Sunlight streaming through the kitchen window is just one penetrable force entering our homes. Looking closely, the beam of light will reveal tiny particles floating in the air. We may not think air pollution lingers through our homes. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that air inside our homes can be five-times more polluted than outdoor air. Without realizing it, we are living in environments containing lead, formaldehyde, fire-retardants, radon, toxic chemicals, and dust mites, mold, and pet dander (even if you do not have a pet, the dander will transfer from pet owners onto your clothes). Just consider how much money is invested in cleanliness. We buy fresh smelling fragrances, air-filtering plants, air purifiers, high quality vacuums, numerous cleaning products, agents, and tools; yet, are we spending our money appropriately?
Even a brand new carpet is manufactured with the chemical formaldehyde. Despite your daily efforts, it also contains a concentration of lead, brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDE’s), dirt, pollen, dust mites, fungus, and pet dander. While replacing carpet with hard wood flooring is not the solution for everyone, a vacuum with a HEPA filter will remove 99.97 percent of all particles and toxins from the air. The cost is expensive, however a “sealed system” will prevent toxins and allergens from cycling through the exhaust and back into the air.
Create a new rule in your home: shoes off after entering. The soles of your shoe contains a diverse infestation of bacteria and germs, in addition to pesticides, chemicals, and feces. Leaving shoes in the entryway or mudroom is one solution to minimizing the spread of pollutants throughout the house. (With this rule in place, you’ll be spending less time with your vacuum cleaner.)
Mops and Dust Cloths
Dusting and mopping are not particularly favorite household tasks, however research claims water is a great alternative to soaps and cleaners when using a microfiber mop and dust cloth. It is proven to collect more lingering dust, dirt, and allergens than any other material. In addition, microfiber is a strong, lint free, absorbent fiber that attracts and contains dust. While we have a means to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals, just imagine not having the expense of replacing mop heads every three months. Microfiber can be washed and used repeatedly. (Don’t forget to wipe down your walls and upholstered furniture, too, where dust collects.)
Portable Air Purifiers
It makes sense to want to invest in a machine that extracts dust and other air-borne pollutants from your home. It sounds like an easy solution; however, an air purifier set at the highest setting and running continuously is only one aspect to improve air quality. As you begin researching brands and types, it is wise to avoid units that emit ozone. Research suggests larger models that contain a HEPA filter are the most effective at collecting airborne particles. While you will need a system which accommodates the square footage of your living room or bedroom, check reviews for noise levels, the cost and frequency of replacing filters, and maintenance issues. (In addition to keeping a calendar to swap out your allergen filters, it is important to include your vacuum and air purifier HEPA filters, too.)
Every day, we actively dehumidify our homes by using an exhaust fan or opened window when running the dishwasher, cooking with an open pot of boiling water, or taking a shower. Without these instinctual routines, we would begin to see mildew and mold sprouting; therefore, take time to thoroughly clean your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans, and ensure ventilation leading to the outdoors is clear. This also applies to your laundry room. While keeping the washer door open, it is important to wipe the door and inside the dryer ring clean after every use.
On a daily basis, we take our cleaning tools, whether they are a vacuum cleaner, mop, dust cloth, or towel, to remove dirt and germs from our most important surfaces. With the right tools, our efforts can result in eliminating harmful chemicals, mold and mildew, and a variety of dust particles from the air. With the most effective tools, we can feel good about a cleaner house.