So you go awhile between dustings. Let the dog sleep in the bed. Watch moisture bead up on the bathroom window. However, these innocent-seeming habits could be making you and your family sick—really sick.
- Your home has too much moisture. While moisture in the home is normal (bathing, cooking, breathing all contribute), excessive moisture is not. Mold loves humid environments, and if there is excessive moisture in your home, it’s bound to grow, especially in corners and ceilings. The CDC warns that mold can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, skin irritation and even more serious complication and diseases.
- You are vacuuming without a HEPA filter. Research from MIT reveals that air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths per year in the U.S., and it worsens asthma and allergies. That’s why you may want to invest in a HEPA (high-efficiency Particulate air) filter vacuum to prevent tiny particles of dust from being blown back into your indoor air. If you have a home HVAC system, install a HEPA filer for whole-house filtration.
- You are forgetting to change the vacuum filter. You’ll want to make sure you change it every 6 months or more. Be sure to change it if you see signs of wear and tear. Mold-Help recommends that you do not use the same vacuum to clean your house, your car and your garage, etc. You can cross-contaminate your home and belongings.
- Not cleaning your vents and ducts. Vents harbor a ton of dust from the air, and when you turn on the heat or air conditioning, all those dust particles, which also carry mold and other toxins, are redistributed throughout your house. You can take off the vent cover and clean out the grime you can reach. But, you’ll want to enlist a professional to thoroughly clean your ducts. They use compressed air and air agitators to clear out hard-to-reach areas.
- The bathroom has poor ventilation. Keep your window open or use the fan when you shower. Excess moisture can cause your paint and wallpaper to detach. Worst still, moisture encourages mold, which thrives and multiplies in your home. Count on damaging your home and your health.
- You are using the wrong household cleaners. When you spray cleaner around the house, it settles on all types of surfaces. Plus you inhale it. Chemicals in bath products, dish soap, bleach, and other commonly used products can damage your lungs and airways. Check out www.ewg.org to look up good chemical-free ways to clean your house. Mold-Help recommends white cleaning vinegar (5%), baking soda and peroxide, and alcohol (12%).
- You are not dusting correctly. Vacuuming once a week and wiping down counter tops means you’re only making a dent in the dust around your house. It builds up every single day, and the more time you let go by with wiping it up, the more you are exposing yourself to harmful particles. Use a damp cloth to gather dust as opposed to a duster or dry cloth. They will only spread the dust into the air and back onto your furniture and floor. Remember, dust is a common carrier for mold and other toxic particles. Do not use the same rag around the house. The rag or dust cloth holds on to the grime from previous surfaces and spreads it to whichever surface it touches next. Use a new wad of paper towel for each surface cleaned, or designate a microfiber cleaning cloth for each area of your house. Also, be sure to dust from high to low.
- You’re ignoring your gutters. Leaky gutters cause moisture buildup. This excess water gets into your walls, basement and crawl space. It also causes rot, which is a carrier for other toxic particles, and an open invitation to a serious mold infestation. Mold-Help tip: mold hides on the inside of your sheet rock and behind walls. If you see mold in your home, it is very likely that’s only the tip of the iceberg. You will have tons of hidden mold throughout your home.
- Your bedroom is musty. You actually need to move your chest of drawers, desks and other furniture to thoroughly clean. Pull your bed away from the wall, and you might be shocked to see the crud collecting just behind and under your head. Regularly wash your bedding – once very one to two weeks, and purchase a good mattress protector. Turn and vacuum it every couple of months.
- Wear your shoes inside the house. You wouldn’t roll around on a public bathroom floor, but almost everyone would walk around on one and then walk around their house in the same shoes. Given that your kids and pets roll on your carpets and you put your feet up on the coffee table, Mold-Help suggest that your leave your shoes at the door. Reseachers from the University of Arizona found that shoes can track in 400,000-plus bacteria per shoe, include E. coli, as well and moldy leaves and particles from your yard.
- Your are surrounded by wind-pollinating plants (large shade trees like oaks, maples and beeches; most lawn grasses; common weeds (ragweed and goldenrod). Air currents, and your whole family bring in allergens from your yard that cause allergy symptoms.
- You have too much stuff. If you love throw pillows, coffee table books and knick-knacks, then your house is full of dust, dander and pollen that contribute to poor air quality. Unless you plan on constantly moving and cleaning all of your stuff, consider minimizing your furnishing and collections.
- Let your pets sleep in your bed. When your dog goes outside, he picks up a lot of dirt, germs, mold and even insects (ticks and fleas), and brings them into your bed. These villains, plus pet dander, traps allergens and are mold’s best friends. That means you’re subjecting your sleeping space to a lot of hidden dangers.
The information which is the basis for this article was written by Alexa Erikson for www.rd.com.