Updated 08 May 2014

Detox your livingroom

The typical livingroom holds a load of toxins hardly conducive to living: chemicals that off-gas from carpets and furnishings, and pollutants that build up on surfaces. Detox the relaxation centre of your home and let the sunshine and fresh air in.


We think of our homes, and especially leisure zones like the livingroom, as sanctuaries from the grind and grime of city living.

But toxins lurk indoors too; in fact, indoor pollution is often more harmful than outdoor.

For one thing, 21st century humans spend most of their lives indoors, and for another, the sanctuary's atmosphere is often tainted with tobacco smoke, cleaning chemicals, off-gassing from furnishings and heaters, and air "fresheners".

Read: When paint fumes are a knockout

Especially in winter, with closed doors and wndows, toxins can accumulate.

A room fit for living

Livingroom detox tips:

*Leave your shoes at the front door to prevent tracking in toxins from the city streets.

* Use potplants as indoor air filters. (NASA research shows this really works.)

* Open windows and doors whenever possible to improve indoor ventilation. This dilutes indoor air pollutants, and has been shown to reduce exposure to disease-carrying germs too. And let the sunlight stream in: it acts as a natural disinfectant.

* Make your home a smoke-free zone. Smoking outside is much better, but preferably several meters away from windows and doors - smoke finds its way inside.

* Ditch artificial so-called air fresheners and deodorisers, and try these alternatives. If you love incense, use it only occasionally as a stress-reducing treat. Burning incense may seem "natural", but all smoke is harmful, and exposure to incense smoke causes an inflammatory response similar to that triggered by tobacco smoke.

* Cut down on commercial cleaning products: use smaller amounts, dilute them, and/or make your own non-toxic alternatives.

* Vacuum regularly, and mop floors, to reduce levels of dust and pollutants (it helps control fleas too). Sweeping is better than nothing, but it tends to stir up the dust.

* During renovations, vacate the property if possible, or avoid spending time in rooms undergoing alteration or painting. If you can smell new carpets, furniture or freshly painted walls, you're actually exposing yourself to chemical fumes.

* Put down a clean "indoor picnic blanket" for kids to play on, and encourage hand-washing. Children spend more time on and near the floor than we do, and also put their hands in their mouths more - all of which increases their toxin exposure.

Follow us in the coming weeks, as we detox the rest of the house. The idea for doing a "Toxic Tour" of the home comes from groundWork.

Read more:
Go green. quit smoking
Grow your own toxin-filters

Olivia Rose-Innes is Health24’s EnviroHealth Editor. Read more of her columns and articles or post a question to her expert forum.


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