HEALTHY HOMES BEST PRACTICES CHECKLIST

Living Area

  • Take off shoes when entering home
  • Vacuum (HEPPA preferred) and mop frequently
  • Choose furniture and carpets/rugs that do not contain flame retardants or stain guards 
  • Choose wood, bamboo, cork, or phthalate-free vinyl flooring 
  • Choose VOC-free or low-VOC paint products and building materials
  • Discontinue use of air fresheners (sprays, plug-ins, and scented candles) and choose aromatherapeutic essential oils or beeswax candles instead
  • Replace all chemical cleaning products with all-natural or DIY products for 
    • furniture polishes 
    • window cleaners
    • floor cleaners
  • Choose untreated solid wood furniture instead of pieces made with particle board or vinyl
  • Choose organic soil and plant fertilizers for potted indoor plants 
  • Use an Organic Pest Management approach and eliminate chemical insecticide sprays
    • assess current pest situation and possible contributors in the environment
    • properly dispose of all chemical insecticides and rodenticides
    • use pheromone traps instead of mothballs 
    • use rodent traps instead of poisons (rodenticides) 
    • use bait traps for insect infestations
  • Eliminate exposure to smoke (tobacco, wood, and cooking fumes)
  • Use a landline and corded telephone and minimize cell phone use
  • Turn wi-fi router off when not in use and at night when sleeping
  • Install a carbon-monoxide detector
  • Properly handle and dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs (especially when broken)

Kitchen & Dining Area

  • Eat healthy, fresh and nutrient-dense foods
    • Choose organic, local food whenever possible
    • If organic is unavailable or too expensive, avoid products made with GMOs and those on EWG’s Dirty Dozen List 
    • Eat from the Clean Fifteen List
    • Choose healthy and sustainably farmed/harvested fish from Seafood Watch list
    • Choose cage-free, free-range, and sustainably farmed eggs and meats
    • Avoid canned food and beverages
    • Choose iodized salt
    • Buy in bulk and steer clear of products with a lot of plastic packaging, such as individually wrapped items
    • Avoid microwave popcorn, brown rice syrup, and artificial sweeteners
    • Choose organic rice grown in the USA
  • Use a water filter for drinking tap water 
    • Check your tap water quality with EWG's Tap Water Database
    • Test water quality and choose a filter that best meets your needs
    • Opt out of buying bottled water
  • Replace all chemical cleaning products with simple, effective, all-natural, all-purpose cleaning solutions
    • Use vinegar and water as an all-purpose cleaning solution
    • To clean oven and stove: use baking soda on difficult-to-clean areas, spray oven with vinegar, let sit 10 minutes then wipe clean (vinegar infused with lemon and orange peels is especially effective at cutting grease)
    • To clean windows, use vinegar and water
    • Use baking soda or salt as a natural cleaning abrasive
    • Use vinegar and water to mop laminate floors (add a little lavender or eucalyptus essential oil to mask the vinegar smell)
  • Replace chemical drain cleaners with natural cleaning practices and products
    • Use strainers in your sink to catch food and particles that might clog the drain
    • Dispose of fat, oil, and grease in the garbage, not down the drain with hot water
    • Use hot soapy water, salt and hot water, or, if that doesn’t work, a biological enzyme to unclog fat, oil, and grease 
    • Use a plunger to unclog food stuck in curved pipes (p-trap)
  • Discontinue use of non-stick cookware (Teflon®, etc.) and replace with cast iron or ceramic
  • Replace mercury thermometer with digital. Safely dispose of all mercury products.
  • Be sure your tableware (cups, plates, bowels, etc.) and cookware (baking & microwaveable dishes) do not contain lead
  • Cook on the farthest back burners
  • Use the up or down-draft on the stove or open a nearby window when cooking to keep fresh air circulating and reduce exposure to chemical byproducts from cooking
  • Minimize use of microwave for cooking/reheating food and beverages
    • Reheat food on the stovetop or oven
    • Only microwave in glass (lead-free)
    • Do not cook, bake, or microwave food/beverages in any plastic product (containers, plastic wrap, etc.), even those labelled “microwave safe” may leach chemicals into food/beverages
  • Reduce and eliminate plastics
    • Avoid plastics with the recycle symbols #3, #6, & #7
    • Opt out of buying single-use, recyclable, plastic water bottles 
    • Reconsider purchasing individually wrapped items
    • Use refillable glass or BPA-free plastic water bottles
    • Find alternatives to plastic food wrap and baggies [link products]
    • Choose reusable glass and BPA-free food storage containers 

