Keeping the family healthy can be challenging, particularly over the winter months. If your home is warm, insulated and free of nasty chemicals, you’re off to a great start.

Know your chemicals to keep a home naturally healthy in winter.

ELEMENT PROMOTION: Not all chemicals are bad – water is a chemical after all – but there are some chemicals used in everyday products we should try to avoid.

New Zealand company Ecostore prides itself on providing household products which are healthier and safer for your family. Malcolm Rands, the founder of Ecostore, shares some tips to help keep your family safe at home.

In your laundry

Many laundry products contain chemicals that can remain in your clothes even after the final rinse, so they are up against your skin day and night where they may cause skin irritations such as eczema and dermatitis.

Look for laundry products that are free of enzymes and optical brighteners, known skin irritants. If anyone in your family is particularly sensitive, they may be allergic to fragrance so try fragrance free products.

In your kitchen

Research shows that the routine use of anti-bacterial cleaners and disinfectants could be doing more harm than good, contributing to the rise in allergies and the development of ‘super bugs’. It’s a good idea to save disinfectants and anti-bacterial cleaners for situations that require serious heavy-duty cleaning. Instead choose a standard surface cleaner for day-to-day use.

Look for a spray cleaner that is free of nasty chemicals like propylene glycol and benzalkonium chloride. Ensure young children are in another room or out of the house if you’re cleaning with strong smelling cleaning products.

Avoid air fresheners. These can contain hundreds of fragrance chemicals including phthalates which can interfere with your hormones. Instead open a window to allow fresh air to circulate.

Triclosan is an anti-bacterial agent commonly found in hand washes. It may be no more effective at removing germs than ordinary soap but could pose health risks.

In your bathroom

Many chemicals used in body care products are known skin irritants; they can dry out the skin by stripping away its natural protective oils, making way for conditions like eczema and dermatitis to develop.

Look for plant-based body care products that are free of chemicals like cocamide DEA/MEA, sodium lauryl/laurethsulphate and cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB). Shorter, cooler showers are also a great way to avoid drying out your skin.