How Cleaning Your Environment Can Save Your Life, Pt. 3

how cleaning your environment can save your life organic personal care


We’ve discussed a variety of harmful chemicals over the past two weeks, how they affect us, and what we can do about them.

This week, Human Garage is focusing on air pollution and how to manage it within the container of your home. Toxic chemicals are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to air quality. Even after removing the toxins from your cleaning products and household items, there are a few sneaky substances that you may be inhaling!


A projected 50% of American homes have mold. It can grow anywhere, but is commonly found in:

  • Kitchens: Mold can grow on old food and around damp areas like the sink and dishwasher.
  • Bathrooms: The humidity from showers and baths can lead to mold on shower curtains, grout, tiles, and caulk.
  • Basements: Basements are often damp and humid, making them a prime location for mold growth on walls, floors, carpets, and furniture.
  • Attics: Attics can also be a breeding ground for mold if they are not properly ventilated or if there are leaks in the roof. It can grow on insulation, rafters, and sheathing in attics.
  • Laundry rooms: Laundry rooms are another area of the home to inspect, especially if there is poor ventilation or if clothes are not properly dried.

Living in a space contaminated with mold can cause all sorts of health problems. Inhaling the spores causes shortness of breath, wheezing, and allergic reactions. If your immune system is already weakened, exposure creates infection. And in the long term, living with mold creates chronic issues like brain fog, headaches, and fatigue.

It’s important to clean and ventilate areas of your house that are stuffy or damp. Regularly inspecting the areas of a house listed above for signs of mold is also helpful, but sometimes mold exists in hard-to-see places. There are species of the fungi that are invisible to the naked eye as well.

Conducting a test is the best way to figure out if you have a mold problem. Purchase a testing kit that has a petri dish and solution. Place it in a suspect area of your home, like the bathroom or laundry room. Once you follow the kit instructions, you may know the results immediately or need to send the sample off to a lab for clarification of what variety of mold is present and how much.


It may be necessary to hire professional cleaners- but it’s best to try natural solutions for the issue first. There are several ingredients that can kill & remove mold:

  • Vinegar: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spritz the moldy area. Wait 1 hour and then scrub the spot down with a brush or sponge.
  • Baking Soda: Mix 1/4 tablespoon of baking soda with 2 cups of water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the affected area and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a brush or sponge.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is a natural antifungal and antibacterial agent. Mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water and spray the affected area. Let it sit for a few hours before wiping it away with a clean cloth.
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract: Grapefruit is also naturally antifungal and antibacterial. Mix 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract with two cups of water and spray the mold. Let it sit for a few hours before wiping.

Check out Human Garage’s air freshener recipe from Pt. 1 of the series if you haven’t yet for another way to DIY!


There are other particles in the air besides mold that can cause poor health outcomes.

  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Industrial dust from coal mining, construction, and manufacturing plants (which often has lead or asbestos)
  • Soil dust (which may carry pesticides or heavy metals)
  • Animal dandruff
  • Pollen
  • Dust mites

There’s a long list of side effects associated with inhaling these particles: allergies, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, rashes, lung disease, heart attack, stroke, and hypertension.

We are often in environments with air pollution. While we can’t control that, we can create better conditions within our homes. That’s why it’s so important to clean your environment!


There are lots of ways to improve the air quality in your space. Keep it well-ventilated by opening the windows and turning on fans frequently! It’s also a good rule of thumb not to smoke inside.

A de-humidifier may be a good investment for areas of your home that are perpetually damp or humid.

One of the most fun ways to improve air quality is with plants! There are some species of plant that produce more oxygen and filter harmful chemicals effectively.

  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria): Known for its ability to filter out formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene.
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): Effective in removing formaldehyde and xylene from the air.
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum): Known for its ability to remove a variety of pollutants, including benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and ammonia.
  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata): Effective in removing formaldehyde, xylene, and other pollutants.
  • Aloe Vera: Known for its ability to remove formaldehyde and benzene from the air.
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix): Effective in removing formaldehyde, benzene, and other pollutants.
  • Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica): Known for its ability to remove formaldehyde from the air.


It’s likely that we will inhale harmful compounds while moving through the world, even when following the best practices at home. There are many ways to care for your respiratory health and offset the unwanted effects of air pollution.

Regularly doing a sinus rinse clears out debris from the nasal cavities.

It’s also very simple to set up a facial steam, which accomplishes the same thing: boil a pot of water and then transfer it to a heat-safe bowl. Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Grab a towel and drape it over your head, and then lean over the bowl, making sure the towel is sealing you in. Breathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes to decongest and kill microbes and bacteria in your respiratory system.

There are also several fascial maneuvers that can open the fascia around nasal passageways, chest, and lungs!