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4 Healthy Tips to Create a Non-Toxic New Home

I’ve heard from many feng-shui fans that removing clutter is a surefire way to increase productivity, remove toxins and promote happiness. I used to rolled my eyes at these comments the same way I did when my mother used to tell me to clean my room. Truth be told, though, I’m now a believer. Within the past few months, we sold a home that we lived in for more than 11 years, as well as bought and moved into a new one. We owned a ton of stuff and plenty that accumulated a lot of chemically-ridden dust that you can’t just “green clean.” During the move-out process, filling up the driveway dumpster was cathartic. Each box I threw away felt like I was removing toxins from my life. And I was…both literally and figuratively. Once we moved into the home, we took a few steps to assure it was an extremely healthy environment. I’m now on a mission to create an even more healthy non-toxic home and here is what I’ve done so far.

1. Do Your Research – Premier Inspections

It’s impossible to know the true history of the house, even after an inspection. We elected to hire a premier company to not only thoroughly inspect the home, but to also test for various allergens and mold. Many standard inspections wouldn’t cover this information. However, knowing our family has allergies as well as a storied health history, it just made sense to know the information. Granted, we found out we needed to do a little remediation work. But now it’s done, full basement mold remediation and duct cleaning. We know the house is nearly mold free, which will help dramatically decrease allergy symptoms.

2. Have a Remediation Company on Speed Dial
Our new “Brady Bunch” house was fully carpeted upstairs with old-school pergo flooring popular in the 1980′s. In addition to the dated look, the carpeting and cracked wood was filled with dust mites from years past. That’s why we decided to remove them prior to move-in day. We knew the cost might increase depending on what was underneath, but didn’t expect two small asbestos remediation projects. While the seller’s documentation, stated there was no asbestos, the suspicious material was found above the subfloor. What many don’t know is that most tiles in old houses contain some amount of asbestos. Though it’s easy to just build over it, hoping it doesn’t contain any mysterious substances, I strongly suggest remediating by the professionals if the tile has been compromised even slightly. An asbestos abatement company will make sure that chemicals are being contained, removed and properly discarded so that your home and the community aren’t harmed. Side effects from asbestos conditions (whether it’s tile, mastic or insulation) range in severity and small amounts over a long period of time can be damaging.

3. Slap on a New Coat of Paint
Everyone will say that a new coat of paint can change the look of a new house. However, what’s more important to me is that painting the walls and ceilings cleaned the rooms better than bleaching could. Not all paint is created equally, though. We selected a few low-odor, low-to-no VOC ones. Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint is eco-friendly and Behr paint produces a no-VOC product. Or better  yet, try milk paint made of natural agricultural, forestry or marine materials.

4. Balance the Bleach with DIY “Green Cleaning” Measures
Every season, I check out the Environmental Working Group and try new non-toxic house cleaners. However, knowing I was walking into a dingy nightmare, I didn’t want to ignore the potency of bleach to kill grime and germs. So with plastic gloves and face masks, I chose a few places to use bleach. I then used my favorite chemical free products and homemade ones. I also found Sophie Uliano’s Do it Gorgeously book. I used it like a text book to create DIY household cleaners, identify energy (and cost) saving ideas, as well as inspire me to take on small bathroom projects.

We still have weeks of unpacking ahead of us, but at least I feel at ease that my house is clean and void of harmful toxins. Whether you are about to move, renovate or just want to minimize your decor, I have found that cleaning the clutter including excess dust and toxins really has influenced my mind and body. I feel satisfied, calm and happy that this house has turned into a home.

What clutter, literally or figuratively, do you need motivation to remove? What would it take to do it?

4 Healthy Tips to Create a Non-Toxic New Home

28 Comments

  1. You are so right! I am crazy about feng-shui. You can just tell when a room or space feels right. it’s like your body’s warning system. People always laugh at me too, but sometimes I just want to move people’s furniture around to make it feel right. I don’t though :) P.S. Behr is the only paint I use!
    Jen recently posted…Man-Day Post: The Revolution Will Be On YouTube. . .

    • I’m laughing out loud. Have you ever been somewhere and the picture on the wall isn’t straight? Do you fix it or not? If it’s a good friend, I do usually move it a little. hahahah. I do think there is something to be said about decluttering and feng shui. I really am trying to minimize what I can in this new house.

  2. I BET my apartment is 100% toxic! LOL!! Ugh, that’s kinda embarrassing to admit actually!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Put It In Your Mouth: Frozen Meal Taste Test

    • I’m sure your place is better than you think. If you keep the windows open and let a good breeze into your place, that will air out some of the fragrances and other chemicals that might be lurking the bathroom and kitchen, etc. You are so good with food, try using baking soda for a scrub or lemons for sponges. Every little change counts.

  3. My husband is on a big feng-shui kick lately. I guess that’s not the right term – he’s in a big de-cluttering phase. I hope it lasts. He’s been inspiring me to let go of things.
    Tamara recently posted…Feelings About Fall Free Writing.

