Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Mother's Priorities - A Healthy Home

Each year I look forward to the arrival of Autumn. The smoky rooftops, twilight skies, falling leaves and crisp cool air are irresistible! I try to bring the beauty indoors and decorate my house and front porch with pumpkins, leaves and shades of orange and gold. 

But then comes the inevitable and I breathe a sad, frustrated sigh as I'm faced with reminders of Halloween competing for attention during the beautiful month of October.  One nice surprise this year has been the lack of any halloween displays in our local Costco.  Makes me wonder if maybe that store is managed by a Christian?

So what does all this have to do with a healthy home? Well, for me, autumn signals the time to start closing up the house and bracing ourselves for chilly weather and eventually winter.  We all want our homes to be as clean and healthy as possible, and one of the most neglected aspects of good housekeeping today is fresh indoor air. 

There are several different ways we can increase the quality of air in our homes. And as homeschoolers, we are home quite a bit so this is becomes a really important area for us to put some effort into. 

Vacuuming at least twice a week will keep dust and dander in check. Change the bag and filters promptly when they're full and don't forget to dust walls, ledges, upholstered furniture and carpet edges when needed.

I like to mop using plain water with a splash of vinegar. Microfiber mops and dust cloths don't require any cleaning solutions at all and capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers. 

Putting a large throw rug at the entry points of your home will help keep chemicals and dirt from getting tracked into the house. 

And it goes without saying that every home should be a no smoking zone. 

Get your Radon levels checked.  Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that significantly raises the risk of lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today, so it is worth getting a test done.  

If you use plug in air fresheners, you should know that a recent study found 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOC's) in chemical air "fresheners", seven of which are labeled as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws. Amazingly enough, current laws do not require this disclosure - only the word "fragrance".  How horrible!

I find that the best scent a house can have is fresh air. A house that smells musty is a breeding ground for mold, mildew, dust mites, accumulated gasses, chemicals and phthalates. Studies show that phthalates disrupts hormones in animals. I wonder what they're doing for people!  Some things we can all do: 

  • Let in fresh air. Every morning, even throughout the cold months, we like to open the front and back doors for a few minutes and let the air "blow through" the house. The windier it is outside the better this works. It really doesn't take long to warm up the air for the remainder of the day. 
  • avoid chemical laden cleaners and laundry products
  • use lemon slices, baking soda and vinegar to achieve a clean scent in your kitchen. 
  • Put houseplants in every room possible. The foliage and roots work in tandem to absorb chemical pollutants released by synthetic materials (wall to wall carpeting is the biggest offender there). Plants are living air purifiers, so fill your home with lots of them. 
  • Humidity levels in your home should be between 30% and 50%. Slightly opening a window when you cook, shower and run the dishwasher helps to vent out excess humidity.
  • Use an electric air purifier. They help keep dust levels down and many of them come with an ultra violet light that also kills germs as the air passes through.  

 And if you don't do any of the suggestions here, just having houseplants and opening the doors for a blow through in the mornings will go a long way in giving your home the fresh air that it needs.  

One last tip I can share: in our home, we sleep with the bedroom windows open every night. Wide open in nice weather and just an inch or so on cold nights. That might seem crazy, but this was a normal practice in days gone by. And it actually helps keep us healthy. We just set the thermostat to about 55 - 58° at bedtime (9 pm) and sleep with extra covers. We close bedroom doors so that the cooler air in the bedrooms doesn't reach the thermostat and signal it to come on. 

What are some ways that you keep your home healthy in the chilly months?


Jessica said...

We keep our windows open too, and just pile on the down-filled blankets. Flannel sheets help keep warm, too!

When we feel sore throats coming on I pull out the humidifier and put a few drops of essential oil (I use one that's a blend of eucalyptus, cinnamon, and orange and also add a couple drops of peppermint) in it to get released into the air. Another thing that helps with a sore throat is gargling with warm salt (real salt) water.

When we have colds we sleep with extra pillows to help drain the sinuses and it helps.

Simply Keeping Home said...

Ohhh, thank you for sharing Jessica, those are great ideas!

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