Useful tips for maintaining a healthy home
Health Extra, August 2001, The Cleveland Clinic
Simple modifications to your daily routine may help you keep germs that cause infections, like the cold and flu, and allergens at bay. It is important to notice when and where you first start to feel ill because it may help you and your doctor uncover the cause. By doing these simple things you can make your environment healthier and safer for yourself and your family.
Use a disinfectant to clean commonly touched surfaces, like the telephone and doorknobs.
Keep the windows closed and use air conditioning if you are allergic to pollen. Don't use fans - they stir up dust.
Clean air filters frequently and air ducts at least once a year.
Filter the air; cover air conditioning vents with cheesecloth to filter pollen and use a high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) if you have a forced air furnace.
Keep the humidity in your house below 50 percent to prevent mold growth.
Avoid damp areas where molds collect like basements, garages, crawl spaces, barns, compost heaps; clean these areas often. Installing a dehumidifier in inside areas can make a big difference, but be sure to clean it every week.
If you have pets, consider keeping them outside if possible; animal dander and saliva are allergens for many people. Otherwise, do not allow pets in the bedroom and be sure to bathe pets often.
Vacuum twice a week.
When possible, choose hardwood floors instead of carpeting. If you must have carpeting, choose low pile material.
Avoid Venetian blinds or long drapes because they collect dust. Replace old drapes and use window shades instead.
Wash shower curtains and bathroom tiles with mold-killing solutions.
Limit the number of indoor plants you have. Mold sometimes grows on the damp soil.
Use plastic covers for pillows, mattresses and box spring; avoid overstuffed furniture and down-filled bedding or pillows.
Limit throw rugs to
reduce dust and mold. If you do have rugs, make sure they are washable.
Don't allow smoking in your house.
Do not use the same
utensils for uncooked food without washing them first.
Remove laundry from the washing machine promptly; don't leave wet clothes in the washer.
Wash your bedding once a week in hot water.
Don't hang clothes or linens out to dry, as pollen and molds may collect in them and can make your allergies worse.
Try to avoid extreme temperature changes, as they are triggers for some people with asthma, but also help incubate germs.
If possible, stay indoors between 5:00 and 10:00 a.m. when outdoor pollen counts are usually highest.
Wear shoes, long pants and sleeves and do not wear scented deodorants, perfumes, shampoos or hair products to protect yourself from insect stings.
Wear a mask and gloves when gardening. While different flowers have allergy-inducing pollens, soil also has molds and fungi.
Avoid raking the leaves or working with hay or mulch if you are allergic to mold.
After being outdoors, take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes to remove pollen that may have collected in your clothes and hair.
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