    • It’s hard at first to let go of things….but honestly, most of the time we don’t even miss them. I’ve been ridding my closets every season with clothing I don’t wear. Now with the move, I’m trying to get rid of all items I haven’t used in the past year, too. Good luck with your adventures in de-cluttering.

  4. Milk paint sounds intriguing…
    Akaleistar recently posted…Halloween in Your Closet

  5. These are great tips!

    The no VOC paint was really important to me when we were remodelling our home. I want to paint again (it’s been 8 years but it will have to wait until spring when we can air everything out – because every with low/no VOC – I don’t like paint smell).

    Green cleaning is important to me too. I make many of my own “cleaners” – I’ll have to check out that book though.

    Thanks for sharing.
    xoxo
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…When You Don’t Know What the Next Season Will Bring

    • I love Sophie Uliano. She really has great ideas and DIY items. The no VOC paint is great. There is no odor. The BM Aura and even Behr Marquee paint (low in VOC) looks great, too.

  6. I am curious to try your cleaners, we need help! It sounds like you’ve been busy! BTW…we LOVE Benjamin Moore paint too! When are we going to see pictures of your house?
    Kristen recently posted…Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains with Kids

    • Some day soon the pics will appear. Just close your eyes and imagine a Brady Bunch house…that’s what ours looks like now. Fast-forward a few years and it will be spectacular, though.

  7. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that the tiles in most older houses contain asbestos. My husband and I just moved into an older home, and we want to do some renovations, but it would involve ripping tile out. We’ll definitely look into having professionals come and remove it safely. Thanks for the great post!

  8. I’ve never considered having my home tested for allergens. We just moved into a new home and it seems like we’ve been sick since we got there. I know it’s probably partly because of traveling and the winter “cold and flu” season. However, I can’t get the idea out of my head that there might be something making us sick in the home itself. I’ll definitely contact some local companies and see if we can’t figure out if my suspicions are correct or not. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • You are very welcome. Call an house inspection company, like one you might use if you were to purchase a house. They may have a relationship with an allergen and/or mold testing agency and/or could give you recommendations on how to proceed. After the testing, we also had a mold remediation company clean the basement as well as the ducts. Currentlly, we also have one of those Sanidry, huge dehumidifier’s in the basement, which supposedly prevents moisture that can cause problems. I’m sorry you have been sick. Good luck and keep me posted.

      • That’s a really good idea to contact an inspector! In the past week we haven’t gotten much better as far as being sick, so I’m ready to figure this out as soon as possible.

  9. I have never heard of milk paint before, thank you for sharing!

    • You are welcome. I’m glad you liked the post on creating a non-toxic home. I hope you enjoy creating your own healthy spaces, too.

  10. I’m glad that you suggested properly removing asbestos if you find it in your home. like you said, it’s easy to build over and ignore it, since it’s only dangerous if it gets airborne. However, if you’re trying to avoid toxins in your home, you don’t want there to be any risk of the asbestos getting accidentally disturbed. Thanks for the article.

    • Exactly. I felt strongly about having it removed professionally and properly for our long-term health benefits. I know that workers can build over it, but my fear was what if there was a small crack and they harmed the underneath within the process. I would then never know. I had a good/insured/professional do the work and now I feel happy about it.

  11. You do need to do your research when looking at homes and such. Getting the place looked over by a professional is a super smart idea too. You don’t want to miss something like mold. The mold will spread and cause quite a problem.
    Sarah Anderson recently posted…Hello world!

    • Thanks Sarah. We had a great inspection that included a mold test among other things. We got it professionally remediated and now keep it clean moving forward.

  12. We’ve had a lot of issues with getting rid of mold, and we’d like to keep it mold free. So I really appreciate these tips. I think that getting a premier inspection could be the perfect place to start. I’ve never heard of milk paint before, but I like the sound of having new paint in our home. Thanks for these green suggestions!

    • Thanks Petunia. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’ve heard good things about milk paint. Let me know if you try and like it. Have a great week.

  13. Nice share, I really like your post as it includes lots of information regarding home cleaning and eco friendly methods.

    And it’s better to consult or hire environmental specialist to remove mold and harmful toxins from your home as they know how to handle this situation perfectly. I also loved the idea of DIY “Green Cleaning” Measures.

    I will surely follow this post and clean my home as soon as possible.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I do believe in consulting with a specialist to check out the damage and then ultimately removing it professionally.

  14. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful tips. It really is difficult letting go of some items but when it comes to health, there is nothing more important! It is crazy how many toxic items there are but after reading your method of getting rid of these harmful things, I cannot wait to get started and make my home as toxic free as possible!

    • Thanks. While I’ve done a lot there are still easy ways to tweak my routine. I have sage to “smudge” my home, essential oils to bring sweet smells and antimicrobial properties into the home and some other ideas. I have a post in the works on all of this. Please let me know anything you try.

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