10 detox hacks for getting rid of toxins at home — because pesky neighbours are bad enough
Banish chemicals, pests and other undesirables
While getting rid of toxins at home, the first question to cross your mind might just be, “Is an organic cleanser strong enough to wipe out the creepy-crawlies shown lurking in toilet ads?” It’s a dilemma facing my sustainable sisters who want to switch to a chemical-free lifestyle, minus the poisonous effects of a bug spray, and of course, said bugs.
A George Washington University study says that 45 unpronounceable chemicals hang around like a Chernobyl fog in dust swirls at home. These include hormone and endocrine-disrupting phthalates, phenols and Bisphenol A. Rather than reaching out for your calming spray, here are 10 practical tips for getting rid of toxins at home.
Plastics are so ubiquitous in today’s day and age; they are an inescapable part of life — from packaged food and throwaway mineral water bottles to your computer and most of your kitchenware. Many plastic products contain the synthetic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) which can be absorbed or ingested and can disrupt your endocrine system. This is especially a matter of concern in the food and beauty industry. But the good news is glass martabans and containers are clawing their way back. Today, many beauty brands such as Vilvah and Pur Earth are available in metal and glass containers respectively. You can even buy grains loose from your grocer and in the kitchen, replace plastic bottles with glass bottles with cork or foam padding, and cling wrap with beeswax wraps. The list of substitutions is endless.
Throw out the sprays
To wallop those pesky mosquitoes and mask the smell of that piquant curry, we have resorted to sprays over the years. There’s a spray for everything: fresheners, cooking oil, deodorants, repellents, you name it. In a tropical country like India, before you get trigger happy with a bug killing-aerosol or a room freshener, note that pesticides are carcinogenic and fresheners ultimately reduce the quality of indoor air. For air fresheners, essential oils with a burner work well, as do naturally scented candles, potpourri and activated charcoal natural pouches. Neem oil mixed with water is an effective spray for bugs on plants and your home. But for your sensitive skins, dilute eucalyptus oil, an antiseptic, with sunflower oil (1:10) to keep pesky mosquitoes away, a recipe safe to use on your skin.
Bring in the plants
An important step in getting rid of toxins at home: convert your home into a ‘jungalow’ with lovely greens. Not only do they perk your home up, but a NASA study also points out they could suck volatile organic compounds from the air. You can cherry-pick among these palpably leafy greens: Areca palms (removes benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene); ficus or the weeping fig (removes formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene); Aloe Vera (removes formaldehyde) and spider plants. (Removes formaldehyde).
Apply a little common sense
If you’ve just painted your walls, gotten pest control or polished your furniture. Now, make sure to ventilate your home. Every product has a shelf life, so clinging on to takeaway containers, your last six phones, or a conked-off laptop might not be a great move. Storing heated oil in a plastic container is a big mistake. Buying highly processed food is also avoidable. If in doubt, do some research before you act. And in getting rid of toxins at home, start with keeping your space clean and dust-free. You don’t want chemicals, mites and god knows what trapped in those nanoparticles.
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Relook at your toiletries
Toxins can be absorbed by your skin, so naturally, be mindful of what you slather or spray on. There are several brands which are sulphate, paraben and cruelty-free, such as Aveda (haircare), Forest Essentials (hair and skincare), Ruby’s Cosmetics (makeup), etc which are available. Ditch the body wash for soap or ubtan. You can also substitute a toothpaste for tooth powder, body washes with soaps, and slather on oil instead of chemically-laden lotions. Deodorants are another cosmetic product that has many organic substitutes, available at Juicy Chemistry, TreeWear, Just B Au Naturel and more.
Ditch the detergents
Given that our clothes touch our body 24/7, switching to toxin-free detergents is a good idea. Residues from detergents and fabric softeners contain irritants and chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate, phosphates, phenols and more, which linger on your skin. In India, companies such as Bubble Nut Wash, Sacred Earth’s Natural Fabric Liquid Wash, Greenworx, will wring out all the dirt from your clothes and dishes, but be gentle on your skin. PraanaPoorna Collective has a wide variety of multipurpose bio enzyme dishwashers, detergents and disinfectants.
Detox your kitchen
Once you start rifling through your drawers, you will see how much Teflon, aluminium and plastic your kitchen contains. Start replacing the easy stuff: the plastic containers which have been doddering on the shelves for years with glass or ceramic, substituting Teflon for light-cast iron (do check the weight of the item before you buy cast iron, as most will likely give you a neck crick, even if it is a healthy substitute). Switch to organic foods. Ditch the canned food and the Tetra Paks for fresh, healthy produce. Wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly with hot salt water, apple cider vinegar or baking soda, or Bubble Nut’s fruit and vegetable wash. Switch your cooking oil to organic, cold-pressed traditional ones—coconut oil, mustard oil or groundnut oil— away from the vegetable oils which cause inflammation in the body. Also, ghee is good for you, with a high smoke point, so use dollops of it while deep-frying your pakodas. Are you zapping your food with a microwave too often? It is time to let that go.
Zap that radiation
As you binge on Netflix for hours, insidious amounts of electromagnetic radiation is slowly frying your brain. On the radio frequency spectrum are TVs, cell phones, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi-enabled devices, which you should switch off before bed. While abroad, you can get anti-radiation blankets from companies such as Belly Armour for pregnant women. Or simply keep these devices outside your bedroom, and as far away as possible from you while sleeping.
While getting rid of toxins at home, don’t forget to recharge your brain by switching off from work and other stresses of life that threaten to pulverise you into a pulp. Exercise, meditate, socialise, read, sleep for 8 hours and enjoy the times we live in. Stepping back and prioritising will also help you identify all the toxic Jatins in your life to whom you should promptly give a heave-ho. Try keeping some time aside for a digital detox every day and get reacquainted with paperbacks.
Dabble in a little DIY
The interweb is a great resource for you to get down and dirty, to create your own life-saving concoctions. Dabble in the world of essential oils to find remedies (several have antiseptic, antibacterial and healing properties) and mix up recipes (follow them to the T) for protecting your home from pests. Creating detergents is easy too, it just requires patience and a lot of kitchen waste. Soak some soap nuts and ferment some citrus peels to create your own multipurpose bio enzyme. If you’re too lazy to do that, don’t worry, many companies have already hacked out toxin-free solutions for you. Join Zero Waste group’s online, speak to other green warriors and try what works for you. You’ve nothing to lose except for some deadly toxins hanging around your home.
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