The best ever home cleaning tips!
Your home is your refuge-or is it?
Dig a little deeper and you may be surprised at what you find. Here's what to
do when you spring clean.
Poor indoor air quality can trigger allergies, irritate your lungs-and even
cause cancer. Here, four new ways of improving air quality.
You know greenery is good for the air; now research reveals that some specific
plant species that may rid your home of various toxins. One study found that
weeping figs (ficus) efficiently remove formaldehyde gas-released from some
carpets and curtains. Other studies have shown that purple ivies eliminate VOCs
(volatile organic compounds) like those in paint fumes, Devil's ivy (money
plant) removes ozone, a respiratory irritant present in auto emissions (so
place where you park your car), and Gerbera reduces levels of benzene, a
solvent used for dry cleaning.
DON'T FAKE IT
Phthalates, a class of plasticising chemicals often used in synthetically
fragranced products, fuel cancer growth in some of the most hardto-treat types
of breast cancer, says a new study published in The Journal of the Federation
of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Nix artificially scented toxic
air freshener sprays and perfumed candles. Opt for essential oils instead. And
if pollen allergy is not a problem for the family, use fresh flowers like
tuberose and rose for a natural aroma.
UN-BAG YOUR DRY-CLEANING
The dry-cleaner may have removed the stains from your fave dress, but he's left
it covered in toxic chemicals like perchloroethylene or kerosene. These release
VOCs linked with kidney and liver damage, nervous system problems-and even
cancer. Do not put dry-cleaned clothes in your cupboard right away. Take the
plastic bags off and let the clothes air out for a day or two, till the smell
CONSIDER SELF-CLEAN TILES
¬†Imagine ceramics having a positive impact on indoor air quality. So claims the
ISO-certified Active Clean Air & Antibacterial Ceramic tile company. The
tile they manufacture contains titanium dioxide micrometric particles which
help to break down pollutants under the action of light and oxygen. So nitrogen
dioxide and VOCs are converted into innocuous compounds which improves the air
quality of air you breathe. In fact the University of Milan study claims that
100 square metre of Active tiles reduce toxic nitrogen oxides like 30 trees (22
square metre of leafage) would. The chemical reaction also decomposes harmful
bacteria like E. coli, staphylococcus aureus and klebsiella pneumonia. Titanium
dioxide also stops dirt and dust from attaching itself to surfaces, making them
easier to clean. Try Somany's Dirt Free "Green" tile that has the
Secure your home
Do ensure basics like adequate lighting both in and around the house, resilient
grills on widows (the kind that cannot be unscrewed), solid doors with hinges
on the inside and quality locks. Trim hedges and shrubs so they can't be used
as hideouts by intruders. The Crime Investigation Department, West Bengal,
advises installing an alarm system especially if you are away from home for
long hours. Find out about security solutions that suit your lifestyle from
reputed brands like Godrej, Zicom and Eureka Forbes.
Clean with a Conscience
The chemicals you use to clean surfaces and clothes may be causing large-scale
ecological damage. "Phenyl and popular washing detergents contain toxic
chemicals that eventually find their way to water bodies-drains, streams,
rivers, oceans- and kill everything they come in contact with, especially
fish," says Goa-based Claude Alvares, director of The Organic Farming
Association of India, and editor, Organic Farming Sourcebook. "Switch to
EM (effective microorganisms) cleaners to scrub your floors, sinks and toilet
bowls, as well as to launder your clothes. You could also use detergents
without phosphates (Henko is one such brand) to wash your clothes, or
traditional cleaning agents like soapnut," he adds. Contact Maple Orgtech
India Limited (09051498600) for EM distributors in your city.
Use Safer Paints
Lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure at home.
Various studies by Toxics Link, Centre for Science and Environment and Quality
Council of India have found that popular brands of household paints contain
lead that is higher than the 1,000 ppm (parts per million) limit specified by
the Bureau of Indian Standards. Why is that important? Because, lead is a
dangerous metal that harms every organ in your body, causing the most damage to
the brain and the nervous system. "It can affect everyone, but kids below
6 are most vulnerable, mainly because they have developing brains and nervous
systems. It leads to lower intelligence, cognitive disabilities, hearing
problems and behavioural disorders in them," says Ravi Agarwal,
founder-director, Toxics Link, New Delhi. Switch to lead-free paints for your
walls. Asian Paints, Nerolac and Dulux are some options. Leadbased paint is a
hazard when it chips, peels or cracks. "So when you repaint, make sure
that you keep the kids away when the wall is being scraped. Cover your mouth
(ask the painter to cover his too), to avoid ingesting the paint dust.
Carefully clean the floor, window sills and nooks and crannies, to ensure
there's no paint dust left," says Agarwal. "Since paints and
varnishes contain other VOCs and harmful chemicals, keep doors and windows open
to allow circulation of air," he adds.
Rethink Containers to Lose Weight
Look around: is your kitchen making you fat? Big plates, wide glasses,
transparent cookie jars could sabotage your weight-loss mission. Because most
of us have a habit of filling our plates and finishing what's on them, using a
smallerthan-dinner-plate size can help you eat less. Swap your old plates for
portion plates if you are on a weight-loss mission. Else, 10-inch diameter
dinner plates are a good option. Similarly, rethink your glasses. People serve
themselves more cola and juice when they pour it out in short, wide glasses
than tall, slim ones, according to recent research. "That's because we
focus on the height of beverages when pouring a potion. Switch to skinny glasses
for sweet drinks and fill wider ones with water and other calorie-free
quenchers," says Mumbaibased nutritionist Naini Setalvad. Also, just
looking at tempting foods makes people feel hungrier. Plus, it triggers the
release of feel-good chemical dopamine that may intensify a particular craving.
Use opaque containers to store tempting snacks (cookies, matthi, bhujia) and
stash them in an inconvenient spot to make them difficult to reach.
Sleep Better Than Ever
Your bed may be harbouring dirty little secrets. Dust mites, dander and pollen
that thrive on pillows and mattresses not only worsen allergy and asthma
symptoms but also aggravate skin conditions like eczema, says a study from the
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. "Stay safe by using fresh sheets
and pillow covers every alternate day. Wash dirty ones in hot water and dry in
the sun," says New Delhibased Dr Narendra Saini, the India representative,
Global Hygiene Council. And for extra protection, invest in mattress and pillow
protectors. These water-proof encasements create a barrier to prevent dust and
germs from sinking into mattresses, pillows and quilts. Try the ones from
Protect-a-Bed and Hush Sleep Studio.