Saturday, October 19, 2019

When you’re cleaning your home this spring, think about all the benefits it brings. Yes, a good scrubbing removes harmful allergens and bacteria, but spring cleaning also improves your mental health. A cluttered home raises stress levels. Over time, higher stress levels lead to health issues. So think of it as cleaning for your body and mind. And don’t forget that cleaning and maintaining your home leads to annual energy savings — that makes for a healthier wallet.

Understanding all these implications helps you make better decisions about how to clean your home. Here are nine spring cleaning tips that will have you healthier and wealthier.

1. Clean Your HVAC Air Ducts
Replacing your HVAC system’s air filter will eliminate the spread of allergens, bacteria, and mold. But don’t forget your system’s ductwork. It also collects mold, dust, and debris that your filter can’t catch. Check for signs of dust and mold around your air vents. These indicate you’re in need of a duct cleaning. Or if your home is ten years or older and has never had a duct cleaning, it’s time to get your HVAC system serviced. Test your A/C to make sure it is in working order and the right size for your home. Regular maintenance ensures your system will last many seasons.

2. Check for Leaking Water Pipes
As winter snow thaws, it may reveal leaking or busted water pipes. Left untreated, wet areas around your hot water tank or under your sink can grow toxic black mold. The spores from black mold can cause a range of problems, from chronic coughing to bleeding in the lungs and nose. Check all the areas of your home where water pipes are present, especially those within external walls. Look for evidence of mold around the base of your shower, dishwasher, and clothes washer. Even better, install a smart home leak detector. These devices will automatically alert you to leaks before they destroy your home and threaten your health.

3. Inventory Your Medications
Now that cold and flu season is on its way out, inventory your medicine cabinet. Throw away any expired medication, both prescription and over-the-counter. Out-of-date meds and vitamin supplements aren’t effective. They won’t help you or your family when you need allergy or pain relief, so replace them instead. But don’t throw them in the garbage or flush them down the toilet. Chemicals from medications can seep into the water table or poison animals that take them from the trash. Follow FDA guidelines for how to dispose of unused medications.

4. Prepare Your Humidifier for Storage
If you use a humidifier during the winter months, clean it properly before storing it for summer. Left uncleaned, humidifiers are ideal breeding grounds for mold, bacteria, and germs— serious health hazards for those with asthma or allergies. And dirty humidifiers can even cause infections of the lungs.

5. Clean Your Pillows and Mattresses
Many people are allergic to dust mites — those microscopic bugs that live within our pillows and mattresses. When you remove these small critters by cleaning your pillows and mattresses, you eliminate symptoms of hay fever, sneezing, and runny nose. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of cleaning your bedding, you can always buy new ones. Replace your mattress every ten years and your pillow every year or two.

6. Vacuum Under Your Bed
By springtime, the space under our beds harbors a menagerie of dust bunnies and cobwebs. These nasty allergens are only a few feet from your sleeping face. Cleaning under your bed will cut down on allergy symptoms. Use your vacuum attachments to reach underneath your bed, or remove your mattress so you can vacuum and dust.

7. Replace Your Detector Batteries
Most smoke and CO2 detectors alert you to batteries gone bad. But that doesn’t mean these failsafes always work. Take time to test and replace your detector batteries. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced from burning fuels like propane, gasoline, charcoal, or wood. Unlike fire, you can’t see or smell it coming. That’s why CO2 poisoning is so dangerous for people who are asleep. They often can’t feel the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning until it’s too late.

8. Revamp Your Pantry
The best way to spring clean your way to a healthier you is to throw out all expired and processed foods in your cupboards. Check the nutritional labels for added sugars and refined carbohydrates. Toss those unhealthy processed foods in the garbage bin and replace with mixed nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, organic fruit snacks, and kale chips. We tend to grab the first snack we see in the pantry, so place healthier options towards the front. Same goes for your refrigerator and freezer. And keep both well-stocked: A full refrigerator takes less energy to cool than an empty one.

9. Organize Your Bedroom for Better Sleep
Your health depends on getting regular, restorative sleep. Without it, our stress levels rise, and our health declines. Clean sheets, mattresses, and pillows help. But so does an organized bedroom. While you clean your bedroom, rearrange it to be more conducive to sleep. Here are some ways to improve your bedroom’s feng shui:

Keep the air clean with an air-purifier or by opening the windows
Cover up distracting light sources (e.g., alarm clock displays)
Block external light sources like the sun or a street lamp with blackout curtains
Install dimmer switches so you can control the brightness of your bedroom
Cover up hardwood floors with rugs to dampen down noises
Repaint the walls with calming colors like taupes, grays, whites, and beiges
These nine spring cleaning tips are a good start. Some are simple, and others need more time and money investment. But all will help most people create a healthy home for their families. Your home is unique, so look for other ways to make it a healthier space, from rearranging your living area to investing in a new HVAC system.

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