From fire hazards to toxic cleaning supplies, your house may not be as healthy as you think. Even those who love to clean and do chores might be surprised at how chemicals seep into your home and pollute the air from dry cleaning, plastic containers, diapers and more. In this list, we cover all of these health hazards, as well as a number of safety guidelines to abide by to make sure your home is a healthier place, inside and out.
Toxins and Chemicals
Rid your home and your life of toxic chemicals by cleaning with baking soda, using chlorine-free diapers, and rethinking the way you clean your swimming pool.
- Baking soda: Besides sucking out nasty smells from your refrigerator, baking soda can be used as a cleaning agent for your countertops and in the bathroom, and it’s less harmful than toxic cleaners.
- Take out the trash: Stagnant garbage attracts rodents, bacteria and bugs, so throw it out every 1-2 days.
- Consider alternative medicine for minor aches and pains: Instead of popping an Advil every time your head hurts, try using a natural remedy or alternative treatment.
- Use non-toxic chemicals in your swimming pool: Chlorine takes a major toll on your skin, hair and eyes, so clean your pool with non-toxic products.
- Use non-toxic baby items: Chlorine-free diapers and wipes are gentler on your baby’s skin and lungs.
- Make your own household cleaning products: Toxic cleaning products can cause a number of symptoms like nausea, headache and rash, so make your own instead of suffering through Spring Cleaning.
- Go organic: From clothes to recycled material to organic vegetables, this lifestyle limits your consumption of toxins.
- Toxic-free bath and beauty: Bath, body and beauty products are loaded with chemicals and ingredients that can irritate your skin. Try out natural solutions instead.
- Green laundry: Natural laundry detergents are better for your clothes and your skin.
- Cut down on plastic: Besides being a good choice for the environment, cutting down on plastic is also good for your health, as hot temperatures, microwaves and other triggers can make toxins in plastic seep into your food and drinks.
Your backyard health and safety can get a makeover with these tips, including BBQ safety, gardening ideas, secure gates and fences, and more.
- Garden: Up your chances of eating healthy when you grow your own vegetables and fruits.
- Embrace natural lawn care: A natural lawn care system is better for your yard and your plants. Start composting, be careful with fertilizer choices, water deeply and stop using pesticides.
- Pick up dog poop: Dog poop attracts flies and spreads bacteria, so pick it up every couple of days.
- Take patio furniture, toys inside before storm: If you know a strong storm or heavy winds are about to hit your area, take patio furniture and anything else that could be turned into a projectile missile inside.
- BBQ safety: From thoroughly cooking your food to understanding gas grill safety, make sure you know all the rules of safe BBQ-ing before you have a party.
- Keep a gate around the pool: Keep a locked gate around your backyard pool to block out pets and small children, and to avoid accidental slips or falls which could result in tragedy.
- Trim tree branches: Trim low tree branches that could fall on your roof or power lines during heavy winds or an ice storm.
- Make sure playground equipment is safe: Perform a check on your playground equipment at least twice a year to make sure that swings aren’t too rusty, the slide is secure, and the entire frame wasn’t damaged during a storm, heavy snow, or any other weather-related situation.
- Have a fence: Fences keep out stray dogs and other outside threats, and they keep small children safe inside your property.
- Don’t let woodpiles sit too long: Forgotten woodpiles in the backyard attract rats, termites and other vermin, which can be a hazard to your health and your pets.
Getting enough of the right kind of sleep is integral to a healthy lifestyle. Follow these tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your sleeping hours.
- No TV or computer in your bedroom: Watching TV before bed or leaving it on while you fall asleep can overstimulate your brain due to the light and content of the program you’re watching. Computer use results in the same problem.
- Hang up curtains to make it dark: A very dark room that blocks out artificial street lights and early morning light can help you sleep more soundly and without interruption.
- No work in your bed: Make your bed and bedroom more conducive to sleep by making a rule never to work in bed. This practice can cause you stress and make you associate your bed with your office.
- Turn on the fan to keep it cool: Generally, your body likes to be cool while it rests, so if you’re not keen on pumping down the A/C at night, turn on the fan to lower the temperature.
- Make sure it’s quiet: To ensure you “sleep in complete silence,” as this article recommends, turn off your computer, the radio and TV. Closing the windows if you have loud neighbors or want to tune out a barking dog works too.
- Watch your diet before bed: Smoking, alcohol, and too spicy or too heavy foods interrupt sleep. Avoid these before bed.
Keeping your weight down is only one healthy benefit to exercising. Control your blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, circulation and more with these tips.
- Keep exercise equipment in the house: Finding time to drive to and from the gym is a major motivation sucker. Keep exercise equipment in the house so that it’s easier to work out each day.
- Motivate yourself: Put reminders on the refrigerator and keep motivational posters or sayings in your work out room to help you follow through with your exercise goals.
- Get a Wii: Using a Wii may not turn you into a buff bodybuilder, but it’s a much better option than playing a normal video game.
- Rearrange your house: If you’ve arranged everything so that you never have to get up from the TV to answer the phone, get on the computer, throw something away, or get up for a snack, rearrange some of the furniture to encourage more activity.
