Your home is your castle — Keep it clean!
By Barbara Pierce
When it comes to our health, we don’t think about how our home can affect our wellbeing.
As it’s where we spend a lot of time, it’s important to create a healthy sanctuary for ourselves and our families.
Some things you can do to boost the health of your home, and the well-being of your family:
— Let in fresh air: Benefit from the invisible. It may feel cozy, sealed in tight against the cold during the chillier months of the year, but for people who are sensitive to indoor allergens or have respiratory problems, winter can make problems worse. Indoor air quality is typically two to five times more polluted than outdoors.
Stale indoor air and heating systems can increase the amount of allergy-inducing dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores circulating through your house. While lurking in your surroundings, these trigger allergy and respiratory problems.
Most of the things that cause problems are odorless.
Even in cold months, open your windows from time to time to allow fresh air into the house. This will flush out built-up indoor pollutants.
— Use fans in the kitchen to remove cooking fumes. Use exhaust fans when showering or using the dryer to remove excess moisture that can lead to mold growth.
— Ditch air fresheners. You may like how they make your house smell, but they can contain serious toxins. These toxins can affect hormones and reproductive health, especially in children. Side effects for men include lower testosterone levels and decreased sperm counts.
— Let in natural light as much as possible. Natural light is a big contributor to well-being in the home, say the experts. It enhances your alertness, helps you sleep better, reduces blood pressure, reduces stress, and even boosts your immune system.
— Use Mother Nature’s cleaners: You open the windows and turn on a fan when using solvents, harsh cleansers and other noxious chemicals. But it’s an even better idea to replace these products whenever possible with homemade alternatives.
“Cleaning my house is always a chore, especially the windows and mirrors. Between the smell of the cleaners and the streaks, the motivation to do the rest of the house fizzles out quickly!” says Kelley Salamone, creator of MC Parent, a parenting guide for the Mohawk Valley, (https://www.mvparentonline.com).
“During my search for homemade cleaners, I found a recipe for an all-purpose cleaner that I have fallen in love with! It works so well, that I actually clean the whole house with this cleaner!” she said.
Natural cleaning options
Salamone’s recipe: “Two cups water, ¼ cup vinegar, ½ teaspoon dish soap, and a couple of drops of lavender oil. Mix ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Spray on mirrors, windows or counters and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.”
Other good natural cleaning solutions include vinegar, baking soda, and lemon.
Regarding her oven, Salamone says: “Cleaning the oven is one job that I really dislike doing. The awkward scrubbing, burnt-on stains that won’t come off no matter how much you scrub and that awful chemical cleaner smell. Yuck! It stresses me out!”
“I found an awesome way to clean my oven without scrubbing and without having to breathe in that nasty chemical smell! I make a simple baking soda paste and leave it on my oven for 12 hours — the secret recipe for a sparkling clean oven. I put the paste on my oven in the evening and leave overnight. Then wipe the oven with a damp cloth or sponge. I almost don’t want to use my oven, because it’s so clean.”
Others recommend sprinkling water on spills while the oven is still warm, then add salt. When the oven cools, scrape away the spill.
— Keep down the dust: It’s not uncommon for people’s homes to be hot beds of dust, whether in the corners, under the bed, on the pillows, or on the bookshelf. Chronic exposure of dust mites can cause allergies and asthma, so be sure to vacuum frequently, change your bedding and pillowcases often, and reduce the humidity in your house.
— Despite being covered with sheets and mattress covers, mattresses still get dirty. It’s a good idea to periodically vacuum them. Airing them outdoors in the sunshine for a few hours can do wonders for removing any lingering musty smells. Wash pillows every few months.
— Clear clutter, because it traps and holds dust. Make it a habit to keep things in their proper places and involve every member of the family in the process.
— Keep it safe: Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label them. Secure loose rugs and keep children’s play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand.
— Keep it pest-free: All pests look for food, water and shelter. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home, and store food in pest-resistant containers. If needed, use sticky traps and baits in closed containers, along with less toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder.