8 oz white vinegar
  • 6 oz water
  • 1 oz rubbing alcohol
  • 1 T castile soap
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil
  • 10 drops tea tree oil

Combine all ingredients in the spray bottle. Use liberally as desired.

NATURAL SOFT SCRUB

If I need a soft scrub cleaner for a stubborn stain in the kitchen, I make up a batch of this.

  • 1 T castile soap
  • ½ C baking soda
  • 3-4 T of water
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil

Combine and store in an airtight container. Rehydrate as needing using 1-2 T of water.

Dr. Anne Kennard Dr. Anne Kennard, DO, FACOG, is a Board Certified OB/GYN and Fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona with Dr. Andrew Weil. She is a certified yoga and meditation instructor, with a specialization in prenatal and pelvic floor yoga, studied herbal medicine with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Here website can be found here and her book here.

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