Don’t Let the Holidays Ruin Your Indoor Air Quality

There are lots of things to worry about over the holidays – don’t make your indoor air quality one of them. With more people and more seasonal decorations in our homes, there can be more chemicals in the air we breathe. Luckily, there are easy ways to keep your house fresh, naturally. Follow these simple tips so you and your family can breathe easy this holiday.

No Shoes

Let’s start with an easy one: insist that guests take their shoes off to prevent dirt, debris, and road salt from being tracked into your home. Set up an area to make it easy for them to do-so, and tell them ahead of time so they can bring indoor shoes, or provide slippers to keep their feet toasty while they visit.

Candles and Air Fresheners

I love the smells of the season – fresh baked cookies, cedar boughs, mulled apple cider… yum! There are many candles and air freshener products that come out this time of year with tempting names that sound so good but are not so good for you.

Instead of toxic synthetic fragrances, boil cinnamon, citrus peels, or spices in a pot of water on the stove (while running your exhaust fan, please!); bake cookies; or choose all-natural beeswax candles. 

Skip artificial candles and air fresheners, since many chemicals used in chemical fragrances are known or suspected carcinogens, hormone disruptors, allergens, and can induce asthma. (Check out more information on fragrances in my blog post here.)

Self-Cleaning Ovens

Cooking holiday feasts can do a number on your oven, but avoid the temptation of using the self-cleaning feature on your oven.

Many ovens are lined with the same chemical as Teflon non-stick pans. The extremely high temperature of the self-cleaning function causes the chemicals to off gas (there’s a reason instruction manuals recommend venting the space and removing any pet birds from the space).

Instead, use a non-toxic cleaner or a baking soda paste and a scrub brush. To keep the mess to a minimum, put a baking pan on the rack below dishes that are likely to overflow, like pies.

Christmas Trees

Real trees are your best bet for indoor air quality, and the environment. They smell amazing (naturally), and you don’t have to worry about off-gassing chemicals like the PVC in artificial trees. Most Christmas tree farms do use pesticides, but as they are applied in the spring and summer there is likely little to no residue left at harvest time. Call your local farms if you want to avoid pesticides altogether.

Most artificial trees are made with PVC – containing not-so-nice chemicals like lead, phthalates, and BPA. There are PVC alternatives made from polyethylene (PE), which is less toxic, but also more expensive and difficult to find 100% PE trees (try Sears).

If you’re allergic to real trees or have to go artificial for another reason, there are ways to reduce their impact on your indoor air quality.

If you have a new artificial tree, set it up outside for a few weeks before Christmas, if possible, to let it off-gas before setting it up in your house. Products labeled as fire-retardant likely also contain PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), which is released as products age and settles in household dust. Exposure to PBDEs can damage neurological, reproductive, immune, and hormone systems. We are exposed to these chemicals with all the electronics in our homes too, so housekeeping is important year-round – damp mopping and vacuuming with a HEPA filter are your best options.

The holidays can be a whirlwind – take a breath and enjoy! And if you want to make sure your home is healthy and safe for your family year-round, without overwhelm, spending all your spare time researching, or wasting money on products that don’t work, Your Healthy Home is back for a limited time! Learn more about this life-changing online program here.

Share this post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Explore related posts:

How to prevent covid-19 naturally at home

How to Prevent COVID-19 Naturally at Home

I’ll just say it straight: we are living in a crazy time right now. There is an unbelievable amount of information (and misinformation) floating around about the 2019 novel coronavirus (covid-19) and I’ve hesitated to

Is Mold In Your Home Dangerous?

Spring is here, and while there are so many great things that come with it, there are definitely some challenges. As the weather gets warmer, the air also holds more moisture. Which means our homes

Can Plants Actually Purify the Air in Your Home?

One question that comes up again and again in my community is how to improve indoor air quality. And one answer is repeated often: just use plants. Sounds good, right? Plants are cost-effective, pretty, and

6 Ways to Get Rid of that Toxic New Home Smell

Congratulations! You’re about to (or maybe already have) moved into a brand new or newly renovated home. Surviving a construction project is no small feat and now you’re ready to make your new space your

Free Guide

How to Avoid Greenwashing in Personal Care & Cleaning Products

Get access to my free training, including what you need to know about apps like Think Dirty and Skin Deep.