- Limit your online time: Unplug your computer or just limit the amount of time you can be online each day to prevent you from doing all of your shopping, researching and other tasks on the Internet, instead of in real life. Going to the store or the library will burn calories.
- Take the recliner out of the TV room: If you want to watch TV, sit in a less comfortable chair, making it less likely that you’ll plop down for several hours at a time. Instead, get up when your program is over.
Make sure you run these checks and evaluations on your house at the start of every season.
- Regular inspection: Conduct a regular inspection to look for leaky faucets, loose floorboards, and anything else that might pose a threat to your safety.
- AC/Heater checks: At the beginning of winter and summer, make sure your AC, furnace and central heater are in working order. Faulty systems can waste money, become a fire hazard or cause a heat stroke.
- Clean out air filters: Air filters are designed to collect dust and dirt, but if you let them get to congested, they won’t be able to perform. Clean them out once every month or two.
- Insulation: Eco-friendly and health friendly insulations can be made from natural cotton or even soy. Check your insulation to make sure it’s working properly and isn’t releasing toxic chemicals into your home.
- Clean out the attic: Besides the benefits of organization and recovering old treasures, cleaning out the attic ensures that you don’t have any dangerous items or fire hazards just waiting to cause major damage.
- No fire hazards in garage: Every elementary school student gets a lesson in checking for oily rags and fire hazards in the garage. Check for these and other dangerous items, like tools that haven’t been put away, rusty auto or bike parts, and pesticides or poisons which can be harmful to anyone who stumbles across them by accident.
- Basement check-up: Before your area’s rainy season, make sure your basement is thoroughly insulated and protected from flood damage and seepage.
- Spring checklist: This checklist suggests cleaning out your gutters, checking screen doors, caulking door sills and window sills, checking sprinklers and draining your waste and vent system to get ready for spring.
- Winterizing your home: Make sure your home is ready for winter by topping off oil tanks, stocking up on furnace filters, checking caulking, and cleaning your chimney.
- Check the roof: Check the roof to make sure it’s ready to handle snow, ice and/or rain.
Safety Tools and Testers
Keep these tools, alarms and testers on hand to make sure your home isn’t at risk for fire, radon, carbon monoxide, or any other threats.
- Smoke alarm: Make sure the batteries in your smoke alarm are always working.
- Fire extinguisher: Keep a fire extinguisher close by, preferably in the kitchen, in case there’s a fire in your house or apartment.
- Air purifier: Even if you don’t think you’re at risk for asthma or allergies, it’s a good idea to get an air purifier to cut down on air pollutants like cigarette smoke, toxins, dust and carbon dioxide.
- Burglar alarm system: To protect your family against break-ins, get a burglar alarm system.
- Carbon monoxide detector: According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 200 Americans die each year because of unintentional CO inhalation. Get a detector to make sure you aren’t being poisoned.
- Radon tester: A radon test can prevent lung cancer and other kinds of cancers caused by this radioactive gas that doesn’t smell or have a taste.
- First aid kit: It sounds simple, but having a first aid kit with bandages, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic creams and ointments, eye wash, a thermometer, and burn ointments can ease discomfort or even safe a life in an emergency.
- Prescription meds: Make sure your cabinets are always stocked with filled prescriptions of the medications your doctor says you need and out of reach of children.
- Seasonal survival kit: Determine what the major natural disaster risk is for your area: wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding or snowstorms, and pack a survival kit according to your needs if you lose power.
- Mold Test: Conduct one of several mold tests to find harmful mold in your carpet, bookcase, shower and insulation.
These tips will give your kitchen and your diet a makeover.
- Wash food before cooking or eating: This practice reduces, if not eliminates, any pesticides or chemicals that were used during growing, harvesting, packaging, and transporting your food.
- Thoroughly cook raw food: Cook out salmonella and avoid rushing when you cook your food.
- Don’t keep a major supply of junk food: Avoid temptation by only keeping one or two desserts or snacks on hand, not an entire cabinet full of junk.
- Keep a health food cookbook on hand: Give yourself plenty of healthy options when deciding what’s for dinner by making your health food or diet cookbook the main attraction.
- Take an interest in where your food comes from: If you’re more aware of the growing process, production and shipment of your food, you might be more likely to choose healthy options than unethically produced food or overly processed food.
- Throw out to-go menus: Stop yourself cold turkey from eating out — even when you’re eating in — by tossing out all those to-go menus in your kitchen drawer.
- Stop buying soda: Soda, even diet soda, contains artificial ingredients, caffeine and other chemicals that can hurt your body and impede your diet goals.
- Put an alarm on your refrigerator: Install an alarm that goes off when you open the refrigerator door after hours. This will cut down on late night snacking.
- Get a water filter: Even if your water looks clear, it could be packed with unhealthy chemicals. Get a water filter to fix the problem.
- Lock up the liquor cabinet: Lock up the liquor cabinet to keep kids and teenagers out. If you’re having trouble staying away from it yourself, ask someone else to lock it up and hide the key.
