It’s that time of year again when we tidy up the house and take part in the annual spring cleaning tradition. This is important as it gives many people the sense of starting over with a clean slate. But beyond that, spring cleaning has some important health benefits, because if your home is a truly healthy environment, you and your family will be free of the “wheezes and sneezes” that come with the warmer weather and pollen-filled months.
After all, we spend a third of our lives sleeping, so the bedroom is the first place to start spring cleaning. Switch to hypoallergenic pillows and comforters to eliminate dust mites. You should wash your pillowcase once a week, your pillow protector at least once a month and replace pillows every three years. Cover your mattress with a hypoallergenic cover, wash every two months, and make sure that it is non-toxic without formaldehyde-based fire retardants. If you haven’t washed pillows, mattress covers and comforters, now is a good time to start.
The start of spring is a great time to paint a room and add color to a space. Use non-VOC paints in your home which won’t let off gas, leave an obnoxious paint odor and stir up asthma or allergies. You can’t even tell the difference in how it looks on the wall. This one small step will beautify your home and ensure everyone’s safety for years to come.
Completely empty a room once each year as if you were moving. This means taking everything out of the room including big furniture and smaller odds and ends. Give the walls and floors a thorough cleaning, and wipe down all the furniture before bringing it back into the room. Eliminating the dirt and dust will significantly reduce allergies, asthma and other health issues.
Most people don’t think about mold building up in their homes. But an important part of spring cleaning is eliminating any mold in your home. Look in dishwashers, under the fridge in the water pan and in sink and bath drains. Don’t overlook mold because it can make you very sick.
With so many cleaning products on the market, consumers have a tough time knowing which ones to use. The best rule of thumb: always use non-toxic cleaners. If you’re not using non-toxic cleaners, you are contributing to indoor air pollution, and these products can be extremely dangerous if inhaled or ingested. If the bottle has a danger or warning label, stay away from it. Stick to using soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax, which should be sufficient for cleaning all parts of the home.
If you clean your entire home but neglect your closets, you really haven’t accomplished much. Closets are ‘dust catchers’ because of all the clothing and other items that sit all year without ever being touched. In fact, start your spring cleaning in the closet, so you’re not spreading the dust and clutter to the room connected to the closet that you’ve already cleaned.
If your spring cleaning involves any home makeovers or improvement projects, think about changing your carpet for hardwood floors or tile. They are a much better choice, but must be vacuumed or cleaned on a regular basis to eliminate dirt and dust. Always use a vacuum with a hepa filter.
Cats and dogs can bring on symptoms of allergies and asthma, so don’t forget to get your pets groomed. Dogs and cats should be bathed and can even be shaved down to help reduce shedding.
Instead, use newspaper. Newsprint is a cousin to paper towels, but its high absorbency makes it more effective and will leave windows looking beautiful. Newspaper is also recyclable. But be careful: the one downside is you must be extra careful because wet ink can stain wood moldings. Use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels on floors, tile and countertops. They do a great job sanitizing and can be reused.
Wearing shoes inside lets the outside world into your home, bringing in dirt, dust and bacteria. Start a habit of making your kids and guests take their shoes off before walking inside.
Spring cleaning should not just be seen as a silly tradition. It should be something that everyone takes part in. Not only will living in a clean and organized environment make you more productive, the psychological and physical health benefits are many. And as we approach allergy season, it’s obviously impossible to control the outside world, but a thorough spring cleaning will ensure a healthy indoor living environment that will help prevent and reduce the “wheezes and sneezes.”
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