More and more people are going green in their homes, not just to save the environment for future generations, but also to help protect their families now. Allergens are not just outdoors. In fact, many allergens such as dust and mold are often found inside the home and can be extremely hazardous to our health.
When you consider that even people, who spend a large portion of time outside, are inside approximately 80% of the time, the realization sets in that we are inside for most of our existence. I know that sounds unrealistic, but it’s true. With a few exceptions, a majority of us sleep, work, and eat indoors most of the time.
So, it’s only reasonable that we make our homes as healthy as possible for our family. Even if you are unaware of allergies now, they could creep up later on down the road. And, allergies can lead to some real health concerns.
In addition to the familiar sneezing and itchy eyes, they can also lead to more serious trouble. Pulmonary diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are common ailments associated with allergens. Contact dermatitis is also another common ailment brought on by allergies.
What’s important to note here is that for people with allergies, excessive exposure to allergens can lead to a desensitizing, meaning that getting relief will grow increasingly difficult. So, let’s talk about 8 ways you can transition your home into a healthier environment for your family.
#1 Smoke-free Environment
Even if you don’t smoke, it can be brought into your home unexpectedly. Most people are courteous and will not light up in your home without asking. However, if they do, simply ask them to step outside. It’s not just a matter of smoke being in the air while they are smoking, but also that which lingers on the window treatments, carpet, and walls after they leave.
Also, if you have been somewhere with smoke in the air, launder your clothing when you get home and take a shower to get it out of your hair.
#2 Control the Temperature
Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to breathe when the temperatures are above 80° with high humidity? That’s because it’s not healthy for people with allergies to be exposed to unhealthy temperatures for extended periods of time. And, considering we are in our homes as much as we are, controlling the temperature and humidity is important.
The ideal temperature is approximately 70° F, with a controlled humidity level between 30-50%. If it is consistently more humid than that, you increase the chance for allergens to develop, especially mold. I understand some of you might not like air conditioning. So, you might want to at least look into getting a dehumidifier.
#3 Get Rid of the Clutter
Easier said than done, I know. However, clutter makes it more difficult to clean, which means it’s a haven for allergens such as dust mites. Even so, de-cluttering is not just good for our physical health, but also our mental well-being as well. Have you ever noticed how refreshed you feel after a good purge of clutter?
It’s entirely possible that you don’t want to get rid of things. It’s possible to de-clutter and keep it all at the same time. Simply store items in plastic storage containers and switch it out occasionally. You get rid of the clutter and have a new look every season at the same time.
#4 Healthy Alternatives to Carpet
If you have carpet throughout the home, consider replacing it with a surface that won’t trap allergens. Hardwoods, laminate, tile, and even bamboo flooring are all great alternatives.
If you want a warmer feel to the home, add a few area rugs. These will also trap allergens, but are much easier to clean than wall to wall carpet. Use a vacuum with a hepa-filter system, and take them out for a good ‘beating’ outside to get rid of what the vacuum can’t pick up.
This tip is especially important in bedrooms, where we breathe deeply in slumber for hours at a time.
#5 Use Natural Products
Switching to all natural products has never been easier. Due to the number of people wanting to go organic, the number of natural products available is also on the rise. Just take a look at your local grocery store next time you go shopping.
The following are easy items to find when going natural:
- Cleaning products – you can even make your own cleaning products such as using vinegar for cleaning windows, mirrors, and other hard surfaces
- Skin care – taking care of your skin naturally can be easy with the many products available, or by opening your pantry
- Linens – organic linens are a great way to avoid exposure to unnecessary chemicals
- Food – the grocery store is loaded with organic foods that are grown and made without pesticides
It might take a little experimenting with some of these products to know which ones will work for your family, but it’s a great start in the transition of going green.
#6 No More Vinyl Shower Curtains
If you can’t afford to put in a glass shower door, then look for a curtain that is made with cloth without a plastic or vinyl lining. These linings are notorious for trapping mildew and mold and wreak havoc on our home environment.
I recommend washing it frequently to prevent mildew and mold buildup.
#7 Exhaust Fans
Speaking of mold and mildew in the bathroom, make sure your bathroom is properly vented with a decent exhaust fan. This will help eliminate growth of harmful mold and bacteria…as long as you use it, that is.
Also, use your kitchen exhaust fan when cooking to remove smoke and cooking elements that you might not even realize are floating in the air.
#8 Filters Need to Be Cleaned
Try using a reusable filter for your furnace. Instead of replacing them all the time, go green by using one that you clean rather than throw out. Just make sure to clean it as often as you are supposed to replace the traditional filter.
No matter how thoroughly you clean your home, filters will still collect allergens.
I have just shared some tips that will help you in your transition into a greener and healthier home for your family, some incredibly simple. But, it’s now up to you to see how these will work in your own home.
Rick Mercado is a successful author and online marketer. He often writes from home, but occasionally sneaks out to the coffee house for a change of scenery. Rick writes on a wide range of topics, including hypoallergenic subjects for his current series on www.mysensitiveskincare.com. In his early thirties, Rick enjoys the great outdoors, especially kayaking and hiking. He and his wife live on the rugged East Coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Photo by Dan DeLuca