Bedroom or Sleeping Area

  • Choose bedding and mattresses made from natural materials
    • When purchasing a new mattress, choose natural products such as organic wool, 100% natural latex, organic cotton. 
    • Choose mattresses that do not contain metal coils 
    • Choose bedding materials made from bamboo, silk, linen, wool, organic cotton, hemp, cashmere 
    • Avoid flame-retardants and stain guard treatments
    • Choose mattress covers made from safer plastics and avoid vinyl and other PVC materials
  • Choose untreated solid wood furniture instead of particle board or plywood 
  • Clean surfaces with all-natural cleaner and avoid mold/mildew sprays
  • Wash bedding with all-natural laundry products (See: Clothing & Laundry)
    • Always wash new bedding before use
    • Eliminate chlorine bleach, stain remover treatments, detergents with fragrance, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets
  • Remove wi-fi routers and cordless phones from bedrooms
  • Turn cell phone off or on airplane mode when sleeping
  • Avoid sleeping with cell phones near head or body

Nursery & Play Area

  • Wash/wipe hands frequently
  • Breast feed your baby if you can; use organic formula and filtered water when unable to breast feed (be sure water is lead free) 
  • Glass bottles are safest as they do not leach harmful chemicals
    • Use a silicone sleeve if breakage is a concern
    • Replace glass bottles with cracks or chips in them
  • Choose BPA-free baby bottles, nipples, bottle liners, pacifiers
  • Never store or heat breast milk or formula in plastic bottles
    • Pour breast milk or formula into bottle just before serving
    • Throw out any left overs
  • Choose items that do not have flame retardants or stain guards 
    • Mattresses and nap mats
    • Swings, rockers, and bouncers
    • Car seats
    • Play yards (often made of vinyl)
  • Use washable cloth diapers and wipes whenever possible
  • If purchasing single-use diapers and wipes, choose chlorine-free, fragrance-free, dye-free and made from renewable, biodegradable materials
  • Eliminate use of baby powder and petroleum-based products like petroleum jelly and baby oil
  • Avoid all products labelled anti-bacterial: wipes, foam sanitizers, soap
  • Eliminate alcohol-based hand sanitizers 
  • Replace all chemical cleaning products with one simple, effective, all-natural, all-purpose cleaning solution: vinegar and water
  • Eliminate mold/mildew sprays (these contain chlorine)
  • Open windows often to allow fresh air to move through the space
  • For a fresh scent, choose essential oils instead of odor neutralizers or fragrance
  • Remove wi-fi routers and cordless phones from area
    • Hard-wire ipads and other hand-held devices and turn off antenna (airplane mode is not sufficient to turn off electromagnetic frequencies)
  • Choose toys made from safer products 
    • Choose natural materials such as solid wood (unfinished or with a non-toxic finish), hemp, organic cotton, wool or natural rubber
    • Choose PVC-free and BPA-free products (typically squishy or flexible plastics like rubber duckies and baby dolls contain PVC)
    • Eliminate plastics labelled #3 or with a “V” inside the chasing arrows symbol or #7 (polycarbonate)
    • Avoid toys, pacifiers, teething rings, children’s jewelry, tea sets and make-up made in China (over 50% of toys from China contain high concentrations of lead, phthalates, and toxics directly linked to learning disabilities, liver and kidney damage)
    • Be careful with used children’s toys made before 2009 in the US or 2006 in Europe
      • Use caution when choosing used toys 
      • Eliminate toys with chipped paint
    • Avoid toys with wi-fi components

Bathroom

  • Eliminate use of air fresheners and fragrances 
  • Replace all chemical cleaning products with one simple, effective, all-natural, all-purpose cleaning solution: vinegar and water
  • Use baking soda or salt as a natural cleaning abrasive for the shower, tub, and toilet
  • Choose safer soaps
    • Choose all-natural soaps free from sodium laureth sulfate and other foaming agents, parabens, phlthalates, and fragrance
    • Avoid anti-bacterial soaps
    • Opt out of products with micro-beads
  • Choose mineral or sea salts in the bath instead of liquid bubble baths
  • Choose toothpastes that are free of fluoride, whiteners, and micro-bead scrubbers
  • Use plunger and/or long wire hook to unclog drains and avoid chemical drain cleaners. Use a biological enzyme cleaner when necessary.
  • For commercial cleaning products, check for safety at EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning 

