Biofriendly Holiday Tips to Improve the Health of You and Your Home

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gourds and leaves
Image from Marco Verch via Flickr Creative Commons license.

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s important you know how to keep your home clean, without bringing in (or hoarding) a lot of harmful chemicals or toxins. Doing so can help ward off illness, as well as keep spirits lifted during what many consider to be a stressful time of the year. It is for this reason we wanted to share a few biofriendly home cleaning tips perfect for use over the holidays.

Let the Good Air In, Bad Air Out

As the weather cools people tend to close up their windows and doors in an effort to keep their homes warm. While this makes sense from a heating and expense standpoint, opening windows and doors is an essential part of biofriendly cleaning over the holidays. You need to get the stale air out and the fresh, clean air in.

Indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality. In fact, according to the EPA, “…a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.” Since people reportedly spend up to 90% of their time indoors, keeping indoor air pollution levels low is essential to a person’s health and happiness.

On a personal level, using a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a hot shower, then breathing in the warm steam can open your airways and let more good air in. Not staying cooped up inside also goes a long way towards letting the good air in and bad air out. Spend some time outdoors this holiday season. Go for a daily walk. Look at the beauty in nature. No matter where you live, getting some clean, fresh air in your lungs will be a good thing.

Bring a Bit of Nature Indoors

In addition to getting outdoors, we recommend you bring a bit of nature indoors. According to NASA and Good Housekeeping, these 7 indoor plants can actually purify the air in your home. So not only will you be able to enjoy having nature indoors, the nature you bring in may actually help you improve the air quality in your home.

You also might want to consider using nature to help decorate your home during the holidays. Pumpkins, squash, pine cones, branches, leaves, berries, corn and fruit can all be transformed into creative decorations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or any other holiday. A live rosemary bush makes a very cute and creative, mini Christmas tree. Other herbs can be twisted and turned into a wonderfully scented wreath. Fresh pine needles, dried apple slices and even succulents are easily transformed into natural decorations. In many cases, bringing nature indoors means you’ll be less likely to have highly toxic or chemical-laden decorations on hand.

NOTE: If you want to have a Christmas tree in your house, try bringing in a live tree you can plant in your yard afterwards. This will keep the holiday spirit going all year long. It also means one less tree needs to be cut down. Instead, you’ll be planting a tree which has benefits for years to come.

Choose Natural Over Chemical

As I mentioned, one of the easiest ways to keep you, your family and your home healthy is to choose natural products over chemical when cleaning and decorating during the holiday season. Taking the harmful chemicals and toxic cleaners you may have stored under your sink and using them to “clean” your house is ridiculous. In all honesty, you should really get rid of those. Spraying store-bought “air fresheners” throughout your home isn’t any better. In fact, you’ll probably want to rid your home of all 8 of the most dangerous household products before the holidays arrive.

To minimize your family’s exposure to such toxins, go natural. Make your own DIY cleaners. These days, you can find natural ways to clean almost any room and any surface. Then you can try one of Martha Stewart’s recipes for DIY Natural Air Fresheners. Lemon and eucalyptus are two of my favorites.

Baking and cooking over the holidays is another natural way to infuse certain scents and smells into your home naturally. Just think about it…warm pumpkin pie fresh from the oven, a pot of lemon-honey tea simmering on the stove, a batch of cinnamon-vanilla cupcakes cooling on the counter. Recipes such as these are super tasty and provide a wonderful scent throughout your home.

Eat Healthy To Stay Healthy

Last on our short list, but not least, is eating healthy to stay healthy. While this tip is less for the health of your home and more for your personal health, it is still very important over the holidays. No matter how much you crave it, try to stay away or at least limit foods high in gluten, dairy or sugar. These types of foods tend to get your body producing mucus and you don’t want that. Avoid junk foods all together, if you can.

Instead, opt for healthy menu items and recipes you can make using local and organic ingredients. Eat foods which incorporate a lot of garlic, onion, ginger, honey, turmeric or cayenne pepper. These ingredients can help build up your immune system, lower blood pressure, decrease phlegm and provide much needed antioxidants. Eating healthy can also help you counter negative effects of indoor air pollution. See, it all kind of goes hand in hand.

These biofriendly tips, when used, can help keep you and your home healthy, which will make for a much more enjoyable holiday season!

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