I’m a huge proponent of creating a healthy home with just one small step at a time. I love the idea of layering on small changes until you’ve created an overall healthy home. But every now and then I run across a situation or a family that just needs to overhaul their home.
Oftentimes this happens when someone at home is experiencing symptoms of body burden or toxin exposure. I like to think of it in this way: If you were diagnosed with Celiac and told you can’t eat gluten without horrible symptoms, you wouldn’t gradually phase out gluten. Instead you’d remove all gluten right away and never go back.
A house house overhaul is a similar concept. Sometimes we need to just get rid of something or stop a bad habit for good. In this way, it can make it easier to make a fresh start in a way. And often a fresh beginning is all you need to maintain good habits and maintain a healthy home.
So if you’re someone who doesn’t want to pick at something over time and you want to just jump into a healthy home, these tactics are going to be JUST what you need.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY HOME OVERHAUL?
An overhaul is changing a large group of products and habits at home time. It’s swapping out a lot of products at one time and changing the way you care for your home drastically. A lot of times I think the best way to start an overhaul is by doing an entire room in your home. I think the most common way to get started on a healthy home overhaul is with a renovation.
A healthy home overhaul will reduce a lot of toxins all at one time because you’re changing and eliminating toxins right and left in a short period of time. This is one of the reasons I love the idea of an overhaul – you gain a lot of traction right away and keep your momentum going as you move on to other projects and spaces.
You could even segment your overhaul to be just products. I see a lot of families choose to completely overhaul their cleaning products. This means doing what is known as a ditch & switch and analyzing all your products at one time. Another reason I absolutely love this tactic of a healthy home overhaul. You’re batching your tasks in a way that makes them more efficient. Why look up a few products every day when you could take one afternoon and scan all your cleaning products and mark them as keep or throw depending on their toxicity.
A while ago I wrote a blog post all about how to use the Think Dirty App to help you analyze your cleaning products, personal care products and cosmetics. This app will come in so handy when you decide to do a healthy home overhaul.
HOW TO OVERHAUL YOUR HOME
In order to overhaul your healthy home, you still have to have a plan. I like to use a note app on my phone or a good old fashioned piece of paper and pencil. You can do whatever works best for you.
The first order of business is to decide if you’ll be working to overhaul an entire room or if you’ll be working on overhauling a type of product or material in your home. Some examples might include overhauling a bedroom or sleeping area. You could also work to reduce toxins in pressed wood in your home. Both of these projects are going to reduce a HUGE number of toxins in your space, but they also have multiple steps to complete the task in full.
Once you’ve identified what you’ll be doing in terms of your project goal, it’s time to get started. If you’ll be doing an entire room, start in one corner of the room and visually look up and down the walls and floors. Continue this around the entire room until you get back to where you started. Make a list of every product or material that’s in the room and then analyze each one and note if it’s toxic and needs to be replaced or if it will be left.
Once you have your list, highlight the ones that you’ve marked for changes. Create a to do list from those changes. From the to do list, you may have to break down the tasks even smaller. For example, if you know that you’ll be getting a new mattress, that might include researching the mattress, finding a coupon, donating your old mattress, etc.
Now if you’ll be overhauling a particular toxin or product throughout your home. This might require a bit more planning, but it’s definitely doable and will make the task easier to complete in the long run. Take your notes as you walk around your home and hunt for whatever the toxin or product is that you’ll be reducing. If we were to use our pressed wood example, you’d note every place that pressed wood is exposed in your home so you can seal the VOCs inside.
This makes it easier to do the project all at once because you’ve got your materials ready and your VOC blocking solution open and set to use. You can quickly do multiple surfaces at once without having to clean up and set up multiple times.
MASSIVE CHANGE TO NON TOXIC PRODUCTS
One of the best ways to reduce a lot of toxins at once is to take action on a product you have A LOT of in your home. I think so many of us choose things like makeup or personal care items first for many reasons.
First, if you’re like how I was, you have a lot of products that you probably don’t use anymore. This makes it nice and easy to get rid of them. Second, if you want to look up your products to see if they’re non toxic, you can do a lot at one time very quickly using an app or website. While you have the site or app open, it is a lot easier to do several products than to do one every day for the next two weeks.
It’s also a great way to see what it is that you actually need. I found this to be true when I overhauled our kitchen tupperware. I laid it all out on the counter and I was SHOCKED at the number of containers we had. There was no way we needed as much as we had and so it was a good opportunity to pair down our stash and start fresh.
The idea of an overhaul is similar to that of decluttering in January after Christmas. You can make your home feel like a brand new space with more drastic changes and getting rid of more things than you truly need.
THE BEST PLACES TO START A HEALTHY HOME OVERHAUL
Kitchen: The reason I love starting in the kitchen is because this is where we gather the most and where we ingest a number of toxins with our food. Another reason this makes the top of my list is that there are just SO many products and items within the kitchen that we forget about or never change. It’s such a great room of the house to start out with. You can easily get started with my Healthy Kitchen Detox Workbook.
Bedroom: Another great place to start is where you sleep. We spend about a third of our time in our bedrooms and so we need to be careful what type of toxins we allow into the space. Not to mention when we sleep we are in direct contact with toxins in our mattress and bedding. I love the idea of creating a sleep sanctuary – a place for your body to heal and be surrounded with non toxic materials and products. It can make such a huge impact on allowing your body to naturally detox toxins while you sleep. This post about How to Create a Non Toxic Sleep Sanctuary will give you everything you need to do.
VOC Blocking: VOCs are everywhere. They’re outside and inside and they come from natural elements as well as man made solvents. The problem with VOCs is that they get trapped inside our home and we can quickly become burdened by the constant exposure. One overhaul project I love is blocking VOCs on all pressed wood surfaces or in carpet. AFM SafeCoat makes a line of excellent VOC blocking products that you simply paint on to block toxins like VOCs from off gassing into your air. You can read about how to use SafeCoat SafeSeal here which is for wood surfaces. You can also look into their carpet system sold at Green Design Center.
Room Detox Workbook: No matter how you decide to start, you have to have a plan to keep the momentum going. I created the Room Detox Workbook for this exact purpose. You can simply print out the guide and then reuse it over and over again for multiple rooms or areas of your home. It will help you completely overhaul or detox each space by showing you what to look for and then you get to decide how to change it.
Overhauling your healthy home and doing a big change or project all at once is a great way to move forward in your non toxic journey. You can make some big strides forward to reduce toxins at home with some simple planning.