Does a filthy house leave you feeling overwhelmed or even sick? If your home needs a bit of TLC, you’re not alone. Fortunately, the change of seasons offers the perfect time to make your house healthier. All you’ll need is the right tools and some old-fashioned elbow grease. You can also update certain items to eliminate toxins from your environment. Ready to don your plastic gloves and get to work?
1. Get Tested
Your indoor air can exacerbate the misery of allergy sufferers or leave them breathing easier. Knowledge is power, and you can’t fight an enemy you don’t know. For example, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. But since it’s colorless and odorless, you can’t know your level of exposure without testing. Get an indoor air quality test kit. If you rent, you have no idea what toxins prior residents may have introduced into your home. Even if you own your property, prior residents or unsafe substances used in construction can contaminate indoor air.
2. Upgrade Your Floors or Vacuum
If you own your home, consider upgrading to hardwood or tile floors. Carpet holds in dust, debris and pet dander, which can cause illness. If upgrading isn’t in your budget or you rent, invest in a quality vacuum with a HEPA filter. Strive to vacuum at least twice weekly, or more often if you share your home with kids, pets or smokers. Take care to get under furniture and in corners to clear dust-trapping cobwebs. Use the hose attachment to thoroughly clean cloth furniture like couches.
3. Invest in Microfiber Cloths
Using paper towels costs countless trees and many pennies. Instead, invest in some microfiber cleaning cloths. These cloths absorb dirt and grease like sponges, making them more efficient. Plus, you’ll save on cleaning products.
4. Maintain and Repair
When was the last time you tested your sump pump, your home security system or your smoke detectors? Just like you see your doctor for an annual physical, your home requires regular testing for optimal health. You don’t want your alarm to fail if an intruder breaks in! Testing such devices helps you identify minor problems before they escalate into pricy headaches. Make testing such equipment an integral part of your spring and fall housecleaning.
5. Change Your Filters
If you live in the northeast or midwest, you may get by without central air conditioning. As a result, many people put off changing their air filters during the summer months. However, neglecting this as the days shorten can lead to expensive issues with your HVAC system. Change out the air filter and purchase ample replacements when you hit the hardware store. Schedule your monthly filter change for the same day you pay your mortgage or rent to make it easier to remember.
6. Kick Smokers Outside
Nagging smokers about quitting the habit rarely works, but exposing yourself to secondhand smoke is unnecessary. If you don’t do so already, designate an outdoor smoking area for those who use tobacco. Declare the indoors a smoke-free zone. And while you don’t want to harp on the issue, providing the smoker you love with free resources for quitting can gently encourage them to take charge of their health.
7. Buy a Shoe Rack
Did you know your shoes carry germs and bits of fecal matter (ew!) from where you step outdoors? Keep that nastiness out of your home by installing a shoe rack by your front door. Ask friends and family to remove their shoes upon entering to instantly improve the overall health of your home.
8. Make Non-Toxic Cleaners
You don’t need chemicals to get your home clean. You can make non-toxic cleaners using little more than vinegar, peroxide and baking soda. Lemon and orange peels help deodorize naturally, so have the little ones bring home their skins in their lunchbox to save money.
9. Up Your Produce Game
Do you buy salad fixings on the weekend only to find them slimy by Thursday? Line your crisper drawer with paper towels or special liners made to absorb moisture. This helps keep your greens crunchy longer.
10. Prep Your Meals in Advance
During the workweek, cooking dinner can prove exhausting. Keep your family healthier by prepping and dividing your meals into servings on the weekend. That way, at the end of a busy day, all you need to do is toss your ingredients in the wok or pan and you’ve got a nutritious meal in minutes.
11. Buy a Cast-Iron Pan
Cooking in a cast-iron pan helps you stave off anemia as some of the iron bakes into your food. Plus, cast-iron pans move directly from cooktop to oven with no need to dirty another vessel. Over time, oils accumulate on cast-iron pans, making them naturally non-stick, unlike Teflon, which can cause health issues.
12. Switch to Glass Containers
Still saving old takeout containers for leftovers? While we applaud your environmental consciousness, certain plastics contain BPA. BPA mimics the body’s own hormones, leading to disruptions. Recycle the plastic and switch to glass food storage containers. They look more elegant and they keep your food fresh without the use of chemicals.
13. Up Your Scented Candle Game
Do you live for scented candles? You’re not alone! Unfortunately, regular paraffin-wax candles can release benzene, a carcinogen, into the air. Instead, switch to natural, soy or beeswax-based candles. Alternately, invest in an essential oil diffuser. Many essential oils offer health benefits like boosting immune function, and they scent the air gently with no chemical residue.
14. Add Some Houseplants
In an attempt to learn how people could exist on other planets, NASA pioneered a study that showed houseplants improve indoor air quality significantly. You need not have a green thumb to reap the benefits, though. Plants such as succulents require little care and watering. They take in carbon dioxide and toxins and release fresh oxygen.
15. Clear Outdoor Debris
Finally, pay heed to your outdoor areas when doing your healthy fall housecleaning. Old tree limbs and other debris can fuel wildfires as well as look unsightly. Trim bushes away from windows to deter thieves who look for secluded areas to break in. Clear the leaves from your gutters, too, or hire a professional to do so if you have a multi-story home.
Making Your Home Clean and Healthy for Fall
A clean home is a healthier home. By paying attention to routine maintenance, your home will welcome you and guests alike to a positive environment you’ll adore spending time in.