Dust, as harmless as it may seem, can cause respiratory problems and trigger allergies. Get dust under control by vacuuming at least weekly, using a vacuum cleaner with a good filter. Vacuum not only your flooring but also the fabric of chairs, a sofa, draperies and even your mattress. Wash bedding weekly to rid it of sloughed skin, which attracts dust mites. As for dusting a room’s accessories and furnishings, opt for a dust-grabbing microfiber or electrostatic cloth rather than a dust-wielding feather duster or dry rag.
Mold spores develop in damp areas, and they thrive and spread if you don't deal with the dampness issue. For a moldy area of about 10-square-feet or less, you can wipe up the spores using warm water and household detergent, then dry the damp surface, the Environmental Protection Agency advises. For a larger area, hire a certified mold remediation company to do the cleaning. As for keeping mold at bay, correct the problem, from fixing leaky pipes to running exhaust fans or opening windows after a shower.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds continue to off-gas or seep into the air long after a new coat of paint dries, the EPA explains. If you're concerned with off-gas from paint applied within the year, seal it with a couple of coats of zero-VOC primer and paint, suggests the U.S. Green Building Council's Green Home Guide. But VOCs aren’t exclusive to finishing products. Among other things, they’re in some cleaning products, and in your efforts to keep a clean home, you could be spreading chemicals from one end to the other. Clean -- or re-clean -- the room with eco-friendly or green products, or try natural vinegar, lemon or borax as safer alternatives.
The couch you sprawl out on, the carpet you walk on, the blankets and sheets you bundle up with, the mattress you lie on, and even the clothes you’re wearing may have one thing in common: chemically treated, synthetic fibers. Even something as seemingly innocent as acrylonitrile or acrylic is a probable carcinogen, the EPA reports. For a healthier home, reupholster or replace as many of your synthetic items as you reasonably can in favor of natural materials -- such as hemp blinds, silk or organic-cotton curtains and bedding, and wool carpeting. Launder any washable fabric with a pure or “green” soap before using it in the home, or putting it on your body or against your skin.
Wander through your home and rethink your accessories. But as you’re “wandering,” consider what you are wearing on your feet -- shoes can track pesticides from the outdoors in. Unless your candles are made from natural wax such as beeswax or soy, lighting them can release toxins, such as formaldehyde, into the air. Grow to love plants; they exchange air's toxins for oxygen. Antiques are quaint, but lead paint isn't; have an old item's paint tested in a lab, retire it to a no-touch location, or get rid of it for safety's sake.
An airtight home may save some heating or cooling dollars, but those savings could come at the cost of your health. Proper ventilation is vital to the ongoing detox process. Airflow that brings outdoor air in and sends indoor air out -- or air exchange -- sustains a home's health, such as keeping mold at bay. An older home with age-related cracks in the walls and around windows has little exchange of air. Opening windows and doors allows some air to come and go. But if you have any doubts about your home's air quality, discuss mechanical ventilation through exhaust fans and a heating, cooling and ventilation system with an HVAC specialist or building contractor.