Oral Care and Health Daily

Spring-cleaning Checklist for Your Health

These five areas are often overlooked during spring-cleaning, but they can pose major hazards to you...

Allergy season is fast approaching. But while you can’t control the outdoors, there’s plenty you can do to purify your home. Here’s why you should: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, home air quality is often two to five times more polluted than what we breathe outside -- thanks to volatile organic compounds from furniture, carpets, paint and thousands of commonly used products, as well as biological pollutants like mold and dust mites.

To keep your home and family healthy, focus on these five major trouble areas during your spring-cleaning and beyond:

1. Your Stash of Cleaning Supplies

  • Why: You wouldn’t guess it, but your collection of store-bought cleaners and chemicals is one of the culprits of pollutants in the air you breathe. What’s more, these pollutants can remain in the air for long periods of time, says the EPA.
  • What to do: Skip commercial products and make your own cleaning solutions instead. It’s easier than you think: Jennifer Taggart, author of the Smart Mama’s Green Guide, suggests mixing mild castile soap and baking soda to clean your sinks, countertops, tubs and toilets. You’ll be doing your health a favor and going green too.

2. Bathroom Surfaces

  • Why: Every time you flush the toilet, bacteria spray into the air, landing on towels and -- eek! -- toothbrushes.
  • What to do: Keep your toothbrushes in a cabinet rather than on the countertop, suggests Chuck Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona. In addition to cleaning counters and floors, wash your bathroom towels weekly to remove allergens and bacteria.

3. Ventilation Fans

  • Why: Your ventilation fans remove condensation from your home, preventing mold, mildew and fungi from forming. But dirty fans function poorly and have the opposite effect.
  • What to do: Simply remove the vent cover, soak it in warm, soapy water and dry it with a soft cloth. Use a mixture of warm water and vinegar to remove dust from fan blades.

4. Kitchen and Bathroom Under-sinks

  • Why: These often-overlooked moist spaces are highly prone to bacteria, mold and mildew. This can irritate your eyes, nose and throat, and cause headaches and fatigue.
  • What to do: Inspect and repair leaks promptly. And at least once a month, scour sinks, tubs and surrounding tiles, recommends the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. (For problem areas, use 1 ounce of laundry bleach diluted in 1 quart of water.)

5. Your Vacuum Cleaner

  • Why: Many vacuum cleaners simply re-release fine dirt particles into the air, aggravating asthma and allergy symptoms.
  • What to do: Buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) recommends using a quality upright vacuum with HEPA-type double-lined filter bags to ensure less dust is emitted into the air.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/sjlocke

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