Is your house making you ill? Find out

  • A shocking fact about ‘toxic home syndrome’
  • Could this be a hidden reason for poor sleep, breathing problems, depression and pain?
  • Seven plants that clean the air in your home 

It’s cold and rainy.

And the Christmas holidays are coming up.

Which means that most of us will be spending a lot of time at home in December.

But what if your home makes you ill?

It’s something a lot of people don’t consider – yet it could be the cause of some, or all, of these problems:

  • Congestion, sinus infections, aggravated asthma and allergic reactions
  • Foggy thinking, poor sleep and headaches
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Stomach ache, muscle pain, rashes and fatigue

These are all symptoms of ‘toxic home syndrome’ and they’re caused by the invisible enemies in your home… chemical toxins from cleaning products, air fresheners and detergents, mites in your soft furnishings, dust and humidity in the air, damp and mould in the walls, leaking gases like carbon monoxide.

According to stats, toxic home syndrome affects 15.3 million houses in the UK – which is a pretty shocking number.

Scientists warn that it can even increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and asthma.

And the answer isn’t to suddenly start obsessively cleaning your house – because that can actually make it worse.

There are volatile compounds found in air fresheners, polish and oven cleaners which can trigger asthma and other breathing problems.

As I pointed out the other week – the enemy could even be lurking in your clothes.

Which is why I recommended these…

All hail the soap nuts!

I honestly think that soap nuts should be a staple item in every home, either as the raw shells or as a liquid detergent.

Not only do they wash your clothes without detergents, they save you from skin irritation and avoid you ruining the environment every time you do the laundry.

Yet the majority of people in Britain continue to use shop-bought chemical detergents that cause them allergic reactions and damage our precious waterways.

Which is why it makes me delighted to know that many of my readers are using them!

For instance, here’s what one Good Life Letter reader said last week:

“I’ve been using them for years.  A tip I picked up was to leave them soaking in their bag in a small dish of water, that way a quick squeeze tells you whether there is enough ‘soap’ for another washing.”

Of course, this reader is using the pure nuts themselves, adding them to a bag and putting them in with the washing.

Which is a great way of doing it. But…

If that sounds like a hassle, then there’s a laundry liquid version for those who don’t understand how to use the nuts themselves (or can’t be bothered).
This way everyone benefits from a natural way to do their laundry!

I recommend this form of soap nut oil here, because it contains 100% Sapindus Mukurossi, the nut which produces the most suds, making it best for cleaning.

However, my reader’s email also included this second soap nut tip, which is so great, I just had to pass it on.

She writes…

“I have also boiled them up and decanted the liquid into a spray bottle for general cleaning.”

What an excellent idea! Using soap nuts as a healthy, toxin-free cleaner for the home. I will definitely have a go at that!

Using natural cleansers like soap nuts, lemon and vinegar in the home is a must if you suffer from allergies or you want to avoid chemical toxins.

When you use lemon or vinegar, it’s simply a case of adding some to warm water, then putting it in a spray bottle – you can find my practical tips in The Lemon Book and The Honey, Garlic and Vinegar Miracle.

You can also try the following:

  • Get as much natural ventilation as possible by opening windows and doors each day.
  • Check your gutters to make sure rainwater isn’t seeping into your home causing damp problems and mould.
  • Avoid artificial air fresheners and try scenting your home by roasting lemons in the oven or leaving a pot of rosemary and lemons simmering on a hob. Make a natural scented candle by halving an orange, leaving the central stem sticking up, filling it with oil, leaving it to soak for an hour, then lighting the stem.
  • Research has shown that dust-mite allergens in mattresses are linked to asthma. Try vacuuming your mattress daily or covering it in plastic.
  • Avoid carpets. If you have allergens to dust and irritants then swap house carpets for wooden flooring or linoleum.

It’s worth following up some of these, particularly when your house gets busy with visitors over Christmas.

Finally, try this…

Seven therapeutic plants that can clean the air in your home

In the ‘80s, NASA explored the use of houseplants as a way of providing purer air for space stations – and the results were astonishing.

Their top air-cleansing plants included:

  • Spider Plant – NASA showed that it removed 90% of the potentially cancer-causing formaldehyde from the air.
  • Peace Lilly – filters out benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde toxins.
  • Ferns – its mass of lush fronds helps scrub the air of toxins.
  • Eucalyptus – the scent of this plant is good for relieving congestion and other breathing problems.
  • Chinese Evergreen – shown to eliminate benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
  • Chrysanthemum – can get rid of many common air toxins as well as ammonia.
  • Aloe Vera – emits lots of oxygen at night-time whilst soaking up carbon dioxide.

As a final tip, NASA recommended that you have two or three plants for every 100 square feet.

A good bit of space-age advice!

On top of that, the plants will make your home look great.

I’ll be back with more at the weekend.