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5 ways to have a healthy home

Now that you have decided to build a healthy green home, think about maintaining your environment in the long-term with these cleaning, updating and decluttering tips, which will help to turn your home into a balanced tranquil space.

1 Clean green
From detergents and de-greasers to stain removers and glass cleaners, today’s homes are packed with all manner of cleaning products designed to make light work of household chores. However, many products contain harmful irritants and solvents. Oven cleaners, for example, commonly contain toxic chemicals. Household bleach is a corrosive irritant and many multi-purpose cleaners contain a cocktail of chemicals, including ones which are thought to act on the central nervous system. Plug-in air fresheners have been linked to shortness of breath.

These substances can affect anyone. However, people with allergies or other health problems can be severely affected. Here are some alternatives, most of which you can make yourself, that will leave your home sparkling clean and fresh.

This all-purpose cleaner can be used to remove water deposit stains on shower cabinets, bathroom taps, windows and bathroom mirrors.

  • Mix ½ cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of baking powder into 2L water. Store and keep. Alternatively, use a microfibre cloth designed to lift off dirt, grease and dust without the need for cleaning chemicals.
  • Don’t have a self-cleaning oven? Try this. Dampen the oven surfaces with a sponge and water. Use ¾ cup of baking powder, ¼ cup of salt and ¼ cup of water to make a thick paste, then spread over the surfaces. Leave overnight. Remove with a spatula and wipe clean. Rub gently with a non-scratch scourer over tough spots.
  • Tackle the limescale build-up around taps by applying salt and lemon juice to the area. Leave, then scrub. For the kettle, put ½ cup of white wine vinegar and two cups of water in the kettle and gently boil for two minutes. Rinse well with fresh water while it is still warm.
  • Rub scratches on dark wood surfaces with the cut side of a walnut or a Brazil nut.
  • Denture cleaning tablets will remove that yellow tinge from stored cotton bedding, banish tea rings from mugs and get scum stains out of vases. Pop one in the loo and leave overnight for a sparkling pan.
  • For smelly drains, mix washing soda crystals with very hot water and pour down the plug hole.

2 Choose natural paints
Painting your home is one way to update it, but it can be hard to find a dependable, durable paint that’s healthy to live around. You’ll need to know a bit more about what paint is made of, and what those ingredients can do. VOCs are carbon-based chemical compounds that evaporate easily in the atmosphere, and are known to contribute to global climate change. Many of them are also linked with health problems, such as asthma, headaches and skin disorders. Here are some tips on what to look out for when choosing paint.

  • Brands that show labels with a full ingredients list are particularly helpful. Some paints may be branded ‘organic’ but may still contain petrochemicals. Always check the ingredients and if the list is missing, it is better to check elsewhere for your paint.
  • Try to avoid solvent-based paint, white spirit, turpentine or similar harmful chemicals and heavy metals such as cadmium. Use water-based paint as an eco-friendly alternative.

3 Be energy efficient
Lighting, heating, and cooling systems are a vital consideration in green home design. Renewable energy systems such as solar, wind, and geothermal systems use the earth’s natural energy to heat and cool the home, as well as provide electricity to run appliances and technology.

  • Replacing your boiler with a good condensing model is one of the biggest single steps you can take towards a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Add to that new radiators with individual thermostatic controls, room thermostats and a thermostat on your water tank, and you’re well on the way to a green halo.

4 Insulate your walls
A lot has been said about insulating roofs to save energy and reduce fuel bills but don’t forget your walls, too. Around 35% of the heat loss in a non-insulated home occurs through the walls.

  • There are two options, cavity wall and solid wall insulation, depending on the construction of your house. If it was built during the last century then the outside walls are probably built in two layers with an air gap or cavity between them. Very often the gap has insulation but, if not, filling the gap with an insulating material reduces heat loss through the walls. Some houses have solid walls. This means there is no cavity within the wall to insulate. If you have solid walls you can either insulate them with external or internal insulation.

5 Avoid clutter
Getting rid of clutter not only clears space around the house but you will also cut waste and reduce your environmental impact. Start saying no to junk mail, empty your wardrobes, recycle and revamp. Small changes make a big difference.

  • Your home or workplace is a mirror of you. Don’t hold yourself back by hanging on to things ‘just in case’. From this point on, surround yourself only with things that you love.
  • Clear your desk. Piles of paperwork will make you feel defeated. A clear desk means a clear mind, better creativity and more job satisfaction.

Pictures: getty images

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