Organization and Productivity
Clutter and a disorganized life can make you feel stressed, anxious and tense. Relax your mind and your body with these organization and productivity tips.
- Schedules: An organized schedule means less stress and more productivity. Get an online calendar or other system that will help you stay organized.
- Clean up: This guide encourages homeowners to take up rugs that can cause you to trip, keep stairs clear of any clutter, and stop rushing around.
- Untangle wires: Make sure your TV, computer and other electrical wires aren’t all tangled up, which can cause a fire hazard.
- Implement a storage system: Make the most of storage to eliminate clutter and keep you physically safe and mentally relaxed.
- Upload your files onto the computer: This system cuts down on extra papers, dust and lost documents.
- Manage laundry: Don’t get behind on your laundry; otherwise, you’ll feel stressed, can lose items left in pockets, and attract mold and mildew on dirty, sweaty clothes.
- Organize your finances: Getting into debt because of poor organization is a waste but will cause you enormous stress. Learn how to organize all of your finances, from your taxes to your savings budget.
Monitor your mental health by making your home a refuge from the crazy world outside.
- Stress: Stress management is a major health concern, as being too stressed can lead to depression, aches and pains, anxiety, headaches and more.
- Enforce rules: Enforce rules for your kids to keep them safe and healthy, from prohibiting nighttime swimming to requiring them to wear helmets when they skate or ride a bike.
- Family time: Setting aside time for you and your family promotes relaxation and bonding, both good benefits for your heart and mind.
- Watch less TV, play fewer video games: These two activities, when done in excess, can cause neck and back tension, headaches, strained eyesight, and even anxiety.
- Read more: Reading can provide comfort and understanding, help you relax, give you a way to escape, and inspire you to learn something new.
- Get a plant: Besides being a good source of oxygen, plants also boost your mood and liven up your environment.
- Make the most of good lighting: Too-bright lighting can cause headaches and tension. Learn about how lighting affects mood to produce a welcoming, calming room.
- Redo your decorating: According to feng shui, redecorating your room can boost your energy. Even if you don’t redecorate according to feng shui, change up the furniture every once in a while or switch a painting to another wall to keep your house feeling fresh.
- Add pictures around your house: Put up pictures of friends and fun vacations to keep your spirits up when you feel down.
- Get a pet: If you have the time, budget and energy for a pet, get one. Pets can lower blood pressure and provide companionship.
From locking your doors to charging your cell phone, these easy little tips can make a big difference for your health and safety.
- Lock your doors and windows: Keep out burglars and protect your family’s safety with this simple tip.
- Stay in during a lightning storm: Decrease your chances of getting struck by lighting by staying indoors.
- Repair broken sidewalks and driveways: Keep your kids, tires and neighbors safe by repairing broken sidewalks and cracks in your driveway.
- Know your neighbors: Knowing the names and contact information for your neighbors has a lot of safety and health benefits: when you’re out of town, they can watch your house, they’ll know your regular activities and can report to you when anything suspicious happens, and they can provide friendship and assistance, easing your mind and giving you a chance to socialize.
- Pay your phone bill: If your phone gets cut off, you’ll be more vulnerable and isolated if you need help.
- Air out your dry cleaning: Bringing home your dry cleaning can also mean bringing home toxins and unhealthy air. Let your clothes air out outside before hanging them in your closet.
- Change your vacuum cleaner bag: A too-full vacuum cleaner bag just pumps dust, dirt and animal hair back into your room.
- Bathroom fan ventilation: Bathroom fan ventilation systems help prevent extra condensation and mold in your shower.
- Keep your cell phone charged: Always keep your cell phone charged in case you need to leave the house suddenly, or the power goes out and your phone dies.
- Dust: Dusting is one of the oldest and easier chores around, and it instantly rids your belongings of dirt, crumbs, and allergens.
Articles and Guides
For more advice and resources for having a healthy home, turn to these articles and guides, all about home safety and green living.
- 3 Simple Ladder-Safety Tips: Understand ladder safety by reading this article before you start cleaning out the gutters or working on a DIY project.
- Healthy Home: This website is all about green building, and you can search for eco-friendly products for your kitchen, bathroom, backyard and more.
- Healthy and Green Living: Care2’s Healthy and Green Living page has “more than 4,000 ways to enhance your life” and promote a natural and/or eco-friendly lifestyle.
- Healthy Home Plans: View home plans and designs that are safe and have many health-friendly features, like mold prevention, natural lighting, proper ventilation and more.
- Healthy Home Resources: Learn about lead poisoning, childhood injuries and more home hazards here.
- Healthy at Home: The AARP publishes this guide to healthy and safe living for seniors.
- Safety House: View this guide to learn about home hazards like poisons, electrical appliances, fire and more.
- Home Safety: The PBS website provides information about electrical safety, slips and falls, carbon monoxide, fire and other home and health safety issues.
- Kidd Safety House: This interactive game lets kids identify all the dangers in the house.
- Healthy Home: Gaiam’s Healthy Home page features articles on green living, a forum, blog and more.