Moving into a new home is exciting, no doubt – but it can mean that you’re in for some unexpected and unwanted surprises as you and your family settle in. Lead paint, hidden mold, or other toxins can quickly turn your dream home into a nightmare. Before you move in, it’s best to give your home a thorough detoxification. So here’s how to get started!
Paint and wall decor
If you are moving into an older house – primarily one built before 1978 – you’ll want to check for lead paint. Lead was banned in home paint that year, so almost all homes built before then have some lead somewhere – the question is how it has been handled by the last owners. If they have done any significant renovations they’ve likely done testing and are required to disclose to you anything they’ve learned about toxicity in the home. Otherwise? You might choose to seek out an expert, who can help you to minimize your exposure to the toxin.
When choosing new paints or wall decals, choose non-toxic options like low- or no-VOC paints. VOC stands for ‘volatile organic compounds’, and these are the chemicals off-gassed while the paint is drying and afterward. Whichever you choose, make sure you give your home plenty of time to air out following a paint job before you settle back in, and keep the windows open as much as possible.
Choose safe furniture
You know that “new furniture smell”? It’s not a good thing: it’s chemical off-gassing. Many furniture pieces these days are made with synthetic fabrics that contain all sorts of chemicals we can’t pronounce. These can take a long, long time to stop smelling so it may be best to purchase second-hand furniture or, if your budget allows, chemical-free, natural fiber furniture.
More and more companies are making commitments to provide furniture that is free of major toxins, though they do typically come at a higher cost. So you could opt for the biggest impact by choosing a non-toxic mattress for you and your children, then do your best throughout the rest of the house. Opt for fabrics that don’t have flame retardants, a known carcinogen, and then put the furniture in a closed room with the windows open to air out for a while.
Pests? Give it space
If you’ve chosen to fumigate the house before moving in, there are two things you can do to reduce the chemical load: one, choose a company that uses non-toxic fumigation technologies that don’t leave behind a chemical residue. Two? Plan to give your house plenty of time to air out, and ideally have the fumigation done before you move anything in to prevent contaminating your furniture or other household goods.
Find the mold before it becomes an issue
If you have even the slightest suspicion there might be mold in your new home, put it on your new home checklist to hire the professionals and check. Mold can hide in ventilation systems, walls, basements, you name it – you want it found and eliminated. If you find mold, call the professionals immediately. Trying to deal with it yourself can spread the issue further!
Asbestos is a no-no
Again, many old homes have asbestos somewhere in the house. If the previous owner has discovered any they will need to inform you of its presence, but they may not have discovered it. Hire a professional to test for asbestos so you and your family can make an informed choice about how to proceed with possible remediation, and have this done before you get into the deep-clean mode of settling in.
Lastly? Give your home a good once-over using our new house cleaning checklist. Even if the previous inhabitants left it pretty clean, they may have used chemical cleaners that left residues. Get a fresh start on your terms!