Personal Care

  • Properly store prescriptions and over-the-counter medications in a safe place out of reach of children
  • Properly dispose of unused prescriptions and medications  and avoid putting them down the drain or toilet
  • Be an informed consumer regarding anything you put on or in your body. Go to EWG’s Skin Deep for product recommendations for shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, sunscreens, cosmetics, and other body products

Clothing & Laundry

  • Choose natural and sustainably-made clothing 
    • Be mindful that many fabrics (natural fibers too) undergo significant processing that involves detergents, petrochemical dyes, formaldehyde to prevent shrinkage, VOCs, dioxin-producing bleach, and chemical fabric softeners
    • Choose natural fibers: cotton, silk, bamboo, hemp, wool, linen, and cashmere
    • Avoid synthetic fibers: polyester, acrylic, rayon, acetate and triacetate, nylon 
    • Avoid clothing with static resistant, stain-resistant, permanent press, wrinkle-free, and water-proof treatments
    • Choose used clothing when appropriate
  • Wash all new items before use
  • Choose all-natural laundry products. To check your products for safety, check out the EPA's Safer Choices & EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning 
    • Avoid detergents with sudsing agents like sodium laureth sulfate 
    • Discontinue use of chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite)
    • Use hydrogen peroxide to whiten laundry
    • Opt out of using softeners and dryer sheets (fragrance=chemicals)
  • Opt out of dry-cleaning systems that use perchloroethylene (PERC) and choose organic/green dry cleaners
  • Be an informed consumer  (The American Apparel and Footwear Association maintains a list of about 250 “restricted substances” used in clothing production, whose use is now legally limited somewhere in the world.)  

Yard & Garage/Storage

  • Implement an Organic Pest Management approach to yard maintenance
  • Eliminate use of all pesticides, rodenticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides and replace with Organic Pest Management Practices 
  • For persistent weed or pest issues, contact your local Master Gardeners, who are volunteers trained to provide environmentally sustainable, science-based horticultural  information http://sonomamg.ucanr.edu
  • Properly store/dispose of pool chemicals, flammable liquids and solids, glues, paints, paint thinners, photo chemicals, propane cylinders, and solvents
  • Properly dispose of all toxics such as antifreeze, auto batteries, automatic transmission fluid, brake fluid, motor oil and filters, power-steering fluid, flares, engine cleaners, and fuels such as diesel, gasoline, kerosene & lamp oil
  • In Sonoma County, there are three options for residents to properly dispose of toxics:
  • Take the time to sort your waste, recycle, and compost  
  • When gardening, be aware of soil contamination (lead, mercury, arsenic)
    • Have soil tested if your home was built before 1978

Pets

  • Choose non-toxic flea and tick control
    • Groom pets regularly with a fine-tooth comb
    • Use soap and water to kill adult fleas
    • Opt out of using flea collars
    • Be aware that flea and tick shampoos often contain the same toxic ingredients as topical treatments
  • Ask your veterinarian about oral flea-prevention treatments instead of topical treatments (topical treatments leave residues on fur that can get on hands, rugs, and furniture)
    • Choose species-specific products (eg. avoid giving cats medicines designed for dogs)
    • Choose the right formula based on your pet’s weight and health
  • Wash pet bedding weekly in hot, soapy water
  • Regularly vacuum and wipe down pet-frequented areas
  • For flea infestations, do the above daily and have carpet professionally steam cleaned (choose a green-cleaning company)
  • Use diatomaceous earth around the house to prevent flea infestations

Automobile

  • US Department of Energy recommends idling reduction
    • Turn off vehicle instead of idling when waiting for a passenger 
    • There is no need to warm up vehicle prior to driving
  • When purchasing a new(er) vehicle, choose a zero, ultra-low or low emission vehicle
  • New cars and cars with new upholstery/interior may off-gas toxic chemicals (respiratory irritants and endocrine disruptors) within the first year. Be informed when making purchasing decisions. 
  • Use essential oils to freshen your car’s interior and discontinue use of all fragrance products
  • Change air filters frequently and in accordance with manufacturer guidelines
  • Choose carseats and fabric/carpet that are free from flame retardants and stain guards
  • Properly dispose of all toxics such as antifreeze, auto batteries, automatic transmission fluid, brake fluid, motor oil and filters, power-steering fluid, flares, engine cleaners, and fuels such as diesel, gasoline, kerosene & lamp oil

Out & About in the Community

  • Bring your own cup for to-go beverages (hot and cold)
  • Bring your own lunch box and snack boxes
  • Opt out of using plastic straws
  • Bring your own snacks and avoid fast and pre-packaged foods
  • Bring your own reusable shopping bags