For many, the New Year means a “new you” with promises of dedication to time management, adventurous new hobbies and the elimination of bad habits.
While the start of a new year provides a nice reminder to cleanse our bodies and minds, it is also an important time to cleanse our homes.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 90 percent, or more, of their time indoors where the pollution level can be two to five times higher than outdoor air quality.
That’s thousands of hours per year surrounded by harsh chemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other pollutants that can cause health problems such as sore eyes, burning in the nose and throat, headaches, or fatigue and aggravate asthma, allergens and sinusitis.
But before you vow to abandon your toxic home and stake claim in a forest somewhere, follow these simple steps to clean up your dirty ways and rejuvenate your home, turning it back into the oasis you intended it to be!
Dust in and on hard and soft surfaces provide a breeding ground for dust mites – microscopic “bugs” that feed off skin cells and cause allergies and irritation for many people.
To banish these bugs
Vacuum upholstery and mattresses; don’t forget the backs of couches and chairs, where there are lots of hidden dust and dander. Wash removable items such as blankets and sheets weekly in hot water.
Mold can be found anyplace that is excessively moist, such as bathrooms and basements. Peeling paint and rotting windowsills can also be signs of water damage and mold.
Stop the spores
Control the moisture level in your home. Indoor humidity should be between 30 and 50 percent. You can buy a hygrometer at your local hardware store to measure your house’s level. If your home measures higher, buy a dehumidifier and fix any water leaks.
Often a regular ritual in our homes, sometimes cleaning can actually make our homes dirty. Chemical fumes emitted by certain cleaning products can also cause health problems.
Forget the fumes
Opt for natural versions of your favorite cleaning supplies. Many major retailers, such as Target and Giant Food Stores, now carry a variety of convenient and naturally-based cleaners like Method or Seventh Generation. Or experiment with making your own, with this simple, multi-purpose cleaning solution:
½ cup white distilled vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda, ½ gallon distilled water, squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Many scented air fresheners actually create toxic air by releasing chemicals with their fragrance.
Your kitchen is filled with many natural alternatives to keep your home smelling fresh. Try simmering one to two tablespoons of ground cinnamon in small pot of water. As a bonus, studies show that the scent of cinnamon reduces fatigue, makes you feel happier and increases your attention span. The common house plant can also improve your indoor air quality. Scientists have found that houseplants, like spider plants, and flowers like mums and gerbera daisies can remove up to 87 percent of toxic indoor air all in one day. Plants naturally have a built in filtration system that neutralizes toxins. Rooms with plants are said to contain half the amount of airborne microbes as rooms that do not have plants. Just don’t forget to water them.