Did you know that life indoors can make you sick? Here's what you can do to avoid this problem with both natural air fresheners and indoor plants.
Indoor air pollutants are a real BIG problem in homes today, but you can make a lot of little changes that have a big impact. According to Walter Crinnion of Clean, Green, and Lean: Get Rid of the Toxins That Make You Fat, the biggest indoor air pollutants are combustion by-products (things like fireplaces, smoking, furnaces), solvents (like perfumes, scented products, paint, glue, carpeting, cleaning products), dust and particles (pet dander, molds, pesticides and building chemicals). Because some of these toxins require more intervention than others, I want to focus on the easiest things you can do RIGHT NOW in your home!
Ditch the air fresheners
Cleaning indoor air is a game of baby steps-- and the first thing you can do is get the nasty stuff out of your home ASAP! There are no "SAFE" commercial air fresheners. According to the Environmental Working Group, “A few companies provide ingredient lists on their website in response to consumer demand, but the word “fragrance” may hide dozens of chemicals, many of which may never have been assessed for safety.” If you don't even have control over knowing what's in a product, that's a huge red flag that you don't want it in your home. Additionally, according to the EPA, Air Fresheners commonly contain formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, p- dichlorobenzene, and aerosol propellants. These chemicals are strong irritants to eyes, skin, and throat, and can even cause death if eaten by pets or people! So ditch your Febreze spray, chemically scented candles, and Glade plugins without batting an eyelash! Don't worry-- your house can smell yummy with the replacement suggestions below!
Try 1-2 natural air freshener suggestions from below:
- Use an essential oil home diffuser that comes in the 'Premium Starter Kit' for scenting the home or dispelling household odors in a natural way! <--- this is my personal favorite!
- DIY Reed diffuser: All you need is a diffusing vessel, reed sticks, carrier oil and about 20-30 drops of high quality essential oil.
- Freshening spray: Add about 20-40 drops of your favorite essential oil to a spray bottle for an instant freshening spray for laundry or household odors. I love using Purification essential oil for trash bins, laundry and shoes!
Indoor plants as air filters-- a game changer
According to this NASA study that focused on some of the most common indoor chemical pollutants (benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene), indoor plants made a significant chemical reduction, especially when it came to benzene and formaldehyde. According to the study, "this suggests that the plant roots and their associated microorganisms are the major pathway for chemical removal" and "these results indicate that plants can play a major role in removal of organic chemicals from indoor air."
Invest in a few indoor plants. My top indoor plants are:
- Peace Lily: filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia.
- Snake Plant: filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.
- Aloe Vera Plant: filters benzene and formaldahyde.
- English Ivy: filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.
- Florist's Daisy/Pot Mum: filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia.
- Mass Cane: filters benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
- Gerbera Daisy: filters benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
- Weeping Fig: filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
PS-- if you don't have a green thumb, I highly recommend indoor plants that are more resilient and harder to kill like aloe vera plants, peace lilies, and snake plants. Especially if you have more of a brown thumb like me!
Other air quality factors to consider
- Make your home shoe-free by taking off your shoes as soon as you get home
- Buy unscented laundry detergent or make your own
- Avoid dry cleaning or choose an organic dry cleaner
- Get rid of carpet in your home (it's a holding tank for home toxins!)
- Invest in a chlorine filter for your shower and water filter for your kitchen
- Have mold growth in your home addressed by a professional
- Choose no or low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints
- Avoid press board/particle board furniture and instead buy real wood furniture
- Consider installing air filters into your heating system
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Do you use indoor plants or natural air fresheners to detoxify the air in your home and act as natural air filters? Please share in the comments!
Please be aware that Lily's are toxic and potentially deadly to cats if eaten.
Thank you for that comment. My fur baby is very curious about any foliage brought into the house., I'd never forgive myself if I poisoned him.
Your link to the English Ivy plant is to a silk plant.
Thanks for finding my error! It's updated now.
Do you have any advice for purifying plants that are not toxic to cats? I think all of the plants you listed are toxic to cats, according to ASPCA. 🙁
Don't think she cares :/
I have alot of plants in my home, including these here, and have had cats for decades! They've never really bothered them unless it was to play in the dirt! LoL so I really don't worry about it. ~Kelly
I don't have cats, so these are great. thanks!
Great article - thank you! Would you mind if I post a link to this blog on my website (www.vitalspacesnow.com)? I am a building biologist in South Carolina hoping to help others create the healthiest home and work environment.
Of course that's okay!
Thanks for reading,
All plants ultimately are good detoxifiers if for no other reason than they take your carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen! I don't know all that my plants do, but I have found chives super easy to grow and maintain. Mint and rosemary also do well in pots. I have a little shelf by my kitchen window. Spider plants look nice and are easy to grow. I have also had great success with begonias, even moving cross-country with them.
Agree on the spider plant comment. They are pretty and fairly resilient against us brown thumb folks.
If you want to have your cats avoid the plants is you can put something citrus in your plants, cats hates citrus, citronella and so forth you can actually Google the rest, main thing is you fulfilled your obligation inside your home having those plants and your animals as well. I have cats and all those plants mentioned above and as for me and my little furr babies, we're doing just fine.
I would disagree with your recommendation to get rid of carpeting. Yes, it holds a lot of bacteria, but that's precisely the point. It acts as a great air filter. What you have to do then is get the carpet cleaned professionally regularly. I would recommend ChemDry as they use less detergent and their technology does not leave soap residues behind.