Sophie Uliano: Tips for a Cleaner Home

How to Detox Your Home

A plethora of toxic chemicals lead to poor indoor air quality in our homes. When you realize how many invisible chemicals are flying around inside your home, it’s no wonder that the air quality inside, can be 7-10 times worse than outside! More than half of the people in the U.S. live in counties that have unhealthful levels of air pollution, putting them at risk for premature death and serious health effects including lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular disease, and developmental and reproductive issues. This has become such a serious issue, that we really need you need to understand how to detox your home for cleaner air.

So, what are the unhealthy chemicals that we breathe in? There is a veritable cocktail of them. The worst offenders are: VOC’s (volatile organic compounds,) Formaldehyde, pesticides, phthalates, and fire retardants. They come from our furniture, paints, adhesives, varnishes, air fresheners, and even electronics. Some of them are carcinogens, allergens and hormone-disrupting agents.

Although we can’t entirely avoid these chemicals, we can greatly minimize our exposure. Here’s how:

1. Use a HEPA filter vacuum to remove dust in your living room twice a week: A HEPA filter will suck up very small dust particles and many of these toxic chemicals, particularly the toxic chemicals in fire retardants, accumulate and bind to this dust. Vacuum really well around electronics such as TV’s, DVR’s, and computers (minefields of fire retardants). Also wash your hands really well after cleaning, because your hands will be dusty, too!

3. Air Filter/Purifier: If you are going to go to the expense of buying an air purifier, please only invest in the best. There are SO many on the market, and the best that I’ve found to date is Intellipure. I have tested in total about 10 high-end (as in top tier) air purifiers over the past 15 years. The reason for my obsession is that I live in the heart of smoggy Los Angeles. I know only too well how particulate matter can adversely affect my family’s health in a very significant way. So I never wanted to take a chance. I spent years researching what I need to look for in an effective air purifier. But the only one that has made a dramatic improvement to my air quality is Intellipure. You know me, I don’t get behind many products of this kind. I’ve actually struggled to find air purifiers over the years, which I would absolutely without doubt recommend to you. My friend, Max Goldberg turned me onto Intellipure, and I trust him entirely. In short, I like it a lot because:

  • It has a disinfecting filtration system
  • Other purifiers I’ve tried have one filter for smoke/odor, and other for allergies, whereas Intellipure handles all 3 of the major pollutants: microorganisms, VOC’s and particles.
  • Provides a constant electrical charge to the filter, which kills bacteria. Most HEPA filters don’t have this technology, so pollutants and microorganisms actually build up on the filter – yuck!
  • It captures 99% of airborne particles, whereas a HEPA filter only captures 99.97%
  • It’s more efficient than any standard HEPA filter

2. Fill your living room with air cleansing plants: Scientists from NASA have discovered that certain green houseplants are really good at “Scrubbing” our indoor air of toxic chemicals. Some of these plants include: English Ivy, Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Bamboo Palm, Gebera Daisy, Pot Mum.

3. Freshen Air Naturally: Never use synthetic or artificial fragrances to scent your living room. Air freshener sprays are the most toxic. Instead use an essential oil diffuser, I love The Radiance from Organic Aromas.

4. No shoe-home: The best thing you can do to avoid pesticides and other chemicals being bought into your home, where they can stay in a carpet for years, is to institute a no-shoe policy. To encourage family-members and guest, keep a basket of lovely, fluffy socks at your front door.

5. Crack the window: Sounds obvious, but lack of ventilation is a major source of poor air quality in modern homes.

6. Be mindful of the cleaning products you use. The most toxic are: carpet cleaners, stain removers, and stain protecting sprays.

7. Fire retardants are an issue, particularly in foam furniture manufactured before 2005. If you have an old couch or chairs, make sure that the foam is completely covered in a protective covering. Keep checking for rips or tears.

8. Low or zero-VOC paints and varnishes: If you are re-decorating your living room, make sure the paints, varnishes and adhesives that you use, are safe.

9. No particleboard: If you are buying new furniture, make sure it is hardwood, as opposed to particleboard. If your existing particleboard is exposed, coat it with a zero-VOC varnish.

10. Use non-toxic cleaning products: It’s easy to make your own. All your need is tons of baking soda, white vinegar, essential oils. My favorite brand is ECOS.

Or try my DIY Cleaners:


Citrus Furniture Polish:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4tsp orange essential oil
  • 1/4 tsp lemon essential oil
  • 1 small squirt bottle ( you can use an old flip-top cleaned-out shampoo bottle.
  • Simply mix ingredients together and pour into the bottle. Use sparingly with a clean rag.

Spill/Stain Remover:

This is great for spilled drinks, and when the dog has had an accident!

Blot liquid with a rag. Cover with iced water. Sprinkle with Borax. Lay a damp cloth over stain and use the back of a spoon for press the borax into the carpet fibers. Blot the stain with clean rag. Add a little more iced water, and blot again.


Article Written by Sophie Uliano