According to the EPA, we spend 90% of our lives indoors and are constantly looking for ways to make our homes look great. Unfortunately, some of these items can be toxic and even make you sick. By following a few of the simple guidelines below, you can improve you and your family’s health.

Painting is one of the easiest and most used ways to freshen the look of a home. Always choose Zero or Low VOC paint which releases less harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the air. Note, once you add color to the base of the paint, it can add VOCs back in so it’s likely the level you see on the can will increase once you add color. As an added precaution, open the windows and air out the room during and after painting.

Bottom Line: Look for low or no VOC paint that is Green Seal Certified.

Carpet/Area Rugs:
Carpet provides warmth and softness to a space, but also can be full of chemicals and trap dust and allergens. When choosing a carpet, look for ones made of natural materials such as wool, jute, sisal or silk. For area rugs, go ahead and air them out a day or two before bringing them inside the house since backings and adhesives can cause the most off gassing. Natural latex or jute backs are best. Good maintenance is also key. Make sure you vacuum two times a week using a HEPA filter. If possible, look for the Green Label Plus certification from the Carpet and Rug Institute.

Bottom Line: Stick with natural materials, vacuum regularly.

Cleaning Products:
Many of the cleaners we use have harmful and toxic ingredients. Look for cleaners that have plant based ingredients, essential oils and enzymes to make them work effectively. Stay away from products that contain ammonia, chlorine, glycol solvents, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, artificial colorants, phosphates or petroleum distillates. If you hire someone to clean your home, ask what products they use.

Bottom Line: Used tried and true products like baking soda, vinegar, borax and citrus juices.