Simple home upgrades can be the building blocks to set a foundation for a healthy home, a healthy family and healthy lifestyle.
1. Keep pollen out. During hay fever season, shake or brush off outerwear, and keep a brush and wet wipes handy to clean pets’ fur and feet. Don’t hang laundry on outdoor clothes lines, at least for now.
2. Add mats on both sides of the door. Up to 80 percent of the dirt that gets tracked inside—along with countless allergens, bacteria, and lawn chemicals—can be caught with a double length of washable matting before it makes itself at home.
Caulk holes and crevices so that disease-carrying mice and insects won’t come looking for a free lunch.
Filter your drinking water. Activated carbon filters—whether a pitcher, tap-mounted, or under-sink model—can cut levels of lead, chlorine, and other contaminants. Request a copy of your municipality’s annual water quality test or use an at-home test kit.
Change fridge filters before their expiration date. If your refrigerator comes with a water dispenser, change the filter every six months, before sediment buildup starts to overwhelm it.
Toss cracked cutting boards. Opt for ones made of maple or a hard plastic so that germs don’t have a place to hide.
Use your range-hood fan when you cook. It’ll reduce cooking-related air pollutants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, and will lower humidity, which can encourage bacteria and mold. Before the gunk builds up on the filter, clean or replace it.
Clean prep surfaces and knobs regularly. Scrub those cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use. Sanitize microwave door and buttons. Do not forget the cabinet knobs, refrigerator door, toaster lever and anything else fingers regularly touch.
Open a window (unless you’re fighting pollen). Indoor air can contain two to five times more chemical pollutants than air outdoors.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. High-efficiency particulate air filters are best for sucking up dust, dust mites (and their allergy-aggravating droppings), animal dander, and fleas. Use a crevice tool on upholstery and a brush attachment on dust-catching curtains and lamp shades.
Pot up a plant or two. Spider plants, peace lilies, philodendrons, and aloe vera can help neutralize formaldehyde (found in furniture) and benzene (found in car fumes and paint supplies). Snake plants, English ivy, Boston and asparagus ferns, and Areca and bamboo palms are good neutralizers too.
Clean hardwood floors often using a mild vinegar-and-water or lemon-oil-and-water solution. Avoid chemical-based cleansers and floor waxes that can be high in lung-irritating VOCs.
Sanitize handheld devices. Cordless phones, TV remotes—even computer keyboards—may harbor more bacteria than a toilet seat.
Some think home upgrades are endless, and they are. But tackling a room at a time brings it into perspective. Have the kids help. Give them a sanitized cloth and tell them to run through the house touching everything they usually touch.